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Thread: Narnia: Another Literary World

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Tolkien's friend C.S.Lewis also imagined a world and filled it with lands and diverse beings, which he described in The Chronicles of Narnia.

The movie of the second book (in chronological order rather than order of publication) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is coming out soon (Est. 09 December 2005). Disney is making it and it is supposed to be live action rather than animated. They are trying to keep it accurate to Lewis's text so as not to meet the hostility that PJ and New Line encountered with LotR. Let us hope they can keep to the written story.

Anyway, Grep, the Council, and I thought we should have a thread(s) where we can also have discussions about the books and the forthcoming movie.

What does the membership think of the books? Have you read any of them, or all of them? Which were your favorites? Why?

I have read all of them multiple times and presently my favorites are A Horse and His Boy and The Silver Chair, the former because of how each of the characters had to suffer hardship and in doing so became better for it, the latter because of Puddleglum the Marshwiggle, who was so glum he was comic, yet he proved to be there for the children in the pinch.
They have a movie already made of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, an older one, I don't know if you knew that. I've seen it multiple times. It's a two tape movie, so it's pretty lengthy. I have read the book and i have the complete series but I have only read that one. I have also seen the play, very entertaining. Was C.S. Lewis a religous man, because my dad always related that book (The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe) to religous terms. Was this a purposeful choice of Lewis', or was it mere coincidence. Which many books can be seen as related religously because it all has to do with good and evil. But this book has specific events that seem so close POSSIBLE SPOILER!!!!(the sacrifice of the lion king). Although I think were not supposed to get into religous arguments here I was just curious if he was a religous man and if he purposelly related this to God. Something inside my head keeps telling me he didnt believe in God at all though. And now something else popped into my head that J.R.R. Tolkien helped make him believe in God. I don't know I cant really remember from the biography of J.R.R. Tolkien I read and I hope some of you could back up my faulty memory. Dead Smilie Wink Smilie Big Smile Smilie

Heres a link to a page about the old movie:
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
You should check out the movie, it's worth it (at least I liked it).

(Grondy merely added the word "old" preceding "movie" prior to the link)
yuppers, saw some shots of the new movie a few weeks ago, looks pretty good, also saw a short trailer of HP 5, looks fantastic, but I shall say no more.
Here is a link to the new movie: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The link in Inwe's above post is for the old made for TV Mini-series movie. They also made a combined Mini-series of Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which was followed by The Silver Chair starring Tom Baker (my favorite Dr. Who) as Puddleglum. I don't remember them making any of the other books into movies.

I recently purchased Family Radio Theatre's 'The Chronicles on Narnia' box set of the seven audio dramas on nineteen CDs. I also have a set of the leather bound books published by Easton Press.


oh really, I didnt know it was a TV miniseries, I guess I wouldn't know I wasn't around then. hehe. I told my dad about the new movie because he really liked that one. He told me he really liked that book when he was young but hasn't read any of the others.

If you haven't read the book it's not very long and it's not too difficult. I highly recomend it, it's a quick read, and very good. Full of good action and there arent any parts that drag on and are boring.
I have been a huge fan of C.S Lewis for a long time. I read his books before I discovered Tolkien. It was Lewis that introduced me to the realm of fantasy writing.

I am really looking forward to the movie coming out in December. Hopefully it will be a good one.

HP4 and then LWW. A nice selection of movies to look forward to, eh?

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HP4 and then LWW. A nice selection of movies to look forward to, eh?

Perhaps. I'm saving up for Legally Blonde, part 2.
For reviews of The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe movie, see Review L W and W Movie Here.
I read the Narnia books when I was about eleven, like a lot of eleven year olds. I loved them. Kept them in a pile next to my bed for years.

Yes, Inwe, there are very definite religious allegories in the books, but I don't think we can discuss them here.

My personal favourite of the books was Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I'm not sure if it was the romance of ocean travel or the fact that Caspian was now a bit of a hunk (in the books anyway). I still have the whole set, so I might give them another read. My copy of LWW is even one of the editions with the original Pauline Baynes illustration on the cover.

I have some of the BBC versions of the books on DVD. As far as I can remember, they are fairly true to the books, which is always nice to see. I think CS Lewis would have approved. They are great, and the kids love them, but I have to admit that some of the old special effects look a bit ordinary by today's standards.
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Yes, Inwe, there are very definite religious allegories in the books, but I don't think we can discuss them here.


Rest assured I'm not going to "discuss" them here, only a comment! Lewis did say (or write in a letter somewhere) that all of his Narnia books -- and indeed his Space Trilogy books as well -- were not written in order to be religious allegories. Like Tolkien, he didn't like "allegories" very much. Rather, he made a clear distinction between his stories and allegory (in which each thing or person in a story represents or correlates directly to another thing, often very obviously, and often in order to teach some point, and in fact the author may go to great pains to UN-disguise the allegory as much as possible). I'll have to look it up, but the gist of it is that Lewis said he imagined what might happen if his God had actually created other worlds.... whereas he thinks of allegory as merely a thinly disguised way to talk about our own real world. In this sense, you will find Lewis's idea of God in his books, but the rest of the worlds he imagines are NOT meant to correspond directely to things in "our" world.

It's possible to say that Lewis wrote "theology fiction" where his books are related to theology in the same sense that "science fiction" is related to science. (That is to say, both genres imagine what might happen IF certain imaginary things were true in addition to most of what we already know or believe about either discipline).

I hope mentioning this isn't breaking the "rules", (I didn't think so, since it's about what Lewis' process of writing)
Yes, I have heard a number of people recently, including Lewis' stepson David, disclaiming the religious allegory element of the Narnia books. But who are they trying to fool anyway? The whole point in Lewis' writing them, and what he discussed at length with Tolkien for a long time, was to write a good "myth." He wanted to promote the truth of faith, as far as he understood it, in his writing. One of the complaints Tolkien had about the Narnia series is that the allegory was too bald and didn't leave much to figure out. I know Lewis changed some things in his narrative as a result of advice from J.R.R. But I don't think he changed the story in the main, which is allegory, and that makes his writing different from Tolkien's--simpler, more accessible to children.
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But I don't think he changed the story in the main, which is allegory, and that makes his writing different from Tolkien's--simpler, more accessible to children.


I disagree (I suppose I'm with Lewis's own description of his work on this one). We may only disagree in terminology, for I don't dispute that his writing is different from tolkien's and is more accessible to children, or that the christian themes and symbols are much more blatant in narnia than in ME. However, I don't think it's so different as to deserve the label of allegory, (I also don't think allegories are necessarily more accessible to children.) What I'm thinking of here is primarily those books which are so much MORE allegorical than the Narnia books that they deserve to be in a separate class from the Chronicles. I would call "Pilgrim's Progress" and "Hind's Feet on High Places" allegories for the Christian faith: by contrast, Lewis' work is much nearer to fairy tale, fantasy, and "the Hobbit" than it is to these, and if you had to classify those four books, you might have two or three categories, but Lewis is definitely either a category of his own or with Tolkien -- to identify it with those other allegories is like racing alley cats against cheetahs: There's no contest as to who's in the running to win the title of allegory.... and Lewis isn't it.

p.s. please note I'm not denying that the narnia books are loaded with religious symbolism. I don't think Lewis could write something that wasn't. I remember hearing a quote once that said "everything lewis thought about everything was somehow brought out in anything he wrote about anything"
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I would call "Pilgrim's Progress" and "Hind's Feet on High Places" allegories for the Christian faith: by contrast, Lewis' work is much nearer to fairy tale, fantasy, and "the Hobbit" than it is to these, and if you had to classify those four books, you might have two or three categories, but Lewis is definitely either a category of his own or with Tolkien -- to identify it with those other allegories is like racing alley cats against cheetahs: There's no contest as to who's in the running to win the title of allegory.... and Lewis isn't it.
Having read all of these works multiple times, I can agree that "The Chronicles..." are far less allegorical than "Pilgrim's Progress" and "Hind's Feet on High Places", but more so than Tolkien's work, in that the symbolic bits stand out while any in Tolkien's work remain mostly buried, you have to dig for them. IMHO
Tolkien does get a little more overt in the Silm (though it's an open question how overt it would have been if published in his lifetime) especially in the AInulindale (you know, the part no one but us reads, the SEVEN PAGES that supposedly make it inaccessible?) Further, if you know Tolkiens own position, it's even more visible in the Valar, particularly Manwe and Varda.

But yeah, based on his various purely theological publications and radio broadcasts I'd say Lewis was religious. ;-p In fact, I read TLtWatW years ago, but I'm afraid it was too late; I couldn't really appreciate it the way I would have a few years earlier, so I mostly know Lewis as lay theologian and friend of Tolkien. I did see the movie with my mother though (it's been too long; I don't know how true it was to the book, but I enjoyed it) and the imagery was blatant enough that when Aslan went down I looked over at her and said, "of course you know what's going to happen." Embarrassingly, she didn't. :8) I really thought it was kind of obvious from the time everyone but Aslan was celebrating , but then, I know Lewis' background better than his fiction.

So do site rules prevent a discussion of The Screwtape Letters? 'Cos I've never read that either, but it sounds interesting. I think (hope) I've managed to stay within the lines and on topic, at least of the author if not Narnia specifically, but I guess we'll see. Shhh! Quiet, knees, they'll hear you!
Pilgrim's Progress is about 300 years old, and written by a Puritan, as I recall. The allegory it presents is going to be different from that presented by a writer during the last 100 years. (Come to think of it, Swift's allegory Gulliver's Travels is not appreciated as allegory any more either.) Lewis and Hunard were both writing allegory. They just went about it differently. And if we examine many of the old fairytales, they are also found to be allegorical.

I don't know, but I would take the things Lewis said about his works with a grain of salt. After all, Tolkien himself denied that there were any symbols in LOTR at first. He wanted the story to stand on its own to begin with. Later, he gradually admitted to the deeper meanings. I think the same thing can be said for Lewis. And just maybe Lewis was trying to distance himself from the name "allegory" because of Tolkien's opinion on it.

How is allegory defined? Well, it is a story written on two levels--that of the narrative and that of the symbolism, in which almost every person, item, and event in the narrative represents something in the allegory. This would seem to be true of the Narnia stories. If Narnia is not an allegory, then the themes presented in the stories would not make the same impression, would they? I have known about Narnia for over 20 years, and everything that I've ever read about it presents the stories as allegory.
Oh, "Hind's Feet on High Places" was written by Hannah Hurnard not Hunard, but you knew that. Elf Winking Smilie "Pilgrim's Progress" was written by John Bunyan and probably everyone that knows the title, knows that.

Lewis's "The Screwtape Letters" may be discussed under Books if you are carefull. I don't believe I ever finished all of them. I found the first few of them funny at the time, but I wonder if they were. Maybe I should try reading them again.
I have not personally read much of the Screwtape Letters yet, but I do know that they were indeed intended to be funny- satirical, in fact. You should definately get back to it!
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How is allegory defined? Well, it is a story written on two levels--that of the narrative and that of the symbolism, in which almost every person, item, and event in the narrative represents something in the allegory.


Which is exactly what I dispute. In the chronicles of Narnia, I would venture to say that a few people, some items, and many events in the narrattive represent definitively something in the christian faith; I would never go so far as to say that "almost every" person, item, and event represents something in the christian faith. Take all seven chronicles, and the list of undisputable symbols diminishes. I think Lewis was quite interested in writing a world where he could bring mythological creatures to life; and that makes his work different from the other two allegories I mentioned. I don't sense either H.H. or J.B. wanting to create a fantasy world for any purpose other than symbolism, whereas I think Lewis comes to the symbolism the other way around, and it shows in the fact that NOT everything in his books has another meaning.
I bought the DVD of Narnia and love it. I decided to turn on the commentary and there was a ton of trivia about the writing of the series. His son helped to do all this so it was reliable. It said that he wanted to teach manners and the difference between right and wrong in his series and that in fact he had an open Bible at his desk or table or whatever always as he wrote. So it is obvious that he meant every bit of it to reflect his faith at the time.
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So it is obvious that he meant every bit of it to reflect his faith at the time.


That is something that I noticed as I read the books.
I've read all the books. Early this year, i think in March, I bought the soft cover book that has all 7 books combined in chronological order the stories fall into place, not the order he wrote them. Even though I found them to be much more childish than Tolkien's work and didn't enjoy them quite as much, i still have to admit he did a good job of immersing me into his world and enjoying it.

My favourite character is probably Peter, just because he's the High King and all, basically the head honcho. Honestly I'm not sure which book is my favourite though. I'll think about it and get back to you on that one.
I don't know who my favorite character is, but my favorite book is probably 'Prince Caspian'.
Turin, yay!
You are the first person I have heard express Peter as being the favorite character. I quite loved Peter. I am amazed at people's reactions to him. After all he was just an older child at first. And if you have spent any amount of time with older boys and girls they are not a million laughs a minute nor extraordinary in thought and deed really. That is the time they are growing and learning and finding themselves. They find their greatness. At any rate he was perfect for that age and I truly grew to love and admire him and his personality.
I read the Screwtape letters (Grondy dear don't read this, or anyone that hasnt read it) and while they are funny I suppose and while the two devils are talking back and forth about how to ensnare humans the thought came to me that , if one is a Christian and believes all that about demons one would be ensnared by the way CS presents t hem. As if anything darker than what we read in Tolkien, more vicious and evil could be funny and kind to one another(they hate one another) and by getting to like the characters of demons would that in itself not be a snare to dabble in things that one shouldn't simply because now they seem such fun? The whole book was a puzzle to me really.
Strangely,even though I work with and write for children in a simple way, I found Jack's work to sometimes be too easy to figure out before one got to the next part because it is amazingly like outdoor play between children. I remember playing fantastic wondrous and wierd things in full dress with other children by the hour and how things evolved was amazingly like the Narnia books.wierd. but good just the same.
Jack I think might have borrowed from Tolkien in certain ways, that would be natural to me, but Ronald said positively that but for Jack (CS)he would not have continued on until all was written. Jack was really there for him, critiqued him quite mercilessly and challenged him to do his very best. Cudos dear Jack Pary Smilie
Actually, Leelee, Tolkien said Lewis had given him the encouragement he needed to continue writing. But none (or hardly any) of the criticisms that Lewis made ever found themselves into the finished versions. He got "Tollers" to rewrite, but the dear Prof rewrote how he wanted in the end. Tolkien also said that Lewis' friendship meant a great deal to him. Having been in PT for a while now, I can understand that too. Right, friends?
Yes I could definitly see some resemblance between Lord of the Rings and Cronicles of Narnia. It's safe to say Jack definitly bored from Tolkien in some areas.
But that is what I mean , he said that Jack for a long time was his only audience and that it was from him and him alone that he ever got the solid idea that his little hobby could find itself into the literary world. That alone was impetus enough.However gentle JRR was , I believe that both he and Jack were pretty stubborn and strong about just how they wanted their works to sound and were not much moved by one another's criticisms.
What do you think?