Why do we read literature and how do we judge it? This classic springs from Lewis's conviction that literature exists for the joy of the reader and that books should be judged by the kind of reading they invite. Crucial to his notion of judging literature is a commitment to lay aside expectations and values extraneous to the work, in order to approach it with an open mind. Amid the complex welter of current critical theories, Lewis's wisdom is valuably down to earth, refreshing and stimulating in the questions it raises about the experience of reading.
"Lewis is at one and the same time provocative, tactful, biased, open-minded, old fashioned, far-seeing, very annoying, and very wise."—Church Times
Everywhere you turn, a critic of some stripe can be found. Most of these make us all unhappy, filling pages with their drivel, based on empty standards. C. S. Lewis conducts an experiment using a different standard, hoping to alleviate the common symptoms of bad analysis. His focus is how to judge literature, but his principles can be applied to other art forms as well.
I. The Few and the Many
II. False Characterisations
III. How the Few and the Many use Pictures and Music
IV: The Reading of the Unliterary
V. On Myth
VI. The Meaning of Fantasy
VII. On Realisms
VIII. On Misreading by the Literary
XI. The Experiment
Appendix: A Note on Oedipus