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Dr. Ransom and Lewis

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Dr. Ransom and Lewis

Postby Christy » 15 Apr 2005, 02:11

It seems to me that Lewis based Ransom's character off of himself somewhat. This thought came to me a few weeks ago when I was doing an English project. Since then, I began reading That Hideous Strength and the similarities between the two seem even greater.
One line that jumped out at me was from Mother Dimble: "My dear, the Director is a very wise man. But he is a man, after all, and an unmarried man at that."
It also seems to me that Ransom's spiritual journey is akin to Lewis' own.
Am I way off base here, or do you agree that Lewis wrote these similarities intentionally?
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Re: Dr. Ransom and Lewis

Postby Sven » 15 Apr 2005, 20:06

Christy wrote:It seems to me that Lewis based Ransom's character off of himself somewhat. This thought came to me a few weeks ago when I was doing an English project. Since then, I began reading That Hideous Strength and the similarities between the two seem even greater.
One line that jumped out at me was from Mother Dimble: "My dear, the Director is a very wise man. But he is a man, after all, and an unmarried man at that."
It also seems to me that Ransom's spiritual journey is akin to Lewis' own.
Am I way off base here, or do you agree that Lewis wrote these similarities intentionally?


A bit off himself, a bit more off Tolkien, plus the name 'Ransom' seems to have been a sort of house name for the Inklings, two others of that group used the name Ransom for a charecter in stories or essays they wrote.

In one of his letters to his son Christopher, Tolkien wrote he recognized some of Ransom's opinions as being his own "Lewisified".
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Re: Dr. Ransom and Lewis

Postby Bill » 15 Apr 2005, 20:46

Sven wrote:
Christy wrote:It seems to me that Lewis based Ransom's character off of himself somewhat. This thought came to me a few weeks ago when I was doing an English project. Since then, I began reading That Hideous Strength and the similarities between the two seem even greater.
One line that jumped out at me was from Mother Dimble: "My dear, the Director is a very wise man. But he is a man, after all, and an unmarried man at that."
It also seems to me that Ransom's spiritual journey is akin to Lewis' own.
Am I way off base here, or do you agree that Lewis wrote these similarities intentionally?


A bit off himself, a bit more off Tolkien, plus the name 'Ransom' seems to have been a sort of house name for the Inklings, two others of that group used the name Ransom for a charecter in stories or essays they wrote.

In one of his letters to his son Christopher, Tolkien wrote he recognized some of Ransom's opinions as being his own "Lewisified".


This is always what I have understood. Obviously we have read the same books.

As I am sure a lot people already know, Humphrey the doctor in Perelandra was based on Robert Harvard, the Lewis's own GP, and was thereafter known as "Humphrey".

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re: Dr. Ransom and Lewis

Postby TarwathieI » 08 Aug 2006, 17:06

This makes me think of the passage in perelandra, when maleldil's voice is talking to ransom. he says "It is not for nothing that you are named Ransom" however, lewis does not say what this reason is, he only hints that ransom himself also realized the reason. ransom then comes to the conclusion that his name is derived from "Ranolf's son"

im not sure what the significance of all this is, thought i ponder it whenever i read perelandra.
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re: Dr. Ransom and Lewis

Postby VixenMage » 08 Aug 2006, 19:37

He says something about how "not even his volatile self dared to suggest that the Voice was making a play on words" or... something of the sort. I think the point was that even though, to a human mind, since his name didn't mean "to ransom" but "Ranolf's son", it was just a coincidence that he was also destined to ransom Perelandra. But to the mind of an Eldil, the entire reason that his great(etc)-grandfather was even named "Ranolf" or "Ranolf's son" was for the reason that someday, Ransom was destined to go to Perelandra and ransom the planet with his fight.
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Re: re: Dr. Ransom and Lewis

Postby TarwathieI » 08 Aug 2006, 21:45

VixenMage wrote:He says something about how "not even his volatile self dared to suggest that the Voice was making a play on words" or... something of the sort. I think the point was that even though, to a human mind, since his name didn't mean "to ransom" but "Ranolf's son", it was just a coincidence that he was also destined to ransom Perelandra. But to the mind of an Eldil, the entire reason that his great(etc)-grandfather was even named "Ranolf" or "Ranolf's son" was for the reason that someday, Ransom was destined to go to Perelandra and ransom the planet with his fight.


ahh yes thank you for the insight, i am much clearer on that part now. :smile:
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Re: re: Dr. Ransom and Lewis

Postby Biff » 09 Aug 2006, 00:49

TarwathieI wrote:This makes me think of the passage in perelandra, when maleldil's voice is talking to ransom. he says "It is not for nothing that you are named Ransom"


This is one of my favourite bits in the whole trilogy....
"With hindsight perhaps it wasn't a good idea, oh well must be my hind cataracts..." Prof H.J. Farnsworth

"It was not for nothing that you are called Ransom" said the Voice..
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re: Dr. Ransom and Lewis

Postby Theo » 09 Aug 2006, 12:58

The whole bit about the significance of Ransom's name is even weirder when you remember that, according to the epilogue of OOSP, his name isn't actually Ransom. :smile:
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Re: re: Dr. Ransom and Lewis

Postby TarwathieI » 09 Aug 2006, 17:13

Theo wrote:The whole bit about the significance of Ransom's name is even weirder when you remember that, according to the epilogue of OOSP, his name isn't actually Ransom. :smile:


i've thought of that as well, the fact that his name isnt actually ransom. but that only works if you assume the story to be true as is hinted in the book, but obviously we know this story called "the space trilogy" is not true at all, because the surface of venus has absolutly no water, and very little life, if any. we know this because of our current technology.

like i said, if the story were true, that would be an interesting point. but since we know it is not true, it really is just another device to add to the depth of the story.
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re: Dr. Ransom and Lewis

Postby Stanley Anderson » 09 Aug 2006, 18:04

And why couldn't it be that the author (keeping to the intended suspension of disbelief about the fictional story and its author's attempt to make such a thing sound authentic) changed the "real" name to "Ransom" and "Ranolf's son" because it "cleverly" suggested a similar pun and intention that was present in the original "real" name that we don't get to see.

Our first adopted son we named "Greyson" which apparently means "son of a bailiff", but we were fond of saying that it punned off of the idea of "son of Grace" (ie, "Grace's son") as a theological meaning to the name. Perhaps Ransom's "real" name was something like that and the author, in "changing the names to protect the innocent", was a good enough word-game person to figure out a suitable substitute for the story in the name and pun of Ransom/Ranolf's son. Of course the concepts of "Grace" and "Ransom" are probably not theologically close enough for "Greyson" to be the "real" name of Ransom in this case, but surely one can imagine that something similar is possible, especially since the reader is not told the real name. This sort of thing probably falls under the category of literary license, ie in this case, declaring that some aspect of a story is "explainable" without actually explaining it in the narrative of the story since that would detract from the main story too much.

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Postby alliebath » 22 Jan 2007, 13:25

I think the accepted understanding among some Lewis scholars is tha the Ransom of Out of the Silent Planet is indeed based on Tolkien, but that the Ransom/Fisherking of That Hideous Strength is much more based on Charles Williams—whose great interest in Arthurian legend certainly influenced that book (although there is the mention of Numinor [sic] in the unabridged version).

As to the Ransom of Perelandra? And the Ransom of ‘The Dark Tower’ presents us with a mystery as to how he would develop within the story.
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Re: re: Dr. Ransom and Lewis

Postby Messenger_of_Eden » 27 Jan 2007, 03:31

TarwathieI wrote:This makes me think of the passage in perelandra, when maleldil's voice is talking to ransom. he says "It is not for nothing that you are named Ransom" however, lewis does not say what this reason is, he only hints that ransom himself also realized the reason. ransom then comes to the conclusion that his name is derived from "Ranolf's son"

im not sure what the significance of all this is, thought i ponder it whenever i read perelandra.


Actually, I think the passage says more to the point, as a Philologist (being very educated in words and their origins) he had always known that Ransom was a derivitave of "Ranolf's Son" but the more obvious meaning had not occurred to him until then--he was in a way, a savior to Perelandra--a little "s" savior but nonetheless, by his struggle and blood Perelandra was freed of the evil one.

My question on the deliberation in that suggestion from Maleldil, is that earlier, I think in OOTSP, Lewis the narrator says that Ransom's name is changed in the story to protect the real party. So if he wasn't really named Ransom, then this would appear to me to be a curious inconsistency. :grin: I've been wondering about that for weeks. Months maybe. :read:

(Edit:) Aah but reading to the end of the thread this has all been discussed already and I was late :toothy-grin: .

Here's another question--maybe sort of vague but That Hideous Strength mentions more than once "Numenor" which I have always associated with Middle Earth. Perhaps I betray my ignorance, but --there is obviously some ancient tie in the real world...what is it?
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Postby VixenMage » 27 Jan 2007, 18:30

I thought Numenor was kind of like Atlantis, really... the island, advanced, brought a lineage of high kings... and then sunk into the Sea, never to be seen again.

But didn't Tolkien make the geography of Middle-Earth kind of similar to ours, just so it would be feasible that Gondor & Co could -be- the basis for Camelot?
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Re: re: Dr. Ransom and Lewis

Postby Stanley Anderson » 28 Jan 2007, 04:25

Messenger_of_Eden wrote:[Here's another question--maybe sort of vague but That Hideous Strength mentions more than once "Numenor" which I have always associated with Middle Earth. Perhaps I betray my ignorance, but --there is obviously some ancient tie in the real world...what is it?


Lewis put the reference to Numenor (he spelled it Numinor because he had only heard Tolkien read it alout at the time and guessed the spelling), specifically as a reference to Tolkien's work (those parts unpublished at the time)

So no, it doesn't relate to anything in the "real" world, though of course it has Atlantean overtones in the mythology and imagery.

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Ransom & Lewis

Postby rofe408 » 15 Apr 2008, 01:07

"It is not for nothing that your name is Ransom,"said the Voice. "My name is also Ransom" Jesus was called our "ransom for sin." His life was payment for mens' freedom. And, he, Ransom, "suffered and strove and (Tor and Tinidril) have a world for (their) reward." I'm new to the forum and admittedly late in this string, but I'm enjoying the trilogy for the 6th or 7th time & enjoying the forums. This view might be too obvious to be considered, but I didn't see it suggested. And it's my personal #1 favorite.
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