Russell's Reviews > Perelandra

Perelandra by C.S. Lewis
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Jan 01, 09

Read in December, 2008

It's been probably two or more years since I read Out of the Silent Planet and when I sat down to read this I recalled the slow-moving pace of the first. I figured that this book had to do with another planet, but I didn't read up on the synopsis or anything before I started. That being said, I was a bit dismayed that it took nearly 30 pages before the actual arrival on Venus. In fact, I was nearly fatigued at how much detail was being stuffed into the account.

Once the protagonist arrived on Venus the tone changed and the immense detail seemed more welcome, maybe that's because by this point I was wondering when a real conflict was going to be introduced. It didn't take long before I began to visualize that Lewis was creating an Eden-esque world and I wondered, like the protagonist, what was his purpose in being there. Once he met the Eve figure the story improved considerably and it wasn't long after that the antagonist-villain (evil in the very sense) arrived on the scene.

The Eden stage was entirely set and Ransom began to get an idea of the reason he was sent. I was quite intrigued with how the rest of the story unfolded and wasn't able to visualize a satisfactory resolution. I was enthralled with Lewis' portrayal of deceptive scheming which led to some verbal discussion of the dichotomies of philosophy and principle, involving free will and obedience.

In the end the conclusion was more drawn out than I expected, the final battle was quite pronounced and enjoyable. The actual ritualistic conclusion seemed to me more an opportunity for Lewis to expound on his (in my opinion) deep pondering of, to put it plainly, God's Plan. He termed it the Great Dance and spent three to four pages describing it. He expounded his ideas in a very, very verbose manner and perhaps this was too overdone given how much of it was relayed by long quotes. I was fascinated with certain elements of it being both symbolic and allegorical in nature--especially the parts of it related to LDS theology and beliefs. In fact, I found myself often thinking of Enoch's history as recorded in Moses 7.

Even though Lewis states that this book could be read separately from the other two in the trilogy, I would disagree. In order to really understand, appreciate and even be entertained I think it best to read it only after reading Out of the Silent Planet. Otherwise the reader may well drop the book after the first 10 pages.

Poignant quotes:
"The world leaps forward through great men and greatness always transcends mere moralism. When the leap has been made our 'diabolism' as you call it becomes the morality of the next stage; while we are making it, we are called criminals, heretics blasphemers..." (pg. 95)

"...it is waking that understands sleep and not sleep that understands waking. There is an ignorance of evil that comes from being young: there is darker ignorance that comes from doing it, as men by sleeping lose knowledge of sleep." (pg. 209)
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