That’s right, NEVER. It’s not because I hated Out of the Silent Planet (I didn’t). It’s because I think if I read them, I would be in a huge fight with C.S. Lewis, and I hate to be in a fight with C.S. Lewis. I’d rather focus on his agreeablest qualities, viz.:
- I love how crazy in love he was with his wife. That is touching. If you can read A Grief Observed without crying you are just not human.
- I love how crazy in love he was with God. That is also touching. I love that he’s able to speak about God with pure sincerity and not a hint of ironic edge. It’s not that I don’t love an ironic edge — I do, truly. But I love it that C.S. Lewis doesn’t need this as a shield. I love it that he can speak with such naked, vulnerably honesty about how God makes him feel. And especially because he was, you know, this British male academic in the early to mid-twentieth century; his life would not, I expect, tend to teach the value of emotional sincerity.
- I love how crazy in love he was with stories. He was an exceptionally generous reader who could write persuasively and affectionately about a wide range of different books, and I love that about him. Case in point, the sweet paragraph that appears at the beginning of Out of the Silent Planet:
Certain slighting references to earlier stories of this type which will be found in the following pages have been put there for purely dramatic purposes. The author would be sorry if any reader supposed he was too stupid to have enjoyed Mr. H. G. Wells’s fantasies or too ungrateful to acknowledge his debt to them.
C. S. L.
Oh C. S. Lewis. I am awfully fond of you sometimes.
The problem with C. S. Lewis is that he’ll say something like this and make me feel fond of him, and I’ll read his book all the way through, and maybe it’s not exactly my thing? Because maybe it goes on and on describing the new planet and not a lot happens storywise? But C. S. Lewis has won my heart with this sweet tribute to H. G. Wells, so I’ll be trying to see the good in this book. I’ll like the writing because I do love the way this guy writes, and I’ll think the new planet is weird in interesting ways, and all in all I’ll be feeling very amiably towards C. S. Lewis. But the problem is that as soon as I’ve been lulled into this affectionate way of feeling, C. S. Lewis will often be like, “You know who sucks, though? LADIES,” and then we’re in a fight again.
Why couldn’t he have met his wife like much much sooner? I think it would have made him a nicer person for a longer number of years.
Out of the Silent Planet doesn’t really have any ladies, so I didn’t have to deal with any of that sort of thing in this book, but when I got through with it and went to pick up Perelandra, I remembered that Perelandra was the name the aliens in this book had given to the planet we call Venus. And Venus was, you know, a lady. The lady goddess of ladies and their lady parts.
So I checked with Mumsy:
me: OH REAL QUICK
me: is Perelandra super sexist?
me: oh, maybe I’d better skip it
Mumsy: SO SEXIST. I cringe at the thought
me: oh dear.
Mumsy: Please do skip it. you will never love CS any more if you read it.
and decided to give it a miss. Forever.