Tuesday, February 12, 2008

That Hideous Strength

(In honor of the 50th post here on NonModern, I dedicate today’s blurb to the greatest novel of all time.)

Why should “That Hideous Strength” be considered one the best? Among the several factors against it is the fact that you may have never heard of it at all. While C.S. Lewis is among the most respected and loved authors of the Twentieth Century, “That Hideous Strength” may be among his least known books.

“That Hideous Strength” is the third book in Lewis’ science fiction trilogy, but it is really the odd one out. It takes place entirely on earth instead of on another planet like the other two, and it relegates Ransom (the main character in the other two) to a minor role. In spite of that, or perhaps because of it, it is the most relevant of the three.

Lewis greatness lies in the fact that he is a thinker. He infuses all of his books with observations and serious ideas illustrated in the narrative. His stories still manage to engage at the same time. He has been accused by some of being to directly allegorical, but that is what makes his stories more than just fun escapism.

The science fiction trilogy is no different. He starts out exploring what it means to be creature in “Out of the Silent Planet” and then engages in a great “what if” in relation to Eden and original sin in “Perelandra.” In “That Hideous Strength” he culminates his ideas with an expansion of his commentary on Postmodernism in “The Abolition of Man.” That is not all though, as he gives serious and incredible analysis of marriage, “inner circles,” science as religion, Arthurian legend, and equality in the roles of the sexes.

If you haven’t read this book, you need to.


  1. I read that book many years ago as a teenager and I'm not sure I really understood it. OOTSP and Perelandra were great, but I didn't 'get' That Hideous Strength. I've been meaning to revisit it for years, thanks for the reminder...

  2. If you really want to get the most out of it, read The Abolition of Man first. It is short, and a quick read, but gives you the thinking behind Lewis' ideas for That Hideous Strength.

  3. That Hideous Strength is on my "read every Christmas" list. It just fits best at that season, dunno why ...

    one of Lewis' best, to be sure.
    The best? dunno ... but way up there.

  4. Yeah, I know. I probably should say it is my favorite and not the greatest ever. Oh well...


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