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The Allegory of Love (Oxford Paperbacks) [Facsimile] [Paperback]

C. S. Lewis
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov 1977 Oxford Paperbacks
Love is the commonest these of serious imaginative literature and is still generally regarded as anble and ennbling passion. Love has not always taken such precedence, however, and it was in fact not until the eleventh century that French poets first began to express the romantic species of passion which English peots were still writing about in the nineteenth century. This book is intended for students of medieval literature from A-level upwards. Anyone interested in the `Courtly Love' tradition. Fans of C.S. Lewis's writings.


Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (Nov 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192812203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192812209
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 13.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 849,204 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.


Product Description

Book Description

A classic study of the allegorical power of love in literature, traced through major works of the medieval and Renaissance periods, by one of the major literary critics of the twentieth century. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute classic 14 Jan 2004
Format:Paperback
Even though this book was written in 1936, it's still essential reading for anyone who's interested in mediaeval literature. It's an introduction to the technique of allegory, a method of writing which often seems artificial to modern readers, and one which can actually convince you that, yes, there is something to it. It's also the story of how romantic love came to be considered a subject of literature - or even considered at all. So, in a way, without these poets, we'd never have had Mills and Boon...But we'd never have had "Romeo and Juliet", either, so you probably have to forgive them. Like all Lewis' books, it's written in a clear style which manages to be both informative and, dare one say it, entertaining. But don't that mislead you - it's still serious scholarship.
Of course, a book that's almost seventy years old isn't exactly at the cutting edge of research. Things move on, even in mediaeval studies,and some of his conclusions have their critics. Still,
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Allegory of Love 15 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback
Written as only C.S. Lewis can. This is a comprehensive coverage of the allegorical, courtly love poems but with bias toward Lewis, opinion at times. Nevertheless it is an invaluable help in understanding Medieval love poems when used in conjunction with related literature.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ian Myles Slater on A Critical Masterpiece 17 Sep 2003
By Ian M. Slater - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the book which made C.S. Lewis' reputation as a critic of medieval and renaissance literature; in the original, medieval, sense, it was the "piece" that marked his transition from Apprentice to Master. It was first published in 1936, and has been reprinted many times. (I have 1960s copies of Oxford's 1958 "Galaxy Book" paperback edition; the cover of the recent Oxford Paperback is a great improvement.) As originally written, it covered the development of allegorical narrative from late classical antiquity to the Elizabethan poet Spenser's "Faerie Queene," with particular attention to the "Allegorical Love Poems of the Middle Ages" (the working title).

Unhappily for the book's long-term reputation, Lewis was persuaded to add to the planned text an earlier summary of modern theories of "courtly love" in medieval life and literature. Lewis himself noted that this theoretical construction did not quite fit the texts he analyzed in detail, and the whole approach is now regarded as at best problematic, and by many as simply wrong. Since Lewis presented the material with unusual clarity and wit, however, he has come to be treated as an authoritative source on "Courtly Love" theory by some, and attacked as such by others.

The rest of the book, being based on original studies of primary sources, retains much of its value. Later textual studies and shifts in crticial theory have only slightly diminished its value, and his discussions of such now-obscure writers as Martianus Capella remain among the most inviting of introductions. Lewis' treatment of "The Romance of the Rose" is still illuminating (and the point of departure for many recent re-considerations). His chapter on "The Faerie Queene" is regarded by some competent scholars as the foundation of modern study of the unfinished epic.

Although Lewis never looses sight of the entertainment value of many of the works he discusses (and some of them never had any), he is concerned to show that they addressed real problems of human behavior and emotions, and their presentation in narratives. Norman Cantor (not, on the whole, a great admirer) reports from first-hand experience that the book helped make the study of medieval romances respectable in academic circles. My own reading of the secondary literature (pre- and post-Lewis) brought me to a similar conclusion.

It is probably of interest to note that, according to Lewis himself, the "Chronicles of Narnia" did NOT arise from his studies of allegory, and that their allegorical implications arose spontaneously in his mind. One has to wonder whether he would have written "The Allegory of Love" differently after, rather than before, those experiences.

Serious students of English literature, and medieval literature in general, will find "The Allegory of Love" more than worth their time. So will those who simply enjoy reading Arthurian literature, and several other types of story. For many who are familiar only with Lewis the fantasist, or Lewis the Christian apologist, it will open new perspectives.

[Extended Addendum, October 21, 2013]
[This is one of my earliest reviews, which I've revised slightly to suit other editions of the book. However, it has been attached to a new Kindle edition of "The Allegory of Love" (Illustrated and Annotated by Glenn Langohr), about which I feel I should make some comments.]

[Although it is nice to have this too-long out-of-print book available again, and at a very nice price, there are some drawbacks to the edition. Footnotes are missing entirely, including those which provide original texts for quotations which Lewis translates in the main text. Some of those translations were into verse, which is at least partly printed as if prose, concealing Lewis's considerable skill. (The combination also conceals his general accuracy at catching the sense and tone of, e.g., Ovid.) The "annotations" and illustrations attributed to Mr. Langohr consist of captions to a photograph of Lewis and some stock pictures of medieval and Pre-Raphaelite (or similar) art. The captions inform the reader what the book is about, not about the illustrations or artists; they amount to an extended blurb, rather than a contribution to understanding the text.]

[HarperCollins has announced another edition, as a Kindle (and, I think, other ebook) for November 2013. This will cost over twice as much, which is still a good price compared to used copies in good condition. Presumably, HarperCollins, a major publisher with a long Kindle catalogue, tried to do the job right.]

[In the meantime (short as it is), or for those who can't afford it, there are, from time-to-time, copies readable on-line or as pdfs, put up, I think, mainly by English Departments (and the like), frustrated that their students have not had ready access to a notable book.]
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Milestone in the Lewis Canon 4 July 2005
By Jacob Schriftman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"The Allegory of Love" is an academic work that, among other things, traces the concept of love in literature, particularly the concept of courtly love in medieval literature. In the "Encyclopædia Britannica," it is listed before all the other works of Lewis as "his finest scholarly work." This shows the book's importance in making Lewis a respected literary critic.

The main point of the first part of the book is that the concept of love changed in the literature of France in the eleventh century and has influenced the arts up to our day. Many years later, however, in "The Four Loves," Lewis admits that he had treated the concept of love too much like a literary phenomenon and failed to see that many characteristics of erotic love which he had attributed to eleventh-century France are in fact characteristics that lie in the very nature of erotic love (e.g., the tendency to make love into a god who sanctions any crime committed in its name).

Having said this, "The Allegory of Love" is still a great academic work that delights as much as it instructs - a milestone in the Lewis Canon.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Allegory of Love 15 Dec 1999
By jack schaaf - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
While most associate Mr. Lewis with an assortment of tomes of otherworld fantasias (Narnia, Lion, Witch and Wardrobe, etc) or contemporary crisis, Allegory of Love is a very well written and scholarly study of medieval period (he once wrote that while the Renaissance was always a personlized venture for scholars, the dark ages belonged to boyhood), replete with references to not only incubala but extensive Greek, mystics, and Shakepeariana. It's nearly in the stylization and tradition of Fraser's "Golden Bough" with the precision of someone devoted to writing on, say, Milton or Donne. I hadn't really expected as fine and as much from this, but found without reservation it to be one of the hundred (perhaps fifty) best books I've ever read. Strongly recommend
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An Embarassing Edition of a Good Work 4 Nov 2013
By JABurnett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The negativity of this rating has nothing to do with the work of CS Lewis and everything to do with the absence of editing. Typos and spelling errors absolutely plague this kindle edition. Considering the fact that most readers who are interested in this work have some familiarity with academic quality, I am surprised that such an edition found its way into the market at all. This is a poor decision on behalf of everyone involved with this publication.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A review for readers of OHEL 2 Jan 2010
By Christopher Grant - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Lewis's volume in the _Oxford History of English Literature_ series ("OHEL", as he called it) is still in print, while _The Allegory of Love_ (AoL) is not. Therefore, there might be some shoppers who have read the former and are wondering whether they should read the latter. This review is for those shoppers.

In short, if you liked OHEL, I think you will probably like AoL. Some specifics:

1) Lewis began working on AoL when he was in his 20s, and _Collected Letters_, vol. 1, reveals a mindset in the young Lewis less appealing than that which would later help to make him beloved by his readers. Does this mindset mar AoL? No, not at all. Lewis was approaching 40 when AoL was published, and in it his voice is essentially indistinguishable from that of the later Lewis.

2) I haven't yet read _Boxen_, but I'm guessing that it gives ample evidence that Lewis's writing style developed substantially over time. Is AoL an early enough work that it exposes the rough edges in Lewis's prose? No, it is not.

3) While both OHEL and AoL are written for literature scholars, I found OHEL to be reasonably accessible and AoL even more so.

4) AoL is far more focused and coherent than OHEL, making for a more pleasurable read.

5) AoL was for Lewis a labor of love--no pun intended--while there was a reason he gave OHEL its nickname.

For me, OHEL was a 5-star work. If it also was for you, I think you'll give AoL 5 stars, too.
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