1984 and That Hideous Strength

There are interesting parallels between Lewis's vision and that of George Orwell, despite the fact that Orwell had disliked Lewis's wartime religious broadcasts.

Orwell reviewed the book for the Manchester Evening News, commenting "Plenty of people in our age do entertain the monstrous dreams of power that Mr. Lewis attributes to his characters, and we are within sight of the time when such dreams will be realisable."

In some ways That Hideous Strength can be seen as describing one of the possible paths to a 1984 - one 1984, even if not quite Orwell's. The review was in 1945, before Orwell wrote 1984, and so That Hideous Strength may be considered as a possible influence.

(Source - Wikepedia)
 Posted by Picasa

That Hideous Strength (1945)

In C. S. Lewis' novel, the technological super-agency is the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments (NICE), which is empowered to solve all sorts of social and genetic problems without being bothered by "red tape." Mark and Jane Studdock are a young childless academic couple at Bracton College, whose faculty's Progressive Element is willing to sell its woods and its soul to entice the NICE. Mark and Jane's marriage is unhappy because, like most modern people, they see marriage as a contract for mutual advantage rather than as a sacred union. Mark's consuming desire doesn't even involve Jane. He wants to be a big shot, a member of the "inner ring" first at his college and then at the NICE. He gets his chance because he is good at writing propaganda.

(Phillip E. Johnson - First Things - March 2000)
[To read the whole piece, click on the title above]
 Posted by Picasa

Charles Williams on PG Wodehouse

Barbara stretched out her hands, and Lionel pulled her to her feet. "I just want to shimmer up, like Jeeves, not walk," she said. "Do you like Jeeves, Mr. Persimmons?"
Jeeves?" Gregory asked. "I don't think I know it or him or them."
"Oh, you must," Barbara cried. "When I get back to London I'll send you a set."
"It's a book, or a man in a book," Lionel interrupted. "Barbara adores it."
"Well, so do you," Barbara said. "You always snigger when you read him."
"That is the weakness of the flesh," Lionel said. "One whouldn't snigger over Jeeves any more than one should snivel over Othello. Perfect art is beyond these easy emotions. I think Jeeves -- the whole book, preferably with the illustrations -- one of the final classic perfections of our time. It attains absolute being. Jeeves and his employer are one and yet diverse. It is the Don Quixote of the twentieth century."
"I must certainly read it," Gregory said, laughing. "Tell me more about it while we have tea."

War In Heaven (Eerdmans 1978), page 157-8
Charles Williams 1930

 Posted by Picasa

Screwtape writes to his apprentice-devil nephew

Music and silence -- how I detest them both! How thankful we should be that ever since Our Father entered Hell -- though longer ago than humans, reckoning in light years, could express -- no square inch of infernal space and no moment of infernal time has been surrendered to either of those abominal forces, but all has been occupied by Noise -- Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile -- Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end. We have already made great strides in this direction as regards the Earth. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. But I admit we are not yet loud enough, or anything like it. Research is in progress. Meanwhile, you, disgusting little --

[Here the MS breaks off and is resumed in a different hand.]

In the heat of composition I find that I have inadvertantly allowed myself to assume the form of a large centipede. I am accordingly dictating the rest to my secretary. Now that the transformation is complete I recognise it as a periodical phenomenon. Some rumour of it has reached the humans and a distorted account of it appears in the poet Milton, with the ridiculous addition that such changes of shape are a 'punishment' imposed on us by the Enemy. A more modern writer -- someone with a name like Pshaw -- has, however, grasped the truth. Transformation proceeds from within and is a glorious manifestation of that Life Force which Our Father would worship if he worshipped anything but himself. In my present form I feel even more anxious to see you, to unite you to myself in an indissoluble embrace,

(signed) Toadpipe (for his Abysmal Sublimity Under Secretary Screwtape, TE, BS, etc.)

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Ch. 22, (1942)
 Posted by Picasa

The Geste of Beren and Luthien

Book XIII.

Into the vast and echoing gloom,
more dread than many-tunnelled tomb
in Labyrinthine pyramid
where everlasting death is hid,
down awful corridors that wind
down to a menace dark enshrined;
down to the mountain's roots profound,
devoured, tormented, bored and ground
by seething vermin spawned of stone;
down to the depths they went alone.

(J.R.R. Tolkien)
 Posted by Picasa

Spirits in Bondage

So piteously the lonely soul of man
Shudders before this universal plan,
So grievous is the burden and the pain,
So heavy weighs the long, material chain
From cause to cause, too merciless for hate,
The nightmare march of unrelenting fate,
I think that he must die thereof unless
Ever and again across the dreariness
There came a sudden glimpse of spirit faces,
A fragrant breath to tell of flowery places
And wider oceans, breaking on the shore
From which the hearts of men are always sore.

(C.S. Lewis - XV. Dungeon Gates) Posted by Picasa

An Unexpected Party

[Hobbiton - JRRT's own painting]

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats - the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill - The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it - and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.

The Hobbit - Chapter 1
 Posted by Picasa

The Inklings connection with 007 !

The year was 1959, Polish actor Vladek Sheybal arrived in England not knowing anyone and unable to speak English. He supported himself by working in menial jobs in a Polish delicatessen and then in an artifical jewellery shop in Brick Lane, London. When he finished his job at the jewellery shop, he took a train from Paddington station to Oxford with all his worldy goods in a small suitcase, and the only money he had in the world -- ten English pounds.

Soon after Vladek arrived in Oxford, the typical English weather turned sour and it began to rain. Taking refuge in a coffee shop, he was recognised and later befriended, by students who had seen the Polish film "Kanal" (1956) in which Vladek was featured, the night before at their local cinema -- a film as poignant and thought provoking now as it was then. Eventually, Vladek became a recognised student of English Literature at Merton College, Oxford after being taken under the wing of Professor Neville Coghill.

In 1963, Vladek was offered a small part in the second James Bond film 'From Russia with Love' but was reluctant to take the part and turned it down. Eventually he was persuaded by Sean Connery (who was by now a close friend) to take the role of the villanous chess master 'Kronsteen'. Vladek played the part as usual, to perfection; creating a character so elegantly arrogant that 'Kronsteen' is perhaps the most believable and memorable Bond villains of the entire genre.

Wonder if Vladek met the rest of the Inklings whilst at Merton? After all J.R.R. Tolkien, Neville Coghill and Hugo Dyson were all fellows at Merton in the 1950s. Posted by Picasa