This forum was closed on October 1st, 2010. However, the archives are open to the public and filled with vast amounts of good reading and information for you to enjoy. If you wish to meet some Wardrobians, please visit the Into the Wardrobe Facebook group.

Rereading THS

Open the pod bay doors, Hnau!

Rereading THS

Postby jo » 27 Mar 2006, 16:45

I decided to read THS, if anyone is interested in reading it with me :). It's a good four years since I last read it and I have forgotten quite a lot of it so it will be interesting to see if my ideas on it are the same now as they were then.
"I saw it begin,” said the Lord Digory. “I did not think I would live to see it die"

Wardrobe Wake
User avatar
jo
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 5165
Joined: Aug 1999
Location: somewhere with lots of pink

Re: Rereading THS

Postby Stanley Anderson » 27 Mar 2006, 16:52

jo wrote:I decided to read THS, if anyone is interested in reading it with me :). It's a good four years since I last read it and I have forgotten quite a lot of it so it will be interesting to see if my ideas on it are the same now as they were then.


I'd love to, but I'm sure I'd still be in part one of the first chapter by the time you are at the love romp in St. Annes:-). But I'll be interested to hear your comments.

slow reader,
--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
User avatar
Stanley Anderson
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 3251
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Southern California

re: Rereading THS

Postby jo » 27 Mar 2006, 16:57

Well we don't all have to read it at the same time ;)

I've already decided that I like Jane a little better than I did with the first reading :)
"I saw it begin,” said the Lord Digory. “I did not think I would live to see it die"

Wardrobe Wake
User avatar
jo
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 5165
Joined: Aug 1999
Location: somewhere with lots of pink

re: Rereading THS

Postby jo » 27 Mar 2006, 19:19

One question that has struck me so far (I remember it striking me the first time I read it but I don't think I asked about it then) .. why on earth does Mother Dimble ask Jane if she dislikes being kissed?? That's quite a bizarre question and certainly not a polite one.
"I saw it begin,” said the Lord Digory. “I did not think I would live to see it die"

Wardrobe Wake
User avatar
jo
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 5165
Joined: Aug 1999
Location: somewhere with lots of pink

re: Rereading THS

Postby jo » 27 Mar 2006, 20:18

Am ploughing on. I remember feeling the same bewilderment the first time that I read this book that I am feeling now - why did Mark Studdock, when he had been told frankly what the NICE meant to do - or at least, even if he didn't know exactly what his own job would be, he had a fair idea of what the organisation stood for because at least two different people told him or warned him - want to take up with them?

Oh, I know what the standard answer is - that he was young and foolish, that he desperately wanted to be part of things, to be part of an 'in' crowd. You might extend the argument further and talk about the way in which men (and women) who might have ordinarily been decent enough people were persuaded to get involved in Nazi atrocities. That really doesn't seem entirely satisfactory to me though. Mark was told that the policies that the NICE intended to implement were of an extremely evil nature - eugenics, ultimately. Any reasonable and decent person would have questioned that.. preferably out loud; certainly inwardly. As yet, Mark has not done so. Perhaps he's going to still (I mean, in the early chapters of the book, before things really get going)...l can't remember.
"I saw it begin,” said the Lord Digory. “I did not think I would live to see it die"

Wardrobe Wake
User avatar
jo
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 5165
Joined: Aug 1999
Location: somewhere with lots of pink

Re: re: Rereading THS

Postby Stanley Anderson » 27 Mar 2006, 20:52

jo wrote:One question that has struck me so far (I remember it striking me the first time I read it but I don't think I asked about it then) .. why on earth does Mother Dimble ask Jane if she dislikes being kissed?? That's quite a bizarre question and certainly not a polite one.


I think it would fall under that "feminine intuition" sort of thing (though many men are probably capable of it too) -- that ability to see past a "surface" situation and somehow hit near the possibly "unseen" or hidden root of a problem (this was a hallmark of Jesus' observations and seemingly non-sequitur-like responses to questions in the Gospels -- he tended to answer the true question that was hiding behind the facade of the stated "direct" question). And Mother Dimble seems to have hit the mark, judging by Jane's reaction, polite or not.

Politeness is a wonderful thing and something to be encouraged and practiced, but not at the expense of avoiding difficult situations that need to be dealt with or hiding more imiportant issues. Of course this must be balanced and tempered by the recognition that our own desire to dispense with politeness in lieu of "directness" may be disguised as a feeling of "importance" about an issue, when it is more motivated by anger or greed or any other uncharitable feeling. So one must be very wary about breaching "polite boundaries". But in this case Mother Dimble seemed to know what was needed (they had, after all, been talking, as the previous paragraphs indicate, in a close and private manner -- Mother Dimble had specifically pulled Jane away from Cecil to go upstairs under the guise of looking at her new hat because she knew that Jane needed to talk).

About the question in particular, I think it has a lot to do with the idea of "submitting" to another person and the sense of "invasion" that that submission can invoke. Notice that the question is not "Do you hate kissing?" in an active way, but the passive "Do you hate being kissed?" (that is, "kissed" is passive -- curiously "hate" is the active verb there). Whether one likes Lewis' take here or not, this is the primary issue that Jane is to deal with in the book, and Mother Dimble's question is a partial lead-in to it.

As an interesting side-note, I remember hearing a long time ago (and thus I may have the details wrong, but the sense is still clear) that a study showed (and here I want to avoid being indelicate as much as possible) that many women tend to feel intense kissing (not of the "peck on the cheek" sort, you understand) to be more "invasive" and more repelling when undesired, than direct sexual contact (this would exclude outright rape, I'm sure, and is probably more referring to vaguely -- but perhaps ambiguous -- consensual activity). I don't know if this is true for some women, but if so, it would show, I think, a curious insight on Lewis' part as a male into the female psyche (no pun intended:-).

But on the general question and discussion of Mother Dimble's question, either I am totally wrong here, or if not, it seems odd to me to be describing this "side" of it since it strikes me as more of the type of thing a woman would sense -- ie, something Jane Austen might talk about than C.S. Lewis. And of course that makes it all relate to the issues of discussion about Lewis' ability to write about women and to write believable female characters.

What do you think? Aside from what you think is the bizarre-ness of the question, does it (and that scene in general) seem "inaccurate" from a woman's point of view? (I'm not suggesting it is or is not, but only exploring different views -- from my own admittedly and unavoidably "male" point of view, it seems to be well drawn, but perhaps from a woman's view it seem more like a shallow, surface impression that Lewis paints?)

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
User avatar
Stanley Anderson
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 3251
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Southern California

re: Rereading THS

Postby jo » 27 Mar 2006, 20:58

Hi Stan,

It's difficult for me to answer that, because I am not from the era that Jane Studdock is from :). For me, I would not find such a question from a female friend 'strange' (though I might from an older woman that I did not know well) and indeed, would not find anything strange in much more explicit questions .. I did wince a little, when reading the Dark Tower, when it was observed about thingy's fiancee -can't remember his name; the bloke with the double though - that she was so modern and so free to talk about things that her grandmother would not have talked about that Ransom wondered if she talked about anything else ;).

Interesting distinction between hating kissing and hating being kissed and one that I had not personally made. It struck me in the manner of an intimate question about Jane's sexuality - possibly even a suggestion of frigidity - but I suspect that your analysis is probably closer to the correct one.

I asked myself whether I would find it worse to be kissed without wanting to be or to have more 'forward' sexual conduct forced on me and I haven't come up with an answer yet. Though I agree that being kissed when one does not wish to be is repulsive (for a woman, and I suppose for a man too).
"I saw it begin,” said the Lord Digory. “I did not think I would live to see it die"

Wardrobe Wake
User avatar
jo
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 5165
Joined: Aug 1999
Location: somewhere with lots of pink

re: Rereading THS

Postby Theo » 27 Mar 2006, 22:31

Just popped in to say I'll try to catch up with you on THS, Jo. But man, you're fast!
Member of the Religious Tolerance Cabal of the Wardrobe

“First they came for Abdul Rahman and I spoke out because I was a Muslim. Then they came for the Palestinians and I raised hell because I was a Jew. Then they came for the Iraqis and I protested because I was an American. Then they came for the Muslims and I spoke out because I was a Christian, Then they came for the poor and I spoke out because I was rich. By the time they came for me, I had all the support a man could ask for.”
User avatar
Theo
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 777
Joined: Nov 2005
Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Re: re: Rereading THS

Postby rusmeister » 28 Mar 2006, 02:45

Stanley Anderson wrote:
About the question in particular, I think it has a lot to do with the idea of "submitting" to another person and the sense of "invasion" that that submission can invoke. Notice that the question is not "Do you hate kissing?" in an active way, but the passive "Do you hate being kissed?" (that is, "kissed" is passive -- curiously "hate" is the active verb there). Whether one likes Lewis' take here or not, this is the primary issue that Jane is to deal with in the book, and Mother Dimble's question is a partial lead-in to it.

...

But on the general question and discussion of Mother Dimble's question, either I am totally wrong here, or if not, it seems odd to me to be describing this "side" of it since it strikes me as more of the type of thing a woman would sense -- ie, something Jane Austen might talk about than C.S. Lewis. And of course that makes it all relate to the issues of discussion about Lewis' ability to write about women and to write believable female characters.



--Stanley

I just re-read THS a few months ago; hope that counts!

Great post Stanley! I had never thought about the use of the passive voice there as possibly being significant. And it potentially points to the unwillingness to accept any kind of leadership or initiative on the part of others(?)
User avatar
rusmeister
 
Posts: 1778
Joined: Dec 2005
Location: Russia

Re: re: Rereading THS

Postby jo » 28 Mar 2006, 11:03

Theo wrote:Just popped in to say I'll try to catch up with you on THS, Jo. But man, you're fast!


Get reading then :D
"I saw it begin,” said the Lord Digory. “I did not think I would live to see it die"

Wardrobe Wake
User avatar
jo
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 5165
Joined: Aug 1999
Location: somewhere with lots of pink

re: Rereading THS

Postby Rosie Cotton » 28 Mar 2006, 12:10

Can I join in? I just picked up THS yesterday, before I saw this thread (I'd been rereading the whole Space Trilogy). But I'm only up to Jane leaving the house and Mark realizing that Feverstone got him his fellowship -- still the first chapter. Hope I'm not too slow for everyone... :)
... and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.
User avatar
Rosie Cotton
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 422
Joined: Mar 2006
Location: Hobbiton, Oregon

re: Rereading THS

Postby jo » 28 Mar 2006, 14:46

Sure jump right in!! What are your thoughts so far?

I am still pretty ticked off at Mark, but I am thinking it's interesting how circumstances have driven one of the couple towards 'evil' and one towards 'good.' What would have happened had it been Jane who'd met the NICE members and Mark who'd met Grace?
"I saw it begin,” said the Lord Digory. “I did not think I would live to see it die"

Wardrobe Wake
User avatar
jo
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 5165
Joined: Aug 1999
Location: somewhere with lots of pink

Re: re: Rereading THS

Postby Stanley Anderson » 28 Mar 2006, 15:49

jo wrote:...I am thinking it's interesting how circumstances have driven one of the couple towards 'evil' and one towards 'good.' What would have happened had it been Jane who'd met the NICE members and Mark who'd met Grace?


And this gets down into my chessboard view of THS where there are parallel and contrasting characters, events, things, and places like the black and white pieces on a chessboard for nearly everything in THS, with St. Annes being one "side" and the NICE being the other. To me, the number of examples of this in the book are innumerable and new ones are continually revealing themselves whenever I think about it.

As I've mentioned before Grace Ironwood's "parallel" character is Fairy Hardcastle, and there are curious parallels (with striking contrasts) between Jane's initial meeting with Grace and Mark's initial meeting with Fairy. Jane initially found what seemed like coldness and distance (on the surface) and "didn't want to be there" and tried to be aloof and uncommitted, whereas Mark found what seemed like encouragement and comeraderie, at least on the surface, and wanted desperately to "fit in" and be part of the group.

I can't resist mentioning an example of how these parallels manifest themselves throughout the book in a very "fractal" way in large, blatant areas and in the tiniest detail. In this case notice the parallel in the focus on Fairy and Grace's legs at the respective inital meetings (in addition to their descriptions of both being large and foreboding): when Mark first meets Fairy, we read "She sat down immediately in a chair close to where Mark was standing, flung her right leg over one of the arms, and fixed him with a gaze of cold intimacy." When Jane meets Grace for the first time, we read -- twice -- about her knees; "and there was Miss Ironwood dressed all in black [notice Fairy's out fit was described as a "black, short-skirted uniform"] and sitting with her hands folded on her knees..." and immediately following, "...The hands which were folded on her knees". Well, the whole sections (right next to each other at the end of section 2 and beginning of section 3 of the chapter "Belbury and St. Anne's-on-the-Hill) are fascinating parallels of each other in various ways and I could go on and on about this kind of thing:-)

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
User avatar
Stanley Anderson
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 3251
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Southern California

Re: re: Rereading THS

Postby Theo » 28 Mar 2006, 16:04

jo wrote:Am ploughing on. I remember feeling the same bewilderment the first time that I read this book that I am feeling now - why did Mark Studdock, when he had been told frankly what the NICE meant to do - or at least, even if he didn't know exactly what his own job would be, he had a fair idea of what the organisation stood for because at least two different people told him or warned him - want to take up with them?

Oh, I know what the standard answer is - that he was young and foolish, that he desperately wanted to be part of things, to be part of an 'in' crowd. You might extend the argument further and talk about the way in which men (and women) who might have ordinarily been decent enough people were persuaded to get involved in Nazi atrocities. That really doesn't seem entirely satisfactory to me though. Mark was told that the policies that the NICE intended to implement were of an extremely evil nature - eugenics, ultimately. Any reasonable and decent person would have questioned that.. preferably out loud; certainly inwardly. As yet, Mark has not done so. Perhaps he's going to still (I mean, in the early chapters of the book, before things really get going)...l can't remember.



Lewis does touch on this more explicitly later in the book, when Mark is being initiated into the "inner NICE" by Frost. He notes Mark had vaguely and highly theoretically approved of many of their ideas, like radical social engineering of various forms.

It might also help to remember how old the book is. It's written in the early 40's but seems to be inspired by a lot of the literary and political discourse of the interwar period, in which many ideas and ideologies that seem abhorrent to us were still far from taboo. You can get some sense of this from reading other works from the same period, like the essays and books of George Orwell.

It could also be noted that for a fairly conservative Christian academic, Lewis was early to see the danger and evil of fascism - although he was anti-Communist he considered the Fascist side the greater evil in the Spanish Civil War, for instance (unlike Tolkien initially, at least according to Wilson).

The war made open Nazism and fascism taboo in Britain, but as Orwell and others noted, many of fascism's elements were pushed into the mainstream and could seem to threaten to become a permanent fixture. The world of 1984, although often thought of as a parable of the then-beginning Cold War, is really more an extrapolation of a world frozen in late World War II, with the casual brutality and squalor of a permanent world war.

I think there's some exaggeration, which somewhat hurts the book's plausibility, to let the rhetoric of NICE (particularly in Feverstone's speech early in the book) so clearly parallel that of the Nazis. But I don't think it's too implausible to have a young intellectual get caught up in that kind of ideas, anymore than having him become a Fascist or a Communist. An awful lot of real ones did at this time.
Member of the Religious Tolerance Cabal of the Wardrobe

“First they came for Abdul Rahman and I spoke out because I was a Muslim. Then they came for the Palestinians and I raised hell because I was a Jew. Then they came for the Iraqis and I protested because I was an American. Then they came for the Muslims and I spoke out because I was a Christian, Then they came for the poor and I spoke out because I was rich. By the time they came for me, I had all the support a man could ask for.”
User avatar
Theo
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 777
Joined: Nov 2005
Location: Uppsala, Sweden

re: Rereading THS

Postby jo » 28 Mar 2006, 16:16

Very interesting, Stan and Theo, thanks (Stan I'd noticed several references to Fairy's legs already, not least that she stands and sits in a way that is generally considered to be vulgar in a woman..).
"I saw it begin,” said the Lord Digory. “I did not think I would live to see it die"

Wardrobe Wake
User avatar
jo
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 5165
Joined: Aug 1999
Location: somewhere with lots of pink

Next

Return to The Space Trilogy

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered members and 1 guest