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Ch 2c: pp 16-19

For the Medieval Dinosaur in all of us.

Ch 2c: pp 16-19

Postby Stanley Anderson » 05 Mar 2007, 15:46

(Four paragraphs beginning with “On the highest level, then...” and ending with “...except in the work of Dante”)

It is interesting that Lewis’ concern here is not how ignorant the more ignorant of the medievals were, but how aware of their own ignorance they were (contrasted with how intelligent the ignorant of today think themselves to be). In That Hideous Strength, this is brought out by the revelation that Mark has about the yawning chasm of blankness in his own character while he is held captive in the Objective Room at Belbury -- it is a major turning point in the story. Another example in THS is connected with the comment made by Fairy about the influence of newspapers over the intelligentsia and the lack of influence that that “news” propaganda has on the “backward” country folk. This would seem to suggest that in Fairy’s mind at least the situation today was very similar to the medieval period. But later we find out quite the opposite – that in fact the “ignorant” country folk were easier to convince than they had expected and had been taken in quite as much as the intelligentsia – which is what Lewis is saying about today’s society in the section of TDI under discussion.

It is also interesting that in the last paragraph of the section of TDI under discussion, Lewis talks about the difficulty of fusing the Pagan elements and Christian viewpoints into the Medieval model – as he says of the Pagan elements,
…if not in logical contradiction to Christianity, were subtly out of harmony with it. There was no direct ‘conflict between religion and science’ of the nineteenth-century type; but there was an incompatibility of temperament. Delighted contemplation of the Model and the intense religious feeling of a specifically Christian character are seldom fused except in the work of Dante
The interest for me in this passage is that this Dantean fusing seems to be exactly what Lewis is attempting to do in the Space Trilogy with his transformation of the gods into angels (ie, eldilla) and establishing the Medieval cosmological Model in ways that are compatible (within the context of the books’ assumptions) with modern scientific views.

…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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Stanley Anderson
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