Inventive Translation: Depicting Virtue in C.S. Lewis's Science Fiction Trilogy
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Brower, Emily Ruth, 1990-
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My thesis explores the ways in which C.S. Lewis uses his love for and knowledge of medieval literature in the writing of his science fiction trilogy. I examine and define the medieval intertextual tradition that C.S. Lewis adapts in writing the trilogy, as set forth in The Discarded Image. In this work, Lewis explains how medieval authors would rewrite and translate earlier stories in the making of new texts. This is what Lewis himself does in the writing of his trilogy with respects to older works of literature. I argue that Lewis uses this approach in each of his science fiction novels in order to rehabilitate this mode of writing and certain aspects of earlier authors’ works. Further, Lewis uses this approach to offer a unique treatment of moral virtues (fallen and unfallen). In Out of the Silent Planet, Lewis adapts Dante in order to recover for his readers a sense of what it would mean to understand space as "Deep Heaven" and to illustrate unfallen martial virtues. Perelandra retells Paradise Lost and aims to rehabilitate the experience of reading an epic in order to imagine unfallen love and unfallen mankind. Finally, That Hideous Strength incorporates Arthurian legend and the medieval heavens to reveal how these virtues function in human beings on Earth. Ultimately, only by appreciating all three novels together, as acts of what I call "inventive translation," can we appreciate the powerful literary means by which Lewis attempts to transform the moral imaginations of readers.