An Experiment in Criticism

By C. S. Lewis



Why do we read literature and how do we judge it? C. S. Lewis's classic An Experiment in Criticism springs from the conviction that literature exists for the joy of the reader and that books should be judged by the kind of reading they invite. He argues that "good reading," like moral action or religious experience, involves surrender to the work in hand and a process of entering fully into the opinions of others: "in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself." Crucial to his notion of judging literature is a commitment to laying aside expectations and values extraneous to the work, in order to approach it with an open mind. Amid the complex welter of current critical theories, C. S. Lewis's wisdom is valuably down-to-earth, refreshing and stimulating in the questions it raises about the experience of reading.

Praises & Awards


The Spectator

“Professor Lewis’ motive is admirable, since he would like all books to have a chance, and he is right to oppose the kind of criticism which regards a work with the air of a suspicious frontier guard examining the passport of an unfriendly alien.”

The Church Times

“Lewis is provocative, tactful, biased, open-minded, old-fashioned, far-seeing, very annoying and very wise. He believes that literature exists for the joy of the reader, and that all who come between the reader and his joy… may kill the very art which they seek to protect.”

The Tablet

“This is a plea for a resolutely low-church attitude to criticism… for those in favour of happiness but distrustful of politics and the elevated disapproving mind, and his book is a charter and a liberation.”

Product Details

ISBN: 9780062313713

ISBN10: 0062313711

Imprint: HarperOne

On Sale: 05/11/2013

List Price 2.99 GBP

BISAC1: RELIGION / Christianity / Literature & the Arts

BISAC2: RELIGION / Spirituality