Last week I finished off the excellent book Perelandra by CS Lewis. Since the airline was showing “The Astronaut Farmer” and “Wild Hogs” on both legs of the trip, I basically had 20 hours of spare time to fill up.
This book is the second in a three-part “space trilogy” by Mr. Lewis. I listened to the first one “Out of the Silent Planet” on my ipod last January and overall I was able to get into this second book faster than the first. I’ve read that Lewis viewed these books as some of his finest work and understand why--particularly after reading Perelandra.
Although the plot started out a bit slow, I was absolutely captivated and amazed about one-third into the book, when the equivalent of the devil shows up to tempt the innocent, unfallen race of creatures on the planet Venus (also named Perelandra). As Lewis went on to brilliantly describe the process in which a person who knew no evil could be tempted to give in and compromise, I was mesmerized and convinced I was experiencing the work of a literary genius. It was a genuinely powerful experience. As I sat on the plane I thought of the Sistine chapel which we had recently seen and I personally would put sections of this book on par with Michelangelo’s work. I’m no art expert but this comparison is what jumped out at me.
Perelandra definitely has weaknesses—such as the failure to make the main character more appealing as the hero-protagonist—but I’m already looking forward to the third book in the series. One final thought about Perelandra: it is sweeping in its philosophical scope and provides all kinds of insights to the deepest questions and issues of the universe. Lewis confronts head-on the dominant scientific- materialistic viewpoint of today and shows how it doesn’t provide an adequate explanation for the reality of genuine evil and genuine love.