On today’s episode of The Literary Life, Angelina and Cindy are once again joined by Thomas Banks. They discuss the last two chapters and the epilogue of An Experiment in Criticism. The first topic of conversation is Lewis’ comments on poetry, including the un-literary reading of poetry and the importance of the sound of poetry. Angelina highlights Lewis’ take on reading “bad books,” and Cindy points out his warning against de-bunking. Thomas gives us some history on the reference to F. R. Leavis and his literary criticism.
Angelina dives into her favorite part of this section, all about what makes good literary criticism. She recaps Lewis’ own list of the types of literary commentators and historians who have helped him in his own reading. Angelina and Thomas both mention some of their favorite resources, including George Lyman Kittredge, Northrup Frye, J. W. MacKail and Dorothy Sayers. Another important point is to look for resources that point back to the text, not outside of the text.
Cindy and Angelina clear up some confusion about marginalia and what types of notes can help or hinder us in our reading. Finally, in discussing the epilogue, our hosts reiterate the purpose of reading as widening our souls and freeing ourselves to experience another person’s perspective. Cindy asks if we will read with hubris, or humility? That makes all the difference.
Be sure to check out Thomas Banks’ next webinar, “Poetry and Classical Myth: The Influence of Greek and Roman Myth on English Poetry.” The live stream will be on October 17, 2019, but the replay will be available soon afterward. Also, for our Patreon Fellows, please join us for a live private Q&A session on An Experiment in Criticism on October 23, 2019!
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by Edward Thomas
She had a name among the children;
But no one loved though someone owned
Her, locked her out of doors at bedtime
And had her kittens duly drowned.
In Spring, nevertheless, this cat
Ate blackbirds, thrushes, nightingales,
And birds of bright voice and plume and flight,
As well as scraps from neighbours’ pails.
I loathed and hated her for this;
One speckle on a thrush’s breast
Was worth a million such; and yet
She lived long, till God gave her rest.
The Porch and the Cross by Kevin Vost
A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle
The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings by Phillip and Carol Zaleski
The Mother Tongue by Kittredge & Arnold
Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare by Isaac Asimov
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