In 1898, C. S. Lewis was born on this day, Nov 29, in Belfast. In honor of his birthday, I have given a couple of interesting selections from his An Experiment in Criticism, the first on Bach and the second dealing with how we should appreciate art:

“Many people enjoy popular music in a way which is compatible with humming the tune, stamping in time, talking, and eating. And when the popular tune has once gone out of fashion they enjoy it no more. Those who enjoy Bach react quite differently” (4).

“In general the parallel between the popular uses of music and of pictures is close enough. Both consist of ‘using’ rather than ‘receiving’. Both rush hastily forward to do things with the work of art instead of waiting for it to do something to them. As a result, a very great deal that is really visible on the canvas or audible in the performance is ignored; ignored because it cannot be so ‘used’. And if the work contains nothing that can be so used–if there are no catchy tunes in the symphony, if the picture is of things that the majority does not care about–it is completely rejected. Neither reaction need be in itself reprehensible; but both leave a man outside the full experience of the arts in question” (25-26).

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