NEW! An Experiment in Criticism
NEW! An Experiment in Criticism E-mail

Many of us think of C. S. Lewis as a Christian apologist or as creator of Narnia.  But he had a "day job" that occupied much of his time -- teaching English at Oxford and later at Cambridge.  An Experiment in Criticism is the last of Lewis's academic works, published in 1961. 

The "experiment" referenced in the title is Lewis's proposal that we judge books by the way people read them.  Focus on what constitutes good reading, rather than the elements of a good book.  Professor Bruce Edwards refers to this as "a theology of reading."  Many of the ideas Lewis puts forth in Experiment are not limited to literature, but can be transferred to any form of art such as music, theatre, or painting. 

Despite references to literary works that today's readers may not be familiar with, this book is still accessible to non-English majors.  If you are someone who feels impoverished when your reading time is cut short, who keeps returning to your favorite poems and books, or who loves to ponder and talk about what you've read, then An Experiment in Criticism is for you.

 

"[T]he only real literary experience in such a family may be occurring in a back bedroom where a small boy is reading Treasure Island under the bed-clothes by the light of an electric torch."  (An Experiment in Criticism, p. 8)