Planets in Peril: A Critical Study of C.S. Lewis's Ransom Trilogy

Planets in Peril: A Critical Study of C.S. Lewis's Ransom Trilogy

Planets in Peril: A Critical Study of C.S. Lewis's Ransom Trilogy

Planets in Peril: A Critical Study of C.S. Lewis's Ransom Trilogy

Synopsis

"Literary scholar, novelist, and Christian apologist, C. S. Lewis was a remarkable and enigmatic man. He is perhaps best known today for his popular series of children's books, the Chronicles of Narnia, which continue to sell more than a million copies a year. He also wrote science fiction in the form of interplanetary fantasies - a series of three novels known as the Ransom Trilogy. This book offers the first full-length critical assessment of that trilogy, placing the three volumes in the context of Lewis's life and work. David C. Downing reveals the autobiographical and theological subtexts of Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength, showing as well how much Lewis the classical and medieval scholar influenced the work of Lewis the creator of interplanetary fantasies. Downing also examines the chief imaginative and intellectual sources of the trilogy and addresses persistent issues raised by reviewers and critics: Was Lewis's lifelong devotion to fantasy a mark of intellectual independence or a case of "arrested emotional development"? Were his views on women sexist, even misogynist? How much of his critique of modern science and technology was well informed and how much the result of prejudice or habitual suspicion of all things modern?" "A brief appendix on "The Dark Tower" fragment provides what background is known about this mysterious document, summarizes the story as far as Lewis developed it, and comments on how this unfinished work fits in with the Ransom books published during Lewis's lifetime." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

C. S. LEWIS (1898-1963) had three careers as a writer, all of them remarkable. He was one of the most distinguished literary critics and scholars of his era, whose works on medieval and Renaissance authors are still considered landmarks in the field. He was also one of the most effective and influential advocates for Christian faith this century. And he produced popular fiction as well, works that continue on best-seller lists a generation after his death. In all, Lewis penned (literally -- he never learned to type) nearly forty books in his lifetime, and another ten collections of his essays, lectures, and poems have appeared since his death.

Lewis referred to himself as a living dinosaur, someone largely out of sympathy with the contemporary world (SLE 13). Yet worldwide sales of his books have exceeded fifty million copies. Nearly all of Lewis's books remain in print, continuing to sell all together two million copies a year. It is said he detested radio, yet his broadcast talks during World War II made his (after Churchill's) the most recognized voice in Britain.

The life and work of C. S. Lewis abound in such paradoxes. He was unquestionably one of the leading scholars in his discipline, commissioned to write volume 3 (The Sixteenth Century, Excluding Drama) for the prestigious Oxford History of English Literature. The same year that tome was published (1954), he became professor of medieval and Renaissance English literature at Cambridge, a chair created for him to lure him away from his position at Oxford. This . . .

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