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Perelandra Chap. 5 - pt. 1

An archived study of the second book of Lewis' theological science fiction Space Trilogy.

Perelandra Chap. 5 - pt. 1

Postby Kanakaberaka » 18 Nov 2004, 06:49

Note : Because of the all the details crammed into this chapter I have decided to post it in several parts.

Synopsis : After risking his life in a desperate attempt to reach the Green Lady's floating island, Ramsom awakes to find himself back on his own. But as luck (or is it proidence?) would have it, his island is now floating a few mere feet from that of the Green Lady's. So he's able to cross over to carry on a philosophical conversation with her.

There has to be some significance to Ransom's failed attempt to reach the Green Lady by his own efforts and yet reaching her the next day quite by serendipity. Could it be a demonstration that we must follow God's will rather than our own? Whatever it is I can appreciate the irony that for all his risks, Ransom could have remained right where he was and simply waited for the islands to bump agaist one another.
The most unusual thing about their conversation is that they jump right into the most intelectual part. There is no wasting time with "Me Ransom, You Green Lady" talk. We are not even told the Green Lady's name in this chapter, that will come later. Their conversation begins with the Green Lady mentioning that she was quite "young" yesterday. Ransom does not realize at first that she means growing in knowlege rather than age.
so it goes...
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Re: Perelandra Chap. 5 - pt. 1

Postby a_hnau » 19 Nov 2004, 20:20

My usual rag-bag of ideas;

- when Ransom wakes, feeling 'such a premonition of good adventure', I am immediately reminded of Jane's first waking at St Anne's, 'there came into Jane's sleeping mind a sensation which ... would have sung "Be glad thou sleeper and thy sorrow offcast, I am the gate to all good adventure"'. I'm not sure if even Lewis would have realised he made what appears to be the same allusion in both places. But it is a wonderful feeling that we will all recognise. It is the counterpart of the feeling I'm sure we all get when Weston's spaceship falls into the sea - as Lewis says elsewhere 'the first stab of pain warning of a serious illness.'
- Lewis's digression to make clear that Ransom's feelings are nothing to do with naked bodies, points forward to Ransom's defence to Weston, a brilliant analogy; "... because Niagara Falls didn't immediately give him the idea of making it into cups of tea."
- 'Maleldil is telling me...'; however abused the phrase "God told me" is on our own planet, this phrase points to the reality of the intimate communion that Adam and Eve had, and of which we fleetingly, perhaps, catch a glimpse in our own most intimate moments with God.
- this newly occurred to me, but perhaps I'm just slow on the uptake; when Ransom refers to Tinidril as 'my Lady', surely Lewis must mean this to point to the medieval courtly relationship of noble lady to inferior knight - after all, the whole combat of Ransom with the Un-man is in a way a Frauendienst, a service on her behalf, and Tor the King is absent, as in so many of these 'myths' - see Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
- heart-wrenching; "I loved the furry people whom I met in Malacandra ... Are they to be swept away?" This is (almost) higher, deeper stuff than we mortals are made for.
- overall, I think Ransom copes remarkably well with the Lady's alien (to him) state of mind. One can imagine this as a point along his journey to the (dare I say it) semi-divine, Christ-figure of That Hideous Strength.
- (I stopped at the point where Ransom falls asleep after this first extended encounter with Tinidril)
Urendi Maleldil
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Re: Perelandra Chap. 5 - pt. 1

Postby loeee » 19 Nov 2004, 21:53

Someone please tell me how to pronounce Maleldil. Where does that name come from? Did Lewis just invent it? I have a problem with the Mal sylable, since in English that is a prefix meaning "bad."
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Re: Perelandra Chap. 5 - pt. 1

Postby Stanley Anderson » 19 Nov 2004, 23:14

loeee wrote:Someone please tell me how to pronounce Maleldil. Where does that name come from? Did Lewis just invent it? I have a problem with the Mal sylable, since in English that is a prefix meaning "bad."

It seems to be clearly a combination of Mal and Eldil so so I think of it as Mal-eldil. The meaning of "mal" is possibly connected in some way with the first part of Malacandra, ("Malac" with "handra" as Ransom figures out in OSP). Since Malacandra is Mars there are a couple reasonable ideas here. Since Malacandra was the first inhabited "low world", "mal" may have some kind of meaning connected with "first" which would suggest Maleldil translated sort of "first of the eldils" or more loosely, "God of the gods" as He might be described in Psalms or other OT references.

Alternatively, as Lewis indicates in The Discarded Image and in the descriptions of Malacandra in Perelandra and THS, Mars is identified with the hard-to-describe characteristic of a sort of distant watchfulness or guardianship. As he writes in Perelandra about Ransom's impression, "Malacandra seemed to him to have the look of one standing armed, at the ramparts of his own remote archaic world, in ceaseless vigilance, his eyes ever roaming the earth-ward horizon whence his danger came long ago. 'A sailor's look,' Ransom once said to me; 'you know...eyes that are impregnated with distance."

So perhaps Maleldil could be translated as something like "the eldil-like being [ie God] who watches over us and guards us from danger".

Or perhaps something of both those ideas, or even something completely different that we have no clue about. And the connection of "mal" with the word "male" probably informs the sense of the word a bit especially since Malacandra is identified as masculine.

Lewis does mention at the beginning of Perelandra when Ransom is talking to the character Lewis in the book about the Old Solar language, Hlab-Eribol-ef-Cordi, "That original speech was lost on Thulcandra, our own world, when our whole tragedy took place. No human language now known in the world is descended from it". That would indicate no connection to the word "male".

But one might hypothesize that just as the Oyarsan "gods" have "manifestations" of their qualities on Earth (eg, the flame-robed woman in Jane's room, the gods of Greek and Roman myth, etc), so too might the Old Solar language "resonate" in our own language at times, thus "male" from "mal" (and one can conjecture that the connection with "mal" meaning "bad" might have been an attempt by Satan -- or Thulcandra, I suppose -- to pervert the sweet influence of Old Solar on our language so that the "male" sense gets hidden from our primary sense, while leaving us to have a "bad" taste in our mouth about the word "Maleldil". Sounds exactly like something Screwtape would do to sway our thoughts about the Old Solar name of our Savior, eh?:-)

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Re: Perelandra Chap. 5 - pt. 1

Postby Stanley Anderson » 23 Nov 2004, 15:43

Collection of random thoughts -- no connecting theme.

When the Green Lady first meets Ransom, she does not have the same kind of linear sense of time that we have. She comes to "see" Ransom's point of view by his comments. I wonder if this lack of sense of time (at least as we see it) is somehow related to the unfallen state of Adam and Eve in the sense that they had not tasted of the fruit of the tree of the knowledged of Good and Evil? That phrase seems to imply not even being aware of a distinction between the two. And this seems similar to the Green Lady not being able to clearly (at first anyway) distinguish the flow of time.

I wonder about the nakedness on Perelandra. Other aspects of the Edenic life have parallels instead of direct similarities (eg fixed land instead of fruit of the tree). This seems to imply that nakedness and covering are somehow fundamental in the representation of innocence and fallen-ness.

I was fascinated with the Green Lady's description of the heavens to Ransom -- very much like the manner that Lewis describes the Medieval view of cosmology in The Discarded Image -- ie, the primary view is modified by "but's" and "on the other hand's". Thus, the Medieval view is of concentric spheres, but the earth being at the center is still on the "outside" with the "outer" sphere being the central "court" of the universe. So, like modern physics, the Medieval model is composed of paradoxes and contradictions, but presents a unified whole nevertheless.

In her description of the heavens, the Green Lady says, "And the oldst and greatest of them have on them that which we have never seen nor heard and cannot at all understand". This is reminiscent of the way Lewis talks about the qualities of Jupiter and the Sun and Saturn in The Discarded Image. The lesser planets are easier to describe in terms of the qualities attributed to them, but the "kingly" or majestic qualities of, say, Jupiter, are less clear and require much finessing to preperly describe.

I am also absolutely fascinated when Ransom asks how the Green Lady knows the information she is telling him, and she says "Maleldil is telling me". Lewis continues:

"And as she spoke the landscaep had become different, though with a difference none of the senses would identify. The light was dim, the air gentle, and all Ransom's body was bathed in bliss, but the garden world where he stood seemed to be packed quite full, and as if an unendurable pressure had been laid upon his shoulders, his legs failed him and he half sank, half fell, into a sitting position."

This is certainly connected with Ransom's experience of space being not empty but full of life in his journey to Malacandra in OSP, and is reminiscent of Lewis' comments in TDI about how the heavens are filled with "creatures", that no space is wasted. But why Ransom feels so especially oppressed at this moment is explored in more depth later on at the beginning of chapter 6, so I will hold off more comment for now.

One thing that "troubles" (too strong a word and not of the right tone -- more like causes me to consider and contemplate) me with much of the Green Lady's reactions are the odd mix of reactions, some of which seem to clearly indicated unfallennes, coexisting with others which I wonder how she can "relate" to in her unfallenness -- in other words, some of the things she "understands" seem to be things a fallen creature would have experienced. Thus she does not know what "rubbish" or "peace" mean, and yet she apparently knows, from her comment, "You say it as if you were sorry", what sorrow and being sorry are. (And of course there is the whole thing about my theory of humour and the fall that smacks into the scene of the Green Lady laughing at Ransom when they first meet, but that is my own personal ideas, so I can pass over that subject for now).

I am intrigued by the almost surreal quality of Lewis' comment when the Green Lady demonstrates that she is aware of the Incarnation, and Ransom replies with, "You know that ?". Lewis continues, "Those who have had a dream which is very beautiful but from which, nevertheless, they ardently desired to awake, will understand his sensations." I'm not sure I do understand Ransom's sensations as described by Lewis here, but I long to -- it is a fascinating mystery that I desire to (and at the same time am sort of afraid of) dive into and explore. Does anyone have any thoughts here?

And it continues to the next paragraph when she explains what she knows. Lewis writes, "The whole of this adventure seemed to be slipping out of his hands. There was a long silence. He stooped down to the water and drank before he spke again."

Curious. Is the drinking simply an action to give the scene presense or is it significant to the subject being discussed there. Perhaps Ransom just needs a "break" of some kind with all the weight of the events and discussion with the Green Lady, but somehow it seems to have some purpose too. But I'm not sure what.

When the conversation ends, Ransom again immediately falls into a deep, refreshing sleep. Just before, Lewis writes, "He found his legs unsteady and they ached a little; in fact a curious physical exhaustion possessed him". This illustrates, I think, the merging of the mythological, phyiscal, and mental aspects on this unfallen planet -- they are not separated as they are on the fallen Earth, but act together as a unified whole. Exhaustion of any kind -- in this case it seems to be of an intellectual kind -- means exhaustion of the whole "body/mind/soul".

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