My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Perelandra, the second book in C.S. Lewis’s trilogy, chronicles the adventures of Dr. Ransom on the planet of Perelandra, otherwise known as Venus. Taking his knowledge and understanding from his adventures in Malacandra (in Out of the Silent Planet) of the spiritual levels of life, human and otherwise, he departs for an assignment on another alien planet. Although he has no details on what he is to do upon reaching the planet, he goes with complete conviction that it is the right course of action and that the Oyarsa, or supreme spirit being of Malacandra, has Ransom’s best interests at heart. On Perelandra, Lewis recreates the Biblical story of temptation in the Garden of Eden with Ransom acting as advocate for “Eve,” the female figure that inhabits that world. Ransom himself goes through many trials before the story’s end.
The storytelling in this novel is, of course, superb. The world that Lewis creates is fascinating and thought-provoking. He deftly weaves Biblical story and theology into Ransom’s adventures and applies them to the universe and its inhabitants at large. He manages to stretch the readers’ minds and wrap them around ideas that are much greater than ourselves. Our God is truly God of the universe. Lewis emphasizes that we do play an important role in God’s creation but we could also play just a part within a larger scope of God’s creations. The Bible is about humanity and its history with God. Who is to say what other creatures God has created to have relationships with Himself?
Of course, Lewis has written this story as fiction. Interestingly, he ends the first book with his character writing it as a fictional account about Ransom’s space adventure. This is apparently due to Ransom’s insistence that readers would not believe the story as true and would reject it. According to Ransom, if the story were written as a fictional account, those readers who would accept the account as true would see past the fictional facade and see the truth about the story. It can make your head spin if you let it. So in this series, Lewis has written a fictional story. Or do we readers “in the know” know better?
Although I really liked this story and am glad to have read it, I have to admit that some passages were a bit hard to get through. Speeches by the physicist character and certain speeches by the “eldila”, or spirit beings, can get a bit heady. However, I am still committed to reading the final book in the series, That Hideous Strength, and will post a review on that when read. I do recommend this book to those who are up for a fantastical journey and are willing to work through a few philosophical passages.