(The Inklings Series is a monthly series featuring the works of my two favorites, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or books about them. But I don’t want it to be just me chatting about these books, so that’s where y’all come in! I’ll announce the book at least four weeks in advance of when the discussion post will go live, so you have plenty of time to get the book and read it. Then, the following month, I’ll post a discussion post and let the fun begin!!)
Happy Inklings Discussion Day internet! I always so look forward to these, not so shockingly. I hope y’all enjoyed Perelandra, I admit it started off slower than I was hoping for, at least with Ransom’s early encounter on the planet, but as soon as Weston arrived…boom! Things took off for me.
As it went on, I enjoyed this one more and more. Although I was not expecting most of the novel to be an intellectual battle, more so a physical fight, like what came towards the end between Ransom and Weston. I think this method showed why Lewis really was a literary genius. Using philosophy to capture attention requires a rare skill.
Even with the different style from Out of the Silent Planet, it worked for me. Although reading it made me miss Malacandra. I might have to re-read that guy soon. The stories are as different as the two planets involved, yet the same in many ways. I also have to say that Lewis as the narrator in the first few pages made me chuckle quite a few times. Another creative tidbit.
I also, yet again, want a pet dragon.
One thing I appreciate from Lewis’ stories is the sense of adventure. Like early in Ransom’s story – “…in his heart such a premonition of good adventure as made him sit up forthwith and brought him, a moment later, to his feet.” I want to wake up like that every day!
I like his pretty sentences too:
“Once more he could not look steadily at her. He knew now what the old painters were trying to represent when they invented the halo. Gaiety and gravity together, a splendor as of martyrdom yet with no pain in it at all, seemed to our from her countenance.”
Then there’s Weston. Oh Weston, see where bad choices get you?
I love Lewis’ ability to show how real life can work through stories of fantasy. Like the parts where Weston is talking to the Green Lady, it reminded me of satan’s tricks. Y’all, it was hard for me not to yell “LIAR!!” when he was spitting out words and twisting truth the the Green Lady. Plus he tried the ol beauty and wisdom as rewards trick. Sneaky, sneaky…
(Side note: Poor frogs who were destroyed at the hands of “Weston.”)
There were many pieces of wisdom and gems from the entire intellectual battle, but one of the parts that really stuck out to me was when Lewis described a devilish smile. Evil doesn’t always come in clear packages of dictators or tyrants, but even in the non flashy ways, it’s still dangerous. I thought this showed that so chillingly:
“We have all often spoken – Ransom himself had often spoken – of a devilish smile. Now he realised that he had never taken the words seriously. The smile was not bitter, nor raging, nor, in an ordinary sense, sinister; it was not even mocking. It seemed to summon Ransom, with horrible naivete of welcome, into the world of its own pleasures, as if all men were at one in those pleasures, as if they were the most natural thing in the world and no dispute could ever have occurred about them. It was not furtive, nor ashamed, it had nothing of the conspirator in it. It did not defy goodness, it ignored it to the point of annihilation. Ransom perceived that he had never before seen anything but half hearted and uneasy attempts at evil. This creature was whole-hearted. The extremity of its evil had passed beyond all struggle into some state which bore a horrible similarity to innocence. It was beyond vice as the Lady was beyond virtue.”
I liked her response in one of the conversations, where Weston was trying to say he was the way to bring her wisdom:
“But if this concerns me so deeply, why does He put none of this into my mind? It is all coming from you, Stranger. There is no whisper, even, of the Voice saying Yes to your words.”
I also liked how Lewis used “wisdom” as making someone older, but also this quote from Ransom: “In our world, to be older is not always to be wiser.” Sadly that is the truth.
I really like Ransom’s character. He’s brave and willing to do what needs to be done.
“It surprised him that he could experience so extreme a terror and yet be walking and thinking – as men in war or sickness are surprised to find how much can be borne: “It will drive us mad,” “It will kill us outright,” we say; and then it happens and we find ourselves neither mad nor dead, still held to the task.”
I close with this – one of my favorite quotes from Ransom:
“Of course good came from it. Is Maleldil a beast that we can stop His path, or a leaf that we can twist His shape? Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed Him. That is lost for ever. The first King and first Mother of our world did the forbidden thing; and He brought good of it in the end. But what they did was not good; and what they lost we have not seen. And there were some to whom no good came nor ever will come.”
Questions of the Discussion Type
Please join in as you like!
1. This one will probably seem really random, but did anyone get why she called him Piebald? I remember his early half tan/half not being mentioned, but I think I missed the rest.
2. Did you have a favorite part of the novel? I feel like there’s so many ways discussing this book can go, so I’ll just leave it wide open.
3. What were some quotes that stuck with you?
“He remembered his old suspicion that what was myth in one world might always be fact in some other.” So this means Narnia and Middle Earth are real!!!
4. Any other thoughts?
More and more I find it so interesting how mermen and mermaids are portrayed in fantasy. Even in Lewis’ work it varies. I’m curious what brings authors to portray them the way they do. Like Harry Potter merfolks? Freaky mean.
As always, looking forward to what your thoughts are!