Tumnus Library: The Narnia Book ReviewsFans: Deeper Heaven: CS Lewis Ransom Trilogy Reader’s Guide
In her new book, Christiana Hale takes readers on an exciting and insightful tour of the cosmos, as depicted in CS Lewis’ beloved yet enigmatic Ransom trilogy. Rainy streets of London, on the surface of Malacandra, to the floating lands of Perelandra, in the dreaded NICE rooms, she takes readers on an in-depth look at this trilogy by exploring many of the deep questions readers have been asking themselves since the books were first published. This insightful book is a guide fans will find indispensable.
When I was in sixth grade, like Mr. Toad in the Wind in the willows, I was completely taken by my own “mania”. Reading Lewis’s Narnian Chronicles, the Engle A wrinkle in time, and seeing the Star Wars movies in elementary school for the first time, I was in love with fantasy and sci-fi. So by the time I entered college, I devoured all the books I could in the library and bookstores like HG Wells, Jules Verne and countless others. For Christmas in sixth grade, my mother’s present that year was copies of the CS Lewis Ransom trilogy. I loved Out of the silent planet right away, finding Jack’s portrayal of Mars as wonderful and real to me as Tatooine in Star wars, Vulcan in Star Trek, or Krypton in Superman, and was immersed in the mysterious world of Venus in Perelandra. From his trilogy, This hideous force didn’t completely trap me before a second or third reading, only to be fully appreciated when I was in college and not only studying Arthurian legends, but my imagination had long since experienced its second baptism through Tolkien’s work three years ago.
So even for longtime CS Lewis fans like me, his Ransom trilogy can be like Tolkien’s. The Silmarillion, a great work, a little difficult to understand on a quick first read, but containing more meaning on closer examination. Moreover, like The Silmarillion next to The Hobbit and The lord of rings, the ransom trilogy is not as discussed or celebrated in the scholarly works as Chronicles of Narnia, Where Screwed letters. So the Ransom books, like the cabinet in the professor’s waiting room, invite readers in, needing a âLucyâ to guide us through our journey. Fortunately, Christiana Hale’s new book Deeper Heaven: Reader’s Guide to CS Lewis’ Ransom Trilogy perfectly fills this gap.
Hale begins our journey by unboxing the concept of the medieval cosmology of the universe that Lewis used to develop his trilogy. In our largely scientific age, this is a welcome boon for readers because when most encounter it, they quickly dismiss it as pseudo-scientific mess due to the heliocentric nature of the solar system. However, his goal is not to write a book of science, but to deepen the unexplored mythology of Lewis and thus learn more not about the geography of these worlds but about their nature and character, even in comparing them to their mythical namesakes. When the Hubble Telescope captured moving images of the sky that present a vibrant and colorful universe on par with a coral reef, or discovered that Earth and indeed all the planets in our system “ring” like bells, the myth captures these images best and translates them into language much better than facts and figures. Science can tell you what the universe is made of, but the myth tells readers what the universe really is.
From there, she delves into the key themes, characters and scenes of each of the Ransom trilogy volumes. Readers are also given discussion questions to help them better understand the stories and probe their deeper meanings. Where the book really shines is in the way it connects perfectly This hideous force with the other two volumes. For novice readers, the more earthly finale feels out of place after spending time on Mars and Venus. Through his analysis, we see that the final volume is about the Heavens descending to Earth, helping the reader to understand that there really was no better way for the series to end.
She also draws on Lewis’s rich work, drawing parallels from his essays and the books of Narnia, as well as the work of his contemporaries and his literary influences including Bunyan, Dante and Milton. Perhaps the most controversial for some fans, she draws considerable influence from Michael Ward’s book Planet Narnia which examined how the Seven Books of Narnia reflected medieval cosmology. I admit that when I first heard the theory I was skeptical at best, but coming across it through a look at Lewis’s Ransom trilogy, I have to admit it’s a compelling analysis and I am more than willing to consider it.
A book like this could easily feel bogged down by its immense weight, especially when trying to decipher texts that are often difficult to understand. Fortunately, that’s not the case here, as Hale’s tone and writing style is very accessible to novice readers of the Ransom series. Plus, many of the connections and parallels she picks up throughout the trilogy with works like The Divine Comedy are insightful and resourceful. Completing his book makes me too anxious to reread the Ransom Trilogy just so that I can come to it with a whole new, exciting perspective.
Christiana Hale Deeper sky is like a friendly guide at a local planetarium taking us on a tour of the heavens, one that I’m glad I took. For longtime fans of Lewis’s work and those who wish to move beyond the world of Narnia, this is a welcome book worthy of any place on their shelf. I just hope this marks the start of more scholarships in The Ransom series.
Five out of five shields.
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