The Discarded Image

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature is non-fiction and the last book written by C. S. Lewis. Multilayered, it is on one level a work that deals with medieval cosmology and the Ptolemaic universe, the "model" of the world used by the medievals - "the medieval synthesis itself, the whole organization of their theology, science and history into a single, complex, harmonious mental model of the universe."


The central themes of the book include the structure of the medieval universe, the nature of its inhabitants, the notion of a finite universe, ordered and maintained by a celestial hierarchy, and the ideas of nature. At the same time, Lewis takes his reader on a tour of some of the pinnacles of medieval thought (some of them inherited from Classical Paganism) that have survived into the modern cultural and theological landscape.

Selected reviews

Several reviews of the book were positive, for example,

  • "Wise, illuminating, companionable, it may well come to be seen as Lewis’ s best book." The Observer
  • "the final memorial to the work of a great scholar and teacher and a wise and noble mind."



  • Burrow, John (1965). "The Model Universe". Essays in Criticism XV (2): 207–211.
  • Mader, Eric The Discarded Image: C.S. Lewis' Short Course on the Middle Ages. Necessary Prose. .
  • J. A. Burrow (Winter, 1979). "The Alterity of Medieval Literature - Medieval Literature and Contemporary Theory". New Literary History 10 (2): 385–390.

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