Posts Tagged ‘dual-narrative’

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis

August 17, 2011

Author: C.S. Lewis

Title: That Hideous Strength

Genre: Inspirational, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Publication Date: 1945

Number of Pages: 380

Geographical Setting: Fictional towns of Edgetow and surrounding areas, England

Time Period: A few years post World War II (1940’s)

Series: The Space Trilogy

Plot Summary: That Hideous Strength was written as a “a modern fairy tale for grown-ups” and follows the previous books in the series (Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandria) while still standing on its own. The story follows two narratives, following Jane and Mark Studdock respectively. Feeling despondent after a difficult marriage, Jane begins to find herself plagued by strange and prophetic dreams. Her husband, Mark, is drawn into a strange cabal of academics called the NICE. The NICE is a collection of academics who seem bent on subjugating the town of Edgetow, England and the world. As Jane comes to her friends regarding her strange dreams she finds herself taken in with the opposite force, a collection of people led by an enigmatic man who has traveled among the stars. Supernatural forces clash against the hard power of science as good and evil battle for control of the world. This story seamlessly blends the mystery of science fiction, the mysticism of fantasy as well as the underlying spiritual message. In a more “mature” take on Lewis’ Narnia series, That Hideous Strength is a thoroughly unique story.

Subject Headings: Dystopian future, mad science, angels, demons, King Arthur, Merlin, magic, aliens, Christian fiction, supernatural

Appeal: genre-defying, in-depth, deliberate pace, dual-narrative, political intrigue, mysterious, evolving

3 terms that best describe this book: mysterious, supernatural, genre-defying

3 Relevant Non Fiction Works and Authors

1.)The Mammoth Book of King Arthur: Reality and Legend, the Beginning and the End–The Most Complete Arthurian Sourcebook Ever by Michael Ashley- Lewis’ book draws very heavily upon the Arthurian mythos and uses many direct references to specific stories.

2.) Planet Narnia by Michael Ward- This is an in-depth discussion of both the mythology of the space trilogy as well as the Narnia series.

3.) Science and Faith: Friends or Foes? by C. John Collins- One of the emergent themes in That Hideous Strength is the clash of science and faith. This book takes a spiritual and philosophical discussion on the dichotomy between the two.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1.) All Hallow’s Eve by Charles Williams- Lewis was good friends with Williams and much of the similar themes of newer fantasy and spiritualism can be found in this story.

2.) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle- Follows suit with similar melding of science fiction, fantasy and subtle inspirational motifs.

3.) The Shape of Things to Come by H.G. Wells- That Hideous Strength was actually partially written as a reaction of Lewis to this story and uses some of its dominant themes as a counterpoint.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

August 1, 2011

Author: Haruki Murakami

Title: Kafka on the Shore

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2002 (Original Publishing) 2005 (English Version)

Number of Pages: 407

Geographical Setting: Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture, Shikoku, Japan

Time Period: Late 20th century (1990-2000)

Plot Summary: This surreal narrative intertwines the stories of 15-year-old, runaway Kafka Tamura and middle-aged, eccentric Satoru Nakata, both who are inexorably drawn by fate to the city of Takamatsu. Kafa (under the direction of his inner advisor, Crow) runs from his father’s home, and his father’s curse, vowing to become “the world’s toughest 15-year-old”. Kafa soon finds himself working at a small private library in Takamatsu under the the affable, androgynous Oshima and the quiet, mysterious Miss Saeki. Nakata uses his ability to speak to cats to track down a missing kitten only to find himself challenged by the deranged Johnnie Walker. As these two narratives begin to draw together and intersect, the world begins to shift and twist in strange ways. The two protagonists search for the other half of themselves which they have left behind. This story bends the traditions and tropes of the “usual” story and freely juggles the intellectual and the sensual. The narrative progresses at a slow and deliberate pace, yet still sets the story with suspense. Kafka of the Shore is one of the pinnacle works of magical realism.

Subject Headings: Japan, magical realism, music, prophecy, spirituality, supernatural, art, poetry, Oedipus.

Appeal: surreal: complex, philosophical, relaxed pace, thought-provoking, contemplative, referential, imaginative, dual-narrative, well-crafted, densely written, deeply complex, mystical, mysterious, explicit, extremely vivid, haunting.

3 terms that best describe this book: surreal, intellectual, poetic

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

A Long Rainy Season: Haiku and Tanka edited by Leza Lowitz, Miyuki Aoyama and Akemi Tomioka ([the book makes reference to tanka and related poetry])

Supernatural and Mysterious Japan: Spirits, Hauntings and Paranormal Phenomena by Catrien Ross

(Japan, ghosts, supernatural, hauntings)

The Eichmann Trial: Jewish Encounters by Deborah E. Lipstadt ([The Eichmann trial becomes a theme that haunts Kafka throughout his journey])

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood (magical realism, coming of age, surreal, deep, philosophical)

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles ([Referenced in the book] tragedy, curse, fate, love, death)

The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights by Richard Burton (translated) ([This is one of the books that engrosses Kafka in the story])