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The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature [Hardcover]

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

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Book Description

1 Jan 1964 0521055512 978-0521055512 1st
C. S. Lewis's The Discarded Image paints a lucid picture of the medieval world view, as historical and cultural background to the literature of the middle ages and renaissance. It describes the 'image' discarded by later ages as 'the medieval synthesis itself, the whole organisation of their theology, science and history into a single, complex, harmonious mental model of the universe'. This, Lewis's last book, was hailed as 'the final memorial to the work of a great scholar and teacher and a wise and noble mind'.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1st edition (1 Jan 1964)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521055512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521055512
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 12.4 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,715,778 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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Review

'Wise, illuminating, companionable, it may well come to be seen as Lewis' s best book.' The Observer

'… erudite and graceful, filled with anecdote and analogy, illuminating the images of the past.' Los Angeles Times

'… his wonderful gusto, the clarity of his style, the wit of his comments and analogies, the range of his learning and the liveliness of his mind are displayed to the full, warmed by a prevailing good humour.' Helen Gardner, The Listener --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The Discarded Image paints a lucid picture of the medieval world view, as historical and cultural background to the literature of the middle ages and renaissance. It describes the 'image' discarded by later ages as 'the medieval synthesis itself, the whole organisation of their theology, science and history into a single, complex, harmonious mental model of the universe'. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Medieval man shared many ignorances with the savage, and some of his beliefs may suggest savage parallels to an anthropologist. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Medieval Worldview 8 May 2013
Format:Paperback
CS Lewis is best known for his "Chronicles of Narnia" and his books of Christian apologetics, such as: "Mere Christianity" and "The Screwtape Letters". However, he was also an academic: a fellow and tutor of Magdalen College, Oxford, and professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University. This is his last academic book, published the year after he died.

Lewis here outlines (what we would call) the Medieval Geocentric Cosmology and Natural History (especially Human Nature). This is very different from our modern scientific theories of Cosmology and Biology. Lewis' point is that, if we do not understand the worldview of medieval writers, we cannot fully understand their writings.

Two points made by Lewis are worth noting. It is sometimes thought by moderns that the medieval universe was small and closed in. In fact the Earth was, by cosmic standards, a point; it had no measurable size. The Sun and stars were known to be larger than the Earth. The stars were known to be far more than a hundred million miles away. (This is small by modern standards, the Sun being about 93 million miles distant, but can any of us claim that we truly appreciate the difference between a hundred million miles and the six million million miles of a Light Year?)

A second point is that it is often claimed that when Copernicus put the Sun rather than the Earth at the centre of the Universe, this was a demotion for the Earth. The Medievals believed that the Heavens were the place of purity, made of Quintessence, a fifth element not found on Earth. The Earth itself was the "offscourings" of the Universe, the dregs, the "cosmic dust-bin" (p 63).
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating, readable, superior scholarship 29 Jan 2005
Format:Paperback
This is one of Lewis's more difficult-to-find academic works. However, if you find it and read it, you will not be disappointed. I read the book on my own initiative while taking a master's class in Medieval literature. I probably learned as much from his book as I did from the whole class, and it opened up countless delightful possibilities for future enquiry. It also gave me a great idea for my final paper, which I'd been lacking the inspiration to write.
What's more, this work is still respected in academia. Recently I was reading a Cambridge thesis on the subject of early printing (The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe by Elizabeth L. Eisenstein) and came across a quote from _The Discarded Image_ (an uncited quote, which was annoying, but that's another story). Eisenstein quotes most authors in order to disagree with them, but she didn't disagree with Lewis (added to him, qualified him, but didn't disagree), which was unusual. Lewis was one of the few authors in her field that Eisenstein did not attack! I also passed _The Discarded Image_ along to one of my previous college professors and he decided to include ideas from it in his Survey of English Literature course.
If you want to know how medieval men and women saw their world - their belief in supernatural beings intermediate between angels and devils, their admiration for all kinds of organization, their heavy reliance on the snippet of Plato to which they had access-read this book. You will never see the Middle Ages quite the same way again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of C.S. Lewis? 20 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've recently finished the McGrath Biography of C.S. Lewis, and ordered several books to read/re-read: I have to agree with the 'blurb' writer: this is the best book he wrote. In it, he wears his huge learning lightly, distilling his knowledge and wisdom into crystal-clear drops. Having read it the once, I shall soon have to read it again - for information, for understanding, and for delight.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is meticulously researched and deeply scholarly. It does away with the current PC line that the Christian tradition can be invalidated by a clever question from a boy of 7. This is because it demonstrates that a mystical tradition like Christianity has to be seen within a context which determines the questions you ask and the presuppositions with which you understand the answers. If your reality is determined by a belief in secular materialism and in purely quantitative methods of establishing the truth, the statements of a mystical theology will have absolutely no meaning for you. An understanding of the mediaeval cosmos is a good place to start for anyone wondering which of these two world views are the most exciting, the most life-filled, and the one most likely to lead them to a world they can believe in and delight in.
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12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heliocentrica non Credo 10 Oct 2005
By Matt G
Format:Paperback
This book was mentioned by Fred Gettings in his book on the medieval symbolism of the Tarot. It is probably a set book for students of English Language but I would follow Gettings and recommend it to esotericals. He explains subjects like the four humours in relation to personality and how the universe looked to people before Copernicus. He looks at the classics as they were known before the renaissance and how astrology and church doctrine had to rub along together.Anyone who wants to study traditional astrogy or magic will find this a useful way of making the necessary alterations to our modern "rational" worldview.
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