That Hideous Strenght, by C.S.Lewis


C.S.Lewis and his Love, from here

 

 

from That Hideous Strenght

C.S.Lewis

 

The woman led her along a brick path beside a wall on which fruit trees were growing, and then to the left along a mossy path with gooseberry bushes on each side. Then came a little lawn with a see-saw in the middle of it, and beyond that a greenhouse. Here they found themselves in the sort of hamlet that sometimes occurs in the purlieus of a large garden–walking in fact down a little street which had a barn and a stable on one side and, on the other, a second greenhouse, and a potting shed and a pigstye–inhabited, as the grunts and the not wholly disagreeable smell informed her. After that were narrow paths across a vegetable garden that seemed to be on a fairly steep hillside and then rose bushes, all stiff and prickly in their winter garb. At one place they were going along a path made of single planks. This reminded Jane of something. It was a very large garden. It was like . . . like . . . yes, now she had it: it was like the garden in Peter Rabbit. Or was it like the garden in the Romance of the Rose? No, not in the least like really. Or like Klingsor’s garden? Or the garden in Alice? Or like the garden on the top of some Mesopotamian ziggurat which had probably given rise to the whole legend of Paradise? Or simply like all walled gardens? Freud said we liked gardens because they were symbols of the female body. But that must be a man’s point of view. Presumably gardens meant something different in women’s dreams. Or did they? Did men and women both feel interested in the female body and even, though it sounded ridiculous, in almost the same way. A sentence rose to her memory. “The beauty of the female is the root of joy to the female as well as to the male, and it is no accident that the goddess of Love is older and stronger than the god.” Where on earth had she read that? And, incidentally, what frightful nonsense she had been thinking for the last minute or so! She shook off all these ideas about gardens and determined to pull herself together. A curious feeling that she was now on hostile, or at least alien, ground warned her to keep all her wits about her. At that moment they suddenly emerged from between plantations of rhododendron and laurel and found themselves at a small side door, flanked by a water butt, in the long wall of a large house. Just as they did so a window clapped shut upstairs.
A minute or two later Jane was sitting waiting in a large sparely furnished room with a shut stove to warm it. Most of the floor was bare, and the walls, above the waist-high wainscotting, were of greyish-white plaster, so that the whole effect was faintly austere and conventual. The tall woman’s tread died away in the passages and the room became very quiet when it had done so. Occasionally the cawing of rooks could be heard. “I’ve let myself in for it now,” thought Jane, “I shall have to tell this woman that dream and she’ll ask all sorts of questions.” She considered herself, in general, a modern person who could talk without embarrassment of anything: but it began to look quite different as she sat in that room. All sorts of secret reservations in her programme of frankness–things which, she now realised, she had set apart as never to be told–came creeping back into consciousness. It was surprising that very few of them were connected with sex. “In dentists,” said Jane, “they at least leave illustrated papers in the waiting-room.” She got up and opened the one book that lay on the table in the middle of the room. Instantly her eyes lit on the following words: “The beauty of the female is the root of joy to the female as well as to the male, and it is no accident that the goddess of Love is older and stronger than the god. To desire the desiring of her own beauty is the vanity of Lilith, but to desire the enjoying of her own beauty the obedience of Eve, and to both it is in the lover that the beloved tastes her own delightfulness. As obedience is the stairway of pleasure, so humility is the . . .”
At that moment the door was suddenly opened. Jane turned crimson as she shut the book and looked up. The same girl who had first let her in had apparently just opened the door and was still standing in the doorway. Jane now conceived for her that almost passionate admiration which women, more often than is supposed, feel for other women whose beauty is not of their own type. It would be nice, Jane thought, to be like that–so straight, so forthright, so valiant, so fit to be mounted on a horse, and so divinely tall.

 

Cleve Staples Lewis

 

I wondered to find in this book (it’s a novel about the final fight between good and evil, with a lot of religious – christian- connections) a so delicate and clever observation about love.

 

Oh, yes: I’m back!. Lol.

One comment on “That Hideous Strenght, by C.S.Lewis

  1. mocaiana says:

    It’s my favourite novel ever!

    Like

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