The Allegory of Love
The Allegory of Love is a study in medieval tradition—the rise of both the sentiment called "Courtly Love" and of the allegorical method—from eleventh-century Languedoc through sixteenth-century England. C. S. Lewis devotes considerable attention to The Romance of the Rose and The Faerie Queene, and to such poets as Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, and Thomas Usk.
However, the payoff is modern readers’ greater understanding of a time and place which served as the background for many contemporary fictional fantasies. (See below)
It traces the rise and decline of the love allegory as a mainstay of European literature in the late Middle Ages. I read it to mine the nuggets of Lewis wisdom ...more
It did make me headdesk a couple of times when he said things like, "Monotheism should not be regarded as the rival of polytheism, but rather its maturity." It's just -- ugh. C.S. Lewis, your bias is showing.
I'm finally starting!
Don't read this book without having read:
Arthurian Romances by Chrétien de Troyes
The Romance of the Rose by ...more
There were rewards, to be sure. Lewis sprinkles delightfully direct side remarks in, e.g.:
It is idle to seek deep spiritual causes for literary phenomena which mere incompetence can explain. If a man who cannot ...more
Tracing some of the threads of allegory and courtly love through medieval history to the Renaissance. Heavy emphasis on the English part of the development. From Cretien's work to The Romance of the Rose through many English allegories to The Faerie Queen.
Interesting stuff. I would quibble about some points -- that there was, in the early days, so much argument that married couples could not love shows that many people disagreed ...more
The Allegory of Love is a scholarly book, but I think it can be read with enjoyment by anyone interested in medieval poetry. The first two sections discuss of courtly love and allegory. These sections are primarily theory. If your main interest is the poetry, I believe they can be skipped with no diminution of understanding. Lewis, in fact, doesn't make use of them in much of his analysis of the poetry. The major area where he sticks close to them is ...more
would seem an impertinence" since I know nothing of criticism.
But despite the fact that I had read almost nothing that he writes about,
I was greatly benefited by reading this book. Lewis' style is always a
a strong corrective to ignorance and clumsiness on the one hand and
overwrought prolixity on the other. His thoughts edify like no
writer's I know. I can easily say of him (and this book in particular among
all his scholarly works) ...more
More in-depth writeup to come later.
I had to struggle through it, but I'm glad I did. Someday I'll read it again, in the spirit of a child learning new multi-syllable words from the conversation of adults. For now I've come away with some new ideas about the invention of love, and a wholly new desire to read some of the poetry Lewis analyzes in this book.
The first chapter is quite good and the thread of courtly love is quite fittingly held onto all the way through the book to the end.
The chapter on Allegory is good, and I want to read (at least the first part) of the Romance of the Rose. Chaucer must have wrote a lot of bilge, but Lewis also got me excited about Troilus and ...more
This book is yet another book for older students. The book would encourage history and ...more
Clive Staples Lewis was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge ...more