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The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (1964)

by C. S. Lewis

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1,6181811,095 (4.3)34
In The Discarded Image, C. S. Lewis paints a lucid picture of the medieval world view, providing the historical and cultural background to the literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It describes the "image" discarded by later years as "the medieval synthesis itself, the whole organization of their theology, science and history into a single, complex, harmonious mental model of the universe." This, Lewis's last book, has been hailed as "the final memorial to the work of a great scholar and teacher and a wise and noble mind. ".… (more)
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English (17)  Swedish (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
An absolute gem! If you want a good introduction to the overall Model of the Medieval era then this book is highly recommended. By overall model, although geared towards literature given the professorship of Lewis, I mean the cosmology, the spiritual outlook, the anthropological view, and overall ethos of the Middle Ages. I couldn't put it down, and if you enjoy Chaucer, Dante, or the various Arthurian works then this book is a must; his observations will bring new light to cherished works. An excellent if lesser known work of C.S. Lewis. ( )
  MusicforMovies | Jul 26, 2022 |
This is for academics only. Two stars is a stretch for one who is a layman to the field of medieval and renaissance literature, but since the author appears to draw from such a wide range of literature, it may be of value for the specialist. I cannot judge. It seems rather episodic. And only one star if the lay reader is not already widely read in the literature, since the author generally assumes it. ( )
  KENNERLYDAN | Jul 11, 2021 |
Lewis argues that Medieval people had a concept of the universe, a model, which they consciously built in text by referencing older books of any kind; in much the same way we have a scientific concept of the universe which we build by applying the findings of one arm of science to another. He teases this medieval conception out by analysing some late classical / early medieval books and then uses the model to throw light on others. An aesthetically very pleasing feedback loop, and probably one reason why the book in still in print.

It claims to be an introduction to Medieval literature, and so it is, but I suspect another reason for it’s popularity it that you get more out of it the more you already know. I’ve read a number of the books he discusses. If I hadn’t read Boethius I think I might have got a bit lost during his discussion of it.

Endlessly interesting and a very easy style. I don’t know if books about Medieval literature get much better than this.

One word of warning to Khoisan readers. Lewis has taken the unusual step of opening his book by making some racist comments about you, so gird your loins before you start. Once he gets it out of his system you’ll find little offend you beyond the lack of a bibliography. ( )
  Lukerik | Sep 27, 2020 |
Poor old Lewis, as a product of his time and place, is probably more a victim of time warp than the Medieval writers he so admires. His expectation, despite this being an "introduction" according to his subtitle, is that his audience is utterly au fait not only with the entire canon of Chaucer and Dante and Boethius, but John Scotus and Gower and Langland and ... and so it goes on. He adopts an "as any fule kno" to and then cites these figures, or the prose (not poetry) of Donne, the depths of Milton ... added to that his era's ignorance of the implications of the once-generic "man" and the assumption that any abstract person (fule, too, I guess) can be represented by the masculine pronoun makes the read very unsatisfactory.

Still ... he does take me further into medieval literature than I have been for a long time, and for that and for his occasional pieces of playful dig at oxbridge friends and colleagues (Tolkien particularly) he deserves some kudos.

A classic of its time, but ... ( )
  Michael_Godfrey | Mar 7, 2020 |
Very helpful in clarifying the view of the world that information writers from Dante to Donne. ( )
  luskwater | Feb 11, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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ROGER LANCELYN GREEN
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This book is based on a course of lectures given more than once at Oxford.
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THE MEDIEVAL SITUATION
Medieval man shared many ignorances with the savage, and some of his beliefs may suggest savage parallels to an anthropologist.
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In The Discarded Image, C. S. Lewis paints a lucid picture of the medieval world view, providing the historical and cultural background to the literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It describes the "image" discarded by later years as "the medieval synthesis itself, the whole organization of their theology, science and history into a single, complex, harmonious mental model of the universe." This, Lewis's last book, has been hailed as "the final memorial to the work of a great scholar and teacher and a wise and noble mind. ".

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