Read That Hideous Strength: A Modern Fairy-Tale for Grown-Ups by C.S. Lewis Free Online
Book Title: That Hideous Strength: A Modern Fairy-Tale for Grown-Ups|
The author of the book: C.S. Lewis
ISBN 13: 9781417748266
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 19.47 MB
Edition: Turtleback Books
Date of issue: May 1st 2003
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1614 times
Reader ratings: 3.9
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FIRST: A complaint from a member of my reading group who read the book ONLY because of the very cool bear on the cover:
In defense of Mr. Angry Bear, I must agree that while the giant, kick-ass bear on the cover may not be exactly false advertising, it is certainly in the category of misleading...similar to beer commercials telling you "drink this beer and hot people will be all over you” when the reality is closer to “drink enough of our beer and you will think the people all over you are really hot.
Anyway, pissed off grizzlies and dishonest beer merchants aside, I will turn to the book itself. This is the final installment of the Space Trilogy which I have enjoyed significantly more than the Chronicles of Narnia (though I have only read the first 3 of the latter and so will reserve final judgment until I complete them). The plot of this story is somewhat complex and would be hard to explain in detail without spoilers so I will just provide some very broad strokes.
In addition to expanding on the unique Christian-based mythology that Lewis introduced in the first two books in the series, he adds two new central themes. The first is a heavy dose of “Arthurian fantasy” which I though was somewhat unique in its delivery. The second, and the central premise of the book as a whole, is a harsh criticism of the philosophy of Logical Positivism (i.e., the rejection of theology and mysticism in favor of knowledge based on facts that can be objectively determined without resort to the individual views of the observer)*. This last theme is so pervasive in the the narrative, that I found it interesting to discover that this book is really a fictional version of the same arguments Lewis proposed in his non-fiction The Abolition of Man (which I hope to read as well in the near future).
The story takes place in England and involves the struggle of our hero, Elwin Ransom (hero of the first two books), and his company of followers against the mysterious and powerful organization known as N.I.C.E. (National Institute of Coordinated Experiments) which embraces all of the evils (as Lewis sees it) of Logical Positivism. Ransom's group, on the other hand, adhere to a spiritually grounded version of Natural Law (i.e., that there are universal laws that are set by nature and that there are actions that can be seen as objectively good or objectively evil and not subject to selective interpretaiton by the observer)*.
*NOTE: My summary of the Logical Positivism and Natural Law is very general and probably not very good, but hopefull sufficient for purposes of explaining the viewpoints of the opposing sides in the novel).
As far as my reaction to the story, I think that the writing is excellent and the plot that Lewis creates is complex and nuanced and requires the reader to pay attention (something I usually like). I also think that his arguments in defense of Natural Law and against Logical Positivism are very passionate and well laid out, regardless of whether or not you agree with them. I always enjoy it when you can tell that an author really feels strongly for the subject matter he is writing about and that is certainly clear of this work.
That said, I didn’t enjoy this as much as the preceding volumes, especially Perelandra which I thought was just fantastic. I think I was just not interested enough in the distinctions between the two central philosophies and so the central argument was not as compelling to me. Thus, while I enjoyed it, I was left a little disappointed based on my expectations left over from Perelandra.
Still, overall it was a good conclusion to the Space Trilogy and this is certainly a series that I would recommend people check out, especially if they are fans of the Narnia series.
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CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures.
Lewis was married to poet Joy Davidman.