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Paperback Allegory of Love Book

ISBN: 0195003438

ISBN13: 9780195003437

Allegory of Love

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Book Overview

The Allegory of Love is a landmark study of a powerful and influential medieval conception. C. S. Lewis explores the sentiment called 'courtly love' and the allegorical method within which it... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

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A review for readers of OHEL

Lewis's volume in the _Oxford History of English Literature_ series ("OHEL", as he called it) is still in print, while _The Allegory of Love_ (AoL) is not. Therefore, there might be some shoppers who have read the former and are wondering whether they should read the latter. This review is for those shoppers. In short, if you liked OHEL, I think you will probably like AoL. Some specifics: 1) Lewis began working on AoL when he was in his 20s, and _Collected Letters_, vol. 1, reveals a mindset in the young Lewis less appealing than that which would later help to make him beloved by his readers. Does this mindset mar AoL? No, not at all. Lewis was approaching 40 when AoL was published, and in it his voice is essentially indistinguishable from that of the later Lewis. 2) I haven't yet read _Boxen_, but I'm guessing that it gives ample evidence that Lewis's writing style developed substantially over time. Is AoL an early enough work that it exposes the rough edges in Lewis's prose? No, it is not. 3) While both OHEL and AoL are written for literature scholars, I found OHEL to be reasonably accessible and AoL even more so. 4) AoL is far more focused and coherent than OHEL, making for a more pleasurable read. 5) AoL was for Lewis a labor of love--no pun intended--while there was a reason he gave OHEL its nickname. For me, OHEL was a 5-star work. If it also was for you, I think you'll give AoL 5 stars, too.

A Milestone in the Lewis Canon

"The Allegory of Love" is an academic work that, among other things, traces the concept of love in literature, particularly the concept of courtly love in medieval literature. In the "Encyclopædia Britannica," it is listed before all the other works of Lewis as "his finest scholarly work." This shows the book's importance in making Lewis a respected literary critic. The main point of the first part of the book is that the concept of love changed in the literature of France in the eleventh century and has influenced the arts up to our day. Many years later, however, in "The Four Loves," Lewis admits that he had treated the concept of love too much like a literary phenomenon and failed to see that many characteristics of erotic love which he had attributed to eleventh-century France are in fact characteristics that lie in the very nature of erotic love (e.g., the tendency to make love into a god who sanctions any crime committed in its name). Having said this, "The Allegory of Love" is still a great academic work that delights as much as it instructs - a milestone in the Lewis Canon.

Ian Myles Slater on A Critical Masterpiece

This is the book which made C.S. Lewis' reputation as a critic of medieval and renaissance literature; in the original, medieval, sense, it was the "piece" that marked his transition from Apprentice to Master. It was first published in 1936, and has been reprinted many times. (I have 1960s copies of Oxford's 1958 "Galaxy Book" paperback edition; the cover of the recent Oxford Paperback is a great improvement.) As originally written, it covered the development of allegorical narrative from late classical antiquity to the Elizabethan poet Spenser's "Faerie Queene," with particular attention to the "Allegorical Love Poems of the Middle Ages" (the working title). Unhappily for the book's long-term reputation, Lewis was persuaded to add to the planned text an earlier summary of modern theories of "courtly love" in medieval life and literature. Lewis himself noted that this theoretical construction did not quite fit the texts he analyzed in detail, and the whole approach is now regarded as at best problematic, and by many as simply wrong. Since Lewis presented the material with unusual clarity and wit, however, he has come to be treated as an authoritative source on "Courtly Love" theory by some, and attacked as such by others. The rest of the book, being based on original studies of primary sources, retains much of its value. Later textual studies and shifts in crticial theory have only slightly diminished its value, and his discussions of such now-obscure writers as Martianus Capella remain among the most inviting of introductions. Lewis' treatment of "The Romance of the Rose" is still illuminating (and the point of departure for many recent re-considerations). His chapter on "The Faerie Queene" is regarded by some competent scholars as the foundation of modern study of the unfinished epic. Although Lewis never looses sight of the entertainment value of many of the works he discusses (and some of them never had any), he is concerned to show that they addressed real problems of human behavior and emotions, and their presentation in narratives. Norman Cantor (not, on the whole, a great admirer) reports from first-hand experience that the book helped make the study of medieval romances respectable in academic circles. My own reading of the secondary literature (pre- and post-Lewis) brought me to a similar conclusion. It is probably of interest to note that, according to Lewis himself, the "Chronicles of Narnia" did NOT arise from his studies of allegory, and that their allegorical implications arose spontaneously in his mind. One has to wonder whether he would have written "The Allegory of Love" differently after, rather than before, those experiences. Serious students of English literature, and medieval literature in general, will find "The Allegory of Love" more than worth their time. So will those who simply enjoy reading Arthurian literature, and several other types of story. For many who are familiar only with Lewis the fantasist, or Lewis t

Allegory of Love

While most associate Mr. Lewis with an assortment of tomes of otherworld fantasias (Narnia, Lion, Witch and Wardrobe, etc) or contemporary crisis, Allegory of Love is a very well written and scholarly study of medieval period (he once wrote that while the Renaissance was always a personlized venture for scholars, the dark ages belonged to boyhood), replete with references to not only incubala but extensive Greek, mystics, and Shakepeariana. It's nearly in the stylization and tradition of Fraser's "Golden Bough" with the precision of someone devoted to writing on, say, Milton or Donne. I hadn't really expected as fine and as much from this, but found without reservation it to be one of the hundred (perhaps fifty) best books I've ever read. Strongly recommend
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