Friday, 11 August 2017

CS Lewis And Ian Fleming

What do CS Lewis and Ian Fleming have in common? The fact that both can be compared with Poul Anderson:

Anderson's Dominic Flandry is comparable to Fleming's James Bond;

other Anderson characters address the same theological problems as Lewis' Ransom.

And we have also seen that many other diverse authors are equally comparable to Anderson, e.g., in historical fiction, alternative history, detective fiction, sociological extrapolation and cosmological speculation.

Lewis and Fleming in particular are remarkably dissimilar. However, Anderson's breadth of vision and imagination encompasses both a hedonistic secret agent and the ultimate questions about God and evil.

On that inspiring note, I must stop posting for a while!

13 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

By and large, I liked Anderson's Dominic Flandry stories better than I did those of Fleming's James Bond. But I'm willing to eventually reread Fleming's works.

And the hedonistic Flandry was not a flat Earth atheist or agnostic! He respected honest believers in God. As did Anderson, as can be seen many times in his works.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Fleming's works manage hardly to mention religion - although Bond seems to be touched by the Shinto gods in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And that surprises me, because Shinto is actually a very PRIMITIVE form of religion in some ways. It seems to have elements of both animism and shamanism.

Sean

S.M. Stirling said...

Shinto is primitive in its origins, and you can tell -- the stories obviously date way, way back; in some ways it's strikingly like Classical Greek religion in that virtually everything has a 'kami', with an infinite gradation from the 'kami' of a rock or waterfall up to figures of immense power like Amaterasu-Omikami, the Sun-Goddess who's the patron of Japan and ancestor of the Imperial dynasty.

It's been interacting with Buddhism for an extremely long time, though. Japanese Buddhism is very sophisticated indeed, both philosophically and aesthetically.

Like much of Japanese culture, the unique 'feel' of it owes much to the fact that Japan is just so far away from nearly everything else, and was never much influenced by the 'religions of the Book'.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Thanks for your comments about Shintoism. I had not thought it was that much like Classical Greek paganism because Shintoism lacked anything like the Homeric epics.

Btw, I have read that some think the Japanese Imperial family is actually of KOREAN, not Japanese origin. And that it can be reliably traced only as far back as T'ang Dynasty times.

Yes, Buddhism did much to reshape Japanese culture, in both good and bad ways. No argument there.

There was a time when Japan MIGHT have been heavily influenced, even "remolded" by Christianity. Beginng in the late 1500's thru early Tokugawa Shogunate times, many, many Japanese converted to Catholicism. I think it was the vicious and cruel persecution initiated by the Tokugawa shoguns which may have prevented Japan from being Christianized.

Sean

S.M. Stirling said...

"Only" as far back as Tang Dynasty times means it's older than Charlemagne, which is of considerable antiquity! The Yamato line is probably a bit older than that, but was one among many before then.

Yup, Japan has gone through a number of periods of adopting foreign systems (Buddhism, Confucianism) but always "nativizes" them, often in a period of digestive isolation.

There are Japanese characters in the later Emberverse/Change books -- starting with the end of THE GIVEN SACRIFICE, and Shinto and Buddhism are involved.

Also the "Heike Monogatori", which is Homeric enough for anyone. It created a lot of the archetypes which haunted Japanese culture ever after -- the conflict of giri and ninjo, for instance.

Paul Shackley said...

I practise meditation that came from Japan to Britain via the US. We are "the Buddhist Church of England!"

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Granted that a foyal family which can reliably trace its lineage back to about AD 700 is still older than Charlemagne's time. I think the Capetians of France is not that much younger than that, being traced back to about the early 800's (they are more familiarly known as the Bourbons today).

And Catholic Christianity was persecuted because it would not be "nativied" in ways contrary to its essential nature and beliefs.

I certainly do remember the Japanese characters seen in your later Emberverse books. Given the Japanese insistence on reckoning the succession thru the agnate male line of the royal family, I did wonder if it was inconsistent to have a ruling Empress. Granted, the Change would have killed most of the Imperial family, but would ALL of its male line collateral branches have been wiped out?

Granted, what you said about the "Heike Monogatori," which I actually found a bit more plausible than that too powerful magic sword of Artos.

Sean

S.M. Stirling said...

Oh, the Japanese have had quite a few ruling Empresses already.

Some in legendary times, some much more recently --Meishō in 1629-43, and Go-Sakuramachi in 1762-1771, for example; she was the most recent.

Go-Sakuramachi ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne when her elder brother abdicated in her favor (she was succeeded by her brother's son).

The current Japanese succession law was copied from Prussia's in the 19th century.

The -traditional- one made a much larger pool of members of the Imperial line eligible; essentially, any lineal descendant of an Emperor (within quite a few generations) could be Emperor.

S.M. Stirling said...

In the Change books, only one child (a girl) of the Imperial line survives at all; there aren't any other known descendants at all, since the Change hits Japan very hard indeed. She has one son, who then has a number of children; his only son is lost (as far as anyone knows), so it's all daughters.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Yes, I knew of how Japan had some ruling Empresses, but I thought the rule was she could only be succeeded by an agnate male line descendant of the royal family (not by any children of her own whose father was not of the male line of the dynasty). And Go-Sakuramachi being succeeded by her BROTHER'S son would seem to bear this out.

Yes, assuming the TOTAL wiping out of all collateral branches of the Imperial family, I agree that the Japanese would agree that the Change made it impossible to stick strictly to the usual or preferred order of succession. So a daughter would succeed and have children whose father was not of the royal family.

Sean

S.M. Stirling said...

Incidentally the Empress Genmei was succeeded by her daughter, the Empress Gensho.

The Imperial family married their cousins a lot, so Genmei was both the daughter of an Emperor (her father) and the granddaughter of one (on her mother's side.)

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

I looked this up, and I read of how Empress Gensho was succeeded by Emperor Shomu. What I read was that the boy who would become Emperor Shomu was thought too young to succeed when his father died, so Empresses Genmei and Gensho took the throne till he became an adult. I get the impression that some of these empresses were simply acting as seat warmers till the agnate male line heir was old enough to succeed.

Yes, I did read as well of how often the Japanese royal family married among themselves. It became very complicated, sorting out these relationships!

Sean