A Few Favorite Lines

When I read, I absolutely love it when I come across a sentence or a paragraph that makes me stop right in my reading tracks. I can go back through books I've read and just read the things I've highlighted or underlined to immediately remember why I loved that book. Here are a few of my favorites from Out of the Silent Planet.

Recap of the plot: Dr. Ransom is kidnapped by two men and taken to Malacandra to be given as a sacrifice. However, when he gets there, he runs away and flees from what he thinks is going to be his death. He runs into an inhabitant there, Hyoi, who is a hross, and realizes how wrong he is about the planet. He still holds fear for Oyarsa (the ruler) and sorns (other inhabitants) because he is sure they want to kill him. He comes to find out he is quite mistaken about Oyarsa and all of the inhabitants of Malacandra.

1. About eldila, the spiritual "beings" (for lack of a better explanation), explained by Hyoi:
"Eldila are hard to see. They are not like us. Light goes through them. You must be looking in the right place and the right time; and that is not likely to come about unless the eldil wishes to be seen. Sometimes you can mistake them for a sunbeam or even a moving of the leaves; but when you look again you see that it was an eldil and that it is gone."

This turns my attention to the way of spiritual things. Our eyes are not accustomed to see them. It takes training, in fact, to truly discern God's movement. The people of Malacandra could see the eldila because they had learned to look for them, but even then, they did not presume upon seeing the eldila.

2. A conversation between Ransom and Hyoi concerning the hnakra, a monstrous water creature:
"There I drank life because death was in the pool. That was the best of drinks save one." "Which one?" asked Ransom.
"Death itself in the day I drink it and go to Maleldil."

Isn't this the view of death we are supposed to have as Christians? Like Paul and like Christ, we should have a desire to go to God. That should be a joy, not something to fear or dread.

3. Hyoi, explaining their view of memory and life:
"A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered. You are speaking, Hman, as if the pleasure were one thing and the memory another. It is all one thing. What you call remembering is the last part of the pleasure. When you and I met, the meeting was over very shortly, it was nothing. Now it is growing something as we remember it. But still we know very little about it. What it will be when I remember it as I lie down to die, what it makes in me all my days till then--that is the real meeting. The other is only the beginning of it."

4. The Malacandrians' response to Ransom's explanation of humanity:
They were astonished at what he had to tell them of human history--of war, slavery, and prostitution. "It is because they have no Oyarsa," said one of the pupils. "It is because every one of them wants to be a little Oyarsa themselves," said Augray.

The people of Malacandra do not want to be Oyarsa and love having Oyarsa as their leader. They understand the perversion of wishing to be what they were never intended to be.

5. Oyarsa, to one of the evil men who was ready to give Ransom up as a sacrifice to get what he wanted:
"Strange!" said Oyarsa. "You do not love any one of your race--you would have let me kill Ransom. You do not love the mind of your race, nor the body. Any kind of creature will pleasure you only if it is begotten by your kind as they now are. It seems to me, Thick One, that what you really love is no completed creature but the very seed itself: for that is all that is left...I see now how the lord of the silent world has bent you. There are laws that all hnau know, of pity and straight dealing and shame and the like, and one of these is the love of kindred. He has taught you to break all of them except this one, which is not one of the greatest laws; this one he has bent till it becomes folly and has set it up, thus bent, to be a little, blind Oyarsa in your brain. And now you can do nothing but obey it."

Earth, as you may have gathered, is the silent plant. It is silent because the Oyarsa who ruled there became "bent" and refused to speak anymore. He destroyed earth, and one way he did that was to magnify certain laws above others, magnify them so much that they are perverted and destroy the people. Love of mankind is not bad, but love for mankind above any other law and even any other love is evil.

I'm sure I will have more to say once I finish the next two books and actually have a completed picture of the story. This book is entirely worth reading on its own, but I am excited about Perelandra, book two in the series. I'm only a few pages into it and already am loving it!


  1. Man, I love this book! I really need to read it again. I forgot what great passages it contains.

  2. I left a comment on your Lewis-related post below, but just to expand on that: Someone once told me that it is helpful and illuminating to read That Hideous Strength in conjunction with Abolition of Man (Lewis' non-fiction book). I'm glad you are enjoying your opportunity to do some pleasure reading.

  3. Can - Thanks for responding to my earlier comment. To clarify my apparently obscure definition: "twee-ness" (which I just made up as a word--sorry!) means "the nature or quality of being twee". Twee is a pop culture word that is generally associated with "being overly cutesy or girlie", but in the case of early-to-mid-20th-century English sci fi literature, should be taken to connote "the quality of being overly arch and smugly self-important".


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