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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sensually thrilling but a little slow
In this book, Lewis stimulates the senses with his descriptions of bubble trees, floating islands, colorful skies, beautiful sounds and strange creatures. (It was a compliment to Lewis when one reader complained of being seasick after reading about the floating islands.) From the standpoint of imaginative scene painting, Lewis is at his best in PERELANDRA. His plot...
Published on 8 April 1998

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful but flawed
C. S. Lewis is said to have found "Perelandra" his favourite among his own books, and an improvement over "Out of the Silent Planet". Though a strong Lewis fan, I'm afraid I cannot agree. OOSP attempts one thing, and achieves it perfectly. Perelandra fails by being too ambitious.

"Out of the Silent Planet" is an almost perfect story. The description of...
Published on 20 Aug 2007 by Sir Myles na Gopaleen (the da)


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lewis's favorite novel he ever wrote, his own version of PARADISE LOST, October 18, 2007, 9 Oct 2012
Though not as well known as Lewis's Narnia novels, he also wrote a series of three novels, featuring Elwin Ransom as the main protagonist, in the late 1930s and early to mid 1940s. Lewis wrote the novels due to his famous conversation with his close friend J. R. R. Tolkien, who both said there wasn't enough of their type of fiction in the world, so they would have to write their own. Lewis wrote the Space Trilogy, and Tolkien wrote part of an abandoned, unfinished novel called THE LOST ROAD. Ransom, a philologist, is actually modeled after Tolkien.

There's a story in one of Tolkien's letters (published in LETTERS OF J.R.R. TOLKIEN) where his daughter, Priscilla, was reading the trilogy during one of the holidays in the 1940s, and, according to Tolkien, quite sensibly came to the conclusion that PERELANDRA was the best of the trilogy.

The second book in the trilogy is PERELANDRA. In many ways, it is the richest of the trilogy in terms of spiritual depth. While OSP is more straight science fiction, and THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH social commentary, PERELANDRA is closely modeled on the Adam & Eve story in Genesis. This novel is something of a homage to one of Lewis's favorite, John Milton. It's a beautiful book, and raises the question of what exactly would happen if Adam and Eve had not fallen. And this time, instead of being kidnapped Maleldil sends Ransom there.

Perelandra, the second novel in the, if you believe the blurbs, celebrated Space Trilogy, stands as Lewis's on contribution to the form of the modern epic and also his tribute to John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost. There are a plethora of epic references, and I agree that science fiction is the inheritor of the epic tradition. Much of what Lewis accomplishes through Perelandra is from the epic tradition. There are several elements in Perelandra that not only salutes Paradise Lost but also throws the whole epic tradition in a favourable light. Here are some of the numerous ways in which Perelandra harkens back to the epic tradition.

Like most epics, the story begins in a crucial point in the story, with Lewis himself attempting to make it to Ransom's house under severe attack. There are generally catalogs in epics, and this is played as dark humour in Perelandra, as Ransom accounts what each individual has to fight with (essentially two middle aged bodies). There are then descriptions of what these are. Then, to rally himself up, Ransom makes a speech to himself for encouragement. Weston becomes the Unman, a very common tradition of giving a name to a character based on the description of that character. One of the best developed portion of Perelandra's similarities with the epic is the very vivid description of the Underworld which is given in the last section of Perelandra. In it, we get the quite hellish descriptions of the subterranean world of Perelandra, which we had no idea existed. Lewis also gives us his reoccurring theme of privacy and the fact that we do not know everything, with the two thrones and the sea people who appear and then disappear very mysteriously.

The main plot of the novel has Ransom, who was kidnapped last novel, actually being sent to Venus. Lewis does away with the problem of spaceships this time around, having angels just take his protagonist there. He finds himself in a world of vast oceans, with floating islands that are actually behave like film or foam on the ocean, undulating and taking the shape of each wave. He soon meets the Green Lady, who is unfallen. Her husband is on another of the floating islands (they had become separated when they were on different islands which drifted away from one another).

Eventually, Weston arrives, the villain from the previous novel, and we find that Ransom must prevent him from corrupting the Green Lady, to prevent another Fall into Sin. Weston is an agent of Satan, and so wants to bring sin into Venus as well.

The majority of the novel focuses on Ransom and his efforts to protect the Green Lady from the Un-man, which Weston actually becomes after shortly arriving on Venus. Weston actually becomes demonically possessed, and ultimately must be stopped at all cost. Ransom is stripped, both physically and symbolically, having to rely on Maleldil (Jesus) to help him.

SPOILER:

Eventually, Ransom and the Un-man swim to an underground chamber, with the Un-Man biting Ransom's heel. This wound that will never fully heal, an allusion to Arthur and the Grail myth as well as the scripture in Genesis saying man will crush the serpent's head, and the serpent will bruise mankind's heel. In the end, Ransom puts the Un-Man to death, and so prevents Venus from having a second fall. The Green Lady and her husband are united.

END SPOILER

The descriptions of the floating islands and Ransom's experience on Perelandra in the first section of the book before he meets The Green Lady, along with the ending section of THE LAST BATTLE from Narnia where they are in heaven, to me is the most beautiful passages that ever came from Lewis's pen.

One fault that this novel does have it the ending seems to be rather preachy, but otherwise this is a first class novel, and for many readers this will be one of Lewis's most spiritually rewarding novels. Only in THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS does he deal so accurately and directly and with such psychologically insight on the problems of temptation and accountability.

While this novel is technically termed "science fiction", this is much more a spiritual track of our times than straight science fiction. The book is closely modeled upon Milton's PARADISE LOST.

For myself, the best way to read this book is reading it in conjunction with two other books, an unofficial trilogy, if you will. Because PERELANDRA is so closely related to PARADISE LOST, you should read that as well. Also read Lewis's literary criticism A PREFACE TO PARADISE LOST, in which he expertly discusses Milton's work. Lewis is a brilliant literary critic, and PREFACE is one of the best critical works on the PARADISE LOST ever produced.

My own unofficial trilogy:
1. Paradise Lost. (John Miltion)
2. A Preface to Paradise Lost (C. S. Lewis)
3. Perelandra

Overall, many readers will find PERELANDRA Lewis's most spiritually satisfying of the three novels. The characterization is strongest in this novel, as Lewis is only dealing primarily with three characters, and we really get to know all of them quite intimately. The novel is also focused mainly on evil in an unfallen world and what one must do to save that world. Until Lewis wrote TILL WE HAVE FACES in the late 1950s, the novel which he felt was his true masterpiece, he long felt this book was his best, and placed it second best after FACES. This was Lewis's favorite in the Space Trilogy and for good reason. It's probably the best (though my personal favorite is THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH).
.
.
-----------------------
[Throughout the years, I have written a number of reviews that have never been published online on Amazon. These writings comprise two types of reviews: unfinished reviews, abandoned during various stages of composition, and completed reviews that for life reasons were never posted. Of the later type, back in September 2001 I wrote a cache of work, a full sixteen reviews* of several different C. S. Lewis books which have never been released. I have issued these reviews in October 2012 on Amazon.com, over a decade after they were initially written. However, these reviews were heavily edited and in several instances radically and drastically revised. I am publishing these reviews now for the first time in their original, unrevised format as written in 2001, with bracketed additions added for occasionally necessary clarification. Mike London 10-23-2012]

Perelandra, the second novel in the, if you believe the blurbs, celebrated Space Trilogy, stands as Lewis's on contribution to the form of the modern epic and also his tribute to John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost. There are a plethora of epic references, and I agree that science fiction is the inheritor of the epic tradition. Much of what Lewis accomplishes through Perelandra is from the epic tradition. There are several elements in Perelandra that not only salutes Paradise Lost but also throws the whole epic tradition in a favourable light. Here are some of the numerous ways in which Perelandra harkens back to the epic tradition.

Like most epics, the story begins in a crucial point in the story, with Lewis himself attempting to make it to Ransom's house under severe attack. There are generally catalogs in epics, and this is played as dark humour in Perelandra, as Ransom accounts what each individual has to fight with (essentially two middle aged bodies). There are then descriptions of what these are. Then, to rally himself up, Ransom makes a speech to himself for encouragement. Weston becomes the Unman, a very common tradition of giving a name to a character based on the description of that character. One of the best developed portion of Perelandra's similarities with the epic is the very vivid description of the Underworld which is given in the last section of Perelandra. In it, we get the quite hellish descriptions of the subterranean world of Perelandra, which we had no idea existed. Lewis also gives us his reoccurring theme of privacy and the fact that we do not know everything, with the two thrones and the sea people who appear and then disappear very mysteriously.

*(These reviews covered all seven books of "The Chronicles of Narnia", the three novels of "The Space Trilogy", "The Abolition of Man", "The Four Loves", "A Preface to Paradise Lost", a revised version of my 2000 review of "Till We Have Faces", "Surprised By Joy", and "The Screwtape Letters".) [unpublished review incoroprated into main text of 2007 review 12-1-2012
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars splendid christianized scifi, 10 Aug 2011
By 
rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Perelandra (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a really wonderful book, in which Ransom flies to Venus to intervene on behalf of a multi-colored Adam and Eve. It is very fun the way that Lewis uncovers details in the story, as Ransom proceeds with astonishment is his strangely deliberate and chaste way. An odd and very English character.

But the writing is absolutely wonderful, and some of the scenes quite unforgettable - there is one where he barely escapes a battle for his life, but winds up unknowingly in a pitch-black cave, waiting in frustration for the sun to rise. He then has to feel his way out, encountering a large insect-like creature he observes by the light of a lava flow. I simply loved that image, which makes this a genuine masterpiece of scifi in my opinion. As ever, it is full of surprizes.

Warmly recommended for true scifi fans.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prophetically Accurate., 21 Feb 2014
By 
P. W. Charnley (United Kingdom.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A slow start. But once the Un-man and Ransom begin to lock-horns philosophically, with the innocence and future of Perelandra at stake, the book truly begins to take shape. Although written in the 1940's, C.S.Lewis brilliantly delivers a prophetic masterpiece with this novel - seeing ahead and right through the aegis of late 20th / early 21st century Post Modernist human reasoning - which welcomes anti-religious secularism and a form of pride based, separatist feminism as delusory foundation stones for long term human flourishing.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lewis's favorite novel he ever wrote, his own version of PARADISE LOST, 24 Oct 2012
This review is from: Perelandra (Hardcover)
[Throughout the years, I have written a number of reviews that have never been published online on Amazon. These writings comprise two types of reviews: unfinished reviews, abandoned during various stages of composition, and completed reviews that for life reasons were never posted. Of the later type, back in September 2001 I wrote a cache of work, a full sixteen reviews* of several different C. S. Lewis books which have never been released. I have issued these reviews in October 2012 on Amazon.com, over a decade after they were initially written. However, these reviews were heavily edited and in several instances radically and drastically revised. I am publishing these reviews now for the first time in their original, unrevised format as written in 2001, with bracketed additions added for occasionally necessary clarification. Mike London 10-23-2012]

Perelandra, the second novel in the, if you believe the blurbs, celebrated Space Trilogy, stands as Lewis's on contribution to the form of the modern epic and also his tribute to John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost. There are a plethora of epic references, and I agree that science fiction is the inheritor of the epic tradition. Much of what Lewis accomplishes through Perelandra is from the epic tradition. There are several elements in Perelandra that not only salutes Paradise Lost but also throws the whole epic tradition in a favourable light. Here are some of the numerous ways in which Perelandra harkens back to the epic tradition.

Like most epics, the story begins in a crucial point in the story, with Lewis himself attempting to make it to Ransom's house under severe attack. There are generally catalogs in epics, and this is played as dark humour in Perelandra, as Ransom accounts what each individual has to fight with (essentially two middle aged bodies). There are then descriptions of what these are. Then, to rally himself up, Ransom makes a speech to himself for encouragement. Weston becomes the Unman, a very common tradition of giving a name to a character based on the description of that character. One of the best developed portion of Perelandra's similarities with the epic is the very vivid description of the Underworld which is given in the last section of Perelandra. In it, we get the quite hellish descriptions of the subterranean world of Perelandra, which we had no idea existed. Lewis also gives us his reoccurring theme of privacy and the fact that we do not know everything, with the two thrones and the sea people who appear and then disappear very mysteriously.
.
.
-----
[In 2007 I wrote and published this review on Amazon.com]

Though not as well known as Lewis's Narnia novels, he also wrote a series of three novels, featuring Elwin Ransom as the main protagonist, in the late 1930s and early to mid 1940s. Lewis wrote the novels due to his famous conversation with his close friend J. R. R. Tolkien, who both said there wasn't enough of their type of fiction in the world, so they would have to write their own. Lewis wrote the Space Trilogy, and Tolkien wrote part of an abandoned, unfinished novel called THE LOST ROAD. Ransom, a philologist, is actually modeled after Tolkien.

There's a story in one of Tolkien's letters (published in LETTERS OF J.R.R. TOLKIEN) where his daughter, Priscilla, was reading the trilogy during one of the holidays in the 1940s, and, according to Tolkien, quite sensibly came to the conclusion that PERELANDRA was the best of the trilogy.

The second book in the trilogy is PERELANDRA. In many ways, it is the richest of the trilogy in terms of spiritual depth. While OSP is more straight science fiction, and THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH social commentary, PERELANDRA is closely modeled on the Adam & Eve story in Genesis. This novel is something of a homage to one of Lewis's favorite, John Milton. It's a beautiful book, and raises the question of what exactly would happen if Adam and Eve had not fallen. And this time, instead of being kidnapped Maleldil sends Ransom there.

The main plot of the novel has Ransom, who was kidnapped last novel, actually being sent to Venus. Lewis does away with the problem of spaceships this time around, having angels just take his protagonist there. He finds himself in a world of vast oceans, with floating islands that are actually behave like film or foam on the ocean, undulating and taking the shape of each wave. He soon meets the Green Lady, who is unfallen. Her husband is on another of the floating islands (they had become separated when they were on different islands which drifted away from one another).

Eventually, Weston arrives, the villain from the previous novel, and we find that Ransom must prevent him from corrupting the Green Lady, to prevent another Fall into Sin. Weston is an agent of Satan, and so wants to bring sin into Venus as well.

The majority of the novel focuses on Ransom and his efforts to protect the Green Lady from the Un-man, which Weston actually becomes after shortly arriving on Venus. Weston actually becomes demonically possessed, and ultimately must be stopped at all cost. Ransom is stripped, both physically and symbolically, having to rely on Maleldil (Jesus) to help him.

SPOILER:

Eventually, Ransom and the Un-man swim to an underground chamber, with the Un-Man biting Ransom's heel. This wound that will never fully heal, an allusion to Arthur and the Grail myth as well as the scripture in Genesis saying man will crush the serpent's head, and the serpent will bruise mankind's heel. In the end, Ransom puts the Un-Man to death, and so prevents Venus from having a second fall. The Green Lady and her husband are united.

END SPOILER

The descriptions of the floating islands and Ransom's experience on Perelandra in the first section of the book before he meets The Green Lady, along with the ending section of THE LAST BATTLE from Narnia where they are in heaven, to me is the most beautiful passages that ever came from Lewis's pen.

One fault that this novel does have it the ending seems to be rather preachy, but otherwise this is a first class novel, and for many readers this will be one of Lewis's most spiritually rewarding novels. Only in THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS does he deal so accurately and directly and with such psychologically insight on the problems of temptation and accountability.

While this novel is technically termed "science fiction", this is much more a spiritual track of our times than straight science fiction. The book is closely modeled upon Milton's PARADISE LOST.

For myself, the best way to read this book is reading it in conjunction with two other books, an unofficial trilogy, if you will. Because PERELANDRA is so closely related to PARADISE LOST, you should read that as well. Also read Lewis's literary criticism A PREFACE TO PARADISE LOST, in which he expertly discusses Milton's work. Lewis is a brilliant literary critic, and PREFACE is one of the best critical works on the PARADISE LOST ever produced.

My own unofficial trilogy:
1. Paradise Lost. (John Miltion)
2. A Preface to Paradise Lost (C. S. Lewis)
3. Perelandra

Overall, many readers will find PERELANDRA Lewis's most spiritually satisfying of the three novels. The characterization is strongest in this novel, as Lewis is only dealing primarily with three characters, and we really get to know all of them quite intimately. The novel is also focused mainly on evil in an unfallen world and what one must do to save that world. Until Lewis wrote TILL WE HAVE FACES in the late 1950s, the novel which he felt was his true masterpiece, he long felt this book was his best, and placed it second best after FACES. This was Lewis's favorite in the Space Trilogy and for good reason. It's probably the best (though my personal favorite is THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH).

*(These reviews covered all seven books of "The Chronicles of Narnia", the three novels of "The Space Trilogy", "The Abolition of Man", "The Four Loves", "A Preface to Paradise Lost", a revised version of my 2000 review of "Till We Have Faces", "Surprised By Joy", and "The Screwtape Letters".
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Confused theology in a science fiction setting, 29 Oct 2011
By 
Aquilonian (Great Britain) - See all my reviews
I first read this book many years ago as a born-again, fundamentalist Christian. I recently re-read it as a Pagan. The language is beautiful, the story potentially interesting. My objections are to the moral theology- and since the author's main interest is theology, I think these objections are important. In fact the book raises much bigger questions than it answers.

SPOILER ALERT!: The following review refers to events later in the story, so if you're intending to read the book as a suspenseful novel you should look away now.

In 1942 God decides its time to create intelligent life on Venus, beginning (as on Earth) with one couple. Both are physically perfect and morally innocent, and all other creatures are harmless and obedient to them. Satan takes possession of Weston, an evil physicist, and travels to Venus in a spaceship intending to tempt the Venusian Eve to disobey God's one arbitrary prohibition (presumably, as on Earth, her sin would sentence all of her descendants to eternal damnation). So far this is a replay of the Book of Genesis. However this time, God doesn't leave Eve to resist temptation all alone, but sends Ransom, a rather unconfident, naiive, middle-aged philologist, to provide counter-arguements. Eve, who is innocent but not stupid, isn't that impressed by either of them, but Satan/Weston gradually starts to get the upper hand, partly by being a more persuasive talker, and partly because he doesn't have to sleep, so he's always chatting with Eve already before Ransom wakes up. Eventually Ransom has a long dark night of the soul, almost in despair like Christ in Gethsemane. But then he realises how Satan can be defeated, and Eve and her Venusian descendants saved from all the Earthly horrors humans have experienced, not to mention an afterlife of eternal suffering in Hell.

URGENT SPOILER ALERT!!! This is the real sudden twist in the tale.

Ransom realises that the way to beat Satan/Weston is to stop arguing with him and just batter him to death! Weston is after all just another middleaged academic, so they're equally matched apart from Ransom being nude and Weston having very long fingernails. After a lengthy and vicious struggle, Ransom eventually kills Weston. He is congratulated by the Archangels, and returned to Earth to prepare his final adventures on Volume 3.

OK, so here's my problem. Why didn't God send someone to Earth to help our Eve, when she was tempted? He could have sent a Sorn from Mars, surely? (See "Out of the Silent Planet"). And if he had to send a human, why not send someone tougher, more persuasive, or both? (Could Churchill not spare anyone from the War Effort?)Even if it had to be Ransom, why not let him take a gun, and shoot Weston/Satan before Eve even sees him? The assumption seems to be that Venusian Eve would eventually have been persuaded to sin, if Ransom had allowed Satan to continue. In which case, why is Venusian Eve any better than our Eve, who did not have the same support?

In the early days of Christianity, some "Heretical" branches of the religion taught that the Fall (Eve's succumbing to temptation) was a necessary part of our development. Some even said that Satan was correct in saying that after eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, "Ye shall be as Gods, knowing both good and evil". Like Ransom, the mainstream church had such difficulty refuting these ideas that eventually they quit discussing and just killed anyone who disagreed with them. The mainstream churches, Ransom, and CS Lewis all agree that unquestioning obedience to an arbitrary command is the most fundamental good, and disobedience the root of all evil. But even if you accept this, Venusian Eve hasn't properly obeyed- the indications are she would have fallen eventually if Ransom hadn't beat the Devil's face in. So the book fails on its own terms, making a nonsense of the Christian theology which it intended to expound.

The subjugation of all creatures to the human couple, and the apparent automatic deference of Venusian Eve to her Adam, are other issues that Lewis takes for granted, however in a Christian context they make sense. That's why I've focused on the temptation theme, because that doesn't make sense even in a Christian context.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visually brilliant; ignore the Christian stuff, 19 Jun 1999
By A Customer
I've read Lewis's trilogy a number of times--first when I was thirteen years old. I wasn't aware of the religious connotations at that age and enjoyed the book tremendously. I can guess that some Christians like Lewis because of his message, which is a bit forced, but I like him for the strength of his imagination, particularly evident in the first two parts of the trilogy. All that other stuff is a waste of space as far as I'm concerned, but he's a great writer and gets away with it.
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3 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Forget about free-will..., 23 April 1999
By A Customer
Admittedly, I went into this book knowing that Lewis liked to allegorize religion. However, I was not prepared for the extent to which this allegorization took place, and found the book too horribly oppressing and proselytizing to continue reading it past the climax scene. This is not a spiritual book disguised as science fiction. This is a diatribe disguised as a novel.
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6 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The solution is violence and subjugation of women, 5 Sep 2002
This review is from: Perelandra (Voyager) (Paperback)
Honestly, I was expecting a lot better from C.S.Lewis. Yes, he has a mastery of language, a way of describing Perelandra that makes you long to be there, but the rest...Behind the language lies a story that turns into preaching every other page, and the points that Lewis wants to make seems to be 1) Women is wrong to have ambition beyond homemaking. 2) When you can't argue your point with words, it is Gods' will that you go after your combattant with physical violence. 3) The wicked are eternally wicked, and so are in no need of mercy (Lewis is fond of predestination, too). I can't agree. In this book, far more than in others, it shows that Lewis is a writer from a, thank God, bygone era.
He does touch upon some more interesting areas, such as has been mentioned above (why was the forbidden tree there in the first place), the nature of evil as being petty rather than grand, and the insight that the fall comes from the desire of security, the craving for possessions. Had he developed those themes, it would perhaps become more interesting. Now, it is a sometimes very longwinded plod through oldfashioned ideas about women, violence and rigtheousness, illuminated in places by Lewis' mastery of descriptive language.
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