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Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures.
Perelandra is quite the most hauntingly beautiful book this reviewer has ever read. From the moment Ransom, the principal character, enters Venus, we are treated to descriptive passages that have the ability to place in your mind an unforgettably beautiful world. Lewis' sweeping prose creates a remarkable vision of an Eden that knows no pain, and the book as a whole leaves the reader with a deep sense of joy and an appreciation of the loveliness of human life. Lewis is quite deliberately retelling the Christian story of temptation, and the theology espoused in the arguments between Ransom and the devil's advocate, Weston, watched with some confusion by Venus' "Eve", show a deep and profound grasp of the methods of evil, and the twisting, roundabout attempts to persuade her to disobey God. Within this story, Lewis disputes and gives an answer to the still prevalent assumptions of much of science fiction - that man must survive at all costs and extend his seed to the ends of the universe. The physical fight with Weston, told around more stunning descriptions of the natural beauty of Venus, suggest that evil is not all-powerful, and Ransom himself recognises the smallness of his actions against the great dance of life, which is the theme of the fast, moving conclusion to the work. Of the three novels that make up this sequence, Perelandra is by far the most thought-provoking, lucid, beautiful and complete. Lewis himself felt that this stand-alone novel was one of his best, and this reviewer encourages anyone who wishes to sample his adult fiction to get this book.
This is, without doubt, the best novel I've ever read. It even beats The Lord of the Rings trilogy. C. S. Lewis's power of description, psychological insight, and emotional intensity reach a height here that is unparalleled. But beyond such engaging writing, Perelandra gives us poetry in prose, reality in story, theology in fantasy, truth in myth. It is an evocative tale, so compelling that for a faint second I could have believed it was true, and that Lewis was describing real events, not fictitious ones! And that is because it is so deeply grounded in the reality of The Great Dance, the drama of creation and redemption which is being enacted upon the stage of humanity. The final pages of this book sent my spirits soaring. I can scarcely describe its impact upon me. Take it and read.
That wacky C.S. Lewis, thinking he can stick Christian ideals and beliefs into a science-fictional setting. What gall. You know what the funny part is? It actually works, which is something of an accomplishment in itself. Y'see, this story continues from the last book (Out of the Silent Planet) where Dr Ransom is sent to "Perelandra" (Venus) where he finds a fantastic unspoiled paradise populated by strange and quite friendly animals . . . and a single green woman who seems rather innocent of the world (psst . . . think "Eve"). No sooner do they get to chatting then someone shows up who might just be the agent of the Devil, trying to tempt "Eve" into disobeying "God" (not called God but you get the idea) and Ransom has to figure out how to put a stop to someone who is not only smarter, older and has lots more experience at this, but managed to do it right once before. Arguments ensue. People who have read Lewis have complained to me that he tends to "preach" a bit too much, and I can see from this novel where people get that idea from. But really it isn't that much of a problem, for every couple pages of theological argument (cloaked in SF terms, really) he slathers the page full of absolutely beautiful descriptions of the planet, you can get lost sorting through all of them. He really thought this place out and while it's nowhere near the "real" Venus, my first rule of writing is chuck science if it gets in the way of a good story.Read more ›
This is the second volume of Lewis's space trilogy (begun in Out Of The Silent Planet and ending with That Hideous Strength) and an excellent one it is. People talk about the books being readable independently, but you'll get more out of them if you read them in their proper order. Lewis has a particular knack for imagining and describing how things would look to a person who had never seen them before, what in effect a "pure experience" would be like the moment when the sensation is trying to become perception, and a knack as well for reaching between soul and spirit to describe the inner subtle workings of human nature at a level most of us are normally unaware of until someone like Lewis describes them to us. The result makes for enjoyable reading, particularly in the context of a trip to another planet. Here Dr. Ransom is sent off by heavenly powers to Venus where another earthman, possessed of some diabolic force, is intent on bringing about the downfall of that race. Ransom is there to stop it. The story of the Original Sin is retold with imaginative variety, and the book has a particularly and undeniably Christian bent which may well affect the reaction of non-Christian readers. Lewis does a lot of philosophizing in this text, but not as much as in the final volume, That Hideous Strength, which is for that reason and others the weakest of the three. But here he is still at the height of his powers and in control of them.
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