Context: While I was reading this, Mrs Arukiyomi suffered the loss of a lovely cardigan which got caught in the back wheel of my motorbike. Thankfully, she got away with slight bruising. Could have been much worse.
The second book in Lewis’ space trilogy was much darker than the first as the battle moves beyond humanity into spiritual dimensions which are just that little bit beyond our ken.
Ransom, having returned to earth some years before is now planning a trip back to space. But Perelandra (Venus) is his destination, not Malacandra (Mars) as in the first book. He has been commissioned to travel there although he does not know the purpose of his journey.
He arrives on a planet which is wondrous in every way. Lewis concentrates the full powers of his fantastic imagination to create a world that is rich in colour, creatures and possibilities. For some time Ransom remains, he thinks, the only inhabitant. But then he meets a Lady and she is quite something. The dialogues between her and Ransom are clever. Cleverer still though are the dialogues that take place when an unexpected visitor arrives. It is this visitor that brings events to a crisis as Ransom realises that he has been sent to intervene to prevent what can only be described as the Venutian Fall.
The philosophy behind the story, as with all Lewis, looms larger than the lyrical prose used to present it. Some of it was a bit beyond me, but I’ve come to expect that from this master of theology. What I did grasp was profound and presented in such a way as to give me new insights into old and long-held truths. Quotes like
I thought we went along paths – but it seems there are no paths. The going itself is the path.
both encouraged me and validated decisions I have made along the way. This particular quote was very timely because of the large number of potentially life-changing choices we’re currently facing.
The crisis consumes the latter third of the book which concludes with a celestial encounter of meta-Biblical proportions. Along the way, there are some amazing descriptions of the environments of Venus that Ransom finds himself in. I was particularly captivated by the darkness he appears to be trapped in for a seemingly endless period of time.
This trilogy is turning into more than I expected. I’ll eagerly be exchanging the second book for the third over the next few weeks.
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