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Perelandra by C. S. Lewis
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Perelandra (original 1943; edition 2005)

by C. S. Lewis

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5,18062862 (3.86)129
Member:MyBookishWays
Title:Perelandra
Authors:C. S. Lewis
Info:HarperCollins Entertainment (2005), Paperback, 288 pages
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Perelandra by C. S. Lewis (Author) (1943)

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Half read, half listened. Mixed feelings about it, although it was interesting enough, pretty early sci-fi and different from I'm used to.

God brainwashing Ransom into doing his bidding is maybe even more horrifying than the devil taking over his evil counterpart. It's hilarious that the devil takes over a physicist and a philogist is God's messenger. Your issues are not showing, not at all, Lewis!

QUOTES comments:

∞ At Ransom’s waking something happened to him which perhaps never happens to a man until he is out of his own world: he saw reality, and thought it was a dream.

∞ But this now appeared to him as a principle of far wider application and deeper moment. This itch to have things over again, as if life were a film that could be unrolled twice or even made to work backwards ... was it possibly the root of all evil? No: of course the love of money was called that. But money itself - perhaps one valued it chiefly as a defence against chance, a security for being able to have things over again, a means of arresting the unrolling of the film.

∞ ‘I have been so young till this moment that all my life now seems to have been a kind of sleep. I have thought that I was being carried, and behold, I was walking.’

Ransom asked what she meant.

‘What you have made me see,’ answered the Lady, ‘is as plain as the sky, but I never saw it before. Yet it has happened every day. One goes into the forest to pick food and already the thought of one fruit rather than another has grown up in one’s mind. Then, it may be, one finds a different fruit and not the fruit one thought of. One joy was expected and another is given. But this I had never noticed before that at the very moment of the finding there is in the mind a kind of thrusting back, or a setting aside. The picture of the fruit you have not found is still, for a moment, before you. And if you wished - if it were possible to wish - you could keep it there. You could send your soul after the good you had expected, instead of turning it to the good you had got. You could refuse the real good; you could make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other.’

‘I have been so young till this moment that all my life now seems to have been a kind of sleep. I have thought that I was being carried, and behold, I was walking.’

Ransom asked what she meant.

‘What you have made me see,’ answered the Lady, ‘is as plain as the sky, but I never saw it before. Yet it has happened every day. One goes into the forest to pick food and already the thought of one fruit rather than another has grown up in one’s mind. Then, it may be, one finds a different fruit and not the fruit one thought of. One joy was expected and another is given. But this I had never noticed before that at the very moment of the finding there is in the mind a kind of thrusting back, or a setting aside. The picture of the fruit you have not found is still, for a moment, before you. And if you wished - if it were possible to wish - you could keep it there. You could send your soul after the good you had expected, instead of turning it to the good you had got. You could refuse the real good; you could make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other.’

Ransom interrupted. ‘That is hardly the same thing as finding a stranger when you wanted your husband.’

‘Oh, that is how I came to understand the whole thing. You and the King differ more than two kinds of fruit. The joy of finding him again and the joy of all the new knowledge I have had from you are more unlike than two tastes; and when the difference is as great as that, and each of the two things so great, then the first picture does stay in the mind quite a long time - many beats of the heart - after the other good has come. And this, O Piebald, is the glory and wonder you have made me see; that it is I, I myself, who turn from the good expected to the given good. Out of my own heart I do it. One can conceive a heart which did not: which clung to the good it had first thought of and turned the good which was given it into no good.’

∞ ‘You spoke yesterday, Lady, of clinging to the old good instead of taking the good that came.’

‘Yes - for a few heart-beats.’

‘There was an eldil who clung longer - who has been clinging since before the worlds were made.’

‘But the old good would cease to be a good at all if he did that.’

There are some very disturbing bits among this for a feminist. Because of course “Eve” is representing of womanhood. Later on, when the Angel and the Demon start fighting for her soul, both of them incarnated in male forms, with God being a He as well, it seems like the Lady is this child they get to manipulate.

∞ ‘That saying of yours is like a tree with no fruit. The King is always older than I, and about all things’

Which comes down to “Men know best.” I also don’t like how Weston uses stories of great women to convince her to renounce God. The implications of that are also terrible, and how Ransom “almost believes it” (ie. the superiority of the female sex), not that I think the superiority is true, but somehow the fact that those women were great and pioneers is never clarified. He dismisses their superiority but never awknowledges their greatness. Then there are moments where the message seems to be the oppossite, that women’s subservience to men serves no one, less of all men.

∞ It was not merely pity for pain that had suddenly changed the rhythm of his heart-beats. The thing was an intolerable obscenity which afflicted him with shame. It would have been better, or so he thought at that moment, for the whole universe never to have existed than for this one thing to have happened.

∞ It looked at Ransom in silence and at last began to smile. We have all often spoken - Ransom himself had often spoken - of a devilish smile. Now he realised that he had never taken the words seriously. The smile was not bitter, nor raging, nor, in an ordinary sense, sinister; it was not even mocking. It seemed to summon Ransom, with a horrible naivete of welcome, into the world of its own pleasures, as if all men were at one in those pleasures, as if they were the most natural thing in the world and no dispute could ever have occurred about them. It was not furtive, nor ashamed, it had nothing of the conspirator in it. It did not defy goodness, it ignored it to the point of annihilation. Ransom perceived that he had never before seen anything but half-hearted and uneasy attempts at evil. This creature was whole-hearted. The extremity of its evil had passed beyond all struggle into some state which bore a horrible similarity to innocence. It was beyond vice as the Lady was beyond virtue.

∞ ‘Other things, other blessings, other glories,’ he murmured. ‘But never that. Never in all worlds, that. God can make good use of all that happens. But the loss is real.’

At all events what Ransom saw at that moment was the real meaning of gender. Everyone must sometimes have wondered why in nearly all tongues certain inanimate objects are masculine and others feminine. What is masculine about a mountain or feminine about certain trees? Ransom has cured me of believing that this is a purely morphological phenomenon, depending on the form of the word. Still less is gender an imaginative extension of sex. Our ancestors did not make mountains masculine because they projected male characteristics into them. The real process is the reverse. Gender is a reality, and a more fundamental reality than sex. Sex is, in fact, merely the adaptation to organic life of a fundamental polarity which divides all created beings. Female sex is simply one of the things that have feminine gender; there are many others, and Masculine and Feminine meet us on planes of reality where male and female would be simply meaningless. Masculine is not attenuated male, nor feminine attenuated female. On the contrary the male and female of organic creatures are rather faint and blurred reflections of masculine and feminine. Their reproductive functions, their differences in strength and size, partly exhibit, but partly also confuse and misrepresent, the real polarity. All this Ransom saw, as it were, with his own eyes. The two white creatures were sexless. But he of Malacandra was masculine (not male); she of Perelandra was feminine (not female). Malacandra seemed to him to have the look of one standing armed, at the ramparts of his own remote archaic world, in ceaseless vigilance, his eyes ever roaming the earthward horizon whence his danger came long ago. ‘A sailor’s look,’ Ransom once said to me; ‘you know ... eyes that are impregnated with distance.’ But the eyes of Perelandra opened, as it were, inward, as if they were the curtained gateway to a world of waves and murmurings and wandering airs, of life that rocked in winds and splashed on mossy stones and descended as the dew and arose sunward in thin-spun delicacy of mist. On Mars the very forests are of stone; in Venus the lands swim. For now he thought of them no more as Malacandra and Perelandra. He called them by their Tellurian names. With deep wonder he thought to himself, ‘My eyes have seen Mars and Venus. I have seen Ares and Aphrodite.’ He asked them how they were known to the old poets of Tellus. When and from whom had the children of Adam learned that Ares was a man of war and that Aphrodite rose from the sea foam?

‘That is enough appearance for us to speak to you by. No more was needed between us: no more is needed now. It is to honour the King that we would now appear more.

No, seriously, what the fuck? What about the Queen? Not even freaking angels can be egalitarian? ( )
  Evalangui | Aug 22, 2014 |
Creepy, but beautiful; well worth reading at least once. ( )
  ex_ottoyuhr | May 7, 2014 |
Incredible ( )
  iamjonlarson | Apr 24, 2014 |
Originally posted at FanLit.

Perelandra is the second volume of C.S. Lewis’s SPACE TRILOGY and I liked it even better than Out of the Silent Planet, its predecessor. Cambridge professor Dr. Elwin Ransom is back on Earth and has told his friend Lewis about the adventures he had on the planet Mars and the supernatural beings he met there. When Ransom explains that there’s an epic battle between good and evil, that the planet Venus is about to play an important part, and that he’s been called to Venus to do some unknown task, Lewis begins to worry about his friend. Yet he decides to help him get to Venus anyway, so Ransom goes and eventually returns to tell his tale, which Lewis has transcribed for us.

Venus is gorgeous — a lush conglomerate of archipelagos where the land floats on top of the water, so that walking on it is like walking on a waterbed. The sky is full of stunning colors that Ransom has never seen before; exotic trees delight the eye and yield delicious fruit. Other than the strange but friendly animals, Ransom seems to be alone in this world — until he sees a beautiful naked woman waving from a neighboring island. When he finally meets her, he discovers that evil lurks in this seemingly perfect world.

If you were able to ignore the Christian allegory in Out of the Silent Planet, you won’t be able to do so in Perelandra — it’s a parallel version of humanity’s awakening in the Garden of Eden and Eve’s temptation to sin. Evil is trying to gain a foothold and Ransom suddenly realizes what it would mean to bring “the knowledge of good and evil” into a sinless paradise. Ransom discovers that the Biblical admonition to resist temptation may be a spiritual truth on Earth, but at this time on Venus it’s a real physical battle and he has been sent to fight it, both with words and fists.

C.S. Lewis, a lover of words and mythology, writes beautifully about the alien paradise of Venus and the possibility that what is myth in one world might be truth in another. He also has much to say about good and evil, sin and obedience, madness and sanity, loneliness and companionship, science and the supernatural, predestination and free will, the nature of God and man, and humanity’s purpose in the universe. Some readers will accuse Lewis of preachiness, I’m sure, and that’s something that usually annoys me, but though Ransom’s introspections go on a little too long, I found it impossible to resist the beauty, logic, and concision of his philosophizing.

I listened to Geoffrey Howard narrate Blackstone Audio’s version of Perelandra which is just under 8 hours long. Mr. Howard narrates rather than performs the story, which I think is suitable. I’ll certainly be listening to him read the concluding volume: That Hideous Strength. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
The second in the Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis, Perelandra, does not disappoint. Full of spiritual imagery and whimsy with his ever-present backbone of solid writing. Following Ransom on another mission through space which this time lands him on Perelandra (or as we call it Venus) the readers find him in a battle with an all too familiar enemy.

It will be interesting to see how he concludes the saga in the final installment, That Hideous Strength. ( )
  AliceaP | Feb 8, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lewis, C. S.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Craft, KunikoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kannosto, MattiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, CliffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Symancyk, BernardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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As I left the railway station at Worchester and set out on the three-mile walk to Ransom's cottage, I reflected that no one on that platform could possibly guess the truth about the man I was going to visit.
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The story of the fall of man philosophically retold as a space adventure. An amazing allegorical work by one of England's most well-known authors.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 074323491X, Paperback)

The second book in C. S. Lewis's acclaimed Space Trilogy, which also includes Out of the Silent Planet and That Hideous Strength, Perelandra continues the adventures of the extraordinary Dr. Ransom. Pitted against the most destructive of human weaknesses, temptation, the great man must battle evil on a new planet -- Perelandra -- when it is invaded by a dark force. Will Perelandra succumb to this malevolent being, who strives to create a new world order and who must destroy an old and beautiful civilization to do so? Or will it throw off the yoke of corruption and achieve a spiritual perfection as yet unknown to man? The outcome of Dr. Ransom's mighty struggle alone will determine the fate of this peace-loving planet.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:51 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Dr. Ransom is recruited by the denizens of Malacandra, befriended in Out of the Silent Planet, to rescue the edenic planet Perelandra and its peace-loving populace from a terrible threat: a malevolent being from another world who strives to create a new world order, and who must destroy an old and beautiful civilization to do so.… (more)

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