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Studies in Medieval Renaissance Literature [Hardcover]


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Book Description

27 Dec 1979 0521055458 978-0521055451 New impression
This entertaining and learned volume contains book reviews, lectures, and hard to find articles from the late C. S. Lewis, whose constant aim was to show the twentieth century reader how to read and how to understand old books and manuscripts.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; New impression edition (27 Dec 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521055458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521055451
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,472,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS (1898-1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a fellow and tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954 when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics, the Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures.

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'Another side of Lewis's witty, lucid intellect is revealed in this 1966 collection, now returned to print. Its 14 papers deal with Spenser, Dante, Malory, Tasso and Milton, and with such other topics as the medieval talent for reworking old books into something fresh and original.' The New York Times

'A remarkable intellect turns to the work of Spenser, Dante, Malory, Tasso and Milton. The 14 essays provide insight into medieval life as well as medieval literature.' Philadelphia Inquirer

'This collection of essays … is an invaluable addition to the library of anyone who, as Lewis did, not only reads, teaches and writes about medieval and Renaissance literature, but loves it.' Cahiers Elisabethians --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

This entertaining and learned volume contains book reviews, lectures, and hard to find articles from the late C. S. Lewis, whose constant aim was to show the twentieth century reader how to read and how to understand old books and manuscripts. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars C. S. Lewis at Work 5 Sep 2001
By Rachel Simmons - Published on Amazon.com
Lewis's fame as a writer of Christian apologetics, fantasy, and science fiction is such that it's easy to forget his day job: professor of medieval literature first at Oxford then Cambridge.
Although his professional output was fairly modest in quantity, in quality it enjoys a high reputation. His longer works include "The Allegory of Love", "English Literature in the Sixteenth Century", "Studies in Words", and "The Discarded Image". In addition to these, he also wrote a number of short works, which are published in this volume. To aid readers, I've listed the table of contents below:
Preface (by Walter Hooper)
"De Audiendis Poetis
"The Genesis of a Medieval Book"
"Imagination and Thought in the Middle Ages"
"Dante's Similes"
"Imagery in the Last Eleven Cantos of Dante's Comedy"
"Dante's Statius"
"The Morte Darthur"
"Edmund Spenser, 1552-99"
"On Reading the Faerie Queene"
"Neoplatonism in the Poetry of Spenser"
"Spenser's Cruel Cupid"
"Genius and Genius"
"A Note on Comus"
Additional Editorial Notes
None of these works are available in any other in-print collection (unusual for Lewis - his other shorter works have been collected multiple times in a variety of overlapping collections). As such, for those interested in the subject matter, this collection is highly recommended.
A second important collection of Lewis's writings as a literary critic is "Selected Literary Essays", which unfortunately is out of print and very hard to find. Another such collection to consider, (largely concerned with the science fiction and fantasy genres), is "On Stories, and Other Essays". That work is readily available.
Finally, those with a general interest in Lewis's shorter works may also want to get "Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces", which, as of the time of this writing, is available from Amazon UK but not Amazon US. That collection consists of about 130 short works by Lewis. While the collection centers around his writings on Christianity, it also includes a number of works of literary criticism, including all the works in "Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories".
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven in several ways, but always thought-provoking 20 Oct 2002
By Ken Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Like nearly all of those books which consist of essays gathered and published only after the author's death, this particular collection is a bit uneven. By this I mean not merely that some pieces are better than others, but that they are of very different sorts. Some are written for those (like myself) who know very little about Medieval culture and who need to be instructed. "Imagination and Thought in the Middle Ages" is of this type. (Lewis also covers this material in more depth in The Discarded Image, though it's a bit easier reading and a little less intimidating here.) The same is also true of his biographical essay on "Edmund Spenser": you can read (and enjoy) the essay without having read one word of Spenser.
Other essays are much more detailed and are really aimed at the specialist. Lewis' several essays on Dante are of this sort: they are characterized by a marked lack of translation from the Italian (or Anglo-Saxon or Latin or . . . ). I suspect that to other specialists, these would be interesting and engaging. I'm no such specialist, and can't judge them from that perspective. I certainly found them to be informative, especially if you consider that nearly all of what Lewis had to say was, as they say, "information to me". If you're interested in Lewis for apologetic or theological reasons, these essays will open your eyes to what Lewis himself saw as the center of his career -- but even there, I would probably recommend starting with The Discarded Image or A Preface to Paradise Lost. Both of those are more disputational in nature (if much less so than his overtly theological works), and hence more likely to hold a dabbler's interest.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature 18 Feb 1998
By David Graham - Published on Amazon.com
This posthumous collection of Lewis papers provides eclectic discussions of people and books that come under the category of medieval and renaissance literature. Each chapter was originally given as a speech, with most created for the medieval specialist, not the general reader, so the target audience is somewhat narrow. Enjoyable reading if this is your field of interest.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile 13 Nov 2006
By Jason Fisher - Published on Amazon.com
While omissions in a short volume such as this are inevitable, it's nevertheless interesting, sometimes surprising to see what Lewis chooses to comment on versus what he chooses to leave out. The contents and index are available on Amazon, so I won't litter this review with the details. But do take a look at the TOC/index to make sure what you're looking for is here! Nevertheless, Lewis's writing is remarkably clear and his analysis is insightful and always interesting. A very worthwhile collection!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Going Beyond Basic Medievalism 9 Dec 2009
By Jacob - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is not easy to define "Medievalism," nor what makes a "medieval" book. The reader is right to expect glorious castles, fair maidens, and feats of arms. However, when we pick up a medieval book, those elements are often missing and we are then subjected to often tortuous philosophical and moralistic reasoning. What gives?

CS Lewis is aware of these difficulties and he mentions (in one of his chapters on Spenser) that what we call "medievalism" is actually late Renaissance projected back onto the middle ages. But, Lewis says, that's quite okay, too. In many ways, *Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature* is a running commentary on how to read allegory, mainly Dante's and Spenser's.

Lewis begins with the making of a Medieval book--and the bookish manner of medievals in general. Parts of this section (the first 3 chapters) are quite difficult reading, even to those who are intimately familiar with the issues involved. But through it we see a contrast between medieval ways of reading texts and (post)modern ways of reading. The former looks for harmony while the latter looks upon texts with suspicion--the essence of both the medieval and modernistic worldviews, respectively. Lewis then concludes this section with a fascinating essay on medieval cosmology: and for the perceptive readers, this essay is the foundation of his *Space Trilogy.*

The next chapters deal with Dante. Lewis takes several difficult passages in Dante and demonstrates to the reader how to run a literary critique upon them; the same technique applies to his chapters on Spenser. Lewis also deals with Morte D'Arthur and the "knightly" issues.

I had to read this book at different times. It was really difficult because Lewis rarely gives a context for his references. However, the difficulty should not deter readers; there are many jewels in this book if the reader is willing to dig.
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