CS Lewis, JRR Tolkein, and Silence

During the pandemic, I focused on re-reading CS Lewis' the Space Trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia (some know this by The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe but there are seven books in the series) and also The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkein. We know both authors, and especially CS Lewis, as "Christian authors."

I am struck by the keen environmental awareness of both authors long before "environmentalism." Both authors specifically advocate for protecting trees, forests, and natural areas as a function of Good. Both also talk openly and frequently of silence and quiet as a positive environmental state and part of a Good world (with noise being pollution and part of evil).

CS Lewis' Space Trilogy explores Christianity and Christian thought through allegory. When describing the pre-Fall, Eden state, Lewis remarks positively on the quiet and silence present. Later, in the third book in the trilogy, Lewis cites the noise and mayhem (along with destruction of trees) as a key part of  the diabolical forces threatening Ransom's home and Christianity. To Lewis, in the Space Trilogy, noise appears as a diabolical creation. Quiet and silence are Godly and Good.

CS Lewis repeats this view in The Chronicles of Narnia. Throughout the series, Lewis associates  silence and quiet with Aslan (and thus allegorical Christianity). In fact, repeated allusions to Aslan's Country or Aslan's Mountain incorporate silence and peace. The Place Between Worlds is quiet (Book 1). The End of the Earth is silent and peaceful (Book 4). Aslan's Mountain is quiet (Book 6). While Aslan can roar, Lewis conveys the peace that Aslan represents as synonymous with quiet and silence. Reading these texts for references to silence and quiet, the reader remains struck and how often Lewis mentions this theme.

[Also see Lewis' The Screwtape Letters where Lewis specifically and directly states that noise is a function of diabolical forces.]

While perhaps less overtly Christian in his writings, JRR Tolkein's The Hobbit likewise repeats environmental themes (especially trees) but also closely associates noise with evil forces. The orcs make noise. Hobbits move silently and appreciate the quiet of the Shire. (Later, in the Lord of the Rings series, Frodo's returns to face a Shire beset by evil forces represented by destruction of trees, fouling of the air, polluting of water, and making noise. Mordor likewise exhibits these characteristics--contrasted with Rivendell or Elvish lands that are typically quiet.).

Both Lewis and Tolkein plainly, and correctly, associate noise with Evil and quiet/silence with Good. I am struck each time that I read these works at how much insight Lewis and Tolkien share on the importance of silence and quiet.