C.S. Lewis
“More than just
Part Two:
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Cosmic Trilogy
IPC Adult education
July 21, 2010
C.S. Lewis – Overview
Who he was
Why he is so important
His work
The Narnia Chronicles: an overview
A closer look at some of the Narnia
The Cosmic Trilogy
A closer look at the Cosmic Trilogy
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
C.S. Lewis – Who he was
29 Nov 1898 – 22 Nov 1963
Born in Belfast (UK) to Irish / Welsh parents
Academic background (father: lawyer; mother: mathematician)
Introvert bookworm, living in a fantasy world
Studied English Literature and Philosophy at Oxford
Taught as a Fellow at Oxford for nearly 30 years (1925 - 1954)
..and later became a Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge
Returned from Agnosticism to Christianity (at the age of 32)
A single most of his life; had very close friendships to great thinkers and writers
Became one of the best-loved Christian apologists and authors,
although he wasn’t a theologian!
Probably the most important Christian writer of the 20th Century
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
C.S. Lewis
of books
– Why he is so important
Great Christian writers
and thinkers:
G.K. Chesterton,
George MacDonald, etc.
Tutor: William T.
(“the Great Knock”)
Close friends and
broad range of
pen friends
avid reader
of Literature (English,
European, Classic, etc.)
Broad horizon
of ideas
Introvert bookworm
with a brilliant intellect
• Anglicans
• Catholics
• Protestants
• etc.
Output: intelligent, eloquent and concentrated books and
letters about topics relevant to Christians
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
C.S. Lewis – His work
He wrote more than 30 books (and many letters, articles, essays,…).
His works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions
of copies.
He has reached a vast audience and his books continue to attract thousands of new
readers every year.
His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include: Mere Christianity, The
Screwtape Letters, The Four Loves, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Cosmic Trilogy
When they were children, he and his brother Warnie invented their own imaginary
world (“Boxen”) which featured animals acting and dressing like humans.
Lewis was strongly influenced by “Scientifiction” (e.g. H.G. Wells) and Fantasy books
(George MacDonald, H.C. Andersen), especially by the children’s books of Edith
Nesbit (1858 - 1924), in which four children live through unusual adventures.
Another influence was his close friend J.R.R. Tolkien, author of “The Hobbit” and
“Lord of the Rings”, the greatest Fantasy books of the 20th century.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Narnia Chronicles
• Probably his best-known and best-loved books, especially in the
• A series of seven books telling the adventures of children from earth
in a magical parallel world called Narnia populated by talking animals,
wild animals and mythical creatures (fauns, centaurs, witches, giants,
etc.) taken from fairy tales, Nordic and Greek myths.
• The children are transported to the world of Narnia by magical means
and have to help the Narnians to solve problems and master
adventures. The children even become kings in Narnia.
• Chief characters are ….
• the children: Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie; in later
instalments other kids,
• the lion Aslan (the Jesus-like ruler of Narnia)
• and the White Witch (Aslan’s enemy).
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Narnia Chronicles
• Lewis had no over-all outline of all seven stories in is head when he began. He
started with one book and had the idea of a second book. Only later they grew into
the series of seven books.
• He wanted to write the kind of books he would have liked to read as a child.
The order in which they were written:
The reading order:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
The Magician’s Nephew
Prince Caspian (1951)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’ (1952)
The Horse and His Boy
The Silver Chair (1953)
Prince Caspian
The Horse and His Boy (1954)
The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’
The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
The Silver Chair
The Last Battle (1956)
The Last Battle
• Lewis loved and (re-)read children’s books even as an adult, maintaining that a
good children’s book is suited for grown-ups as well as for children.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Narnia Chronicles
“Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could
say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale
as an instrument, then collected information about child psychology and
decided what age group I’d write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian
truths and hammered out ‘allegories’ to embody them.
This is all pure moonshine. I couldn’t write in that way. It all began with images; a faun
carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn’t even
anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in on its own accord.”
“All my seven Narnian books, and my three science-fiction books, began with seeing
pictures in my head. At first they were not a story, just pictures. The Lion all began
with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This
picture had been in my head since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about
forty, I said to myself: ‘Let’s try to make a story about it.’
At first I had very little idea how the story would go. But then suddenly Aslan came
bounding into it. I think I had been having a good many dreams of lions about that time.
Apart from that, I don’t know where the Lion came from or why He came. But once He was
there He pulled the whole story together, and soon He pulled the six other Narnian stories
in after Him.”
(C.S. Lewis quoted in “C.S. Lewis – The Companion & Guide”, Walter Hooper)
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Narnia Chronicles: An Overview (I)
Good characters
Bad characters
Digory Kirke
Uncle Andrew (magician)
Polly Plummer
Jadis the Queen of Digory and Polly visit the
Charn (who becomes dying world of Charn and
later the White Witch)bring evil to the newly
created world of Narnia
The Lion, the Peter, Susan, Edmund and The White Witch;
Witch and the Lucy Pevensie;
Maugrim (in older US
Mr Tumnus the Faun,
versions: Fenris Ulf)
Mr & Ms Beaver;
the Wolf
The Horse
His Boy
The Pevensie kids visit
Narnia where it is perpetual
winter. They join Aslan in
the uprising against the
White Witch.
Biblical and other topics
Temptation and the Fall
(Book of Genesis)
Temptation and falling
into sin;
Sacrificial death of Aslan
(The Gospels)
Shasta (boy from the
Prince Rabadash and Shasta, Aravis and their
The calling and
North), Aravis (Calormene The Tisroc;
horses Bree and Hwin flee conversion of a heathen;
Princess), Bree (war horse), The Calormenes
from Calormen to the North; crossing the fallen world
Hwin (mare), the Pevensies,
they alert Archenland and and travelling Home;
King Lune and Prince Corin
Narnia of an impending
God’s Providence
of Archenland; Aslan
Prince CaspianThe Pevensies, Prince
Caspian, Doctor Cornelius,
Trumpkin (Red Dwarf),
Trufflehunter (Badger);
The Telmarines, King
Nikabrik (Black
Dwarf), (The White
Narnia has fallen under
Restoration of the true
Telmarine rule. Caspian calls religion after corruption
the Pevensies to help the
(Book of Judges, Books of
Narnians to become free
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Narnia Chronicles: An Overview (II)
Good characters
Bad characters
The Voyage of Eustace Scrubb (cousin of Pirates, Slave
the Dawn
the Pevensies), Edmund and Traders;
Lucy, Caspian X.,
the Sea Serpent;
Reepicheep (the valiant
inner desires and
Mouse); Aslan
King Caspian searches the
unknown Eastern Seas for
seven Narnian Lords gone
missing and for the end of
the world.
Biblical and other topics
Homer’s Odyssey; the
spiritual life; inner
struggles (dragon; island
where dreams come true)
The Silver
Eustace and Jill Pole; Prince The Lady of the
Eustace and Jill search for Enchantment by sin; Sin’s
Rilian of Narnia,
Green Kirtle,
abducted Prince Rilian in the false promises,
Puddleglum (the
The Giants of Harfangwild wastelands of northern Temptation (the Witch
promises Rilian what is
already his own)
(Letters of St. Paul; Book
of Joshua)
The Last
Eustace and Jill;
Shift the Ape, Puzzle The cunning ape Shift
False God and false
Tirian (Last King of Narnia), the Donkey,
misleads most Narnians into Prophet, the faithful and
Jewel the Unicorn;
believing that Puzzle,
the world are mislead; the
Tash (Vulture-headed disguised in a lion’s skin, is end of the world and the
god of the
actually Aslan. With his help Last Judgement; a New
the Calormenes invade
Earth and a New Heaven.
Narnia. The world of Narnia (Book of Revelation)
ends in an apocalyptic
battle. The good meet in
Aslan’s Paradise.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Narnia Chronicles: The Magician’s Nephew
• This book was written relatively late. It’s the second last book
(published in 1955), five of the seven Narnia books had already
been published.
• It explains the origins of Narnia, why human kings rule over
the animal world, how the White Witch came to be there, and
many details found in the other stories.
• Digory Kirke, a boy in this story, later becomes the old
Professor from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”.
• It’s a book in its own right, but of course
more interesting when you know the
other books.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Narnia Chronicles: The Magician’s Nephew
• Digory and Polly travel to the dying world of Charn by means of magic rings made by
Digory’s uncle Andrew. Uncle Andrew uses the kids as guinea-pigs.
• Charn is a huge, empty city under a small, red sun. When Digory and Polly explore a
palace, they find a large room full of life-like wax statues, the former Kings and Queens of
Charn, dressed in magnificent robes:
“Both the men and the women looked kind and wise, and they seemed to come of a
handsome race. But after the children had got a few steps down the room they came to
faces that looked a little different. These were very solemn faces. You felt you would have
to mind your P’s and Q’s [=your manners], if you ever met living people who looked like
that. When they had gone a little further, they found themselves among faces they didn’t
like: this was about the middle of the room. The faces here looked very strong and proud
and happy, but they looked cruel. A little further on they looked crueller. Further on again,
they were still cruel but they looked no longer happy. They were even despairing faces: as
if the people they belonged to had done dreadful things and also suffered dreadful things.
The last figure of all was the most interesting – a woman even more richly dressed
than the others, very tall, with a look of such fierceness and pride that it took your
breath away. Yet she was beautiful too.”
(C.S. Lewis “The Magician’s Nephew”)
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Narnia Chronicles: The Magician’s Nephew
• Driven by curiosity and spite, Digory rings a magic bell and awakens the last figure to
live. She turns out to be Jadis, the last Empress of Charn, a dangerous Witch.
• Jadis tells them how she fought her sister over the rule of Charn, and when losing,
destroyed all other living creatures by uttering a forbidden magic word. She forces the
children to take her back to earth.
• Jadis plans to conquer earth and starts to wreak havoc in the streets of London. The kids
succeed in teleporting her, Uncle Andrew and a cab-driver called Frank away, finally
landing on a newly created world, Narnia.
• They witness how the Lion Aslan calls plants, trees and animals into existence by singing
a beautiful song. In the meantime, the witch escapes and hides in the north of Narnia.
• Aslan knows that Digory is responsible for the witch Jadis being here, so he says:
“As Aadam’s race has done the harm, Adam’s race shall help to heal it.”
Helen, the wife of Frank, the cab-driver, is called from the earth into Narnia, and Frank is
told: “You shall rule and name all these creatures, and do justice among them, and protect
them from their enemies when enemies arise.” Frank and Helen become the first human
kings of Narnia.
• That’s why in the following books the animal world of Narnia is always ruled by humans.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
• For most readers this is the first book they read from the Narnia series.
• It’s also the first movie adapted from the Narnia books.
• The book was inspired, among other things, by evacuee
children from London who lodged in Lewis’s Oxford home
“The Kilns”.
• The White Witch is loosely modelled after Hans Christian
Andersen’s “Snow Queen”.
The whole air of the story is rich and strange
and coherent; there is something of Hans
Andersen’s power to move and George
MacDonald’s power to create strange worlds,
and it is, naturally, beautifully written.
(The Guardian, 23 Feb 1951)
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
• The four Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, are sent away from
London during the War because of the air raids. They go to the large house of old
Professor Kirke who lives in the country.
• While playing hide and seek, Lucy hides in the Wardrobe and discovers it to be an
entrance into Narnia. She meets Mr Tumnus, the faun, and learns that Narnia is ruled
by the White Witch who has cast the country into perpetual winter.
• Later, Edmund finds his way into Narnia and meets the Witch. She promises to make him
a Prince if he will bring his brother and sisters to her.
• Eventually all four children go through the Wardrobe into Narnia. They find Mr Tumnus’s
home destroyed and Mr Tumnus taken prisoner by the White Witch.
• Mr and Mrs Beaver befriend the children and tell them about Aslan, the great Lion,
the King of the Wood and the Son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea, who has
returned to Narnia after a long absence. He wants to meet the children at the Stone Table.
• Behind this there is an ancient prediction that the White Witch will be overthrown when
‘four sons of Adam and daughters of Eve’ sit on the four thrones of the royal castle of Cair
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
When the children hear that Aslan is
a lion, they become a bit afraid:
Is he - quite safe? I shall feel
rather nervous about meeting a lion.
To which Mr Beaver replies:
Safe? (…) Who said anything about
safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But
he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.
• While they are talking, Edmund slips away to the White Witch and tells her everything.
She sets off with Edmund and her devilish forces in an attempt to prevent the other
children from reaching Aslan. The sudden Spring begins to melt the ice and snow, thus
forecasting her doom.
• The children join forces with those Narnians loyal to Aslan and they fight the army of the
White Witch. Although they manage to free Edmund, the Witch maintains that he belongs
rightfully to her because he has betrayed Aslan and his siblings.
• Aslan offers his life for Edmund’s, thus satisfying the Magic which the Emperor-overthe-Sea put into Narnia at the beginning. The Witch and her servants kill Aslan.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
Narnia: The Lion, the Witch ….
• While Lucy and Susan, who have been witnesses, grieve over him,
Aslan, resurrected from the dead, suddenly returns.
• Aslan tells them of the ‘Deeper Magic from before the Dawn of Time’:
if a willing victim who had committed no treachery is killed
in a traitor’s place, Death itself begins to work backwards.
• The four children and the loyal Narnians join Aslan in defeating the White Witch and
her forces. The children are crowned Kings and Queens of Narnia and reign for many
Some Learnings:
• Quarrels and hurt egos are often the first step to serious sins. Edmund betrays
his siblings because of a quarrel with Peter.
• Often the Enemy offers us things which are already rightfully ours. The Witch
offers Edmund to become a prince.
• The Enemy doesn’t intend to keep his promise to us. Later Edmund realises that
the Witch wants to kill the Pevensies, not crown them.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Narnia Chronicles: Prince Caspian
• For most readers this is the second book they read from
the Narnia series.
• It’s also the second movie adapted from the Narnia
• The same four Pevensie children travel back to Narnia,
but they are shocked to find out that centuries have
passed since their previous visit.
• The Telmarines now rule Narnia. The word Tellus
comes from the Latin and in Roman mythology means the
goddess of the Earth. Mare in Latin means sea, and it is
from this word that we get marine. Telmar, thus, means
earth-sea, and Telmarines are Sailors from the Earth, as
explained by Aslan at the end of the book.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Narnia Chronicles: Prince Caspian
• Prince Caspian, grown up among the Telmarines and rightful heir to the throne, learns
from his tutor Doctor Cornelius that his uncle Miraz is really an usurper. Miraz has
suppressed the Old Narnians who remained loyal to the ancient memory of Aslan and
Narnia’s long-ago golden age, when Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy had been Kings and
• Caspian loves the old tales and wants to restore the Old Narnia. He flees to the woods
where he meets some of the Old Narnians:
Trufflehunter, a loyal badger who
firmly believes in Aslan and in the
Kings and Queens
Trumpkin, a red dwarf, who is a sceptic
with a good common sense, but doesn’t
believe in supernatural things
Later they are joined by:
Nikabrik, a black dwarf, who has a streak
of bitterness and cruelty; he believes in the
supernatural and later even wants to use
occult practices to call help against the
Telmarines he hates above everything.
Doctor Cornelius, Caspian’s
teacher, a half-dwarf, who knows a
little magic and gives Caspian a magic
horn to call for help.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Narnia Chronicles: Prince Caspian
• The Telmarine army attacks the Old Narnians who dig themselves in. Prince Caspian
blows the magic horn to summon help.
• The Pevensie children are pulled into Narnia by the winding of the magic horn. They
meet Trumpkin who, after some adventures and after meeting Aslan, leads them to Prince
• Meanwhile, Nikabrik had been maintaining that Aslan no longer exists, and that help
wouldn’t come, and has counselled the others to use black sorcery and raise up the White
Witch. Peter, Edmund and Trumpkin arrive in time to prevent this.
In the ensuing fight, Nikabrik is killed. Caspian mourns him:
I am sorry for Nikabrik, though he hated me from the first moment he saw me.
He had gone sour inside from long suffering and hating. If we had won
quickly he might have become a good Dwarf in the days of peace.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Narnia Chronicles: Prince Caspian
• Peter challenges Miraz to a duel and wins. The Telmarines attack anyway.
Aslan summons the forces of nature (trees, rivers) to fight against the Telmarines.
• The defeated Telmarines can choose whether they want to stay in Narnia and accept
the restoration of the Old Ways, or whether they want to return to earth, to an island in
the Southern Seas.
• Caspian is crowned King. The Pevensies leave for home.
Some Learnings:
• One recurring topic is disappointed expectations. Caspian blows the horn and
expects quick help. Trumpkin is sent out to seek for the Kings and Queens and
meets four children. The Pevensies return and find a completely changed Narnia.
• Another topic is trials and suffering. Many Narnians have abandoned their
beliefs and old ways under persecution. Nikabrik has become bitter because of
the wrong done to him and to his people. To the point that he wants to call a
incomparably greater evil (the White Witch) to fight a lesser evil (the Telmarines).
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Narnia Chronicles
• Many people read these books without understanding the spiritual background.
C.S. Lewis wanted his readers primarily to enjoy a good story.
• The illustrator of the original books, Pauline Baynes, didn’t understand that Aslan was a
symbol for Jesus. Lewis never told her.
“You are mistaken when you think that everything in the books ‘represents’
something in this world. Things do that in The Pilgrim’s Progress [by John Bunyan]
but I’m not writing in that way.
I did not say to myself ‘Let us represent Jesus as He really is in our world by a Lion in
Narnia’: I said ‘Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that
the Son of God, as He became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and
then imagine what would have happened.’
If you think about it, you will see that it is quite a different thing.”
(C.S. Lewis writing to Fifth Graders, 29 May 1954, Letters to Children)
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Cosmic Trilogy
• Written +/- 10 years before the Narnia books. Three books featuring space travel,
strange planets and a cosmic worldview.
Science plays a minor role, so the books may better be described as “space fiction”.
• Lewis was influenced by H.G. Wells, Jules Verne and a book called Voyage to
Arcturus by David Lindsay (1920).
• Lewis looks at the whole universe here: The forces of good, the eldila (spirits,
angels) are engaged in an age-old spiritual battle with evil beings who have
established their nerve centre on earth.
• Every planet in our solar system is ruled by a spiritual authority, an Oyarsa
(archangel). Lewis mentions Malacandra (Mars), Perelandra (Venus) and others.
• The ruler of Earth (the “Bent One”) and his eldila have rebelled against God and
were put under quarantine. Our world is a planet under siege. Because the
good angels on other planets have received no more news from Earth, they call it
Thulcandra (the Silent Planet).
• Some humans get involved in this cosmic struggle and take sides: Ransom with
the good ones, Weston and Devine with the bad ones.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Cosmic Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet
• Published in 1938.
• It can be read as a novel on its own. Many readers think it the most straightforward and
easiest to read out of the three books.
• The novel plays with the cliché that strange worlds are expected to be horrible and full of
dangers. Mars turns out to be an un-fallen world full of peace and harmony.
• It received many favourable reviews, but most readers were unsure what the author
meant by it.
This is an altogether satisfactory story, in which fiction and theology are so skilfully
blended that the non-Christian will not realize that he is being instructed until it is too
late. It is excellent propaganda and first-rate entertainment.
(E.L. Marshall, Anglican Divine, in Theology, April 1939)
You will be both grieved and amused to learn that out of about sixty reviews,
only two showed any knowledge that my idea of the fall of the Bent One
[=Satan] was anything but a private invention of my own!
(C.S. Lewis, in a letter to a friend, 9 Aug 1939)
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Cosmic Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet
• The hero of the piece is an ‘everyman’, a Cambridge philologist named Dr. Elwin
Ransom who finds himself embroiled in the schemes of an obsessive and violent scientist,
Professor Weston, and his friend Dick Devine, an upper-class chancer who is involved with
Weston simply to make money.
• Weston has built a spacecraft and already made one trip to Mars. Weston and Devine
kidnap Ransom, who has met them by ill luck, and return to Mars.
• Weston harbours dreams of dominating the new world of Mars and talks of human
colonisation and endless advancement. (He is a ruthless ‘idealist’ who wants to secure the
survival of mankind at any cost – even if it means slaughtering the population of another
planet). Devine is simply after gold which can be found aplenty on the red planet.
• Although a captive, Ransom relishes the voyage through the heavens (wonderfully
described in the book). But he also overhears that Devine and Weston want to hand him
over to the aliens inhabiting Malacandra (Mars), presumably as a human sacrifice.
• After their landing on Mars, Ransom manages to escape, fearful of the wild nature he
expects. Eventually he meets some of the inhabitants and learns that they are peaceful.
Ransom learns the basics of the local language.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Cosmic Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet
• The three species of Mars live in harmony. The evils of Earth (wars, famine, violence,
crimes, etc.) are not known to them.
• The Martians believe in the existence of (mostly invisible) eldlia (angels, spirits) and that
Maleldil (the Lord, the Spirit) has created the worlds. They are ruled by Oyarsa, the
supreme eldil.
• When Ransom tells them about his world, which they call Thulcandra (the Silent Planet),
and how the “bent” (fallen, evil) humans are acting, one Martian comments:
..it must be like this because every one of
them wants to be a little Oyarsa himself!
• Eventually all three terrestrians are brought to the ruler of the planet, Oyarsa, the
supreme eldil. Oyarsa questions Ransom about Earth and “the stories among us that
Maleldil dared terrible things, wrestling with the Bent One in Thulcandra” (=God’s plan of
salvation through Jesus Christ).
• Oyarsa refuses to judge creatures that are not from his own planet and sends them all
home again, protecting Ransom on the homeward journey.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Cosmic Trilogy: Perelandra
• Published in 1943.
• It’s more difficult to read than the first book. There are only three
characters interacting, plenty of poetic description of nature and lots
of philosophy and theology.
• The Adam and Eve story is set in another planet (Venus), but it ends successfully.
• Readers who don’t like the religious topic find little else to like.
• The descriptions of the water planet Venus, of large floating islands sliding over the
waves and of the storms take up large portions of the book.
• It was one of Lewis’s own favourite books.
The novel contains almost nothing but religious allegory. It is the story of Genesis
[1-3] wrapped up as pseudo space fiction (…). To sceptics, atheists and agnostics
this is quite meaningless, and because its plot is wafer-thin, the book is not even
redeemed by being entertaining.
At the same time, in terms of style, Perelandra is the work of a master. (…) Lewis’s
imaginative descriptions of the new Eden are often exquisite, lush and
sometimes wholly original.
(Michael White, “C.S. Lewis – the boy who chronicled Narnia” (a biography), atheist)
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Cosmic Trilogy: Perelandra
• Ransom is ordered to Perelandra (Venus) by the Oyarsa of Malacandra
because the Black Oyarsa of Thulcandra [=Satan] is preparing an attack on it.
• Perelandra is a young world of tropical, warm seas, floating islands and powerful storms.
The first couple, Tor and Tinidril, the Adam and Eve of this planet, will be tested in the
near future. The forces of evil plan an attack and Ransom is sent to help the innocent
• Ransom is transported to Venus and meets Tinidril, “a naked woman he calls the ‘Green
Lady’ because she looks like a goddess carved out of green stone”.
• Soon after, another foreigner comes: the former Professor Weston, now possessed by a
demonic power. He is sent to mislead the Eve of Venus, to make her disobey Maleldil’s
[=God’s] commandments.
• Ransom and the ‘Unman’ Weston both try to influence Tinidril, covering a broad range of
philosophical and theological arguments.
• Eventually Ransom manages to separate Weston from Tinidril and after a long chase
and fight manages to kill him. Tinidril has overcome the temptation and the couple
are installed as King and Queen of Venus in a great ceremony.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Cosmic Trilogy: That Hideous Strength
• Published in 1945 as “a modern fairy tale for grown-ups”.
• It plays in England, not on strange planets, mixing realistic and supernatural elements.
• In the small English town of Edgestow, Ransom and a small band of humans fight a
conspiracy by a sinister pseudo-scientific institute to take over the nation – and eventually
the whole world with the help of dark spiritual powers.
• The book bears very little relation to the previous titles in the trilogy. The mood is dark
and brooding. Large parts describe the academic world at the college, the petty intrigues
and quarrels for power among the teaching staff.
• Some critics attacked the book for its “wooden characters” or “caricatures”.
(…) I found the ‘good’ characters particularly unconvincing.
(Graham Greene in the Evening Standard, 24 Aug 1945)
(It’s) a parable on (…) the degeneration of man which
inevitably follows a gross and slavish scientific materialism
which excludes all idealistic, ethical and religious values.
(The N.Y. Times, 21 May 1946)
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
The Cosmic Trilogy: That Hideous Strength
• The small midlands town of Edgestow and the college located there (Bracton) are slowly
taken over by the powerful and influential National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments
(N.I.C.E.), seated at the neighbouring town of Belbury.
• The N.I.C.E., seemingly an academic and scientific institute, turns out to be a front for a
powerful, occult and authoritarian movement who plans to take over Earth.
• Ransom, now working under the name of Fisher-King, gathers a small band of loyal
persons to fight the conspiracy of N.I.C.E. Among them is Jane Studdock, a young, newly
wed post-graduate endowed with the gift of prophetic dreams.
• Ransom’s old enemy, Dick Devine, now called Lord Feverstone, is one of the leading
members of N.I.C.E. and manages to win Jane’s husband Mark, a Fellow of Sociology at
Bracton college, for his cause.
• N.I.C.E. are in Edgestow because the old Celtic druid-wizard Merlin (of the King Arthur
saga) is buried here. They call him back to life with a magic spell (expecting to use his
magic powers for their cause), but the good guys manage to get to Merlin first.
• They are surprised to find out that Merlin is actually on their side, a believer in the God
of the Bible! Strengthened by Merlin and by the Oyarsas [=archangels, planetary rulers] of
the other worlds they overthrow N.I.C.E. and stop the conspiracy.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy
Lewis’s Fantasy and Space Books: Conclusion
• Read these books when you like …
• children’s books, fairy tales, etc. (Narnia)
• or fantastic stories (Cosmic Trilogy)
• clever entertainment with depth
• The other C.S. Lewis books can sometimes be “heavy”.
Here you find lighter and more entertaining “food for thought”, an
easier access to the thoughts of C.S. Lewis.
There are many good spiritual impulses and principles to be found in
these books.
• Most of these books are short and can be read fairly quickly.
C.S. Lewis II: Narnia Chronicles and Cosmic Trilogy