Thursday, October 14, 2010

Brittaney Recently Finished {That Hideous Strength}

That Hideous Strength (subtitled "A Modern Fairy-Tale for Grown-Ups") by C.S. Lewis {1945}

This is the final book in Lewis's theological science fiction Space Trilogy. Though it is the end of the series, it is not entirely necessary to read the preceding novels {Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra}. That Hideous Strength stands on its own.

Without giving too much away, the plot revolves around a small fictional college in England shortly after the Second World War. The fate of the Earth hangs in the balance when the N.I.C.E., an institution masked by progressive science begins to take control of the College and the mysteries that lay at its foundations. Bent of destroying humanity, the N.I.C.E. began to ravage the English country side in order to purge the weak. Only a small band of eclectic and mystical believers have the power to stop N.I.C.E. and save the planet.

Most of us are familiar with C.S. Lewis as a fantasy writer (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe ring a bell?) so the genre is masterfully crafted by the author. Also, Lewis is renowned for the,
not-so-subtle, religious undertones of his work, and this novel is no exception.

What I appreciated in That Hideous Strength is Lewis' commitment to those ideas -He certainly isn't hiding them! As always your opinion is valid and welcome! Has anyone read this/wanted to read this? Any thoughts? I'm always willing to discuss with anyone who has read the novel, but I don't want to give too much away!

Here are some themes I enjoyed about the read:
  • The Natural vs. the Artificial.
  • Desire vs. Dusty.
  • True Love in all its shapes and forms

A warning, the novel is slow to start, and may feel a bit pretentious at times, but the finale is quite gripping and even moving. If you are looking for fantasy fiction to fill the void between reading, and well, watching, Harry Potter then this may be worth a trip to the library. At first I was reluctant to allow myself to believe the fantastical and magical elements were central to the story. I wanted the world to remain whole, in tact, tangible. But in the end I surrendered myself to the realm of impossibility (which is pretty much at the cornerstone of the the novel) and this actually made the book more accessible rather than far fetched. I guess in that way, I came to identify most with one of the main characters, Jane, who goes from skeptic to believer over the course of the work. Plus the vivid dreams... but you'll have to read it to find out!

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