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Chapter 1 - part 2

The final book in Lewis' theological science fiction Space Trilogy.

Chapter 1 - part 2

Postby Kanakaberaka » 15 Sep 2008, 23:08

Synopsis :
Mark Studdock is oblivious to all the natural beauty of Edgestow as he walks to Bracton college. along the way he meets up with Curry, the Sub-Warden of Bracton College. The two of them talk about how their progressive group is gathering the support of others. Curry announces that Dick Devine, or Lord Feverstone as he is now known is comming to the college. When Mark questions "Dick's" importance, Curry informs Mark that it was Devine who got Mark his Fellowship. As Mark ponders his debt to Lord Feverstone and his own talent, the two stop into a pub called the Bristol for drinks.


Lewis shows us the sort of person Mark is by pointing out what it is he ignores. All of his lovely college town along with the nature and history surrounding it go unnoticed by Mark. Of course all of us behave this way at times when we have concerns on our minds. But Lewis is pointing out a character flaw in Mark here. Also there is the fact that Mark is a Sociologist. I remember G.K. Chesterton, a big influence on Lewis, once saying that it is impossible to study mankind, only to observe men. So Mark's very career reveals something about Lewis' opinion of him.

Among the things that passes Mark by is the fact that Edgestow is too small for any industry in spite of the fact that it has a university. Lewis appears to present an ideal location to live in according to his tastes.
I was surprised to find out that there really was a Henry de Bracton, the man whom the ficticious college was named after. Bracton was a Thirteeth Century juridical writer. So having a law college named after him makes perfect sense.

Lewis appears to imply something about Curry in his name. "Curry" could refer to "currying favor" as is using flattery to get what one wants. Also Dick Devine's new title of "Lord Feverstone" seems to have a Screwtapian sound to it. "Fever" of course meaning hot or sick, and "stone" refering to a hardness of the heart. There's also a Sherlock Holmes reference thrown in when Mark notes the real reasons behind Feverstone's trips to London as "the sort that Watson would call imponderables".

Mark has been overly impressed by the "inner circle" at Bracton College. He has no idea what values this progressive group has, nor does he care. All he wants is to belong. To be accepted for his own abilities. Yet it appears that Feverstone has chosen Mark for some other reason. something about Mark being the "right type of man".

Apparently the wrong type of man was Denniston, Mark's former rival. Although a brilliant writer, Denniston is interested in "Distributivism". Distributism, as G.K. Chesterton called it was an alternative economic model to laissez-faire capitalism. It is the notion that every landlord should be a tenant and every tenant a landlord. The idea that many small businesses are better than a few huge ones. Distributism is a philosophy suggested by Pope Leo the XIII in the Nineteenth Century. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc championed it. And yet, we don't hear much about it these days. Here is a link about Practical Distributism which you may find informing :

http://www.justpeace.org/encourdistributism.htm

Denniston was dismissed as "likely to end up in a monastery", by Curry because of these views.

By the end of their conversation, Mark is so chagrined about his selection as a Fellow that the two of them go to a nearby pub. Mark does some currying himself since he buys Curry a double whiskey when he on his more humble stipend can only afford a half pint of beer.
so it goes...
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Re: Chapter 1 - part 2

Postby The Bigsleep J » 16 Sep 2008, 03:32

Kanakaberaka wrote:Mark has been overly impressed by the "inner circle" at Bracton College. He has no idea what values this progressive group has, nor does he care. All he wants is to belong. To be accepted for his own abilities.


I've always found Lewis' essay on the Inner Circle very interesting and enlightening. Thematically this comes across a lot in the beginning of That Hideous Strength at the beginning. If I'm not mistaken the book and the essay was written more or less around the same time.
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Re: Chapter 1 - part 2

Postby Carly » 16 Sep 2008, 20:34

The Bigsleep J wrote:
Kanakaberaka wrote:Mark has been overly impressed by the "inner circle" at Bracton College. He has no idea what values this progressive group has, nor does he care. All he wants is to belong. To be accepted for his own abilities.


I've always found Lewis' essay on the Inner Circle very interesting and enlightening. Thematically this comes across a lot in the beginning of That Hideous Strength at the beginning. If I'm not mistaken the book and the essay was written more or less around the same time.


Yes, its title is "The Inner Ring," and it can be found at the end of the little volume The Weight of Glory. Good stuff.
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 17 Sep 2008, 15:44

Old-timer’s here will likely be familiar with the “chessboard” view of THS that I’ve proposed, but I should probably describe it a bit for any who may be unfamiliar with it. It is the idea that many of the characters, places, things, events, settings, and themes in THS seem to occur in parallel or contrasting pairs, much like the black and white pieces on a chessboard. They are generally (but not exclusively) aligned as part of the “opposing” sides of the NICE (or Belbury) and St Annes-on-the-Hill. To me this aspect so permeates the book that it seems like a key aspect (but not the only one of course) of what Lewis was trying to accomplish with the book. Something like this “parallel and contrasting” aspect also occurs strongly in many of his other books (in somewhat different ways), so that I think it is a general “Lewisian” trait that is also fascinating to explore apart from THS, but I won’t go much into that more general idea at the moment.

I’m going to digress here for a bit but it will relate to the chessboard view as you will see. Years ago I read about a poem that had an odd quality. For the life of me I can’t find that poem now, the poem’s author, or the person that wrote about the poem, but I think the poem was by TS Elliot, and the person writing about this aspect of the poem was Douglas Hofstadter, the author of the wonderful book Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. I’ve searched and searched for the reference, but can’t find it anywhere, so I may have the names wrong (and if anyone can tell me where it is or the real names, I’ll be eternally grateful – or well, for a long time anyway).

But here is the idea: The poem in question is a long-ish apparently unrhymed poem that as one reads, one is suddenly struck by an isolated rhyming couplet around the middle of the poem. Since none of the other lines rhyme, it seems odd and “sticks out like a sore thumb”. But then one may happen to notice that the line just before that couplet rhymes with the line just after the couplet. And, oddly enough, the line just before that first “enveloping” line rhymes with the line just after the ending enveloping line. It seems a pattern is developing. Sure enough, the lines before and after that group also rhyme (forming a rhyme scheme of “…d-c-b-a-a-b-c-d…”, not unlike a sort of poetic set of Russian dolls where each larger one encloses the smaller ones inside), and in fact, one can follow the pattern all the way back to the beginning and ending of the poem to find that the first line of the poem rhymes with the last line of the poem.

This odd rhyme structure is curious in that one would not notice it until one got to the middle of the poem and each “surrounding” couplet is harder and harder to “hear”, but if one knows what to look for, it is easy to see that it runs throughout the entire poem. Well, I go into this digression because that is sort of how I “found” the chessboard view of THS. One doesn’t really notice it at the beginning of the book (even though Mark and Jane are primary parallel “pieces” in the set), but there in the middle of the book are the curious characters of (the real) Merlin, along with the odd tramp that the NICE thinks is Merlin. They are both such odd characters that they seem to go together somehow. But then I began to notice other seeming parallel characters, like the strange parallel sound in the names of Grace Ironwood and Fairy Hardcastle, and the king-piece-like aspect of the “heads” of the NICE and St. Annes, Alcasan’s head and Ransom, both “leaders” of their respective camp but both very limited in their movement (Ransom with his bad foot, and Alcasan with his bad -- well, you see what I mean:-), just like opposing king pieces on a chessboard.

From there it expanded to other characters, but interestingly, even into many other aspects of the book – events, places, things, etc, as mentioned above. And by the way, the parallels and contrasts are quite varying and don’t necessarily “line up” with each other in the sense that say, "Since Grace goes with the Fairy, then obviously so-and-so must go with that-guy-over-there". No. It's not that "logical". The same thing might parallel two or more other different areas in different ways, or something one person does may not correspond with what that person's parallel character does, but rather with a different character's actions altogether. The “rhyming couplets” are all over the map, so to speak, sometimes occurring right next to each other in the text, and other times at opposite end of the book. The only consistency is that, to me, they permeate nearly every aspect of the book in some way, and new examples occur to me on each reading. The variety and density of examples is truly amazing to me.

With this comment one might say, "well, it does seem that you can find whatever you like, Stanley -- they do the same thing with numerical "discoveries" in the text of Shakespeare and the Bible and even the phone book, but that doesn't prove anything". And that is true. I can only say that if seeing how the examples develop as we go through the book doesn't convince one about the idea, I can only shrug my shoulders. It is something that seems clear to me, but I can understand potential doubt in someone else's view.

Well, anyway, I’ll get to all that detail as we go further into the book, but I mention the origin of my noticing the chessboard view because in talking about the part of the chessboard view that I see in these first two sections of Chapter 1, you might think “That’s it??? Boy, that sure seems like a stretch, Stanley”. And you would be right – if that were the only or most illuminating example of the chessboard view. But just as it is in noticing the rhymes in that poem described above, it is at this point only one of the lesser examples and the general chessboard view will develop much more as we go along. So with that long introduction, I’ll dive into my thoughts on this section in connection with the first section as related to the chessboard view.

Mark and Jane, to me, are clearly parallel characters in this view – there are many, many parallels between them that I’ll mention later, but for now, we see both of them realizing that they are not really in the situation they might have thought they are in. Jane does not see the wonderful aspects of relationship that she had seemed to experience before marriage just as Mark walks by the beautiful settings of the landscape around him without noticing them. Was her “charm” for Mark just imaginary and not “really” the reason he married her – or indeed, the author suggests that Jane is not really the insightful scholar she would like to think of herself as when she talks about working on her Donne project?

We see something of the same feeling in Mark when he realizes that his election as a fellow was not because of his “papers” as he might have thought, but because of Feverstone’s influence – a rather disconcerting feeling for both Mark and Jane to find themselves in. And they both have the disorienting experience of trying to “fit” the people they are seeing (Jane in her dream of Alcasan and Merlin, and Mark with his views of Curry, Feverstone, and the others) into what they thought they knew about them previously.

And it is too much for both of them to sort out. Jane, in trying to block it all out, decides to get away from the flat to go “anywhere, to be out of that room, that flat, that whole house”, and Mark, as he and Curry arrive at their destination and Mark feeling uncomfortable with the turn the conversation has taken says, in an effort to change the subject, “It’s not yet twelve – what about popping into the Bristol for a drink?” Even though that is difficult for him in terms of expenses, “the Bristol was a very pleasant place”. And getting a bit tipsy with alcohol (as we shall see that this plays an apparently important “smoothing” effect for the “NICE” relations in general) helps him to “get away” from that difficult thought process, just as Jane in her way does the same thing physically by getting out of the house.

(whew! sorry for the long digression there, but I had to get it out of the way at the beginning. Hopefully later posts won't be as involved -- but no guarantees:-),
--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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Postby a_hnau » 17 Sep 2008, 18:54

I started to work on a detailed comparison and contrast of The Cosmic Trilogy with Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land; I won't post my detailed notes all in one lump (it's still very much a work in progress) but probably bits of it will be relevant.

My summary of (part of) the structure of THS, rather in response to Stanley's very interesting post on the 'chessboard', is below;

"That Hideous Strength has two parallel strands of narrative, which can be simply characterised as the divine and the diabolical. The divine strand across the whole Trilogy clearly has Ransom echoing the person and ministry of Christ. There are also two contrasted characters who represent unredeemed humanity – Mark and Jane. Mark is clearly drawn at first to the diabolic strand, and Lewis takes great pains to demonstrate a number of key traps and deceptions which are among those used by Satan to hide the true nature of Hell until the trap springs shut. Jane is drawn to the divine strand, but her surrender is impeded by an equally well-delineated but different set of modern attitudes. The different processes by which Mark and Jane escape and are redeemed from their respective deceptions, are crucial to THS."
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Good Move, Stanley

Postby Kanakaberaka » 17 Sep 2008, 22:36

Stanley Anderson wrote:
With this comment one might say, "well, it does seem that you can find whatever you like, Stanley -- they do the same thing with numerical "discoveries" in the text of Shakespeare and the Bible and even the phone book, but that doesn't prove anything". And that is true. I can only say that if seeing how the examples develop as we go through the book doesn't convince one about the idea, I can only shrug my shoulders. It is something that seems clear to me, but I can understand potential doubt in someone else's view.

--Stanley


I think you are on to something with your Chessboard Parallels, Stanley. You do show convincing evidence. And I am glad you chose to present it bit by bit as this book study progresses. I just wonder though, whether C.S. Lewis planned these opposing characters from the start. Or whether one character simply demanded an opposite number to fight the battle.
so it goes...
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Have eldil, will travel

Postby Kanakaberaka » 17 Sep 2008, 22:45

a_hnau wrote:I started to work on a detailed comparison and contrast of The Cosmic Trilogy with Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land; I won't post my detailed notes all in one lump (it's still very much a work in progress) but probably bits of it will be relevant.


I can see how Stranger and THS are compareable since both involve a religious leader who has had life changing experience on other planets within our solar system. So feel free to include these comparisons whenever you feel they add to the chapter being discussed, a_hnau.
Of course Valentine Michael Smith's views differ quite a bit from Elwin Ransom's.
so it goes...
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Re: Good Move, Stanley

Postby Stanley Anderson » 18 Sep 2008, 01:03

Kanakaberaka wrote:I just wonder though, whether C.S. Lewis planned these opposing characters from the start. Or whether one character simply demanded an opposite number to fight the battle.


Hard to say I suppose, and of course we simply can't answer since he is gone. Our only definitive hope would be the discovery of some letter where he talked about such things. But for me, some of the parallels are so directly corresponding in nature (eg, scenes like Jane and Mark both entering St Annes and Belbury by small side doors, or when they both view the full moon from those locations, or the descent of the Gods and the animals at the banquet at Belbury -- but more about all that when we get there) that it is VERY hard for me to believe he didn't have at least some conscious intention in that direction.

By the way, the cover illustration you mention with the chess pieces in among the other bits is the only one I've ever had. I think I've related here before about how years ago when I was describing the chessboard view to my wife Angelee, and our son Gawain -- about 7 or 8 at the time suddenly exclaimed "oh, like the chess piece on the cover?"...

...Ding! Suddenly the light came on and I realized that that is what must have encouraged my description of the idea all those years, even though I didn't consciously think of the cover. After all, I could have used any imagery, from checkers to the cold war to any image with opposing "sides", but I zeroed in on chess. Of course as I've indicated, at least one aspect, Ransom and Alcasan's head correspond very specifically with the king piece in a chess set, but as far as I can tell, no other areas correlated so specifically to particular chess pieces, only the generalized "opposing sides" nature of any game with equal and opposite pieces.

Anyway, that cover illustration almost makes me think that someone else at least must have had the idea enough to influence the illustrator of the cover, but that is hard to say.

--Stanley

This is an image of the cover in question by the way:

Image

Hmmm...this link doesn't seem to display properly. But if you paste the link into your browser address bar, you should be able to see the image
…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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Postby rusmeister » 18 Sep 2008, 04:51

Well, the first time you mentioned the chessboard and one example that was all I needed to see it all in a flash. Now it's obvious. (Like so many things in retrospect!) :smile:
"Eh? Two views? There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there's never more than one."
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That Hideous Paperback Cover

Postby Kanakaberaka » 18 Sep 2008, 14:10

Here it is straight from the Objectivity Room. The THS cover Stanley mentioned in his previous post -


Image

Yep, those are certainly ghostly chess pieces in the foreground. Just don't ask me what that thing is in the center. It could be a diabolical speaker system for Belbury for all I know. I think those odd pointed shapes surrounding the thing could be fallen eldils.
so it goes...
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Chess pieces/chess board

Postby alcuin » 07 Nov 2008, 14:55

Probably the most famous chess novel is, of course, Through the Looking-glass. When I was a student I was privileged to hear a lecture on the Alice books by Ulrich Simon, then Professor of Christian Literature at Kings College London. There is a looking-glass quality to That Hideous Strength not only in the importance of dreams (a legacy of Alice in Wonderland as well as the incubator of Lewis' imagination) but in the distorted reflections. The clearest example of this is in the two chapters 8 and 9 during the full Moon. The Moon (Sulva) is the boundary of the control of the bent eldila, although Filostrato emphasizes that there is still 'savage' life fighting against the Masters on the dark side. (This is almost a reverse of the background to The Dark Tower, another mirrored image[?], which also significantly shows a full moon on the first use of the chronoscope). Here you have Mark being instructed on the truth of the cosmic dimension by Filostrato (a decidedly effiminate/false feminine figure) as opposed to Jane being given the breakdown by MacPhee (in a very masculine and untidy lair). Camilla interrupts to rescue Jane and they go outside into the moonlight. Mark is shown the mon through a window and Straik interrupts. Filostrato and Straik hacve faces that look like death marks in the reflected moonlight. Jane and Camilla are enlivened by the moonlight and climb up the hill. Mark is led further inside ,arm-in-arm by Filostrato into the lower and inner reaches of Belbury. Also, Camilla knocks and waits to be admitted. Straik knocks and walks right in. There are clear traces of Charles Williams. courtesy coming through in these reflected actions.

I am at present looking the planetary novels as part of an overall study called Fictional Landscapes of Faith.
Last edited by alcuin on 07 Nov 2008, 17:43, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 07 Nov 2008, 15:53

Yes, those two "moon" scenes are one of my favorite "chessboard view" parallels in the book! When we get there I wanted to quote the descriptions of the moon from each section. Your comments about the contrasts of the characters in those scenes is fascinating too.

In another of my favorite chessboard view parallel scenes, there is also some of that similar contrast you talk about (and some of the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland imagery too) in chapter 3 at the end of section 4 and the beginning of section 5 where it talks about the "little doors" that both Jane and Mark go through (or have gone through) to get to St. Annes or the NICE.

But I suppose I should wait until we get there to talk more about it:-)

--Stanley
(PS Sorry, K, about my lack of comment in the last sections so far. I'll try to get on the ball here as soon as I can. I've been using a lot of my spare time to plan and execute some of my son's education (I'm presently doing a lot more of the homeschooling that Angelee has done most of up till the last year -- I am using my math and science and computer skills to focus on those areas that she feels weaker on. But of course I have to squeeze that into less available free time since I work at a job outside the home)
…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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Zallright Stanley

Postby Kanakaberaka » 07 Nov 2008, 21:44

Stanley Anderson wrote:(PS Sorry, K, about my lack of comment in the last sections so far. I'll try to get on the ball here as soon as I can. I've been using a lot of my spare time to plan and execute some of my son's education (I'm presently doing a lot more of the homeschooling that Angelee has done most of up till the last year -- I am using my math and science and computer skills to focus on those areas that she feels weaker on. But of course I have to squeeze that into less available free time since I work at a job outside the home)


I had a feeling you were preoccupied with more important matters, Stanley. That's why I didn't send you any messages about it. I thought that your absence had something to do with The Nutcracker though. Anyhow, I intend to post one new section study each Monday when I can.
so it goes...
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Looking-Glass and mirrored images

Postby alcuin » 08 Nov 2008, 10:39

“In a mirror all asymmetrical objects (objects not superimposable on their mirror images) “go the other way.” There are many references to such left-right reversals. Tweedledee and Tweedledum are … mirror-image twins; the White Knight sings of squeezing a right foot into a left shoe; and it may not be accidental that there are several references to corkscrews, for the helix is an asymmetric structure with distinct right an left forms. If we extend the mirror-reflection theme to include reversal of any asymmetric relation, we hit upon a note that dominates the entire story. … To approach the Red Queen, Alice walks backward; in the railway carriage the Guard tells her she is traveling the wrong way; the King has two messengers, “one to come, and one to go.” The White Queen explains the advantages of living backward in time; the looking;glass cake is handed around first, then sliced. Odd and even numbers, the combinatorial equivalent of left and right, are worked into the story at several points (e.g. The White Queen requests jam every other day). In a sense, nonsense itself is a sanity-insanity inversion. The ordinary world is turned upside down and backward; it becomes a world in which things go every way except the way they are supposed to.”

This is a rather nice quotation from The Annotated Alice by Martin Gardner, which I have just put in at the start of a chapter of my present research. It shows the potential perversity of the mirrored-image, Belbury to St Anne's for example, the misuse of reason and language and even of emotions and relationships in Belbury and NICE, which also destroy the fellowship of Bracton College. Gardner, in the context of Through the Looking-Glass uses the term inversion, but this could be seen as a step towards perversion. Mark is 'inverted', therefore, from normal loyalties. Following a linguistic theme, Jane of course, is converted.

Best wishes,

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