Friday, February 22, 2008

Leaving Narnia

As I've mentioned before, I've been reading and discussing The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Magician's Nephew, and The Last Battle in my class on C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. There are four other books in the Chronicles of Narnia series that I would like to go back and read at some point. But, I'm actually quite sad to be leaving Narnia for now. I know without a doubt that I've gotten so much more from these books having discussed them in class than I would have had I read them on my own. That makes me wonder what I may miss when reading outside of a classroom setting. I think that's one of the reasons I like participating in online book discussions through blogging. It gives me the opportunity to get the opinions of other readers. Because we all bring preconceived notions, our own life experiences and likes and dislikes to our reading, we're bound to glean different things from the same book. The same is true of books that I discuss with my face to face book club, as well. I may not always agree with the opinions of other readers, but I think I always get a better understanding of the work through discussion.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the first book Lewis wrote in this series, but it's not the first in the story chronologically. The Magician's Nephew, which was actually published next to last in the series actually tells the story of the creation of Narnia. There was a movie version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe put out in 2005, which was pretty good. However, there are a number of differences between the book and the film, which is usually the case. The story opens with four siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy arriving at the country home of an eccentric old professor. The children are sent away from London due to the bombing raids of WWII. (Lewis himself actually took in some orphans from London during the war.) During a game of hide-and-seek, Lucy stumbles upon a magnificent wardrobe in an empty room of the sprawling house. Once inside, she discovers that there is another world on the other side of the wardrobe. Within minutes of being in Narnia, she meets Mr. Tumnus, the faun who intends to kidnap her for the White Witch, Jadis. The witch is well aware of the prophecy that declares four humans will one day rule over Narnia and return things to their rightful state. All the inhabitants of Narnia have been given strict instructions by Jadis to immediately bring to her any "sons of Adam" or "daughters of Eve" that may appear in Narnia. Mr. Tumnus can't bring himself to turn Lucy over to Jadis, so he lets her go. She returns to the professor's house through the wardrobe. Of course, her brothers and sisters don't believe her when she tells them of this other world. This is the beginning of the children's adventures in Narnia. Eventually all the children will find their way to Narnia. Aslan is the creator of Narnia. He is described as a good lion, but not a tame lion. This is in reference to Lewis' belief that when faced with God, depending upon what is in some one's heart, they will either find perfect love and peace or fear and hatred. He also believed that evil is simply the perversion of good. In other words, evil doesn't exist on its own. The witch's spell over Narnia begins to break when Aslan returns.

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