(urth) C.S. Lewis's influence

Matthew Groves matthewalangroves at gmail.com
Tue Sep 4 14:29:57 PDT 2007

In the interest of stirring up some discussion on the too-quiet list...

I recently read C.S. Lewis's "Ransom trilogy" for the first time
(comprising Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous
Strength).  I was struck by how much of Lewis's cosmology winds up in
Wolfe's works.  It's hard to imagine that Wolfe wasn't thinking of the
eldila and the Oyéresu when he wrote about the Heirodules and the
Heirogrammates.  The comparison isn't perfect, primarily because the
eldila and Oyéresu seem to have been created as angels by God, but
clearly Tzadkiel is, in some sense, the Oyarsa of Urth.

Wolfe's temporal aspect of the three planets Skuld, Urth, and
Verthandi, may have been influenced by Lewis's conception of a
temporal order to the solar system (the outer planets are older and
the inner planets are newer).  In Lewis you also have the idea of the
Earth, as a planetary body -- not merely humanity as a fallen creature
-- as the object of cleansing and renewal.

There are other similarities to recurring themes in Wolfe's works,
such as the beast-men of Malacandra (compare them to the animal tribes
of "Tracking Song") and the attempts to synthesize Christianity, the
Greek myths, and Arthurian legends.  Perhaps all this is not news to
any of you, but I just hadn't seen a lot of discussion of Lewis's
influence, and I was shocked by the sense of familiarity, especially
in reading Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra.

Matt G.

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