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A Preface to Paradise Lost: Being the Ballard Matthews Lectures Delivered at University College, North Wales, 1941 [Paperback]

By C. S. Lewis (Author)
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Item description for A Preface to Paradise Lost: Being the Ballard Matthews Lectures Delivered at University College, North Wales, 1941 by C. S. Lewis...

Professor C. S. Lewis's criticism has always been outstanding for first asking the right questions and then answering them with lucidity, stimulating the reader to delve into poetry. 143 pages of Lewis's insights into Milton's epic make enriching reading; 18 thoughtful chapters of interpretation.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Oxford University Press, USA
Pages   160
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 5" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.3 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 31, 1961
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0195003454  
ISBN13  9780195003451  

Availability  0 units.

More About C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis C.S. Lewis was a professor of medieval and Renaissance literature at Oxford and Cambridge universities who wrote more than thirty books in his lifetime, including The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Mere Christianity. He died in 1963.

C. S. Lewis was born in 1898 and died in 1963.

C. S. Lewis has published or released items in the following series...
  1. C.S. Lewis Signature Classics
  2. Chronicles of Narnia
  3. Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis
  4. Scribner Classics
  5. Shepherd's Notes
  6. Space Trilogy (Paperback)

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( L ) > Lewis, C.S.
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Epic
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Single Authors > British & Irish
7Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > British

Reviews - What do customers think about A Preface to Paradise Lost: Being the Ballard Matthews Lectures Delivered at University College, North Wales, 1941?

Excellent Insight  Apr 23, 2008
If you are reading this I am assuming you have read Paradise Lost. If you have read Paradise Lost, and not read any other Milton, I suggest you do so because, a) it will give immeasurable insight to certain portions and ideas of PL, and b) Milton thoroughly addresses things which are startlingly prevalent in today's world - but this is a digression. I only ask if you've read other Milton to say that if you have, it is pretty easy to debunk the theory that Satan is the "good-guy".

Lewis, I think rightly, is on the side who think Satan is a bad guy, and not the hero of the work. It is a common tendency for readers who sympathize with Satan to place him as the hero of the work; but Satan only reflects the rebellion of human nature and estrangement from God. Do we empathize with Satan? Of course, and this is to be expected. We are fallen creatures, each with a little "Satan" in us. But I am getting preachy.

Lewis displays his methodical writing ability and analyzes certain historical, theological, psychological implications within PL. It is difficult to sum up, but Lewis reacts against the notion that Satan is the hero, corrects various misinterpretations (as he believes) other critics have attributed to the work, and so on.

Overall, if you're interested in reading criticism about criticism on PL, I would suggest this. And do not be afraid if you aren't extremely knowledgeable with the history of the Church and its doctrine. Lewis is informative without being overly pedantic (but keep in mind, he is a scholar).
Essential Lewis, Essential Criticism  Mar 9, 2007
While other reviewers have already touched on many key tenets of this fabulous little book, I may be able to enumerate or elaborate a little yet.

The real stuff of this book you must read for yourself, but I can at least adumbrate some general ideas he touches on.

1) A short, lucid, and highly informative introduction to epic _qua_ epic. Style, content, form, all the essentials. What makes Homer Homer: what it means. Where Virgil deviated: why it matters. Where Milton deviates: why it matters. &c.

2) Lovely interaction with contemporary "New Criticism." I. A. Richards meets the classical scholar (Chapter VIII).

3) Quintessential societal and philosophical criticism peppered _throughout_. You wouldn't think you'd be able to quote Lewis on the fatuousness of certain "sacred cow" tenets of "progressive modernity" in a book on Milton, but it's here--and moreover, each little epigrammatic jab is perfectly felicitous and apposite. Only Clive! Each one yields great laughter and reflection.

4) Some _excellent_ and _original_ universal literary criticism. It is my opinion that many excerpts of this book should be included in Literary Theory anthologies. He treats such overarching topics as reading, poetry _qua_ poetry, criticism _qua_ criticism, authorial intent, &c. &c.

5) His criticism of Milton's Satan is pretty much the coolest thing you'll ever read. I'll leave it at that: you must read it for yourself! I've read the chapter on Satan four times it's so good.

That's enough for now. Buy and read!
A Masterful Essay on Paradise Lost  Nov 10, 2006
There are many approaches to criticism of Paradise Lost. None is more in the spirit of the poem as Milton wrote and intended than C. S. Lewis's Preface. Lewis's spirit is in harmony with Milton's and his Preface is a masterful explication of the greatest poem ever written. It is a delight to read and, as Lewis wished, urges one on to read the poem itself, with greater understanding.
A classic of Milton criticism but...  Oct 19, 2006
This work is considered a classic of Milton criticism. I began the book with great expectations and must admit to being somewhat disappointed. Lewis sets out defining the 'epic' as genre, and explaining why Milton chose this form. He also traces the history of the Epic giving special emphasis on the turning point in the form made by the 'Aeneid'.He also outlines the stylistic peculiarities of Milton which helped give shape to his Epic. The latter part of the book is a discussion of the Themes of 'Paradise Loss' and considers among other things, the relation of Milton's work to the thought of Augustine, the role of Satan in the work, that of Adam and Eve. Lewis tends to the view that the Arian Milton did not attempt to force his own religious views on the Poem, but rather was concerned with the Poem's achieving its artistic and moral end.
There is an important chapter on 'Heirarchy' which shows how for Milton as for Shakespeare this is a key conception in their worlds. Lewis is a chamption of Milton's discipline, and shows how his stylistic brilliance created a continuous motion and form for the poem. The great Miltonian sentence in all its complexities is central here.
There is much to learn from this work about Milton, and also about Lewis.
I find that it did not however provide the kind of overall picture of the meaning of the Poem that I certainly thought it would.
a central brick in milton criticism  Nov 4, 2005
As a man who spent the entirety of his childhood avoiding the repeatedly assigned Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (i got very good at making my tests look like i'd read it, as im sure many grade school students do when its assigned year after year, i think we even did it in high school), i always associated Lweis' name with BAD. And then i discovered Milton, and his Satan, and Lewis re-entered the picture.

His preface to Paradise Lost is largely a defense, mostly against the attacks of contemporary and irreverant poets like Pound and Eliot who criticized Milton extensively, especially for his Latinate syntax. Lewis engages Eliot specifically in one chapter that reads like a very wordy rap beef. If you ask me, Eliot, certainly the better poet, is out of his element in the crit ring, and Lewis smokes him good, at times you might shout "OHHHHHHHHHHHH"

Far as his approach to the poem, he lays out the foundation for a modern understanding of Milton, namely a reverence for ritual and heritage, and an appreciation of epic and narrative poetry. His chapters on Homer Virgil and Beowulf are valuable and enjoyable reads worth the price of admission themselves. His criticism is highly intelligent but never overwhelming or tangential, it is systematic and thorough while still retaining a smooth readability. Easily one of the most valuable studies of Milton to come out of the 20th century.

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