Critical Context

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

The Human Age was highly praised on publication for its ambitious range and themes and was compared to the satire of Jonathan Swift. Yet the work contains many inconsistencies. For example, Lewis’ characterization of his angels, some treated comically and some with reverence, suggests that Lewis was merely toying with a theological system that needs the intellectual commitment of a John Milton to present convincingly. The relationship of God to the world that the work presents is especially weak. The reader learns that Satan is lying when he claims that he is God’s equal. If he was lying, however, and if as Pullman concludes “God values Man,” why did God tolerate Satan’s sadistic treatment of man? The basic problem here, and the one from which all the others spring, is that although Lewis uses a Christian framework (embellished with Gnostic doctrines), and was even drawn to the Christian religion late in his life, the spirit of his work is far from Christian. Satan is condemned for trying to do exactly what Christians believe Christ has done: join the divine with the human. It is doubtful that Lewis could have solved such problems in the proposed fourth book. In the existing manuscript pages (at Cornell University), God is introduced as a character: a kindly, intellectual gentleman who makes polite conversation. It was difficult enough to take the Devil seriously when he was presented by Lewis as a witty, urbane politician, but introducing God as a...

(The entire section is 404 words.)