Monday, August 14, 2023

About C.S. Lewis's "Perelandra"

Amid the chaos and suffering of the Second World War, Lewis began writing a sequel to his first science-fiction novel, Out of the Silent Planet (1938). Perelandra picks up the story of Elwin Ransom as he travels to Venus (Perelandra), a planet that, in biblical terms, has not experienced a fall from divine grace. Ransom’s mission is to prevent a satanic figure from luring an Eve-like character into a fatal temptation. In a letter to his friend Sister Penelope, dated November 9, 1941, Lewis explained what he was attempting:
I’ve got Ransom to Venus and through his first conversation with the ‘Eve’ of that world, a difficult chapter. .... I may have embarked on the impossible. This woman has got to combine characteristics which the Fall has put poles apart — she’s got to be in some ways like a Pagan goddess and in other ways like the Blessed Virgin. But if one can get even a fraction of it into words it is worth doing it.
Lewis succeeded beyond his imagination. As James Como argues in Mystical Perelandra: My Lifelong Reading of C.S. Lewis and His Favorite Book, of all Lewis’s books — over 40, in addition to hundreds of essays, poems, lectures, and sermons — no other single work so successfully intertwines his intellectual and imaginative powers while revealing the breadth and depth of the man himself. Como, professor emeritus of rhetoric and public communication at York College (CUNY) and a leading C.S. Lewis scholar, delivers a profound meditation on the enduring importance of Lewis’s novel: He helps us to recognize our desire for the holy. “The power of Perelandra,” Como writes, “derives from the fact that it offers a convincing portrayal of that Truth for which, knowingly or not, we have always longed.” .... (more, perhaps behind a paywall)

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