An Experiment in Criticism Ch 9-Epilogue
An Experiment in Criticism Ch 9-Epilogue E-mail

An Experiment in Criticism
Chapter 9-Epilogue

Chapter 9

1.  Lewis recaps his paradigm of using versus receiving a work of art.  (See Chapter 3, p. 19.)  Do you think this distinction holds up?  Why is using art inferior to receiving it?

2.  How does Lewis address the idea that reading should be entertaining?


Pindar (522-443 BC):  Greek poet from Thebes. 

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794):  Historian and member of Parliament best known for The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Coney-catchers:  Slang for thief or con man.

Chapter 10

3.  How does Lewis compare the new poetry to the old?

4.  What recommendation does Lewis have for the "literary" who "use" poetry?


Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919):  American poet from Wisconsin.  Best known for her poem "Solitude" which contains the line: "Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep and you weep alone."

Patience Strong (19907-1990):  Pen name for Winifred Emma May, an English poet who wrote simple, sentimental poems and song lyrics.

Dromenon:  A labyrinth that leads to the center.

Cognoscenti:  Well-informed people with a specialized knowledge; connoisseurs.

Moyen de parvenir:  A book published in 1617 by François Béroalde de Verville as a parody of "table talk" books (where famous people debate philosophical topics) and known  or being almost unreadable.

Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585):  French prince of poets.

Vers libre:  Free verse

Chapter 11

5.  What was Lewis's experiment?  Thinking back to earlier chapters, what does Lewis mean by good reading (the verb)?

6.  What support does he cite for the experiment? 

7.  Lewis believes that denigrating someone's taste in books won't improve it.  Rather, we should teach them to enjoy something better (see p.112).  What are some practical ways we can do this with our friends and acquaintances?

8.  What place does Lewis see for literary criticism?  What does he find more helpful than evaluative criticism?  What use do you make, if any, of  literary criticism?  Book reviews?

9.  Lewis addresses a subset of criticism, which he dubs "the Vigilant school."  He calls it a "form of social and ethical hygiene."  What are some of the dangers of embracing the Vigilant school?  Does the Vigilant school amount to a form of censorship?  How may a Christian not reduce the "list of approved authors" (thus preventing "unions of a good reader with a good book"), while at the same time heed the advice of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8?


Tu quoque:  Latin for "you also"; the criticism applies equally to the person making it.

Floruit:  Latin for "flourished"; referring to the period of time when something was active.

Märchen:  A folktale.

R.M. Ballantyne (1825-1894):  Scottish writer of over 100 books for children including The Coral Island.

W. W. Jacobs (1863-1943):  Wrote short stories and novels, most famous of which is the macabre The Monkey's Paw.  His father was wharf manager so the sea factors into Jacobs' stories.

Urn Burial:  Perhaps refers to a work by Sir Thomas Browne published in 1658.  The discovery of an ancient Roman burial urn in Norfolk prompts a meditation on mortality and  the afterlife.

Faute de mieux:  French for "lack of something better."

Martin Tupper (1810-1889):  Considered to be a second-rate English poet.

Amanda Ross (1860-1939):  An Irish novelist who has been called "the greatest bad writer who ever lived" by author Nick Page.  Supposedly the Inklings held contests to see who could read her work aloud the longest while maintaining a straight face.

Mares' nest:  A place or situation of great disorder.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888):  English poet and literary critic who also worked as a school inspector.  He introduced a type of criticism that combined the historicist approach with personal essay.  Wrote Essays in Criticism.

William Paton Ker (1855-1923):  Scottish literary scholar who was a pioneer in the field of medieval epic.  He was the Oxford Professor of Poetry as well as teaching in London and South Wales.  Respected by Tolkien and Auden.  Wrote Epic and Romance: Essays on Medieval Literature (1897).

Oliver Elton (1861-1945):  English literary scholar who taught at Liverpool University.  Wrote A Survey of English Literature(1730-1880).  He also translated works from  Icelandic and Russian.

John William Mackail (1859-1945):  Scottish literary scholar who was the Oxford Professor of Poetry from 1906-1911.  He was an authority on Virgil and the Icelandic sagas  among other things.

John Dryden (1631-1700):  English poet and literary critic who became poet laureate in 1668.  Known for his use of the heroic couplet and introducing alexandrine form.  He was so associated with Restoration England that it became known as "The Age of Dryden."

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784):  English man of letters, among other works wrote A Dictionary of the English Language (1755).  James Boswell's biography of Johnson was one of C. S. Lewis's top ten books.

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781):  German writer and critic during the Enlightenment.  Laocoon was his book of literary criticism.

Walter Pater (1839-1894):  English essayist and critic who also tutored Gerald Manley Hopkins.  Published Appreciations, with an Essay on Style (1889) containing his thoughts on literature.

A. C. Bradley (1851-1935):  English literary scholar and Oxford professor who specialized in Shakespeare.

Ferdinand Brunetiere (1849-1906):  French author and critic who wrote on French history and literature.  The statement attributed to him translates: "Montaigne, love is love itself even."

Mutatis mutandis:  Latin for "changing only those things which need to be changed."

En règle:  Trans. in order

Henri Bergson (1859-1941):  French philosopher with training in mathematics, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1927.  He was a bit of a cult figure during the decades  between the World Wars.  He postulated the existence of an immaterial force, called the élan vital that guided evolution.  The creative force infused matter and is the source of all life forms.

Biolatry:  Perhaps the worship of biology.

Orangemen:  Probably refers to the Orange Order in Ireland, named for Protestant King William of Orange who defeated Catholic King James II in 1690.  A group that favored
union with Britain and violent confrontation with Irish Catholics.

Et hoc genus omne:  Latin for "and everything of this kind."


10.  How does Lewis use "Logos" and "Poiema" in considering a work of art?

11.  Lewis argues that the goodness of literature is the enlargement of our being.  How does this happen in reading?  How have you experienced "becom[ing] a thousand men and yet remain[ing] [your]self"?  

Note:  Interesting research is underway on reading fiction and the development of empathy and compassion.


Benedetto Croce (1866-1952):  Italian philosopher active in aesthetics and literary criticism.

Bons viveurs:  People who enjoy the good things of life.

Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883):  English poet and known for this translation into English of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Gottfied Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716):  German mathematician and philosopher who amongst his calculus theories found time to design mechanical calculators.

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593):  Elizabethean playwright and poet and contemporary of Shakespeare.  Wrote Tamburlaine and Doctor Faustus.  Rumored to be a spy and an atheist, Marlowe died young under suspicious circumstances.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881):  Scottish philosopher, satirist, and historian.  Born to Calvinist parents, Carlyle lost his faith at university.  His three-volume work on the French Revolution served as resource to Dickens when writing A Tale of Two Cities.  

Connaître & savoir:  Both are French verbs for "to know."  Connaître is to know a person or be familiar with a person or thing.  Savoir is to know a fact or to know how to do something.

Erleben:  German for "to experience."

© 2014 by Allyson Wieland