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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than you might think, 16 April 2008
This review is from: That Hideous Strength (The Cosmic Trilogy) (Paperback)
This book is curious, at the very least because at the time it was published there was a mild fuss over the possibility that Lewis was referring to parallel organizations and individuals quite close to hand. I am aware of at least two communities of Christians who bear an astonishing resemblance to those in the book; and this intrigues me greatly. Were those communities real distant cousins of St Annes?

...and whether or not that is true, his ability to puts words and music to some of the most vexing characters you may ever meet is extraordinary. I never get tired, for instance, of Lewis's depiction of Wither, and Frost is even more strange; both are characteristically mundane and quite terrifying. Close to central to the book' focus is the idea that any individual can unwisely decouple themselves from the warmth and happiness that accompanies the human experience in exchange for knowledge and power. In this case, obviously, you would say "forbidden knowledge and power", but by examining this in extremis, we can read this both as entertainment, and as admonition for lesser and more common problems in our own cosmos.

Well, to more detail. Lewis's story here is/was tremendously ahead of it's time - dreams of a hideous experiment, ostensibly concerning rehabilitation engineering (which is the proper term) whose consequences spill out far further into destructive metaphysics and politics, would work well in the 21st century in the hands of any of the contemporary directors (though I'm not sure they would interpret the main content of the book so very well), but regardless, there is here an acute pace and imminent feeling of decision and action that overbears nicely into the current frame; it's not really suitable for children but teenagers will lap it up.

Arthur? Merlin? Eldils? Words whispered to a pet bear? ...and that is another piece of marvellous descriptive prose; that part where Mr Bultitude's world view and whose pre-Adamite furry mind shows him to be quite a formidable character... The happiest of endings, where Mr Bultitude the bear finds a mate, everyone finds each other, and the angels dance?

Take your pick. I have no idea if Lewis honestly meant these things by allegory or something more literal; he always seems to write far beyond anything I ever experienced (or at least, so I think most of the time) but there are strange things in the world to be sure. And we are there, embedded into that world; as evidence for that, gaze into a mirror some time. We are all stranger than we know.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Jun 2008 15:45:16 BDT
btw Does anyone know the Wiltshire town, Marlborough with its famous school whose grounds contain a tumulus. The rown's curious motto is 'Where now lie the bones of Merlin?'

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Sep 2008 14:33:23 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 Sep 2008 09:21:57 BDT
There are many, many legends in Britain and Lewis could have drawn material from any of them. Authur I know very little about, but I think that his object was to show the meeting between contemporary and one variety of medieval thought, and the synthesis between the two. That is the part which I wear the book out (and I have literally worn out and rebought this book no less than six times). Lewis's sense of humour is marvellous and his compassion (especially for Mr Maggs, who is prison for petty theft) burns very brightly.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Oct 2012 23:39:15 BDT
You cheer me. I read this book about once every year. I don't plan to. It just seems to need to happen......
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