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

by C. S. Lewis

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1,1131311,204 (4.29)29
Recently added byprivate library, Michael_L, ossantiago, BrettF, firstpresge, BadgleyD, M.E.Dow, thefirstdark
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» See also 29 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Clive is the man. ( )
  gturkington | Feb 18, 2019 |
Very helpful in clarifying the view of the world that information writers from Dante to Donne. ( )
  luskwater | Feb 11, 2019 |
CS Lewis was a master medievalist, and in this short book he lays out the medieval model of the world and the influences that created it. An essential companion to the literature of the Middle Ages. ( )
  mcduck68 | Apr 23, 2018 |
C. S. Lewis's non-fiction would make a good set of feet for a Babylonian idol: It's part iron and part clay.

The iron in this book is one claim that deserves to be dinned into all modern artist's and writer's heads until they get it right: That original is not the same as good. Chaucer and Shakespeare didn't bother with inventing original plots; Chaucer used Boccaccio and folktales and fabliau and anything else that came to hand; Shakespeare used all sorts of things, including Chaucer. And so it went. To a medieval writer, what mattered was the telling, and its truth, and originality is for the people who can't tell the inside of their navels from the outside.

But Lewis has a bad tendency to snatch onto something he liked and then take it and run much, much too far with it. He did it with "courtly love" in The Allegory of Love, where he turned courtly love into a straw man; and he does it here with his "Mediaeval Model." It is, obviously, true that people in the Middle Ages saw the world differently, and they saw it as much more fixed than we do. But Lewis spends much, much, much too much time digging up relatively minor sources which support his prejudices, or late sources who did not have the influence of earlier authors like Aristotle or Boethius.

Perhaps I should give a disclaimer here: I'm trained as a scientist. Lewis despised science, and was so incompetent at mathematics that he couldn't pass the elementary school test the British universities administered; he only got into college because he was a World War I veteran and didn't have to pass the exams. But realize what this means: Lewis had no grasp of the modern, scientific model. None. No one who understands science could have written That Hideous Strength. So Lewis really is contrasting his "Medieval Model," which is the model he likes, with a scientific model that doesn't exist.

The result is short but rather prolix, and (to me) it fails utterly to prove its point. Yes, we need to understand that medieval writers saw the world differently. Yes, that model has value. (Compare the Gawain-poet's poetry to this modern stuff that has no rhyme, meter, alliteration, or point.) Yes, most of us think we understand that model, and don't. Yes, we need to be prepared to alter our own model. (That's the point of science, if Lewis had only known it.) These are all valid arguments. But all the pseudo-astrology, pseudo-alchemy, pseudo-logic? Chaucer knew better (see the Canon Yeoman's Tale). Lewis should have also.

[Correction January 17, 2018: Fixed subject/verb to concord in the second sentence.] ( )
1 vote waltzmn | Jan 16, 2018 |
Wrote review. See Tournaments Illuminated, July 2013 edition.
  wotte | Aug 7, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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ROGER LANCELYN GREEN
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PREFACE
This book is based on a course of lectures given more than once at Oxford.
Chapter I
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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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0521477352, Paperback)

C.S. Lewis' 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 organization of their theology, science and history into a single, complex, harmonious mental model of the universe." This, Lewis' last book, was hailed as "the final memorial to the work of a great scholar and teacher and a wise and noble mind."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:03 -0400)

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'.… (more)

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