Thursday, June 28, 2018

Book Review: That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis

This book is unwieldy and frustrating at times and challenging and troubling and ultimately wondrous. I don't think it quite comes together. How can it bridge Arthurian legend with modern academic politics and a critique of technocracy, medieval god-planet-angels, gender psychology, and the Tower of Babel? But I like books that burst at the seams and that I want to argue with, so, yeah, I really liked this book. The Fisher King's advice on marriage is not complete ... but I'll maintain that it's not entirely wrong either. I took the whole book too seriously in the past, but this time I took it as satire, which made the academic committee meetings funny and horrifying, as funny in this vein as Jane Smiley's Moo. But how can you help but take a story this dark seriously? What's particularly thrilling is to see the ideas of the other Inklings in the mix: Barfield is name-dropped specifically, Tolkien's Numenor is part of the story, and the whole things has that awkward not-quite-real mystical quality of Williams. It doesn't quite work but it's a glorious, provocative mess. It's five-star parts mixed with three-star parts, so I end up giving it four.

No comments: