Sunday, September 30, 2012

That Hideous Strength

“Fellows of colleges do not always find money matters easy to understand: if they did, they would probably not have been the sort of men who become Fellows of colleges.”


Described as perhaps the spiritual companion of 1984.

Sorry for the spoilers...

This book is about a husband on one side of a covert sociological and spiritual war, and the wife on the side of the angels... literally.

The N.I.C.E. (National Institute for Coordinated Experiments) is a demonically influenced organization that stands to eventually and systematically remove organic life; ultimately sterilize the planet!

The book is interesting in it's humor as well as it's horror. It lightly flips from one to the other with ease.

I personally love how this book ties itself and the trilogy right into J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth mythology as well as the Arthurian legends. It does this quite well. If you consider that scope, there isn't much that can beat that. Pretty darn cool.

Dr. Ransom from the first two books has ceased aging due to his visit to Venus, where he received his never-healing injury. Ransom is the modern-day Pendragon

The book sets up the character of Merlin as quite a big character (in stature as well as importance). It's interesting, however, how quickly Merlin realizes that he is quite insignificant compared to the experiences Ransom has had.

One aspect of this book I wasn't expecting was how much Lewis has to say about sex and marriage. Mark and Jane Studdock are newly married and moderately happily. Through the story Mark finally becomes wise to the real circumstances of why he is involved with the N.I.C.E. and at rock bottom finds himself as well as real love for his wife. Meanwhile Jane gets a proper conservative training on what it really means to be married from Ransom's Logres crew.

With the rather seamless inclusion of the Lord of the Rings series as well as Arthurian legend, this trilogy becomes somewhat of a Wold Newton Family ordeal. And if we're going there (and we are) I say we include the books in Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time series. What a wonderful science fantasy saga that would make, with kids and interesting adults all fighting evil on the side of the angels (literally).

The curse of Babel and the climax of the fate of the leaders of N.I.C.E. felt like it might have contributed to scenes of Jurassic Park. It's always nice to read the bad guys getting theirs.


We'll wrap this up with this humorous letter found at the Inklings blog:
Your discovery of 'Numinor' in C.S.L.'s That Hideous Strength is discovery of a plagiarism: well, not that, since he used the word, taken from my legends of the First and Second Ages, in the belief that they would soon appear. They have not, but I suppose now they may. The spelling Numinor is due to his hearing it and not seeing it. Númenóre or Númenor means in High-elven simply West-land. As for the shape of the world of the Third Age, I am afraid that was devised 'dramatically' rather than geologically, or paleontologically.  I do sometimes wish that I had made some sort of agreement between the imaginations or theories of the geologists and my map a little more possible.  But that would only have made more trouble with human history.

J.R.R. Tolkien
#169 From a letter to Hugh Brogan 11 September 1955




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