Beginning That Hideous Strength

Since the site’s tagline claims that this is a blog started by two Inklings fans, it seems appropriate that the first article concerns a work of C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy.  That Hideous Strength ends the trilogy, coming after Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra.  One of my best friends, the co-author of this blog and owner of Dusty Thanes, has often encouraged me to read this work.  After a long time of persuasion, I read the first work in my junior or senior year of college.  To speak truly, Out of the Silent Planet failed to impress me too much.   Perelandra, however, with its new temptation story and spellbinding cosmological vision, easily may be counted a masterpiece.

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Yet, I waited two years before attempting to read the book following this master work.  This reading was stalled early as I became distracted by other things, and so I am now attempting to read it again.  This work is supposed to be the best of the three too!  Yet, compared with the other two novels with their beautifully fantastic vision of Mars and Venus, the last book starts by focusing on the every day existence of Britishers.  So much so that his wife mentions that Mark slept as soon as his head hit the pillow with one exception: “Only one thing ever seemed able to keep him awake after he had gone to bed, and even that did not seem to keep him awake for very long.”

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Mentioning sex in addition to the ordinary life of a stay at home mom and politics in educational institutions gives this story more of the feel of a modern novel.  You might exclaim: “It is a modern novel!!!”  But, the most popular works of the Inklings, especially when one considers the Chronicles of Narnia, all tended to have a more extraordinary feel to the extent that the banality of every day existence tends to be avoided or the characters’ ordinary existence is so removed from us as to render it fantastic, like the hobbits of Hobbiton.  I think that describing these ordinary details is what turned me off from finishing it the first time.  (Yes, I did not get very far.)  This time, I am keeping the fact that Merlin makes an appearance in the novel in mind, and I’m very eager to read about C. S. Lewis’s treatment of him.

Stay tuned for a proper review of this novel in the future!  And I hope that you will look forward to other articles on this site!

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