Analysis Of C. S. Lewis An Experiment In Criticism

Decent Essays
In C.S. Lewis’s An Experiment in Criticism, Lewis attempts to distinguish how good and bad readers interpret books. 'Let us try to discover how far it might be plausible to define a good book as a book which is read in one way, and a bad book as a book which is read in another” (1). Although Lewis’s essay is primarily dominated by “the many and the few,” the paramount message of the book pertains to the ego; moreover, how the literary experience heals the wound without undermining individuality.
An Experiment in Criticism provides excellent insight of what it means to critique something. The book is methodically arranged and Lewis’ argument stays concise. Lewis discusses: “The many and the few,” “myths,” “fantasy,” “poetry,” “realisms” and
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His intellectual prowess serves as a benefit for the reader; by providing logically crafted arguments, and the ability to articulate ideas through simile’s, metaphors and illustrations. Lewis’ essay not only reshapes the way we approach literature, but the way we approach life. Readers can take a great deal of lessons from Lewis. For example, we must be able to fully appreciate the literature by being as receptive as we can, and yield to the text by reading “in the same spirit that the author writ” (11). Another strength Lewis expresses is that readers should feel the myriad of emotions associated with reading different books. Readers should feel sad upon reading a tragedy, and laugh while reading a comedy. Lastly, readers must surrender themselves to the text, only then can the literary work broaden their perspective. Lewis’ characteristics of the “literary” reader can be applied to everyday life; which is a major strength of An Experiment in Criticism. The ability to be open-minded, receptive, and appreciative rather than exploitative, extends far beyond literature and can benefit our own personal …show more content…
Lewis attempts to move us away from the ego: that of maintaining and aggrandizing the self, and that of correcting our provincialism and healing our loneliness (138). Lewis believes the “literary” and “unliterary” will always fall under the trap of egotism by never being able to put aside preconceptions when approaching the text. Lewis despises aestheticism, status seekers and vigilant critics; seeking to reclaim literature for itself instead. Lewis believes literature allows an individual to grow and see objectively. Literature heals the wound of self-interest and the literary life aids in correcting our subjectivism. Literature can can enlarge awareness and create meaning in the life of the reader.
By providing a beautifully written powerful analysis of what good reading should look like, Lewis’s book not only enriches our future reading experience, but provides lessons that can be utilized in everyday

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