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Image and Imagination presents some of C.S. Lewis's finest literary criticism and religious exposition. This selection gathers together forty book reviews—never before reprinted—as well as four major essays which have been unavailable for many decades, and a fifth essay, “Image and Imagination,” published for the first time. The essays and reviews substantiate Lewis's repu Image and Imagination presents some of C.S. Lewis's finest literary criticism and religious exposition. This selection gathers together forty book reviews—never before reprinted—as well as four major essays which have been unavailable for many decades, and a fifth essay, “Image and Imagination,” published for the first time. The essays and reviews substantiate Lewis's reputation as an eloquent and authoritative critic across a wide range of literature, and as a keen judge of contemporary scholarship, while his reviews of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings will be of additional interest to scholars and students of fantasy.


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Image and Imagination presents some of C.S. Lewis's finest literary criticism and religious exposition. This selection gathers together forty book reviews—never before reprinted—as well as four major essays which have been unavailable for many decades, and a fifth essay, “Image and Imagination,” published for the first time. The essays and reviews substantiate Lewis's repu Image and Imagination presents some of C.S. Lewis's finest literary criticism and religious exposition. This selection gathers together forty book reviews—never before reprinted—as well as four major essays which have been unavailable for many decades, and a fifth essay, “Image and Imagination,” published for the first time. The essays and reviews substantiate Lewis's reputation as an eloquent and authoritative critic across a wide range of literature, and as a keen judge of contemporary scholarship, while his reviews of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings will be of additional interest to scholars and students of fantasy.

30 review for Image and Imagination (eBook Original)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    The more astute reader of CS Lewis knows he was a professor first, a lay theologian second.  Where then to find him in his element but in book reviews about literature? The book is more exciting than that sentences makes it out to be.  The reviews and observations are quite instructive. They run the gamut between English pedagogy, his Inkling friends, medieval studies, and English literature in general.  Lewis indirectly gives us a pattern for doing good book reviews. Broadest survey of the author The more astute reader of CS Lewis knows he was a professor first, a lay theologian second.  Where then to find him in his element but in book reviews about literature? The book is more exciting than that sentences makes it out to be.  The reviews and observations are quite instructive. They run the gamut between English pedagogy, his Inkling friends, medieval studies, and English literature in general.  Lewis indirectly gives us a pattern for doing good book reviews. Broadest survey of the author’s scope Hints at agreement (or disagreement), to be developed later. Addresses possible inaccuracies. Analyzes the main theme. The Idea of an English School Main idea: are the origins of English literature to be found in the classics? Lewis, rather, suggests they are found in Old French literature. Our English Syllabus We educate to produce “the good man.”  For Aristotle and Milton, this meant the man of “good feeling” and “good taste.” On Tolkien: These books are “like lightning from a clear sky.” “Nothing quite like it was ever done before.”  “The names alone are a feast;” they can be Hobbit-like or kingly. Tolkien and the Dethronement of Power: The Two Towers. Tolkien rejects relativism and holds to absolutes.  Of course. Not all of the characters are strictly black and white. Boromir was an obvious example. Even “Heroic Rohan and imperial Gondor are partly diseased.” On Charles Williams:  Review: Talesin through Logres * The Fall: to know good and evil is, among other things, to know all unrealized possibilities, including evil ones. The danger here is that man’s knowledge is partly by experience, so to know some of these unrealized possibilities seems to imply an experience of them. Some of the essays towards the end get quite technical concerning Middle English poetry.  I will leave them to the specialist.  

  2. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    I continue to be staggered by the breadth and depth of Lewis' understanding of the world. I continue to be staggered by the breadth and depth of Lewis' understanding of the world.

  3. 5 out of 5

    G.M. Burrow

    A fun collection of Lewis's book reviews. My favorites (and the easiest to understand, since I'd read the originals) were his critiques of works by Tolkien and Charles Williams. But even where I hadn't read the book in question and frequently had no idea what he was talking about, I appreciated learning from his style--his keen honesty (never willing to call anything great that isn't) and his disarming grace and courtesy even when tearing something to bits. A fun collection of Lewis's book reviews. My favorites (and the easiest to understand, since I'd read the originals) were his critiques of works by Tolkien and Charles Williams. But even where I hadn't read the book in question and frequently had no idea what he was talking about, I appreciated learning from his style--his keen honesty (never willing to call anything great that isn't) and his disarming grace and courtesy even when tearing something to bits.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mary Catelli

    A collection of his work, often occasional. It gives some interesting glances. A review of The Hobbit that has to start with discussing the genre, which was not a genre in that time, and other works of the Inklings. Discussions of literature in the context of critical works that he reviewed, which does produce an interesting slant -- from collections of Christian poetry to Arthuriana to H. Rider Haggard.

  5. 4 out of 5

    John

    This is a collection of 53 text consisting of mostly reviews, but also essays and other kinds of writings. It is a rather odd collection and show some of the width of what kept C. S. Lewis ticking, but at the same time a collection may not keep the common reader all that interested. Because most of the texts are written for an audience, they are approachable for most and read pretty well - with some exemptions for those texts that are written for the more professional and narrow audience. For me, This is a collection of 53 text consisting of mostly reviews, but also essays and other kinds of writings. It is a rather odd collection and show some of the width of what kept C. S. Lewis ticking, but at the same time a collection may not keep the common reader all that interested. Because most of the texts are written for an audience, they are approachable for most and read pretty well - with some exemptions for those texts that are written for the more professional and narrow audience. For me, there were something to get from a lot of the reviews. For instance, the review of Dorothy Sayers “Mind of the Maker” was a highlight, since I’ve read it and enjoyed it as did Lewis. Other high points is Lewis reviews of the works of Tolkien; who would not find those interesting? Many other of the texts are giving, but the collection is a reminder that not all texts belong together - so in the end this is a miscellaneous curiosity for those that want to dive deeper into Lewis mind.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jake McAtee

    Really loved the first two essays concerning the nature of education. My to-read list grew as his book reviews went. I also loved seeing him lampoon Harold Bloom.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Honestly, for real Lewis fans only. Many of these are reviews of books (Lewis' reviews, not reviews of his books) that only make sense if you know the book, while others are essays on topics that appealed to him and probably won't be of interest to the general reader. Having said that, if you, like me, are a Lewis fan, this is a great addition to your bookshelf. His voice ad his writing are as clear as ever and sorely missed. Honestly, for real Lewis fans only. Many of these are reviews of books (Lewis' reviews, not reviews of his books) that only make sense if you know the book, while others are essays on topics that appealed to him and probably won't be of interest to the general reader. Having said that, if you, like me, are a Lewis fan, this is a great addition to your bookshelf. His voice ad his writing are as clear as ever and sorely missed.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Barrow Wilfong

    One would benefit more if they were familiar with all the works the essays are on. I did very much enjoy the essays on Malory and the Holy Grail and Aruthurian legends.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Frans

    It is nice to read Lewis on what is his main expertise: English literature. But as mine expertise is not in that field, I was not quite able to value all of his essays and reviews as it should be.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Panda Incognito

    When I started reading this collection of Lewis's book reviews and literary criticism, I thought, "Oh, dear. This is way above my education level." However, even though parts of the book focus on his areas of expertise and assume a level of knowledge about ancient and medieval literature that most readers will not share, I still found the book engaging as a whole. I appreciated getting a glimpse into my favorite author's academic interests, and enjoyed the book reviews on more general and access When I started reading this collection of Lewis's book reviews and literary criticism, I thought, "Oh, dear. This is way above my education level." However, even though parts of the book focus on his areas of expertise and assume a level of knowledge about ancient and medieval literature that most readers will not share, I still found the book engaging as a whole. I appreciated getting a glimpse into my favorite author's academic interests, and enjoyed the book reviews on more general and accessible topics, ranging from Christian nonfiction, books about society and history, poetic works, and others' literary criticism. Even though I have read very few of the books that Lewis reviewed, he provides engaging perspectives on a variety of topics. I loved his reviews of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings even more than I had anticipated, and his heartfelt, vulnerable tribute to his late friend Charles Williams was my favorite part of the book. He reflected on the life, personality, and works of his friend with specificity and vividness, and also shared deep thoughts about the joys of friendship and the nature of death. One of my favorite quotes from this collection was in the essay about Charles Williams. Lewis writes about his friend's life advice, "He also said that when young people came to us with their troubles and discontents, the worst thing we could do was to tell them that they were not so unhappy as they thought. Our reply ought rather to begin, 'But of course...' For young people usually are unhappy, and the plain truth is often the greatest relief we can give them. The world is painful in any case: but it is quite unbearable if everyone gives us the idea that we are meant to be liking it. Half the trouble is over when that monstrous demand is withdrawn." Another quote that I found especially insightful was in one of the few reviews about a contemporary novel: "The lack of detailed character-study is not a fault at all. An adventure story neither needs nor admits it. Even in real life, adventures tend to obliterate fine shades. Hardship and danger strip us down to the bare bones moral essentials. The distinction between shirker and helper, brave and cowardly, trusty and treacherous, overrides everything else. 'Character' in the novelist's sense is a flower that expands fully when people are safe, fed, dry, and warmed. That adventure stories remind us of this is one of their merits." I enjoyed this book very much, and I'm glad that I finally got around to reading it. I appreciated Lewis's insight and thoughtful reflections on a variety of topics, and he provides an excellent model for writing book reviews, since he is clear, charitable, assesses the author's intent in addition to his own expectations, and provides succinct and persuasive criticism without judging an author's motives or neglecting to praise their knowledge and effectiveness in some area. Even though I would only encourage someone to read this collection if they are deeply invested in Lewis's work, I highly recommend it to those who are.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    This is the most recent collection of Lewis’s work and overwhelmingly the least interesting. It consists in the main of two kinds of essays: those that Lewis himself chose not to publish, and little workaday book reviews that he did, though momentarily in literary and theological periodicals of the day. The unpublished works are not his best; personally I find the reasoning of the title essay, “Image and Imagination” very suspect and the method of argument—a rather one-sided dialogue—amusing but This is the most recent collection of Lewis’s work and overwhelmingly the least interesting. It consists in the main of two kinds of essays: those that Lewis himself chose not to publish, and little workaday book reviews that he did, though momentarily in literary and theological periodicals of the day. The unpublished works are not his best; personally I find the reasoning of the title essay, “Image and Imagination” very suspect and the method of argument—a rather one-sided dialogue—amusing but opaque. The published reviews are pleasant enough, but belong very much to their time, and rarely have the depth of thought one expects absolutely anywhere else in Lewis (even his letters).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mary Foxe

    Skimmed. Can I have the Harold Bloom essay framed?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Paterson

    A book of book reviews. Loved reading Lewis on the Arthurian legends. He was preparing to write on the Matter of Britain prior to his death. How I wish he had lived to do so...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Steve Penner

    This most recent offering of Lewis writings is not for everyone and it isn't for no one. In between it will find a readership among Lewisphiles but few others. It is a collection of reprints of mostly book reviews with a couple of original unpublished essays thrown in to make it more marketable. It is broken up into six sections dealing with English Lit generally followed by more specialized readings in classical, medieval and middle English lit. There are also interesting sections on writings o This most recent offering of Lewis writings is not for everyone and it isn't for no one. In between it will find a readership among Lewisphiles but few others. It is a collection of reprints of mostly book reviews with a couple of original unpublished essays thrown in to make it more marketable. It is broken up into six sections dealing with English Lit generally followed by more specialized readings in classical, medieval and middle English lit. There are also interesting sections on writings of the Inklings and Christian themes. Some of it went over my head not having read "The Romance of the Rose," Malory or Lucretius, but I did learn much in a second-hand way. What I like about reading Lewis in his writings about literature is I get more insight into the way his mind worked, what was important to him and how he engaged in disagreement (always a gentleman). The best find was the reality that Lewis slightly overlapped with Harold Bloom and found him as undecipherable as I have. Bottom line: not for a general audience. Read the Chronicles of Narnia again.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Sorta licking the bottom of the Lewis bowl here. Image and Imagination is definitely worth the price of admission, but also a difficult and challenging essay that restates some very understated things about literature that I hadn't really thought about. (How much do we imagine? Are images all that make an experience?) Some really fun reviews. My favorite was the one on Mallory. You can tell he loves it. Of course, most readers will want to read his essays on Lord of the Rings. Brilliantly done, ev Sorta licking the bottom of the Lewis bowl here. Image and Imagination is definitely worth the price of admission, but also a difficult and challenging essay that restates some very understated things about literature that I hadn't really thought about. (How much do we imagine? Are images all that make an experience?) Some really fun reviews. My favorite was the one on Mallory. You can tell he loves it. Of course, most readers will want to read his essays on Lord of the Rings. Brilliantly done, even on re-reads.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Arthur O'dell

    A collection of book reviews along with a few literary essays, Image and Imagination certainly isn't essential Lewis, but it is rewarding, if demanding, Lewis. This is Lewis on his home ground, in his day job, writing as a literary critic and literary historian. Not really for the faint of heart, or those without a working knowledge of the English literary canon and criticism; but if you enjoy reading the books Lewis himself read, and don't mind the (mental) exercise, it's well worth the time an A collection of book reviews along with a few literary essays, Image and Imagination certainly isn't essential Lewis, but it is rewarding, if demanding, Lewis. This is Lewis on his home ground, in his day job, writing as a literary critic and literary historian. Not really for the faint of heart, or those without a working knowledge of the English literary canon and criticism; but if you enjoy reading the books Lewis himself read, and don't mind the (mental) exercise, it's well worth the time and money.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    With the exception of a previously unpublished essay, this is just a collection of book reviews Lewis wrote that were printed in a variety of places over the years. Reading reviews of non-contemporary books that one knows little to nothing about is pretty dull. I definitely enjoyed Lewis' discussion of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, but otherwise his book is only for the most intense and academic of Lewis scholars and historians. (A digital copy of this book was provided by the publisher throu With the exception of a previously unpublished essay, this is just a collection of book reviews Lewis wrote that were printed in a variety of places over the years. Reading reviews of non-contemporary books that one knows little to nothing about is pretty dull. I definitely enjoyed Lewis' discussion of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, but otherwise his book is only for the most intense and academic of Lewis scholars and historians. (A digital copy of this book was provided by the publisher through Netgalley for purposes of review.)

  18. 5 out of 5

    J. Alfred

    Interesting stuff, especially the essays on Charles Williams, which in conjunction with the friendship section of The Four Loves makes a really powerful statement about the anemic quality of most of our relationships. Lewis's hardheaded approach to what criticism ought to be is illuminating by contrast, as well. There's a bunch of technical stuff in here I was tempted to skip, however, so proceed with caution. Interesting stuff, especially the essays on Charles Williams, which in conjunction with the friendship section of The Four Loves makes a really powerful statement about the anemic quality of most of our relationships. Lewis's hardheaded approach to what criticism ought to be is illuminating by contrast, as well. There's a bunch of technical stuff in here I was tempted to skip, however, so proceed with caution.

  19. 5 out of 5

    James Prothero

    This is the critical Lewis, Lewis the reviewer. Mostly of biographical interest and interest to those who see him as a counter-culture critic and anti-Modernist in the mid 20th century. Wish I'd had access to the title essay while I was writing my recent study on Lewis' Romanticism. This is the critical Lewis, Lewis the reviewer. Mostly of biographical interest and interest to those who see him as a counter-culture critic and anti-Modernist in the mid 20th century. Wish I'd had access to the title essay while I was writing my recent study on Lewis' Romanticism.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bill Tillman

    This is the most in depth look at the character and mind of C. S. Lewis I have ever encountered. Over 50 book reviews, not a lot considering a lifetime of being an academic. But the immaculate detail of most reviews leaves one spellbound.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tim Ake

    much of this is for die hard Lewis fans, but some interesting reading nonetheless.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kris Lundgaard

    If you enjoy Lewis and literary criticism, this is a book for you. I loved it. His reviews of Lord of the Rings are worth the price of the book (and more).

  23. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    A bit of a mix of reviews and articles.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Fred Putnam

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carl Olson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elena F.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Curtis Taylor

  28. 4 out of 5

    Robin Rader

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Fayard

  30. 5 out of 5

    John

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