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Perelandra-the devil.

Open the pod bay doors, Hnau!

Lewis, Purtill, Piehler

Postby alcuin » 07 Nov 2008, 18:18

Dear Stanley,

You are right: it is a Preface to!

The similarities between Lewis' reflections on Paradise Lost and Perelandra are very clear. I wonder if in this there is something sacramental, in that Lewis needed to have an outward visible sign of his own invisible working out, as it were.

The Comedy and Out of the Silent Planet seem initially less connected, but I would be interested to hear your proposition on this. There is certainly a heavenly end at he end of ascent of a mountain. Thulcandra could be the Inferno, as portrayed in the last story.

I have just bought and read Richard L. Putill Lord of the Elves and Eldils, which is very good. I was also recently recommended Paul Piehler The Visionary Landscape, which I have borrowed and been impressed with. Piiehler was a student of Lewis'.

Best wishes,

Alcuin
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Re: Lewis, Purtill, Piehler

Postby Stanley Anderson » 08 Nov 2008, 03:35

alcuin wrote:I wonder if in this there is something sacramental, in that Lewis needed to have an outward visible sign of his own invisible working out, as it were.


If I can change the subject slightly, that reminds me of something I've noted here before -- again, a kind of pet theory of mine about Lewis, but one that seems very clear in my mind.

The two areas of Catholicism that Lewis "outwardly" had the biggest problem with were the Primacy of the Pope and Marian theology. But otherwise, he was probably about as close to Catholicism as you could get without being there, I think (and my wife and I -- fairly recent converts from the last two years ourselves -- like to think that he did a lot of good being just on that other side of the bridge. That is, by being there he has acted as a sort of beacon has helped many a convert get to the bridge in the first place, even if Lewis didn't seem to be able to actually cross it himself.)

But anyway, what has really struck me about much of his writing since then is what I like to call (in comparison to the standard image of the "God-shaped vacuum") the "Mary-shaped vacuum" in Lewis' heart. That is, even though he explicitly stated his "problems" with the Marian aspects of the Catholic Church, I feel like Marian imagery was nevertheless overflowing out of his soul as though he couldn't help it, and in spite of his "conscious" objections to it (I'm reminded of that scene at the end of Yellow Submarine where the Blue Meanies want to be destructive, but even when they open their mouths, flowers flow out of them -- they can't help themselves at that point:-).

Mary, in Catholic theology as the Mother of God, is compared to the Ark of the Covenant. She held within her womb something bigger than herself -- the Incarnate God. And this image of "the inside being bigger than the outside" overflows in nearly all of Lewis' writing, from the example in The Last Battle of Lucy comparing the stable in Narnia to a stable in our own world that held something bigger than the whole world, to the wardrobe itself whose "inside" was bigger than its outside, and to any number of other images of that sort throughout his writings. I think these were very Marian-like images that Lewis himself probably didn't even recognize as such, but as I say, "overflowed" from his imagination willy-nilly. (And of course the Green Lady of Perelandra is another very Marian or "second Eve" sort of image.)

So your thoughts about the sacramental aspect of Lewis' writing fits in very well with this idea I think.

The Comedy and Out of the Silent Planet seem initially less connected, but I would be interested to hear your proposition on this. There is certainly a heavenly end at he end of ascent of a mountain. Thulcandra could be the Inferno, as portrayed in the last story.


Oh, I don't think I could add very much without straining quite a bit. As I said, it is more the other direction -- OSP needs something to fit into the pattern and DC seems to be a handy choice, but from there I would probably need a good sized shoe-horn and a lot of squeezing:-)

--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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Mary, Green Lady

Postby alcuin » 08 Nov 2008, 10:26

Dear Stanley,

Thank you for sharing your background. I too have very strong conscious objections, like CSL, to the Mariology and the concept of Papacy within the Roman Catholic Church. I am myself an Anglican (Episcopalian in US terms), “erring on the side of Catholic” I usually put it, in that there is no one way as I would see it. I suppose most people would then add for me “Liberal” before the Catholic.

The “bigger on the inside” is of course similar to the Tardis of Doctor Who, and I would have seen that in just pure terms of sacramental theology, therefore your theotokos imagery of the womb is a very interesting avenue of approach. It is reminiscent of Kathleen Raine's poem 'Northumbrian Sequence', which, being on study leave, I have not got access to in order to quote from.

Perelandra was the first C. S. Lewis book I read, and I read it when I was in my early to mid-teens (in a paperback version retitled Voyage to Venus). The Narnia books I did not read until I was in my mid to late twenties.

I am very indebted to Lewis as a writer, therefore, in my own spiritual journey, although I would not subscribe to the actuality of the incarnation stories, for example, and I would very much see them as Lewis does allegory.

However the conceptualisation of evil with Weston becoming the Unman is something I can more readily relate to, both intellectually and also from experience.

The development of the understanding of Fall (or the non-Fall in Perelandra) is of great significance to post-Augustine western Catholicism. And obviously therefore of Lewis, who is definitley Catholic in his Churchmanship, and is shown indeed in his analysis and explanation of Milton's Paradise Lost in his Preface.


Within Perelandra , and indeed That Hideous Strength, I accept the nature of the Green Lady to the King, and indeed what Jane should be to Mark Studdock, but outside of the story I am not so enamoured by the nature of the 'hierearchy' proposed, which is not only medieval but also feudal.

It is stated in biological terms that the base model for humanity (and indeed mammalia) is the female XX chromosome, with the XY being the mutation. This I think should be addressed theologically, and I think new theological models other than those based on Christian Neo-Platonism need to be developed.

I apologise if this way off-beam for the subject topic, but it seems there is an interesting discussion to be had here, but perhaps in another thread.

Best wishes,

Alcuin
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