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A criticism I heard recently of Merlin in THS

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re: A criticism I heard recently of Merlin in THS

Postby VixenMage » 01 May 2006, 21:58

My experience with the chessboard theory was much the same. I first noticed in the middle of the book the parallel nature of Merlin and the tramp, and then I noticed other parallels between (I can't remember the exact order but something close to this) the Pendragon and Alcasan's head, and on and on, all the way back to the beginning and end of the book with Jane -- who starts the book -- parallelling Mark -- who ends the book

I agree completely! Though I noticed a bit of parallel, the bit that kind of laid it open, was the way Ransom and Wither were both referred to as the Director. It was staggering; I liked the way it was set up. There was the good side, Maledil's side. He had his generals, his army, everything was set up. Then there was the Devil's side, in a way... I don't remember if the Bent one is ever given a name.

But... back on topic. ^^

I don't really think that the book would be... the same, at all, without Merlin. He was, as BeeLayne said, the cornerstone, as it were, of the entire book.
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re: A criticism I heard recently of Merlin in THS

Postby Sir Linus the True » 12 Jun 2006, 01:24

I also enjoyed Merlin, myself.

If I remember right, he's hinted at early on, but doesn't actually make an appearance till more than halfway through the book. That gave me as a reader plenty of time to get adjusted to the idea.

Also, Lewis calls the book "a modern fairy-tale for grown-ups," rather than a science-fiction book. So I expected some fantasy in it all along.
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re: A criticism I heard recently of Merlin in THS

Postby David » 13 Jun 2006, 22:43

Though Merlin does not appear until half-way through, he is hinted at in the first part where a long discussion of Merlin's Well can be found. So you are anticipating him to a degree.

I remember the first time I read the book. I kept reading and said, "This story can't get any crazier." Then he brings the character of Merlin in! Like McPhee says, "This is the craziest thing I've ever seen"--or words to that effect (don't have the text near-by).

Merlin is a comic character. The sight of a medieval man in the twentieth century is funny. He loudly calls for oil to annoint himself and they get him a tube of Brilliantine. He finds trousers uncomfortable so they give him a bath robe to wear. His critique of modern society is very amusing. I think his character works quite well.
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re: A criticism I heard recently of Merlin in THS

Postby westsands410 » 14 Jun 2006, 18:06

The plot to THS definitely benefits from Merlin's inclusion. NICE, in THS, is a branch of scientific experimentation directed by Satan/fallen angels (whichever you like) speaking through Alcasan's head, and the scientists at the core of the plot think that Merlin's fabled magical powers, if learned by them and put to their own use, could help NICE with their ultimate goal of transforming humanity. The point is that today's scientific community risks involvement in 'dark arts' (for the want of a better term) - such as the proliferation of parapsychologists (ghost hunters with some scientific background), and the association of police forces with psychic mediums (which has definitely occurred in the UK, if nowhere else).
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Postby rumzy » 04 Apr 2008, 07:29

I thought Merlin was a brilliant character. The whole mystery of Bragdon Wood centers around the possibility, and the potential power behind the possibility, of the old wizard's body being buried somewhere within. Also, Lewis uses Merlin to tie the story into the rest of history. The history of the world has been the struggle between good and evil, and, hundreds of years before Ransom's part of the struggle, someone planned for Merlin to return from his long sleep at just the right time. That element makes the plot so rich.
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Re: A criticism I heard recently of Merlin in THS

Postby The Pfifltrigg » 05 Apr 2008, 09:44

Stanley Anderson wrote: Interestingly, I once read about a poem by -- I can't remember who, darn it, but I want to say Elliot or someone like that -- where none of the lines seem to rhyme, but then in the middle of the poem is a couplet of rhyming lines. And then one notices that the next line after the couplet rhymes with the one before the couplet. And the next line after that rhymes with the one before the earlier one, and so on all through the poem so that the first and last lines rhyme, the second and next to last lines rhyme, and so on all the way to the middle of the poem where the rhymes "meet" at the couplet.

I think the poem you described might have been The Waste Land by Eliot (one L, one T). You're right about the perfectly unique, real, gritty, mysterious, otherly nature of the THS Merlin. I think you're spot-on about the medievality of THS and Mark's stories counterpointing Jane's dreams. Does MacPhee's sleep echo Hinghest's demise?
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Postby Jill-at-the-Well » 05 Apr 2008, 13:54

1. As everyone has said already, Merlin is central to the story, and the idea of "leaving him out" makes no sense whatever.

2. I'm thoroughly enjoying reading this discussion. Particularly that marriage quote, as well as the chess ideas. Keep talking, everyone. :-)
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