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Chapter 3 - part 2

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

Chapter 3 - part 2

Postby Kanakaberaka » 01 Dec 2008, 23:31

Synopsis : Abandoned by Lord Feverstone, Mark attempts to mingle with the men of the N.I.C.E. on his own. Eventually Mark manages to speak to four people connected to the N.I.C.E., each in a very different way.

This chapter illustrates the saying that it is not what you know, it's who you know that counts. At least for Mark Studdock. Left by himself, Mark is a total cypher among most of those at the luncheon. But as Mark looks around he notices Bracton's most distinguished chemist William Hingest, or "Bill the Blizzard" as the Progressive Element calls him behind his back. Mark feigns respect for Hingest since there is no one else there who will talk to him.
One odd thing about the four people Mark meets in this chapter is that Lewis goes into great detail to describe what each of them looks like, painting a colorful picture of each of them. Yet Mark Studdock's appearance is never mentioned, except to note that he is clean shaven due to a minor cut. Why did Lewis overlook Mark? I have a feeling that Lewis wants us to think of Mark as a sort of everyman. And so we must fill in the details of his appearance ourselves.
As far as Hingest is concerned, the N.I.C.E. is of no interest to him, being more political than scientific. And so Hingest is leaving the "club" in spite of the fact that he is as well connected to it as Feverstone.
The first time I read That Hideous Strength I thought of Hingest as one of the "good guys". But upon re-reading this book for the fourth time, I realize that he has his own faults, notably the vice of pride. When a notable French scientist came to visit Bracton, all that he and Hingest talked about was peerage from the "Almanac de Gotha". The scientist mentioned, Louis de Broglie was in fact a real Nobel Prize winner for physics in 1929. He was also a prince, which no doubt interested Hingest very much more than their shared work. The trouble is that although Hingest has enough sense to leave the N.I.C.E., he has a moral problem all of his own when it comes to being charitable with those not as highly born as himself. He does give good advice to Mark about leaving, but also introduces Mark to the head of the sociology department, Steele.

Steele is not at all pleased that Feverstone has gone over his head to get Mark into his department. Mark attempts to appologize as Steele shares his chagrin with his co-worker Cosser, who totaly ignores Mark. This turns out to be quite common at the N.I.C.E. It's members fear being pushed out by the ambitions of others at all times. The scene chages again as someone else notices Mark.

Professor Filostrato gets Mark's attention. The two of them had met two years earlier and Filostrato enjoys Marks writings. Lewis paints Filostrato as a tragic rather than a comic character. He notes about the phsiologist's appearance -
He was fat to that degree which is comic on the stage, but the effect was not funny in real life.
So Lewis presents this absurd looking man as someone to be pitied, rather than as a clown. Filostrato's name could have come from a character in a poem by Giovanni Boccaccio. But some scholars think the name could be a reference to Greek writer Flavius Philostratus II (c. 165–250 A.D.). Philostatus claimed that the work of an artist should be free to exceed the limits of nature. (Arend Smilde of the Netherlands made this observation)
Lewis has Filostrato use some Italian, such as calling Steele's worries a bagatelle meaning somthing of no consequence. A bagatelle is also a small game, which has me wondering about a connection to the chess board theory. He dismisses all the others as canaglia, or rabble. And he warns Mark about the next character he meets, refering to her as Inglesaccia. Which refers to an Englishman with the addition of a pejorative (-accia). She is "The Fairy".

"Fairy" Hardcastle is a study in contradictions. She fills her short skirted uniform with her ample, buxom figure. Yet she has an iron grip, a deep voice, and keeps her iron grey hair cropped short. She appears to be a masculine spirit trapped in a female body. Her long, black cigar, which she enjoys playing around with, suggests a phallic symbol. Lewis only gives Hardcastle's physical appearance in this section. It is not untill part 4 of this chapter that we learn what the Fairy talked to Mark about. In spite of her appearance, or maybe because of it, this woman has enchanted Mark with her enforcement of legal powers over others.
so it goes...
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