Essay on Why Do We Read Literature

805 Words Oct 10th, 2014 4 Pages
Why do we read literature and how do we judge it? In C. S Lewis 's classic book An Experiment in Criticism comes from the conviction that literature exists for the elation of the reader and that a book shall not be judged by the reading but by whom the reader is. Lewis argues, to distinguish between a good book and a bad, we must therefore not refer to how the book is written but by how it is read. Throughout the book, Lewis discuss’ his theories about why that is true, starting by separating the readers into two groups, one the “literary” and the other the “unliterary”. He processes by outlining a few of the differences between the two types of readers. The book then goes forward by defining what good literature is “But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself” (Lewis, 141). By this he states that to fully grasp a work as a whole, you must surrender to the work, and analyses it from every angle. Lewis leads the reader to think about how a person reads a book and why they read. With his love and appreciation towards literature, Lewis addresses the argument of what constitutes a good book and bad book. He proposes that books are assessed by how they are ought to be read. Another argument that Lewis is trying to portray in the study of literature is that a reader must commit to receiving a literary text, rather than using it. Lewis states, “When we ‘receive’ it we exert our senses and imagination and various other powers according to a…

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