That Hideous Strength

Just finished rereading That Hideous Strength, by C.S. Lewis.

I had read it once before, when I was about 14 I believe but hadn’t recognized nearly any of the references. Having studied the Inklings all year though, the allusions were obvious.

George MacDonald’s Curdie stories are mentioned in passing.

In one scene the characters discuss some of Owen Barfield’s philosophy of meaning.

Tolkien is not bought up by name, but Lewis hijacks his mythology of Numenor = Atlantis all over the place and even refers to our own world as “Middle Earth” on several occasions.

Charles Williams Arthurian poetry cycle “Taliesin through Logres” is quoted, but that is only the beginning. Huge chunks of William’s reimagined Arthur, Merlin, and early Britain are built right into the plot.

And those are just the direct references. One of the evil characters (Wither) is said to be based on real-life colleague of his. Another character (MacPhee) is likely the incarnation of his rationalist childhood tutor.

Anyway, good stuff. A grand turning of tables at the end. I can understand if some people find it unsatisfying though. Nevertheless, it’s packed with relevant themes and conflicts. One gets the feeling it could have been written yesterday.