I love C.S. Lewis. I am reading through the Chronicles of Narnia with my oldest daughter right now (we are on Prince Caspian) and I can’t get over how affecting his writing is to me: intellectually, spiritually, emotionally….I am moved. So as we are reading through Narnia together, I thought I could enjoy a little Lewis fiction all by myself and grabbed this trilogy. It was different than I expected in a number of ways, both for good and ill.
In all three of these books, Lewis made me experience what the character, usually Ransom, experiences. This was both a pleasure and a pain. It usually meant that things would drag on much longer than I wanted them to, getting a shadow of what the character himself was feeling. So that as Ransom grew weary, I did too. As he lost hope, so did I; as he struggled with bewilderment, I felt the same. Oh but then! When rescue and victory and rest finally came, I was rewarded with him! It takes time to write that way and to read that way. And for all the fatigue of the journey, I was grateful for it.
The first two books take place on different planets (Mars and Venus, respectively.) I grew attached to Ransom and the various creatures that he built relationships with on those planets. Their worlds were beautiful to me, as they were beautiful. I cherished their ways of life and was challenged (in my soul) by the struggle they faced. As I entered the third book, I was hungry for all things to be made right. And here my aversion kicked in. Maybe I anticipated an ending like The Last Battle, where final justice is perfectly metered and all is forever finished. Maybe it was the abrupt change in characters (Ransom took a minor role) or location (Earth). Maybe it was that I was hooked into the big picture that had been created and struggled to see how all of what was happening had anything to do with it. All three of the books took me by surprise a number of times, suddenly heading in a direction I had not foreseen. This was delightful until the third book. It was not all loss- there were ideas in the third book that I enjoyed working through. But the pleasure of the journey was not there. It ended in disappointment for having such a beautiful beginning.
I am grateful for C.S. Lewis and especially for the way in which he never wasted his writing. He used his imagination, his style, his time and place, to unite in words that spoke to belief and truth and beauty. It moves me, every time.