Next Friday, November 22, 2013, will mark 50 years since C. S. Lewis died. As a way to commemorate his life, my posts of the next seven days will address one of the seven volumes comprising the Chronicles of Narnia. (This won’t simply be a summary of the books; if you haven’t already read them, please read them for yourself.) Like opening the door of a wardrobe, each volume will serve as my starting point.
Before I begin, however, anyone who has studied or is more than casually interested in Narnia and the Lewis vision for his stories should also read Planet Narnia by Dr. Michael Ward. The book is subtitled: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis.
There’s no set rule about the Chronicles of Narnia. The individual books may be read separately and enjoyed as stand-alone tales. But reading the seven volumes as a single unit adds a second, broader layer to one’s reading pleasure.
Professor Ward argues there’s a third layer, a “deeper magic” if you will, wherein Lewis laid out his seven chronicles by a purposefully hidden structure. Ward makes the compelling case that each volume’s thematic elements connect logically with one of seven planetary objects: Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus and Saturn. It’s a fascinating thesis and I find Dr. Ward’s presentation makes a lot of sense.
Lewis dedicates his first volume of Narnia to his goddaughter, Lucy Barfield. The cover page for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe includes the subtitle: A Story for Children. In his dedication, Lewis observes Lucy has already grown “too old for fairy tales” but he also predicts the day will come when she’s “old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” In typical understatement, Lewis laments the commonly accepted fallacy that fairy tales are meant only for children. He believed (as I do) that the adult imagination also thrives when brought under the enchantment of fairy tales. Continue reading “Not a Tame Lion . . . But He’s Good”