I continue reading Thomas Howard’s book, The Achievement of C.S. Lewis. And now I am reading a chapter, “That Hideous Strength: The Miserific Vision”, dedicated to the book from which I took the title for my blog. There is a bear in this story, Mr. Bultitude….
The figure of Mr. Bultitude introduces us to a theme that is most vividly to be seen in the matter of Merlin. It is the theme of “no going back.” Various other themes feed into it, such as the idea of things thickening and hardening and coming to a point, and the idea of Aslan’s refusal ever to tell what might have been, and the warning in Narnia against trusting a beast who was once a man, and Ransom not eating the fruit twice in Perelandra, not listening to a symphony again, and so forth. It all derives from the notion that there is a Story going on, and that to retrace your steps or thumb back through the pages is to refuse somehow the movement of the Story, or worse, the wisdom of the author. The author has a denouement in mind and you must move through the action at his pace. Otherwise you will find yourself striving against the author himself, and to be in that position is to refuse both him and the thing he has made. It is what Lucifer did.