That Hideous Strength – Chapter Nine – The Saracen’s Head

“If you two quarrel much more,” said the Director, “I think I’ll make you marry one another.” (197)


Jane sees the Head – Mark’s reaction – The morning after – Mark’s letter interrupted – the Fairy strikes – DD? – Mark makes a break – Foiled! – Talking with McPhee – A brief summation of parts one and two – Meeting of the company – Merlin – A junction between two kinds of power


Marriage and Sexuality

The lead quote above just kills me. CS Lewis was not married when he published THS and wouldn’t be for some years later (15ish). But it would appear he had eyes in his head and saw that married people fuss at each other. And why not? We are all sinners after all. Time and sanctification (mostly sanctification but that takes time) changes the amount of quarreling, the object of the quarreling, and the nature of the quarreling, but it does not eliminate it.

This passage reminds me of a passage out of Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy:

Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I’m afraid even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up they were so used to quarreling and making it up that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently.

Lewis takes a high view of marriage and sexuality in THS, but that does not stop him from poking fun at those things from time to time, in a good-natured way.

On a more serious note, we see Mark struggling along. We’ve already established that neither Mark nor Jane loved each other very much at all (87), that they each predominantly loved themselves and wished to be admired. (And who can’t see him or herself in that picture?)

Now we have Mark, seeking to write to Jane… about what, exactly? He wanted her to come to Belbury, because that’s what the NICE wanted. He considered it a matter of life and death – his own. He seems afraid that they may just kill him if he fails to get Jane. But as he tries to write to Jane, he wonders what they would want Jane for. He found the letter “almost impossible” to write. He wanted Jane to come for his own sake but worried about her safety and well-being at Belbury.

Formless fears stirred in his mind. And Jane of all people! Would they take her to the Head? For almost the first time in his life a gleam of something like disinterested love came into his mind; he wished he had never married her, never dragged her into this… (183)

Wishing he hadn’t married her is love? Well, Lewis doesn’t say it is pure perfected love, just that it is a gleam. Mark has a desire for Jane’s well-being and not just his own. And it is well-being for her sake, and not just his own. Sure, it seems like bringing Jane in would increase his status at Belbury, but at what cost to Jane. He is hesitant. The Fairy ends up interrupting such that Mark doesn’t write the letter though he doesn’t consciously decide against it. That’s for the better as I’m not sure he’d have decided to do the right thing.

But the Fairy, who Mark (to his credit) “hated and dreaded” (183) interrupted and pushed Mark to what looks like an increased love and concern for his wife. Alarmed that she could be in trouble, he resolves to go and see about her. All good for Mark and his journey through this time of his life, his journey toward salvation.

Wither Weirdness

What is going on with Wither in his office? (185) His body is there. His mind? He speaks but is it Wither? He seems confused as to who Mark is. Then he’s outside on the edge of the grounds wandering about when Mark is on his way to Edgestow. Its previously been shown that he’s always showing up at inopportune times and puttering about.

Is this some type of Astral Projection? Does Wither “channel” other… beings. Has it anything to do with the eldila.

I don’t recall if there is an answer later in the book or not, but I think there is. We’ll press on for now, only noting the weirdness.

Mark and Jane

Two of the trails I’ve tried to follow in this blog are the journeys of Mark and Jane toward their salvation, the happy endings. After all this is a modern fairy-tale for grown-ups. The main characters are bound to come out on top. So lets take a quick look at them.

Regarding Mark, as I’ve already discussed, he feels his first disinterested love. That’s a good step, along with hating the Fairy, as she’s quite “hatable” and was someone he admired at first, at least on some level. His reaction to the Head is in his favor. He couldn’t “take it” (182), however that was a point of shame for him, when it should have been pride. But progress if progress; we’ll take it in any form.

Then he simply had to get away from Belbury to check on Jane, and though it wasn’t explicit, I got the feeling it was for Jane’s sake, not simply concern that she would make him look bad in front of his progressive friends. Sadly his conviction fails him. We must wonder how many chances he will have.

He also has the general feeling that he needs to be cleansed and thinks Jane might be a part of that:

He was devoured for a longing for Jane which was physical without being at all sensual: as if comfort and fortitude would flow from her body, as if her very skin would clean away all the filth that seemed to hang on him. (186)

It would be a mistake to think that Jane could clean him in some spiritual way. I don’t think Lewis is arguing that she could. (But I’m not sure. His view of the divine in erotic love seems to have been somewhat off, maybe heterodox.) It is not, however, a mistake to think that he could derive some “comfort and fortitude” from his wife. That would be appropriate. For though husbands and wives often quarrel, they also reap great benefit from each other.

Regarding Jane, there is less in this chapter regarding her. She has done well to help the Company at St. Anne’s in sharing her “dreams” (178). She is not yet a member but seems to be accepting the underlying realities as being important, true, and worthy of fighting for (192).

Merlin and Logres

Now I had never heard the term “Logres” before coming to this book. But the concept has been brought up – by Camilla, no less: “[Ransom is] a man, my dear. And he is the Pendragon of Logres. This house, all of us here, and Mr Bultitude and Pinch, are all that’s left of the Logres: all the rest has become merely Britain” (192).

I don’t even know how to say Logres. But I can look it up on Wikipedia and then make some inferences into Lewis’s novel. Keep in mind that Lewis was a good friend of JRR Tolkien who was working on the Lord of the Rings and all that, sort of constructing a modern-ancient mythology of England, a mythology Lewis mentions in this chapter (198). Logres comes from a Welsh word and refers to southern England and involves the idea of King Arthurs governed realm. That was before the invasion from France and all the Normans and what-not. (I’m not up on early medieval British history either).

At any rate, we are talking early British legendarium/mythology which involves King Arthur – hence the idea of the Pendragon (Uther Pendragon was Arthur’s father) and Merlin. Merlin, as you may recall from an earlier conversation (back around page 29) between Jane and the Dimbles, is suspected to have been buried below Bragdon Wood. And some say that he is not quite dead. Here’s Dimble:

Has it ever struck you what an odd creation Merlin is? He’s not evil; yet he’s a magician. He is obviously a druid; yet he knows all about the Grail. He’s ‘the devil’s son;’ but then Layamon goes out of his way to tell you that the kind of being who fathered Merlin needn’t have been bad after all… [Merlin is] buried but not dead, according to the story. (29-30)

Ransom connects, conceptually, the Head at Belbury to “whatever is under Bragdon Wood” (196) which he suspects has to do with Merlin, or is Merlin. He wants to prevent the meeting of the “new power” at Belbury and the “old power” of Bragdon (197).

Middle Earth

As I referred to above, Lewis mentions Tolkien’s work in this chapter. He’d previously mentioned it in the preface. He describes Merlin’s magic as something “brought to Western Europe after the fall of Numinor” (198). We can forgive his misspelling as LOTR was not published until about ten years after THS. Numenor was an island home of men many years prior to the main events of LOTR, and was translated Dunedain by that time, Aragorn was one of the few men left who was descended from the Dunedain. But lets not get into that. Lets just say Lewis gave a shout-out to his good friend JRR Tolkien, and lets wonder if Tolkien appreciated it. (He seems rather a curmudgeon to me.)


Lastly, I want to discuss the scientism of Belbury again and bring in some outside sources. And I’ll use the St. Anne’s discussion of Belbury for my starting point. Here is Ransom speaking of Belbury’s “Head,” their reanimation of Alcasan:

“It means that if this technique is really successful, the Belbury people have for all practical purposes discovered a way of making themselves immortal.” There was a moment’s silence, and then he continued: “It is the beginning of what is really a new species – the Chosen Heads who never die. They will call it the next step of evolution. And henceforward, all creatures that you and I call human are mere candidates for admission to the new species or else its slaves – perhaps its food.” (194)

Indeed, Straik and Filostrato have already been describing the Head as “the first of the New Men,” and “Man Immortal.” (174-175). It is the next step in evolution, as some would see it.

This is much of the major issue which the Company at St Anne’s has been brought together to fight, or prevent. The arising of this new man, this new power, this next step in evolution.

With my first reading of THS, the cosmic and cataclysmic nature of the events at Belbury escaped me. It felt like a few little people trying to do their little experiments and being foiled. This was in part my fault, but in part it was Lewis’s. I think he could have emphasized the scope of Belbury’s plans – and its effect on all humanity – a little more. But he lived and wrote before the Marvel movies, among other films, where the whole world and humanity is obviously at stake for two hours (Terminator, Armageddon, 12 Monkeys, Independence Day…) So people were probably tuned in to the more subtle details and implications. They were used to thinking instead of having everything spelled out in a couple of minutes’ exposition.

I would like to turn now to the writings of Ray Kurzweil, noted American inventor and futurist. I don’t wish any ill will toward Mr Kurzweil. I wish him the best, and that is mostly that he would know Christ. Still, he is brilliant. I have learned a lot from his writings and benefited from his ingenuity. Still, I have reservations with certain of his ideas and that is what I wish to pick at here.

Turning to his The Singularity is Near (a great read), he recounts the history of information in six epochs (his title and my summaries as follows):

Epoch 1 – Physics and chemistry – the physical properties of the elements in the chaotic universe bring molecules together.

Epoch 2: Biology and DNA – the complexity of the molecules advance until DNA is formed.

Epoch 3: Brains – DNA encodes life which advances to the point that the human brain has formed.

Epoch 4: Technology – Humans use our ingenuity to invent tools to aid us; the complexity of those tools grow to the level of modern computers (the iPhone appears! Yay!)

Epoch 5: The Merger of Human Technology with Human Intelligence – the ability to blend our minds with computers increases our abilities and computers abilities; think enhanced brains and AI.

Epoch 6: The Universe Wakes Up – We break out of our solar system and spread our intelligence to the far reaches of the galaxy and universe; this involves surpassing the speed of light.

One underlying thread here is that the speed at which information is advancing is continually speeding up. Take Moore’s Law as your paradigm.

Now, with Ransom’s words that Belbury will call their work the “next step in evolution” (194), let me quote Kurzweil on the 5th Epoch:

Looking ahead several decades, the Singularity will begin with the fifth epoch. It will result from the merger of the vast Knowledge embedded in our own brains with the vastly greater capacity, speed, and knowledge-sharing ability of our technology. The fifth epoch will enable our human-machine civilization to transcend the human brain’s limitations of a mere hundred trillion extremely slow connections.

The Singularity will allow us to overcome age-old human problems and vastly amplify human creativity. We will preserve and enhance the intelligence that evolution has bestowed on us while overcoming the profound limitations of biological evolution. But the Singularity will also amplify the ability to act on our destructive inclinations, so its full story has not yet been written.  (Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near, pp 20-21)

The Singularity is Near is really an interesting book. Kurzweil is a compelling and interesting guy, a self-described futurist who has plans of some type of immortality. His How to Create a Mind is also a really interesting look at how our brains work and how that can contribute to AI. (A mad scientist? Striving for immortality? hmm… maybe he’s a modern fairy-tale.)

So Belbury truly plans to revolutionize life on planet earth. This is not some small group piddling around in a science lab. These guys are bringing about a Singularity, a fundamental change in life. The people who live on this side of the Singularity cannot imagine what life will look like on the other side. Artificial intelligence. All human intellect swollen into one hypertrophied brain. Eradication of life that doesn’t contribute to this intelligence. Sterilization of our planet. Advancing to other planets and stars.

I don’t think Lewis foresaw these computer advances. I know he personally disliked typewriters and cars in general. He approved of a simpler life. But I think the technological singularity lines up well with Belbury’s plans.

That Hideous Strength may well be a modern fairy-tale for grown-ups, but it deals with things that could become reality, or at least things that come people want to become reality. Lets consider it a fable as well. Lewis definitely considers the subject material worthy of serious consideration.

That Hideous Strength – Chapter Eight – Moonlight at Belbury

My friend, you have already separated the Fun, as you call it, from fertility. (170)

Whereas chapter 7 concerned Jane and St. Anne’s almost exclusively, chapter 8 focuses primarily on Mark and the goings-on at Belbury.


Wither discusses Jane with the Fairy – The Fairy to see the Head – Mr Bultitude – Mr McPhee – Mrs Maggs – “In” at Belbury? – A conversation with Wither about Mrs Studdock – Back on Wither’s bad side – On trees – Filostrato explains – Lunacy – Enter the mad parson – Mark to see the Head


Marriage and Sexuality

This chapter doesnt have a lot specifically designated for this chapter. But its addressed and there are some gems here if you read between the lines.

The first and most obvious point is the way the household chores are divided between the men and women at St. Anne’s. The explanation is from Mother Dimble, who explains that “Men can’t help in a job, you know. They can be induced to do it; not to help while you’re doing it. At least, it makes them grumpy. (164)”

This is because men are so awesome… I kid. Men aren’t good at helping women. Men are created to be leaders. God saw that Adam needed a helper and so he created Eve. Now I think it is painting with too broad a brush to say that men can’t help, especially on something like household chores. Though I’ll be the first to admit that women are often more detail oriented. Men just aren’t good at getting things done without help. I clean the kitchen happily, and then my wife spends 10 more minutes cleaning the kitchen. There are just things to do that I don’t see. I take the kids out. I remember the diaper bag, I just forget to make sure the diaper bag is “loaded.” Its the details. And I can learn to do a good job on things. But remembering the details is not my forte. I am good with the big picture. I find this is generally true of men. Big picture. More romantic. Women – details, more practical.

Now before anyone tries to tell me I’m a chauvinist, let me just say that God never said a woman couldn’t get a job done and needed help. He said it about the man. Men aren’t better than women. Men are incomplete without women. Men need women. Don’t call me a chauvinist for saying that men are better than women because that is not what I am doing. (But if you want to call me a chauvinist for saying men are leaders, go ahead.)

And poor Mark. Lets look at him for a minute where sexuality is concerned. The paragraph that begins at the bottom of 167 and ends midway down 168. I won’t quote it all. The DD has asked Mark to bring his wife to Belbury and Mark has declined. His reasoning is that there are so many things at Belbury that Jane wouldn’t understand, so many conversations that would seem silly to her, even gutless. He could not face trying to get Jane to keep the DD in a good temper.

Mark is a doormat at Belbury. He knows his wife would not be willing to see that. Mark’s cowardice, his desire to be in the inner ring, his effeminacy can only go so far. He would not be able to perform appropriately in front of his wife. It is to Mark’s credit, and Jane’s, that this would be a bridge too far. His effeminacy on that kind of display before his wife is unthinkable. He would not ask her to do such a thing as partner in his not “showing himself a man.” I have heard stories of men who ask their wives to sleep with someone else in order to sweeten a business deal. Disgusting. This is the same type of thing, though not to the same degree.

And little does Mark know that it is actually Jane they want, and not himself.

Then there is the conversation that begins with the destruction of the trees. It is an effort to sterilize the area around Belbury, and eventually the whole world. But trees are only the early stages. Eventually… “There will never be peace and order and discipline so long as there is sex. When man has thrown it away, then he will become finally governable” (170). Filostrato makes this argument. He wants to rid the world of the organic, and make it mind only. The organic has done its work via evolution in producing the mind, but it is time for men to take over and refine the mind. We no longer need the evolution. We no longer need the fruitfulness. We no longer need the sex. The “Fun” lasts, for now at least. But we will eventually shed even that.

This is a weird modern gnosticism. I will return to that shortly. The point here is the sex. Man is innately sexual. We are made as two different sexes. Male and female. We are made to be fruitful. Like the rest of creation we will not survive without fruitfulness. Everything lives and grows and reproduces. It is who we are.

The Moon

CS Lewis was big on the planets. I previously mentioned Jupiter – sometimes called Jove (149). The Moon is discussed on page 172 and 173. Lewis brings the Moon into his fiction here and moreso toward the end. The thing to take away from this portion is the Moon’s dual nature. One side faces us, while the other is always facing away, obscured from our vision. In the medieval worldview, because of Earth’s sin, the visible, close, side of the moon was barren, empty, dead, but the far side was vibrant and life-like. Lewis borrows that idea here, giving the Moon two natures.

Filostrato prefers the “lighted” side of the moon because it is clean and sterile. No eroding organic life. He also mentions the “savages” of the far side with their ever-shrinking territory. (Like the cleaning of “tarnished silver.”) Lewis seemed to have an (unhealthy?) fascination with paganism. These savages fit perfectly. Ransom visited Mars in OOTSP, but never the Moon. I think Lewis draws a bit from HG Wells’s The First Men in the Moon as well.

Lewis revisits the moonlight on 175: “In that disastrous light [the faces of Straik and Filostrato] looked like masks hanging in the air.”

Mark’s Journey

Poor, poor Mark. He’s finally getting to do some work for the NICE. He seems to be “in.” Way past some others that had previously made him feel “out.” He’s doing work. He’s involved in the library conversations. He’s getting somewhere. He’s in. Or is he?…

If a mere arrest could have secured the – er – good will and collaboration of Mrs. Studdock, we should hardly have embarrassed ourselves with the presence of her husband. (158)

So this whole thing with Mark is just to get to his wife. He’s been completely used. They care nothing for him. He is means to an end. They despise him. They tolerate him, but for how long?


It really gets mixed up here. Filostrato’s science. Straik’s religion. I can’t hope to do it justice; you really must read the last few pages for yourself. The big reveal is that Alcasan – the executed French scientist – is being brought back… or rather his head is being reanimated. He/It will be kept alive with a bunch of science-y machines and it will be purely intellectual, purely logical. It will absorb other intellects to gain more and more knowledge. It will be a god.

(Hence the name of the book – reference to the Tower of Babel – men striving for divinity.)

“It is the beginning of Man Immortal and Man Ubiquitous,” said Straik. “Man on the throne of the universe. It is what all the prophecies really meant.” (175)

For Straik this is the “real resurrection” (78). He had previously told Mark he would see it for himself.

Filostrato takes a less religious attitude – at least on the surface – regarding Alcasan, the Head. Its all about progress for him. Its about sweeping the world clean of the dirt of life and making way for pure intellect. Its less religious for him, but its no less eschatological. He desires progress, universal change, what one might call a heaven on earth.

Still, he is OK with realizing the dreams of certain forms of religion: “does it fallow that because there was no God in the past that there will be no God also in the future?” (176).

Using science to change all of society, to invent God, to revolutionize the world – that is scientism. Using science to attempt what science cannot do and should not try.

And Mark is to go and meet the Head? But why? We’ve established they don’t care anything about Mark. What could they want?


That Hideous Strength – Chapter Seven – The Pendragon

For the first time in all those years she tasted the word King itself with all linked associations of battle, marriage, priesthood, mercy, and power.

Jane’s transformation has begun.


Arrival at St. Anne’s – Mr Bultitude – A Conversation with the Company – Jane meets the Director – A trip back to Edgestow – Jane and the Fairy – Calm after the storm


Marriage and Sex

On the marriage front, it really gets heavy in this chapter. Fisher-King really drills down into Jane’s marriage. And its quite good for her. She’s never actually thought about marriage from any place resembling a good starting point. Marriage to Jane was some extraneous institution she was (probably temporarily) involved in. She calls her own marriage a failure. And she certainly doesn’t think anything Mark says or does should affect her. Just because they’re married and all…

Fisher-King, for his part, says that its not really his views that are important, but his “Masters.” The authorities on high. They take these things very seriously. By that he means the eldila, the oyarsa and I guess Maleldil (Christ).

If Jane and Mark are married, and are one flesh, then Jane coming to St. Anne’s while Mark has joined their enemy at Belbury would be very complicated. There may be a point where Mark was wholly given to Belbury and wanted to make Jane their prisoner. At that point it would probably be appropriate for Jane to leave Mark. But up until things get very bad, she should submit to him as his wife.

Now this is not a popular way to speak in our feminist day and age. Am I saying that women are worth less than men or cannot think for themselves, make their own decisions? No. But within marriage, a wife is to submit to her husband. That much is clear, scripturally. Within the church their are duties for men and women that differ, in what they do, though not in how important. And outside of the church and home there are differences in leadership duties, though that gets more complex.

For the Company at St. Anne’s, there are parallels to the church. I’ll grant that this is only a modern fairy-tale for adults, but there are parallels. And since there are, the Company can only have Jane who is married, who is one flesh with Mark, assuming that Mark approves. And he would not approve of her joining a Company bent on the defeat, if not destruction, of his own company. Therein lies the rub.

Jane first wants to know if she can join the company and avoid the question of her husband altogether. This is when Fisher-King explains that it would depend on the circumstances of the danger, how much danger, how deep her husband was. He further explains that she needs to get Mark out of Belbury and she meets this with dismissal, saying it would be impossible. Fisher-King replies, “Do you not want to save him as well as yourself?” (143). Does Jane want to save him? She doesn’t love him. She doesn’t care much for him. He and the marriage have only been a problem. Best not to think too much about whether she wants to save him. So…

Jane ignores this question and instead begs to stay, due to her fear of the “dreams.”

Jane then begins to explain, inadvertently – though obviously – that she doesn’t love her husband. And she says its no one’s fault, that there marriage was just a mistake. Ah, but Fisher-King has an answer here:

“You do not fail in obedience through lack of love, but have lost love because you never attempted obedience.” (145)

(I like the way Fisher-King never hesitates just to move to the main point. It reminds me of Jesus’s conversations in John.) This hits Jane like a sack of bricks. And she likes it. She likes it to the point that she likes the man who uttered it:

Obedience – though certainly not obedience to Mark – came over her, in that room an din that presence, like a strange oriental perfume, perilous, seductive, and ambiguous…” (145)

Fisher-King rebuffs her immediately. Jane had previously said she didn’t want to become a part of the Fisher-Kings group of adoring women. Now she is contemplating that very thing in the worst possible way. But it goes nowhere. Fortunately. Jane, Jane, Jane.

Jane responds that she thought love and marriage were about equality and companionship. Equality seems to be a word Fisher-King would vomit from his mouth. At least where marriage is concerned. I guess there is a difference in equality and being equal. Neither is very important in marriage. Equality, he explains, is important on one level due to our sin, our fallen nature, but it isn’t a virtue at heart.

We were made to wear clothes for the same reason. But the naked body should be there underneath the clothes, ripening for the day when we shall need them no longer. (145)

Just as equality is a short-term benefit, so are clothes. A necessary evil. Good for protection for our fallen nature. But at its core, it is just waiting for a day when it can be shed. A day when no one will worry about who is equal because we will all be giving all of ourselves to everyone else all of the time. Was Christ worried about equality when he hung on the cross, a suffering servant, sinless, perfect, dying for the wicked sinful rebellious people. Equality had nothing to do with it. And it has nothing to do with any other love, certainly not marriage.

When two become one flesh, there is no longer room for equality. For they are one. They suffer together. They sing together. But they also suffer from each other. That is how you love. You sacrifice. You give of yourself for another’s good, another’s happiness. There is no time to think of equality.

(I love this book! Such a convicting passage. You should really read it.)

Courtship knows nothing of [equality.] Nor does fruition. What has [equality] to do with that? Those who are enjoying something, or suffering something together, are companions. Those who enjoy or suffer  one another, are not. Do you not know how bashful friendship is? Friends – comrades – do not look at each other. Friendship would be ashamed… (145)

Jane had never even considered love, marriage, in such a way. I fear many of us do not. Lewis is so good, sometimes, on marriage and love and sex. To this, Fisher-King crowns his argument, his explanation, of love and marriage:

Obedience – humility – is the erotic necessity. (146)


And I don’t think Lewis means this as a description of a floor-mat wife. I don’t think he is even talking specifically of a wife’s obedience to her husband, but each of their obedience to Christ. Obeying their sex and demonstrating to the world – the visible and invisible – the  loving relationship between Christ and his Bride, Mother Kirk.

(Paul tells us that this is a great mystery. It is certainly profound. What a great book.)

Jane’s Journey

One thing I want to highlight are Jane’s and Mark’s spiritual journeys. I have written on this previously. Chapter seven really doesn’t say anything about Mark but it has a lot to say about Jane in her meeting Fisher-King.

I will go ahead and say that Fisher-King is Ransom from the previous books. It should be obvious. His travel, his communications with his “Masters,” his foot wound that will not heal. So Ransom is a representative, on Earth, basically of Maleldil, or Christ. (I’m tired of writing out Fisher-King. So now I will call him Ransom.)

(Now, I don’t want to go too far and say Maleldil is Christ. I just mean that in this world he represents who we know as the Second Person of the Trinity. I will probably say Maleldil mostly when talking about the events within the book and refer to Jesus specifically when talking about real life. But I may mix it up some. Please forgive. I’m trying not to be blasphemous here.)

When Jane meets Ransom, there is a flash of her understanding the transcendence of Christ the King. It is a flash that only lasts a moment. But its a fissure in her armor, her understanding of herself. She’s no longer the most important person in her life – just for a second. This article’s lead quote above refers to this moment. Ransom emanates kingliness, royalty, even divinity. For he has been with the divine.

This brings about a major change for Jane:

But her world was unmade; she knew that. Anything might happen now. (140)

And why not? Its a modern fairy-tale for grown-ups, isn’t it? The sentiment is echoed almost word for word on the following page and we see a change in Jane soon – as regards her concern for Mark. It takes time for the truth to sink in, but the important thing is that it is sinking. This unmaking of her world is a blend of joy and fear. Much as the ladies who had visited the tomb of Jesus. (But He was not there, of course.)

You see this change in Jane on her train-ride home. There were now four Janes, or, rather, four different mindsets. The third Jane, though, was really grappling with the directors words.

…a resolution to give Mark much more than she ever had before, and a feeling that in so doing she would be really giving it to the Director (148)

This shows Jane has had a fundamental change. She really wants to give to Mark.

The second part of the statement – that she is really giving to the Director (Ransom) – is in my opinion a swing and a miss from Lewis. I think the underlying idea is Jesus’s words that whatever you do for the least of these, you do for God. This is a good and fine teaching from our Lord. (I can’t say my affirmation of it adds to Jesus’s words, though.) But I will say that applying this to Ransom is overstepping. Lewis wants to achieve more here than he can, at least in this way. It may have worked if it weren’t for the quasi-romantic feelings Jane had for Ransom earlier (145). That just ruins it. Its a “home-run swing” but its a strike-out. The strike-out continues on page 146, but I won’t belabor it.

After returning to Edgestow and being detained and nearly abducted to Belbury – which would have been disastrous for Jane – she ends up back at St. Anne’s. Maybe the unpleasantness in Edgestow raises the danger level enough for the Director to admit her. Witness protection and all.


A quick point here:

Ransom looks young, though he is actually quite a bit older than Jane. He has met face-to-face with heavenly beings and spiritual beings and even human beings who are not marked with original sin. I am reminded of two things: One is Moses. He would meet with God his face shone and he had to veil it in front of the people. The second is a reference to Moses’s veiled face in 2 Corinthians (pronounced “Two” Corinthians). When we see Christ we are transformed into glory. Well, Ransom has seen much, if not Maleldil Himself, and he is golden and young, yet old at the same time. I enjoy Lewis’s description here. It is of one who is close to Maleldil and not one who embodies or represents Maleldil (as he seems to in Jane’s mind). Though he does have that foot wound.

Mr. Bultitude is mentioned for the first time (136). I like it.

Jove is mentioned during Jane’s trainride back to Edgestow:

She was in the sphere of Jove, amid light and music and festal pomp, brimmed with life and radiant in health, jocund and clothed in shining garments. (149)

Lewis liked the planets, the medieval cosmology. The different planets had different characteristics. Much of this was based on the old Greek and Roman pagan imaginings of the gods that the planets represented. Lewis even wrote an interesting poem about the planets. Jove, or Jupiter, basically represents the happy king. The characteristics of all of the planets tell us, in Lewis’s imaginings, of the different aspects of God’s nature. So where the Greeks imagined different gods, Lewis sees incomplete reflections of the real God. Fairly interesting. A lot could be said of this understanding as its shown in the Ransom Trilogy, as well as Lewis’s other fiction. (In fact a lot has been said in the recent past.) I won’t belabor it here. I will only point out that it was Jove, who Ransom saw sailing through that strange western galaxy – in Out of the Silent Planet. It is Jove who is Lewis’s favorite of these pagan views of God and Jove will make an entrance later in the book. The description here of music, light, pomp, and good health are very characteristic of Jove. I will close with a portion of his poem:

                                 …Of wrath ended
And woes mended, of winter passed
And guilt forgiven, and good fortune
Jove is master; and of jocund revel…