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Chapter 22 Study

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

Chapter 22 Study

Postby Kanakaberaka » 15 May 2006, 14:26

Synopis : The author gives us a look at how and why this book came to be written.
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Although this is supposed to be the final chapter of Out of the Silent Planet, it is more like an afterword. C.S. Lewis himself writes it as if Ransom and all others mentioned were in fact real people. It's sort of like the old "Dragnet" TV show where "names have been changed to protect the innocent". Obviously Lewis is not trying some practical joke on his readers by claiming his story is real. Why then include it? The first thing that came to my mind was that he was following a fantastic fiction gimmic used often by H.P. Lovecraft - Make up a ficticious headline or book and use it to give the story depth. A sort of suspension of disbelief. But when I dug a little deeper I realized that Lewis had somthing more subtle in mind.
Lewis mentions a 12th Century Platonist named Benardus Silvestris in this chapter. It turns out that he read a book by Silvestris called "De Mundi Universitate" on August 4 of 1930. The book mentions things such as the music of the spheres and other classical notions about the heavens. And it also mentions "Oyarses", planetary spirits. -
"It occurs in the description of a voyage through the heavens, and an Oyarses seems to be the "intelligence" or tutelary spirit of a heavenly sphere, i. e. in our language, of a planet. I asked C. J. about it and he says it ought to be Ousiarches. "
It turns out that "C.J." was probably C.C.J. Webb, a university associate of Lewis. So why veil this chapter in psuedo secrecy when it could have been written as a conventional afterword? It seems as if Lewis is giving us real warnings about the "real" Weston. We could hazard a guess that he was refering to Prof. JBS Haldane in humor. Or is there more to it?
I belive that the real purpose of this odd chapter is to give the history of how Lewis came to write OOTSP. To present his inspirations as living ideas rather than "discarded images". I can see now why Stanley kept bringing up the idea of Ransom changing into a Medieval mindset. In this chapter Lewis himself presents his inspiration in such a way to convince us it's alive.
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Original Chapter 22 Comments

Postby Kanakaberaka » 15 May 2006, 14:40

Stanley Anderson began the comments :
Yes, the line "If we could even effect in one per cent of our readers a change-over from the conception of Space to the conception of Heaven, we should have made a beginning" is perhaps the prime indicator of the change from modern scientific to medieval man mindset.

I had wondered at one time about his changing the names. He says, about the indications in the narrative that would be enough for the few who were prepared to go further, that "they will easily find out you, or me, and will easily identify Weston."

To me this suggested surely that the NICE people would also then be able to trace Ransom, as they were trying so desperately to do in THS. But the last paragraph suggests, with its comments about the rapid march of events which was to render the book out of date before it was published, that in fact the events of THS had already taken place, so that Ransom would not need to worry about being traced via the book.

The Bernardus Silvestris bit about the word Oyarses is, as K indicates, a true story, including the reference to CJ. Lewis elsewhere seems to indicate that he accepts CJ's explanation of it being a "typo", as it were, for Ousiarches. But it is interesting that he reserved the incident to play upon later when he came to writing OSP.

By the way, this chapter and the concluding postscript fall very much into the style of medieval literature which Lewis describes in The Discarded Image as being full of asides and veerings from the main subject.

And as an example of one of those asides in this very post:-), I wonder if this last chapter (and perhaps even the postscript?) could be aesthetically added to the end of a movie of OSP. Oh, I know the dictates of modern popular movie conventions demand that such stuff be deleted as it impedes the pacing (oh how I've come to hate that term in relatoin to talk of film dynamics!). And in order to make money they would have to replace it with a car chase or an explosion, but on purely aesthetic grounds (as though it were in an arthouse movie theatre), I like to consider how such a scene could be done in an interesting way on film.

--Stanley


I suggested to Stanley - OOTSP - The Movie! :
I wonder if this last chapter (and perhaps even the postscript?) could be aesthetically added to the end of a movie of OSP. - Stanley
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I imagine they could, if it were done as a sort of conversation between Lewis and a silhouetted figure of the "real" Ransom. We should ask The Big Sleep J for his opinion on this.
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And in order to make money they would have to replace it with a car chase or an explosion - Stanley
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No, no, no, Stanley. Hollywood would have a Star Wars style battle in space between the Heavenly eldils and those bound to Thulcandra during the return trip to Earth. Or how about this for Perelandra - The evil eldils of our world attack and break through ranks of guardian eldils to allow Weston's second space sphere to travel to Venus?

But seriously, wouldn't Ransom's escape from the sorns and the Hrossa battle with the hnakra offer enough action for the big screen?
It's the dialog that will be the tricky part.


Steve had this speculation about a movie :
The other big question for a Hollywood version of OOTSP is where will they insert a heroine?

Maybe the lady worried about her son in CH 1 follows Ransom and gets carried off to Malacandra as well?


Stanley Anderson had this suggestion for an OOTSP movie :
Monica and I had discussed this idea for a bit in a thread some time ago. One possibility was to replace Ransom, Weston and Devine with Jane Studdock, Fairy Hardcastle and Grace Ironwood. One of the themes of the thread was about the "gadgetry" of the ship in "male" writing that it had been suggested that Lewis engaged a bit in. I had suggested (humouously, of course) that with these three women running things, the narrative would have said, in mock feminine (ignoring gadetry) style, that they just pushed the "go" button, etc:-). There were other bits about fashion and appropriateness in dress for tromping over the countryside too.

But I rather like the idea of the mother worried about her son -- she ends up in Mars grabbing Oyarsa by the lapel demanding the return of her son when all along he's still sitting on the porch back in Thulcandra getting drunk on Devines jugs of wiskey:-)

--Stanley


I just couldn't resist giving my suggestion for an opening scene to Perelandra :
Allow me to expand apon my Perelandra script, Hollywood style:

A huge field of stars fills the movie screen. Lines appear forming the familiar constellations. Earth comes into view. And what at first appeared to be other constellations turn out to be eldils, brightly outlined humanoid forms floating in space.
1st eldil : All appears quiet on the Field of Arbol.
2nd eldil : Keep alert. Maleldil has warned that trouble in afoot on Thulcandra.
1st eldil : How could anyone from the silent planet possibly...

His words are cut off as a red wave of flame shoots forth from Earth's atmosphere. It is a phalanx of fallen eldils. They too are bright outlines. But they are not humanoid. There is a violently fantastic clash of war in the heavens (George Lucas style). And the fallen eldils manage to punch a hole in the heavenly blockade long enough for an ugly steel sphere to drift through. As the fallen ones retreat back to Earth, we see Weston's second space sphere navigate towards a bright spot near the Sun. He's headed on his way to the planet Venus, also known as Perelandra.
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