The Historical Context of C.S. Lewis's Novel "That Hideous Strength"

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Anna Gumerova
Valentina Sergeeva

Abstract

That Hideous Strength, the third novel of C.S. Lewis The Space Trilogy, called by its author “a modern fairy-tale for grown-ups”, was written in the end of the Second World War; it is set in some indefinable time “after the war”. Nevertheless, the culture and history of England plays the significant role in the novel, not only as the source of images and storylines, but also as a topic of scientific research inside the author’s world. The characters’ attitude towards this topic is meaningful. The cultural and historical context of the novel is complex: we can see there the legendary history of England (Arthurian tales, Merlin as the legendary person and literary character) and its real history (certain features of English colleges dating back to the Middle Ages, Henry Bracton, the famous lawyer of the 13th century, Cromwell, etc.). Both real and legendary histories intertwine in the world of the novel, sometimes within a single paragraph or a scene, for example when the narrator speaks of his visit to Bragdon Wood (chapter 1, part 3) where a real historical figure (Bracton), imaginary locus (wood) and “the medieval song” of the 14th century made up by Lewis himself are put together, or when Mr. Dimble (chapter 1, part 5) talks about historical origins of Arthurian legends. It makes the world of the novel multidimensional and atemporal.

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How to Cite
Gumerova, A., and V. Sergeeva. “The Historical Context of C.S. Lewis’s Novel ‘That Hideous Strength’”. Linguaculture, vol. 13, no. 1, June 2022, pp. 69-80, doi:10.47743/lincu-2022-1-0234.
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Author Biographies

Anna Gumerova, A.M. Gorky Institute of the World Literature, Russian Federation

Anna Leonidovna GUMEROVA – Candidate of Philological Sciences, Senior Research Assistant at the Department of Literary Theory, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences. She teaches at the Institute of Foreign Languages (Moscow State Pedagogical University). In 2001 she graduated from the State Academy of Slavonic Culture (Moscow). In 2007 she successfully defended her dissertation entitled “The Compositional Role of Internal Texts in F. M. Dostoevsky’s Works: Biblical Quotes in the Novel The Brothers Karamazov”. Her area of interests are composition, quotes, F.M. Dostoevsky’s works, J. R. R. Tolkien’s and C. S. Lewis’ works, fantasy literature, contemporary literature process. A. L. Gumerova wrote several articles concerning quotes and the problems of composition, J. R. R. Tolkien’s and C. S. Lewis’ works, fantasy literature.

Valentina Sergeeva, A.M. Gorky Institute of the World Literature, Russian Federation

Valentina Sergeevna SERGEEVA is a Candidate of Philological Sciences, Senior Research Assistant at the Department of Literary Theory, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, translator. In 2005 she graduated from the Moscow State Pedagogical University; in 2007 she graduated from the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute (Moscow). In 2008 she got a Candidate degree after presenting her dissertation on medieval English ballads. She also prepared and published a few works in the series “Literature Heritage” (“Literaturnye pamyatniki”), such as “York Mystery Cycle” and “Robin Hood Ballads”. She authored a book of history tales for children. Her area of interests are documentary, historical commentary, medieval literature, English literature, fantasy literature, J. R. R. Tolkien’s and C. S. Lewis’ works.