Out of the Silent Planet
It’s 50 years since C.S Lewis’s death, and I barely have a clue.
I grew up with Narnia of course, although that was unfortunately sketchily encountered. I was well-enough grounded in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as we had all the books but more importantly, the BBC adaptations. But the later books in the series somewhat eluded me; I never quite read the whole series, somehow managing to jump to The Last Battle when I was given it as an audio book on a cassette tape, which didn’t even last the first listen before it started warbling in a simultaneously beautiful and aggravating analogue-kind of way.
It was with some determination then that I recently re-read the whole series from start to finish – though even there I was challenged as to the order in which I read them, by the Lewis experts among my friends. I should have started with LWW, and as I come to understand Lewis bit by bit, I can see why.
I was given Planet Narnia for Christmas too – a book by Michael Ward which was also popularised not long ago by a TV documentary called ‘The Narnia Code’. I began to read its in-depth exploration of cosmic themes in Lewis before backing up and deciding that if I was going to do this, I was going to do it properly.
I’ve just finished Out of the Silent Planet, the first book in Lewis’s celebrated Cosmic Trilogy. I have the next two lined up on the bookshelf. I need to read his other works of fiction – The Great Divorce, which I think we also have on our shelf, and Till We Have Faces, which a few voices I have heard lately claim as Lewis’s best work, though it is relatively unknown. It sounds like Ward recommends we read some of his poetry too. Then maybe I can come to Planet Narnia with a little more understanding.
I need to catch up on his non-fiction too – The Problem of Pain, The Case for Christianity, Miracles, Mere Christianity, Surprised by Joy, A Grief Observed and more that I have heard so much about but of which I know so little.
The best news for Lewis fans this year, perhaps, is that Alistair McGrath has released a major new biography of Lewis, which sounds like it should be excellent.
Oh, and I loved Out of the Silent Planet.