Clive Staples Lewis (1898–1963) was born in Belfast, Ireland, the son of a solicitor and a clergyman’s daughter. He taught medieval literature at Oxford University and at Cambridge University and was a prolific writer. C. S. Lewis’ better known works include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, and Out of the Silent Planet, the first book in his space trilogy.
Out of the Silent Planet is one of my favorite fantasy novels. Set in England, it is the story of middle-aged scholar named Edwin Ransom who is kidnapped and taken to the planet Malacandra. Once there, he escapes and eludes his captors, crossing paths with one of the Malacandrans, a sentient being named Hyoi.
At one point, Ransom and Hyoi discuss their meeting. Hyoi tells him:
“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. “
This passage means something to me. I do not yet know how to articulate it; it simmers in my vast reservoir of unknown knowledge.
But I do know that somehow, it made its way into The Book of Rhino. It is there, waiting patiently to be discovered; it is there, and I am glad. Most likely, when I end my days, I shall understand what this means to me, and how it influenced my writing. Until then, I am content to know that it has.