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Rereading THS

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Re: re: Rereading THS

Postby Janet » 01 May 2006, 20:26

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.


I've never posted on this forum before, so I hope I'm doing this quote thing correctly. And I know I'm really late in responding, but these parallels are exactly what we have been discussing in our CSL Society for the past several months.

One of my favorites is the parallel between the gardens at St. Anne and Belbury--the lush fertility of one and the barren aridity of the other. Indeed, the entire book this time around (about my 5th time in 30 years) seems to be about fertility vs. sterility.

AMDG, Janet
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Re: re: Rereading THS

Postby Stanley Anderson » 01 May 2006, 21:27

Janet wrote:
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.


I've never posted on this forum before, so I hope I'm doing this quote thing correctly. And I know I'm really late in responding, but these parallels are exactly what we have been discussing in our CSL Society for the past several months.

One of my favorites is the parallel between the gardens at St. Anne and Belbury--the lush fertility of one and the barren aridity of the other. Indeed, the entire book this time around (about my 5th time in 30 years) seems to be about fertility vs. sterility.

AMDG, Janet


Do you have notes on the discussions about this? I'd love to see them. The entire book is simply an incredibly rich "garden" (to use your image) of this sort of thing in all kinds of areas, large and small. One of my favourite "small" items in connection with your mention of gardens is the "doorway" that Jane and Mark each use in entering St. Annes and Belbury. I can't resist quoting the sections here. The first is where Jane is being let into St. Annes in section 3 of the chapter Belbury and St. Anne's-on-the-Hill:

A curious feeling that she was now on hostile, or at least alien, ground warned her to keep all her wits about her. At that moment, they suddenly emerged from between plantations of rhododendron and laurel, and found themselves at a small side door, flanked by a water butt, in the long wall of a large house. Just as they did so a window clapped shut upstairs.


Here is the end of section 4 of the same chapter where Mark has just accompanied the departing Hingest to his car:

There was a touch of frost in the air. The shoulder of Orion, though Mark did not know even that earnest constellation, flamed at him above the tree-tops. He felt a hesitation about going back into the house. It might mean furhter talk with interesting and influential people; but it might also mean feeling once more an outsider, hanging about and watching conversations which he could not join. Anyway, he was tired. Stolling along the front of the house he came presently to another and smaller door by which, he judnged, one could enter without passing through the hall or the public rooms. He did so, and went upstairs for the night immediately.


Finally, immediately following the quote above in section 5 of the chapter we read:

Camilla Denniston showed Jane out -- not by the little door in the wall at which she had come in but by the main gate which opened on the same road about a hundred yards further on. Yellow light from a westward gap in the grey sky was pouring a short-lived and chilly brightness over the whole landscape.


It's fascinating how both Mark and Jane entered their respective Alice-in-Wonderland worlds through a small door off to the side of the main entrance and the "chilly" omens they both recieve just outside it -- Jane by leaving hers, and Mark by entering his.

Also somewhat related to the gardens are the respective "zoos" of the NICE and St. Anne's. The one with cages and animal experiments by their controllers and the other with its "natural" freedom and companionship by their "guardians". Again, as you say, the difference (in reverse order here) between "lush fertility of one and the barren aridity of the other".

And in mentioning the animals of the NICE zoo, I can't resist mentioning (as I have done in the past here) the fascinating parallel between the decent of the gods -- "angels from above" -- at St. Annes and the banquet at Belbury with it's intrusion by the escaped zoo -- "animals from below" if you will -- that even have parallels in between particular gods and animals. For instance, Glund's arrival at St. Annes is heralded as the King of Kings, while the elephant's arrival at the banquest is described thus: "Here surely came the King of the world".

Well, I'd better stop -- this is one of my "pushed-my-button" subjects and I could go on and on and on. I really would be interested to hear what sorts of things you have been discussing on this subject at your CSL Society. Fascinating stuff!

--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.
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re: Rereading THS

Postby rusmeister » 02 May 2006, 03:25

Interesting stuff, both of you!
Hadn't thought about that angle - the whole book as fertility or sterilization, but there it is! Fertility - bringing life, sterility - killing it.
:idea:
Not to push your buttons, Stanley, but remember how bad Merlin thought it was that Jane had somehow sterilized (aborted?) or otherwise prevented a child? So bad that she deserved death for it?
:think:
The one thing that comes up for me is that we really don't know what we are preventing from happening in this world when we refuse to give birth (I'm limiting that to a voluntary refusal by a married couple to have children altogether - of course there are extreme cases). It's thinking (exclusively) about self. What if we are preventing the birth of one who will become a new DaVinci, Einstein, or CS Lewis?
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re: Rereading THS

Postby sehoy » 02 May 2006, 08:53

The contracepting issues start in the very first chapter of THS. I missed that whole focus when I was a Baptist. Guess it'a good thing I'm orthodox Catholic now and open to life, otherwise I would find the focus offensive.

I agree with C.S.Lewis's focus, by the way.

Cool.

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Re: re: Rereading THS

Postby Janet » 04 May 2006, 14:00

Do you have notes on the discussions about this? I'd love to see them.


No, unfortunately we are much better talkers than note-takers. We've probably got at least 3 more meetings on THS, though, so I'll try and jot down a few notes.

AMDG,
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Re: re: Rereading THS

Postby digorykirk » 14 Oct 2007, 13:32

Stanley Anderson wrote: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


My initial impression is also to see a parallel between Hardcastle and Ironwood, but Ironwood plays the role of the psychologist at St. Anne's and the psychologist at Belbury isn't Hardcastle, but Frost.

Many of the characters at Belbury have names which suggest impermanence (Frost, which usually melts quickly; Wither; Filostrato, which sounds like a reference to clouds). Why does Hardcastle have a name which suggests permanence?

If we do link Frost and Ironwood as parallels, then I suppose my second choice for a parallel for Hardcastle would be Mrs. Dimble on the grounds that Hardcastle and Mrs. Dimble are the bad and the good sides of Venus.

I suppose this makes Frost/Ironwood the bad and good sides of Mercury. But then I am less sure what to do about the other planets.

Mr. Bultitude and Filostrato are, I think parallels, in that Bultitude represents an acceptance of our animal nature while Filostrato wants to transcend the limitations of biology.

Clearly Mark and Jane are parallels. Also Merlin and Alcasan are parallels.

Are Straik and McPhee parallels to each other?

Who is the parallel to Ivy Maggs?
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Re: re: Rereading THS

Postby digorykirk » 14 Oct 2007, 13:38

rusmeister wrote:Not to push your buttons, Stanley, but remember how bad Merlin thought it was that Jane had somehow sterilized (aborted?) or otherwise prevented a child? So bad that she deserved death for it?


But apart from Merlin, none of inhabitants of St. Anne's felt the same way.
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Re: re: Rereading THS

Postby moordarjeeling » 20 Oct 2007, 05:37

digorykirk wrote:
rusmeister wrote:remember how bad Merlin thought it was that Jane had somehow sterilized (aborted?) or otherwise prevented a child? So bad that she deserved death for it?


Merlin's complaint was that bloodlines had been set up for a special breeding on a night of special astrology, which would never happen again.

digorykirk wrote: But apart from Merlin, none of inhabitants of St. Anne's felt the same way.


And even Merlin more or less withdrew his sentence after they expressed shock. Quoting from memory here, but he said something about them impugning him as a harsh and cruel man ... it is not so ... I gave large amounts to charity ... let the wench live for all I care.

I think a big part of this was contrasting Merlin's culture and worldview with the modern view, even of the St. Anne people. Remember how Lewis dwelt on Merlin's reaction when told there was no English king to call for help ... nor a pope ... nor even a virtuous pagan king in the orient.
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Postby moordarjeeling » 20 Oct 2007, 05:41

Speaking of the culture of Merlin's day, I was fascinated by the conversation between two of the St. Anne scholars early in the book about what "the classics" of Merlin's day had been, which versions, which translations....
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Postby rusmeister » 20 Oct 2007, 10:35

moordarjeeling wrote:Speaking of the culture of Merlin's day, I was fascinated by the conversation between two of the St. Anne scholars early in the book about what "the classics" of Merlin's day had been, which versions, which translations....


One of the most startling things is realizing that the people of the Middle and "Dark" Ages were not so dark as modern thinkers, who have a strong interest in knocking Christianity, like to think. There is tremendous arrogance in the idea that people of our time are more 'enlightened' than people of earlier times. In terms of scientific information this may be so, but that has no bearing on human reason itself, which has always been both brilliant and flawed.

I find myself objecting more and more to terms like "Dark Ages", "Enlightenment" and "Age of Reason". While certainly there was chaos and 'darkness' in the so-called dark Ages, what people are really unaware of is that learning and education were actually preserved; that there were serious thinkers who used reason on a high level even in those pre-Renaissance times. When I read Chesterton's biography of Thomas Aquinas, I realized that he was a man among men who had highly developed thinking, more so than many people in our time.

I wish more people would start to 1) recognize and 2) question the use of terms we are taught in history class and everyone takes for granted, not realizing how they represent a view of history designed to cast the Christian Church from its inception until the Reformation as a stronghold of ignorance. People take pride in the word 'modern', forgetting that it simply means 'what we have now' (whenever 'now' is). Personally, I'm starting to speak of the "Endarkenment", and "The Age of Foolishness" also kind of appeals to me.

PS: Lovers of Lewis ought to find their way to Chesterton as well...
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going WAY back

Postby Jill-at-the-Well » 18 Jan 2008, 15:49

Okay, so I'm going way back in this thread and replying to a topic someone brought up a while ago, pertaining to the changes in the Director.

While I am not sure what caused the changes in Ransom, I know that I really identified with how Jane saw him. I do have a tendency to idolize those leaders who are very wise and good. For instance, there is a pastor at my church who I very much love and look up to. I had at times wished that he was my father - it was so simple and joyful to respect him and honor him, and often hard to respect and honor my own father. But in much the same way Ransom directs Jane's love and obedience back to Mark, he directed me back to my own father, challenging me, for instance, to go out to breakfast or lunch with him once a week to help develop our relationship. And because I wanted to respect him, I did what he asked. It was something I didn't want to do and at first I could only do it because he had asked me to. But through it I am learning to respect and honor my father.

I don't know whether Lewis had something like this in mind when he wrote it or not. I do know that the illustration of how Jane felt toward Ransom helped me in this situation to know the right thing to do and how to think about it.

So, what do you think?
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Inspiration out of context

Postby Kanakaberaka » 17 Feb 2008, 03:53

Jill-at-the-Well wrote:I don't know whether Lewis had something like this in mind when he wrote it or not. I do know that the illustration of how Jane felt toward Ransom helped me in this situation to know the right thing to do and how to think about it.

So, what do you think?


Your experience has reminded me of a quote from THS which I found inspiring even though I took it out of context. Mark makes an observation to the effect that "One might as well try to own a sunset by purchasing the field from which one has observed it". Mark was comparring his marriage to Jane with owning desirable real estate. Reading Mark's quote out of context though reminded me of my own attempts to regain some of my favorite childhood memories by collecting nostalgic toys. It's not so much the toys themselves that give me pleasuse, as it is the pleasant memories they evoke.
It's observations such as Jill-at-the-Well's that make me hesitant about attempting to do a study on THS as I have done on Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra. There are so many smaller yet important details that go into the larger story.
Would anyone be interested in a chapter by chapter study of That Hideous Strength ?
so it goes...
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Postby Jill-at-the-Well » 17 Feb 2008, 04:25

I would!

Although I have very little free time in my life right now, so my participation might be a little bit intermittent. I think it would be cool though.
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Stay tuned

Postby Kanakaberaka » 18 Feb 2008, 03:28

Jill-at-the-Well wrote:Although I have very little free time in my life right now, so my participation might be a little bit intermittent. I think it would be cool though.


That makes two of us. And no doubt many more Wardrobians might say the same. I should be able to start my THS study at the end of March or the begining of April. That's when my good cyber buddy The Big Sleep Johnnie should have his home PC fixed. I depend on him as much as he depends on me. And if we are really fortunate, maybe Stanley Anderson will drop by once a week. I hope so because unlike me, Stanley knows what he's talking about.
so it goes...
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Postby Paul_Burgin » 21 Feb 2008, 10:53

"because unlike me, Stanley knows what he's talking about.."

Oh we all feel like that ;)
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