That Hideous Strength – Chapter Sixteen – Banquet at Belbury

“Eh? Blotcher bulldoo?” muttered Jules. (342)

Now is the time for action.


The Dance begins – Jules’s remarks – Securing the erebation of all prostundiary initems – The crowd grows interested – Wither “clarifies” – Laughter – Chaos – Massacre – Mark blacks out – Mr Bultitude and Mr Maggs – A donkey disappears – Mark flees – Wither sees the problem – Straik, Filostrato and Wither go to see the Head – Prostrating – A second head offered – A third head attempted – Mr Bultitude and Wither – Feverstone takes in a show – Driving away from Belbury – Frost goes to see the Head – Surprise sacrifices – Getting very objective – Burning away everything but the soul – Turn to stone


Not a lot on marriage here.

“The shadow of that hyddeous strength sax myle and more it is of length. (Sir David Lindsay: from Ane Dialog, describing the Tower of Babel” – Title Page

The title of this book comes from a 16th century poem about the Tower of Babel. Lewis’s scholastic specialty was English literature of the 16th century. He wrote quite a scholarly work on the subject, his professional magnum opus.

The Tower of Babel incident is recounted in the book of Genesis. Simply, it is a story of mankind getting together, pooling all their technology and philosophy in an effort to become as great as God. They undertake their plan and God foils it be confusing their language so that they can no longer easily talk to each other. So the people of Earth spread out and go separate ways based on language instead of staying together and trying to become gods.

The parallel to THS is obvious. There has been much technological and religious talk about immortality, the next step in evolution the real resurrection, etc. The Belbury group thinks they have finally set things in motion to achieve their dreams. Scientifically, they think they have the Head where they want it. The ones who understand – Wither – think they are working hand in hand with these Macrobes. They have the legal aspect squared away. They have acquired the land they need. Merlin himself will soon be helping. Everything is coming together…

And then their language gets confounded (hence the lead quote above). Animals show up. People start dying. It all goes crazy. I love it. Much of what happens to everyone is the exaggerated end-result of what they had been driving toward for their whole lives.

Straik and Filostrato have given themselves fully to the head – one in a scientific manner and one in a religious manner. They both end up sacrificed to it. With has aligned himself with the fallen eldils and joined in their war against the unfallen ones who posses Mr Bultitude to finish him off. Mr Bultitude is under the influence of the eldils through Merlin. Frost makes himself purely objective (well, he tries), throwing off all those “chemical reactions” that are imperative for life. Feverstone drives off in his flashy car, drives off in such a way that will probably kill him. The Fairy goes full homicidal maniac and dies in the mayhem she helped to create.

The chapter leaves a few mysteries that I’m not sure will be revealed in the last chapter. What happened to the Head? Does Feverstone survive?

Maybe chapter 17 will tell us, but I don’t recall the answers from previous readings though its been a while.

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