Location: Wisconsin, United States

I am a convert to the Catholic Church after serving in ordained ministry for more than nine years in another denomination. I hold a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in historical theology, and another in systematic theology, and am currently working (very slowly) on my doctorate. I work in Christian Education and Formation and teach at the University level. I am blessed with a wonderful wife and eight great kids! When I'm not studying, reading, or blogging, I enjoy eating and drinking! Like Bilbo Baggins, I have been specializing in food for many years, and my table has a high reputation!

Monday, April 12, 2010


One of my favorite novels is That Hideous Strength by CS Lewis. I've even used it as a textbook in a couple of college-level theology classes.

I suspect that many of the (eight) readers of this blog are also familiar with the book.

I want to pose a question to those (eight) readers -- and this next statement is a spoiler for anyone who has not read the book.

Who succeeded Dr. Elwin Ransom Fisher-King as the Pendragon? We're told toward the very end of the book that he was the latest in a long line spanning many, many centuries -- and that his successor would be revealed. Yet Lewis closes the novel without a successor being named.

If you've read the novel, I'd really like your opinion on this! Who was the successor -- and why did you choose this character?


Papa Z

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Blogger Dave said...

I'm going to guess that Arthur Denniston is the next Pendragon. It's implied that Camille (I think that's her name) is expecting, and that she carries "the future of Logres" (again, I'm going from memory).

8:53 AM  
Blogger maria-martha said...

Hello Papa Z,
I think the text supports that Jane and Mark's child is the next Pendragon, even knowing your thoughts that Mark himself is. Though I don't have my copy of THS with me and so can't give much exact wording or page #s,the clue is in the first discussion that Merlin has with Ransom when he sees Jane (the one that begins, "Sir, you have in your house the falsest lady") Merlin judges both Jane and Mark for having refused a very specific gift of life("of their own will they are barren"), a child who would ensure the safety of Logres for a thousand years.
Your objection to this--that Ransom leaves and the book ends before the child is born or conceived, thus leaving Logres without a Pendragon, which Logres would never be without--can be answered in this way. A)The reader does not, at the end of the book, actually see Ransom leave, as he is seen leaving Perelandra/returning to Earth in *Perelandra*. It is assumed that he will leave soon, but we actually leave Ransom's actions and stay with Jane's consciousness at the end of the book as soon as Jane and Ransom have said their farewells and Ransom has blessed Jane. B)The conditions mentioned by Merlin in that first conversation with Ransom have been met--the evil "work of time" has been "rip[ped]up," or reversed, and thus the opportunity is there. The fact that Perelandra/Venus herself has blessed Jane and Mark's marriage chamber is also a clue to the importance of the fruit of the union--that too is a reversal of the "usages of Sulva" mentioned by Merlin.
C)Most of the motifs, and all the textual clues in the last chapter--even to the mundane one of Mark's clothing being piled up untidily, as Jane sees his shirtsleeve hanging through the open window--show that the conception of the child is at least as imminent as Ransom's departure. Lewis's general frame of reference otherwise shows that he firmly believes that life begins at conception; thus,it's definitely indicated that Ransom's successor begins existence at about the same time that Ransom leaves for Perelandra.
Well-that's about as much thought as I'm going to post, for now!

8:04 PM  
Blogger MommaBlogger said...

Good golly, that IS a question, isn't it?

I loved the Space Trilogy, we did a book discussion with RJ years back. It's been a while since I read that book, so I'd have to go back and look again. I don't know that I ever considered it though, so I don't know that I'd have an answer.

Was there really even anyone suitable for the job?

Lol, I know what I'll be reading tonight ;)

12:44 PM  
Blogger MommaBlogger said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:50 PM  
Blogger MommaBlogger said...

Started reading it again last night :) It's been a while since I read it so I should have an answer to your question in a few days.

Great question by the way. I love the Trilogy.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Jeremy Bonner said...

This was an excellent question.

Given Ransom's expressed views on the "inequality" of the sexes and MacPhee's professed skepticism, we are basically left with three candidates for the succession: Cecil Dimble, Mark Studdock and Arthur Denniston.

Dimble is, I think, excluded on the grounds of age and while Studdock underwent a dramatic conversion experience, an essential characteristic of the Pendragon would seem to be an inherent and uncorrupted understanding of the ways of Maleldil, which Mark lacks.

This would seem to leave Denniston as the obvious choice, particularly when you recall Ransom telling Camilla that she bears "the future of Logres in your body." So it is not just the Studdock child but also the Denniston child of whom great things are predicted.

There's no question that it's a great book, though Perelandra would also be a good choice for a college theology course.

3:01 PM  
Blogger MommaBlogger said...

Perelandra is probably my favorite of the trilogy :) I'm working my way through THS right now, so will hopefully have an answer for you on the question of the future Pendragon :)

10:09 AM  

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