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Postscript

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

Postscript

Postby Kanakaberaka » 15 May 2006, 14:51

Synopsis : The "real" Dr. Ransom corrects some details of the story as written by Lewis.
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This letter from Ransom would be called "Bonus Material" and "Comming Attractions" if it were part of a video. I suspect that C.S. Lewis really wanted all of the extra details about things like the smell of the Malacandrian forests at dawn included in the main story. However, he could not figure out a way to include them without interrupting the flow of the story. Being a philologist, he no doubt wanted more information included about the Malacandrian languages. But as an author he knew what would sell in the mass market.
"Ransom" made an interesting observation about the Malacandrian hnau not keeping pets -
Each of them is to the others both what a man is to us and what an animal is to us. They can talk to each other, they can co-operate, they have the same ethics; to that extent a sorn and a hross meet like two men. But then each finds the other different, funny, attractive as an animal is attractive. Some instinct starved in us, which we try to soothe by treating irrational creatures almost as if they were rational, is really satisfied in Malacandra. They don't need pets.
I have often wondered why people enjoy the company of pets. This explanation makes sense to me.
Also included are details about subspecies of hnau which Lewis could not fit into the main storyline. And he makes up for the short shrift given to the pfifltriggi by giving detials of their homeland on the bottom of ancient sea beds. Ransom even suggests that he could have invented a trip to one of their cities, but does not because he does not want to make excuses for lying to Oyarsa if ever they meet again. And Ransom hopes to see the Oyarsa of Malacandra again, eventualy.
There is also a technical note about how eldils can cause us to hear them when they do not breath. I just took in for granted that they could somehow vibrate the air to make noise in some manner audible to us.
Ransom also mentions discussing types of angels with Oyarsa and wonders if those assigned to Thulcandra are some sort of military caste "since our poor old earth turns out to be a kind of Ypres Salient in the universe". Lewis is of course refering to trench warfare in WW I which he as an officer in the British Army he was all too familiar with.
Near the end there is a lengthy discription of a hrossa funeral. This is a very informative detail put in to let us know about the acceptance of death as a natural happening on an unfallen world. Death is something serious and somber on Malacandra. But it is not tragic.
Next to last are the comming attractions. First Ransom remembers the rising of Glundandra (the planet Jupiter) over the handramit by night. And Hyoi mentions that it is connected with Maleldil, though they do not claim that He lives there. It sounds like a good reason for Ransom to travel there, but why? Could Maleldil ignite Jupiter to create a new Sun for the new Earth? That's what the Monoliths did in Clarke's "2010".
Finaly there is the conclusion that Weston has been cut off from any more inter-planetary flights -
Now that 'Weston' has shut the door, the way to the planets lies through the past; if there is to be any more space-travelling, it will have to be time-travelling as well ...!
To me this sounds as if "The Dark Tower" was meant to be the sequel to "Out of the Silent Planet". Could Lewis have been thinking about redoing H.G. Wells' Time Machine novel? But since TDT did not work out, it seems that Lewis found an excuse for Weston to make it to Venus, aka Perelandra.
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so it goes...
so it goes...
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Kanakaberaka
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Original Postscript Comments

Postby Kanakaberaka » 15 May 2006, 15:25

Steve had this observation :
Quote:
Near the end there is a lengthy discription of a hrossa funeral. This is a very informative detail put in to let us know about the acceptance of death as a natural happening on an unfallen world. Death is something serious and somber on Malacandra. But it is not tragic.


So Lewis doesn't believe in the interpretation of Genesis common to most young earth creationists, that there would be no physical death before the fall of man.


To which Loeee replied :
Steve, I don't know that OOTSP is the place to look for Lewis' views on what earth was like before the fall. For that, Peralandra would be the better choice, I think. In Peralandra, there was no death until Weston brought it, and there was no expectation that the Lord and Lady of Peralandra would ever die.
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Beannachd Dia


I had this to say about "Death and the Fall" :
In one of his theological books (I forget which one) Lewis speculates that there may have been a sort of seamless transition from the biological life into the spiritual life rather than an absence of death as we know it before Original Sin.


Yet Steve noted :
Yes, but Malacandra is also an unfallen world. It was attacked by Thulcandra, but it is still unfallen, I believe.


Loeee replied :
Unfallen, but not unchanged. Evil had come to Malacandra. The Oyarsa of Malacandra explains some of it to Ransom, and some he figures out from the pictures carved by the pfifltriggi. (I have no idea how to spell that.)
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Beannachd Dia


Monica was able to join in ("many thanks, K") :
K:

My computer has been down for at least a month, and I have not been able to contribute to your study. I only just got online to the forums this minute. I'm so sorry I missed the second half of OOTSP and thanks again so much for your consistency and excellent leadership in this study. Maybe sometime we can do this again with another book -- or is thatl like talking to a woman who has just gone through labour about having another child.

Monica


I replied to Monica "You're Welcome" :
I am glad that readers appreciate this study, Monica. There is a desire to push on with a Perelandra reading group. Dr. Z gave me some of the details, but I was unable to put anything together on short notice. Next Monday I hope to post a study comparing the three races of hnau on Malacandra. After that, it may not be untill mid-September before the reading group strarts up for Perelandra. It's just as well as far as I am concerned because I'm trying to make an old family house habitable again so that we can move in by the end of August.

I finaly did make the house habitable, though it took me untill the middle of November 2004. My family and I are presently living in the house "Just outside of Rego Park, NYC" , and we love the place.
As for the Perelandra study, it has been completed and is now archived here in The Wardrobe. I hope to someday post that comparison of the three types of Malacandran hnau. I have plenty of ideas, but can't seem to express them very well in writing.

Stanley Anderson posted "...the greater frequency of more excellent creatures..." :
[from K]:
>Finaly there is the conclusion that Weston has been cut off from
>any more inter-planetary flights - Now that 'Weston' has shut
>the door, the way to the planets lies through the past; if there is
>to be any more space-travelling, it will have to be time-travelling
>as well ...!

>To me this sounds as if "The Dark Tower" was meant to be the
>sequel to "Out of the Silent Planet". Could Lewis have been
>thinking about redoing H.G. Wells' Time Machine novel? But since
>TDT did not work out, it seems that Lewis found an excuse for
>Weston to make it to Venus, aka Perelandra.

Yes. I think the obvious meaning of the time-travelling comment is as a sort of pun on the earlier sentence in the paragraph about reading every old book -- ie, one must now be content to merely read about earlier times in Earth's own history when ideas from "the Heavens" seeped into Man's knowledge. But it is like Lewis to take such a line and try to do something different with it. And I think The Dark Tower is just such an attempt (for I am of the contingent -- small, it seems from the loud proclamations of 'forgery' on the other side -- that think Lewis did write the book). I lament the fragmentary nature of it and would love to see what he might have done.

But it is curious that he changed his mind about the book and also about his statement at the end of OSP. For though he says that Weston shut the door on more space travelling, he has Weston, willy-nilly, travel through the Heavens one more time in a ship apparently very similar to the one that they took to Mars.

Just a few concluding remarks from me:

It is interesting to see that Ransom has nearly the same reservations about translating an experience to book form that many people feel about translating a book into a movie. He says, "I won't deny that I am disappointed, but then any attempt to tell such a story is bound to disappoint the man who has really been there."

The descriptive nature of the postscript to the book very much fits in with the medieval sensibility. In chapter VIII "The Influence of the Model" of The Discarded Image, Lewis writes about the digressive nature of medieval works and says, "The simplest form in which this tendency expresses itself is mere catalogue. We have in Bernardus...[and here Lewis -- you can almost see him smiling at his imitation of the very subject he is writing about -- launches into a paragraph -- a veritable list -- of examples of lists in medieval works]" Lewis continues with "At first one suspects pedantry, but that can hardly be the true explanation. Much, though not all, of the knowledge was too common to reflect on any particular distinction on an author...One gets the impression that medieval people, like Professor Tolkein's Hobbits, enjoyed books which told them what they already knew". And this: "...In the same way, if all the catalogues and digressions are filled with a certain sort of matter, this must be because writers and their audiences liked it. Digression need not deal with the large, permanent features of the universe unless you want. The long-tailed similes in Homer or the 'episodes' in Thomson usually do not. The are more often 'vignettes'."

I think much of the postscript fits in pretty well with these sorts of digressions that Lewis writes about of Medieval books.

Again, one could go paragraph-by-paragraph or even sentence-by-sentence to find medieval ideas and influences in this section, but that probably gets a bit too pedantic even for me:-) But I can't resist pointing out a couple instances. In the very last paragraph of the book he writes "I am trying to read every old book on the subject that I can hear of". From other examples earlier, it is clear he is talking about looking for medieval texts to support this medieval cosmological view.

In the glorious previous paragraph, he says "But the Malacandrians would say, 'within the Asteroids', for they have an odd habit, sometimes, of turning the solar system inside out." Again, this is straight out of TDI. In the chapter "The Heavens", Lewis writes, "...I have already hinted that the intelligible universe reverses it all; there the Earth is the rim, the outside edge where being fades away on the border of nonentity...The universe is thus, when our minds are sufficiently freed from the senses, turned inside out. Dante...locates us and our Earth 'outside the city wall'." Again, I can't emphasize enough how illuminating a thorough reading of The Discarded Image can have on all three of the Space Trilogy books as well as much of Lewis' other works.

I'll just conclude with the observation that the penultimate paragraph that I already described as glorious is a simply wonderful tribute and summoning to the pleasures and fascination with the Medieval cosmological model and its effect on the mind that is open enough to receive it as such. Lewis had a great love for this worldview and it shines through in sparkling wonder here. The evocation of the "nature" of the king of the planets, Jupiter, is a mere hint of that glory.

--Stanley


I concluded with "By Jove, I think he's got it !" :
The evocation of the "nature" of the king of the planets, Jupiter, is a mere hint of that glory. - Stanley
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I too enjoyed that last cosmic view of Jupiter that Lewis included in the Postscript. It made me wonder why he didn't write more "scientifiction" stories of this sort. After all, his Space Trilogy only focuses on Mars, Venus and Earth. Jupiter or one of it's moons would have made an interesting destination. I suppose that since all the bad guys were killed off in THS there was no reason to venture forth into the Field of Arbol. Or maybe since Jupiter is associated with Maleldil it would be too much like having an audience with Jesus.
so it goes...
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