This very short chapter is essentially a note from the narrator/writer to the reader regarding the nature of the tale. He describes how he came to know it – after a chance letter to noted philologist Dr. Elwin Ransom about a word – Oyarses – in an old Latin text. He explains that they wrote it as fiction instead of non-fiction to avoid a libel-action from Weston, a real person with a fictitious name, and to still send out a message to the few who would listen. Ransom believes that a good start would be to have “in one per cent of our readers a change-over from the conception of Space to the conception of Heaven.”
I’ll keep this short for a short chapter. The narrator is not identified, but lets just call him Lewis. I think that’s a fair reading. Its interesting that he finds this word – Oyarses, meaning intelligence or “tutelary spirit of a heavenly sphere” in an old Latin text, bringing up the possibility that these past “Platonists” were familiar with the idea of the planets each having an Oyarsa.
He speaks specifically of Bernardus Silvestris – a nice Latin name – who was a poet philosopher at the time of the turning of the millennium (1000 AD). He wrote a commentary on the Aeneid. He also speaks of him as being a platonist, or a philosopher in the vein of Plato. They studied the idea of a realm of things which exist imperceptibly. This calls to mind the eldila.
Previously I skipped over Oyarsa’s remark about the current “celestial year” being a “revolutionary one.” This brings into the narrative a discussion of eschatology, which the discovery of any intelligent life outside of earth is going to do. What is redemption for them and what is our role in it, if any? A celestial year is not a concept that I am very familiar with but it is a very long time by our time-keeping standards – 25,000 years-ish.It has to do with the movement of earth’s polar axis or some such. Let’s not get too deep into the eschatology of Lewis’s Space Trilogy as it concerns orthodox Christian eschatology. I do not think that would have been Lewis’s intent and a discussion of it could fill a book.
Lastly I will comment on the names, which Lewis here says are made up and not the true names of the actual people involved. I previously commented on them as well. Weston could be someone from the West. I have previously described Ransom as being a Western Christian, and I am happy with that terminology, especially given that platonism is being brought in to the narrative here at the end. Platonism probably affects Western thought as much as anything else outside of Christianity and maybe the more recent enlightenment reasoning which would involve the previously mentioned Darwin and Nietzsche. Weston could represent a western man built on the enlightenment and divorced from Christian thought. Or maybe its a name Lewis liked. Devine seems furthest of the three from the divine. Ransom was kidnapped to be given to the “big head” of Mars in exchange for peaceful travel to his planet and all the gold Devine could carry. But he ended up far from it.
PROPOSED CHAPTER TITLE (I know it comes last but lets call it the):
As it seems like it could come first, describing how the book came to be.