The Discarded Image paints a lucid picture of the medieval world view, providing the historical and cultural background to the literature of the ...Show synopsisThe Discarded Image paints a lucid picture of the medieval world view, providing the historical and cultural background to the literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It describes the 'image' discarded by later years as 'the medieval synthesis itself, the whole organisation of their theology, science and history into a single, complex, harmonious mental model of the universe'. This, Lewis's last book, has been hailed as 'the final memorial to the work of a great scholar and teacher and a wise and noble mind'.Hide synopsis
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I'm a CSL fan, and was surprised to learn of the existence of this book recently -- it's not one of his well known works, and derives more from his standing as medieval scholar than as Christian apologist. In it, he builds a comprehensive "image" of the medieval world view -- meaning the underlying assumptions about the nature of the universe, man, nature, art, literature, God, history, and the spiritual world -- how different from the modern it is, and how profoundly we can misunderstand medieval literature if we don't recognize those differences. He demonstrates the classical underpinnings (Greek, Latin, Jewish, Christian) of the Medieval Model in a way that shows sweeping mastery of classical authors and languages. Its tone is clearly pitched at the academic, rather than lay audience of much of his other work, yet one of the most delightful aspects was recognizing aspects of the medieval model from some of his fiction -- the science fiction trilogy comes to mind.
Middle Ages buffs, as well as CSL fans, will thoroughly enjoy this highly readable book.
Perhaps in many areas, C. S. Lewis's introduction to the medieval worldview could be improved. Research has gone a long way in the last forty years. It is difficult to find, however, a book so elegantly written and so intelligent in the way it retrieves the crucial elements. This is an ideal survey for those who begin their medieval readings, and even for those who already are familiar with the Middle Ages, it will prove a powerful tool.
A very good introduction to medieval and Renaissance literture, constructing the Model of the Universe that was popularly held at that time. Lewis builds the Model by citing a substantial number of works that address cosmology, astronomy, medicine, rhetoric, etc. Subjects referred to by medieval authors are compiled, such as the characteristics of people described by the planet they were born under or the balance of their humours; the inhabitants of earth, aether, and the sky; daemons, angels and faeries; the separation of body and soul. A very good reference, and the beginning of a very long reading list.
This book restores in me the love of literature. Lewis's goal is to help us understand Medieval literature by trying to restore the Medieval worldview superseded by the Enlightenment (that is, the "Discarded Image" of the universe, the world and ourselves.) In doing so, he has got me reading all kinds of supplementary materials, from Homer to the Bible to Dante and beyond.
One thing he stresses is how much thinking people in the Medieval period knew about our earth and its place in the universe. They knew it was round and that it was relatively tiny. Although they did think the sun rotated around it (as it appears to do), they also knew that the earth was far from the center of the universe, believing the center to be God.
If you have any interest in Medieval literature, or the history of science or Christianity, this is an indispensable read. It is also great fun!
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