An Experiment in Criticism by C. S. Lewis

By C. S. Lewis

Why can we learn literature and the way can we pass judgement on it? C. S. Lewis's classic An test in Criticism springs from the conviction that literature exists for the enjoyment of the reader and that books can be judged by means of the type of interpreting they invite. He argues that "good reading," like ethical motion or non secular event, comprises quit to the paintings in hand and a technique of getting into totally into the evaluations of others: "in studying nice literature I develop into 1000 males and but stay myself."

Crucial to his concept of judging literature is a dedication to pushing aside expectancies and values extraneous to the paintings, that allows you to process it with an open brain. Amid the complicated welter of present serious theories, C. S. Lewis's knowledge is valuably down-to-earth, clean and stimulating within the questions it increases concerning the adventure of interpreting.

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Archaeological evidence confirms that, in some cases at least, he is talking about real persons and places. 3 An epitaph of the seventh century (T1 Tarditi) commemorates his friend Glaucus, whom he addresses in two of his surviving poems (fr. 5 After his death, Archilochus was honored by the citizens of his native Paros as a hero. Archilochus’ ancient biographers tended to concentrate on the more destructive aspects of his surviving poetry. In their narratives and anecdotes there is little trace of the Archilochus who consoles his friend Pericles (fr.

In the Contest, after losing to Hesiod, Homer goes around reciting his poems; first the Thebaid, then the Odyssey (though not the Iliad, although he had already composed it). The narrative accounts for his association with certain cities: he wrote Epigram 3 for the sons of Midas; he visits Athens, where he composed Epigram 13 for King Medon; then he goes to Argos, and finally to Ios to visit Creophylus and there encounters the fisher-boys. As in Alcidamas’ Mouseion, Homer remembers the prophecy about his death and composes his own epitaph, then slips in the mud and dies; there are no public honors connected with his epitaph as there were in Aristotle’s account (18).

A I 48–60 Clay = fr. 194 W). In his narrative of these events Sosthenes quotes Archilochus’ verses to confirm that “Demeas is speaking the truth” (ale¯the¯ legei, A IVa, 40), as if some people might be prepared otherwise to doubt it. In the only surviving section of the inscription that is not directly connected to Archilochus’ own words, Sosthenes describes how, during a sea battle, the poet was fatally wounded and his body brought back to Paros: “After that [the Parians] buried him with great honors and made much of what they knew he had done; they were not angry if at an earlier time he had spoken ill 36 the lives of the greek poets of the city in his poetry” (C I 12–17 Clay).

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