Lewis, C(live) S(taples) (1898–1963)
C. S. Lewis was a literature professor at Oxford from 1925 and Professor of Medieval and Renaissance
Literature at Cambridge University after 1954 who wrote extensively as a
Christian apologist. His cosmic trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet1 (1938), Perelandra2 (1943), and That Hideous Strength3 (1945), explores the idea, popular among Catholic authorities during the
early decades of the 20th century, that the assumption of multiple inhabited
worlds is compatible with Christian doctrine and that beings on other planets
might be in a variety of different spiritual states. Some worlds, accordingly,
might be in an Eden-like state of grace, others "fallen", redeemed, or in
a condition of "integral nature" midway between man and angel. Some might
even be so evil that they were beyond redemption. This was essentially an
updated and expanded version of the idea proposed by some Medieval Christian
Aristotelians that the heavenly regions between the Moon and the primum
mobile might be occupied by angelic intelligences. In Lewis's vision, Mars ("Malacandra") has yet to experience the
Fall of humankind, Venus ("Perelandra") has
seen it averted, while Earth ("Thulcandra") is isolated by divine decree.
Stapledon's descriptions of Mars
and Venus, in Last and First Men, are
recognizable, but it was David Lindsay's Voyage
to Arcturus that influenced Lewis most significantly. "From Lindsay,"
he wrote, "I first learned what other planets in fiction are really good
for; for spiritual adventures." Although his primary purpose was to defend
Christian beliefs in the context of pluralism,
however, Lewis also managed to populate his trilogy with a biologically-interesting
array of aliens, ranging from the froglike pfifltriggi to the etherial eldil,
with bodies made of light. Doubtless this contributed to the mounting public
interest in extraterrestrial life at a time when astronomers, following
the exposure of weaknesses in the catastrophic
hypothesis, were beginning to believe again that planetary systems might
- Lewis, C. S. Out of the Silent Planet. New York: Macmillan
(1943) (first published 1938).
- Lewis, C. S. Perelandra. New York: Macmillan (1944) (first
- Lewis, C. S. That Hideous Strength. New York: Macmillan (1946)
(first published 1945).