That Hideous Strength

Today I finished reading the third installment of C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy, That Hideous Strength. I have to admit, most of this book was quite dense (Perelandra, the second book, is my favorite). But the last little bit of this one was quite riveting, in normal epic final battle C.S. Lewis fashion! I heartily recommend the whole series! Here are two favorite excerpts from the book:

After meeting the Director, going back on a train:

“Whatever she tried to think of led back to the Director himself and, in him, to joy. She saw from the windows of the train the outlined beams of sunlight pouring over stubble or burnished woods and felt that they were like the notes of a trumpet. Her eyes rested on the rabbits and cows as they flitted by and she embraced them in heart with merry, holiday love. She delighted in the occasional speech of the one wizened old man who shared her compartment and saw, as never before, the beauty of his shrewd and sunny old mind, sweet as a nut and English as a chalk down. She reflected with surprise how long it was since music had played any part of her life, and resolved to listen to many chorales by Bach on the gramophone that evening. Or else–perhaps–she would read a great many Shakespeare sonnets. She rejoiced also in her hunger and thirst and decided that she would make herself buttered toast for tea–a great deal of buttered toast. And she rejoiced also in the consciousness of her own beauty; for she had the sensation–it may have been false in fact, but it had nothing to do with vanity–that it was growing and expanding like a magic flower with every minute that passed….Certainly she was looking well: she was looking unusually well. And, once more, there was little vanity in this. For beauty was made for others. Her beauty belonged to the Director. It belonged to him so completely that he could even decide not to keep it for himself but to order that it be given to another, by an act of obedience lower, and therefore higher, more unconditional and therefore more delighting, than if he had demanded it for himself.”

———

“Do you place yourself in the obedience, ” said the Director, “in obedience to Maledil?” “Sir,” said Jane, “I know nothing of Maledil. But I place myself in obedience to you.” “It is enough for the present,” said the Director. “This is the courtesy of Deep Heaven: that when you mean well, He always takes you to have meant better than you knew. It will not be enough for always. He is very jealous. He will have you for no one but Himself in the end. But for tonight, it is enough.”

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6 thoughts on “That Hideous Strength

  1. Ah, I really like the 2nd excerpt too. My favorite part in the whole series is his description of “space” in the first book. I have only read the books once though (except I have read the first one twice I think).

  2. Now I’m going to have to read (or listen on CD) this series! I started once but never finished. I certainly have missed out on a powerful, gripping story. Thank you for finishing these stories with joy!

  3. Ah, the pen, so mighty in the hands of Lewis, expressing the inexpressible mercy of the Father toward us in our imperfection. You have given me the impetus to press on after the joy of Perelandra to discover the fearsome Strength.
    Dad

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