why do people hate narnia?

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Re: why do people hate narnia?

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Feb 01, 2013 9:37 pm

No, I didn't know that about Wales either before watching that particular program, which went into considerable depth about Welsh history at the hands of their English neighbours, including an explanation about a Welsh nationalistic group called Rebekah's daughters whose activities were very much in tune with the dwarvish mantra "The Dwarves are for the Dwarves". In the LB description of Griffle's dwarves are we told which of them were red or black, by the way?

And, come to think about it, I could see Griffle, Trumpkin, and even Nikabrik, as representing the proletariat in the Narnian scheme of things, and maybe Lewis' best way of showing shades of opinion, rather than identifiable sociological traits like hair colour, which for people of Celtic origin can be anything, whether black, brown or ginger, the last of which are particularly prone to getting sunburn, melanomas and freckles, which is why they would be associated with cold, cloudy climates and less exposure to sunlight as in the North.

Today I was browsing the Internet and found this interesting item on the BBC, which was discussing the fashion in beards in Egypt, where it seems that some men also dye their beards like Anradin did in various shades of red. Ouch, after all I said about Anradin! But I didn't know that either before today! And, because the men wearing such beards were likely either children or even not born yet in 1963, I'd be very amazed if C.S.Lewis had the sort of knowledge about the nuances of wearing beards as the author of this article obviously has. Lewis had rather a busy life in the 1950's, looking after his dying wife, Joy Gresham, who, before he married her, had been Jewish by upbringing and in her first marriage. After her death he also suffered from ill-health.

PhelanVelvel wrote:Nowadays, however, people read it and interpret it as racist more easily because of the world we live in now. Today, the idea of "well this nation is generally evil and militaristic and they happen to be dark-skinned" kind of sticks out badly among all the "politically correct" stuff you typically see.


I can only reply to what you say in terms of World War II and its aftermath, since that was the era which influenced both Lewis and Tolkien and much of that generation of British children's writers. World War II was a deeply racist war, where the German army represented a loathesome ideology, held by the Nazis which called for the extermination, especially of Jews but also many others, including Poles, Russians and Gypsies. I agree that there is a sore point about a fair-haired, fair-skinned Nordic look because of the Nazis, but how many of the leaders of this organisation actually conformed to it, themselves? Hardly any, if you look at old pictures.

But it would be just as racist to tar everyone or even every country who fought on the Axis side in WW2 as racist or as evil as those Nazis were. Hungarians, who speak a language unrelated to most European languages, fought on the German side in the hopes they would regain some of the territory they lost after WW1. Until they were themselves taken over by Germany, they did not transport their Jewish citizens to Auschwitz. Finland, who did rather better in that regard, as far as I know, and who speak a language related to Hungarian and not at all to German, Polish or Italian, fought on Germany's side because they had been attacked by the USSR. The Finns, like the Poles the Germans wanted to get rid of, are just as likely to be as fair-haired and have milky skin as any Norwegian, whilst over in Norway, occupied by the Germans, and whose citizens were, according to the Nazis, the epitome of being Nordic, can be dark-haired as Varnafinde already mentioned a few posts previously.

The trouble is, that any army can be evil, depending on the purpose of the military action, who is the aggressor and who is being victimised by it, and why. Just 'happening' to be dark-skinned or dark haired is rather irrelevant to whether an army is evil or not. Just as being terrorised by a bunch of skinhead Neo-Nazis doesn't make that bunch of people good because of the lack of dark hair. There were some excellent Afro-American G.I's who served in the US army in Europe and there were also Aborigines who served in the Australian army in both World Wars.

PhelanVelvet wrote:I don't think that makes Lewis racist, I just think it seems racist to a lot of people. Even though there is Aravis and Emeth, I think some people still kind of see it as "Okay...so 98% of the good guys are white...and there's a whole nation full of dark-skinned people..." Because they aren't getting into the story enough to see that it's not really like that. Frankly, the fact that Lewis actually made Aravis a hero is pretty forward-thinking of him, isn't it? How many white authors of the 1950's had genuinely heroic characters who weren't white?


Actually there were quite a few, including Harper Lee's To kill a Mocking Bird, or even Ian Serrallier's The Silver Sword, where an Afro-American GI helps some children escaping from Poland and journeying through Germany to reach Switzerland after WW2. But that is just the point of those books; the characters were only dark-skinned where they were dealing with issues relevant to the story. And in the 1950's, when C.S.Lewis wrote the Narnia series, it was probably less common to have British citizens from Jamaica or Nigeria than is the case now.

PhelanVelvet wrote:It just comes off as "Here are the white English heroes...oh yeah there are also Calormenes, they're like arabs and they're bad." It's a lot for some people to accept. I also see it as "This kingdom just so happens to be full of bad guys, has nothing to do with what they resemble culturally." But putting all in one paragraph that they have "dark faces and long beards" and also "they wear robes and turbans" and also "wise, wealthy, courteous, and cruel", and then on top of it we learn that they're in the slave trade...


Well, Saudi Arabia, which, like the next door state of United Arab Emirates, could be described as wealthy to this day, didn't sign the UN anti-slavery conventions until 1965. So that, too, is an unfair criticism of C.S.Lewis, especially as that particular description, even if it was true at the time is not true now. Especially as people in the Arab world can be just as fair-skinned and fair-haired as any British born person. You can't judge literature anachronistically.

And I would not describe even the Calormenes as automatically "bad guys" from the HHB descriptions you quoted. Would you have said that Aravis' maid was a "bad guy"? The secretary who helped Aravis, or Lazaraleen? Of her step-mother? Her father, brother and cousin? The people in the Tashbaan crowd, who behaved just like people everywhere do when caught in a crowd at a parade?

Do you think that people would jump to the same sorts of conclusions you refer to if Lewis had described Calormen in the same paragraph as having pale faces and bristling moustaches, and also wear blue coloured trousers and tall hats with enormous brims (not to mention those hysterically high heeled boots?) And also "wise, wealthy, courteous, and cruel"? Or would they be more upset if instead of "wise, wealthy, courteous, and cruel", the description ran to foolish, dirt poor, rude and just as "cruel"?

Yes, the men could sound dreary according to Shasta, but he saw them as like Arsheesh, whom Shasta found he could not love as a father as he should have done, and who was in the habit of beating him. To assume the Narnia-haters are justified by what you say, shows they have only given the novels a cursory, inaccurate, and maybe a second-hand view of them.

I could offer another criticism of the Chronicles of Narnia which is more to the point, more likely to come from an adult point of view, and which I read a couple of years ago. The reviewer of VDT said he could have done without the doings of a bunch of English toffs or a lion-delivered sermon. Given the "current cultural climate" I strongly suspect that at least some Narnia-haters who make such accusations might also be anti-monarchist and anti the original British, basing their opinions accordingly.
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Re: why do people hate narnia?

Postby PhelanVelvel » Feb 01, 2013 11:35 pm

waggawerewolf27 wrote: To assume what you say is cursory, inaccurate, and a bad reading of the novels.


That's exactly what I mean. :P Some people just read two sentences about the Calormenes and are like "Wow, that's racist." Done. That's all the chance they give it, in their mind now it's a racist book. I don't think it's fair, but going along with what you said, if they're already kind of put off by the main characters being white and British, they're going to find those initial descriptions of the Calormenes more glaring. I think HHB would be the best book to read to NOT get the impression that it's racist, because of the different Calormene characters we are exposed to, and how the government and aristocracy there works.
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Re: why do people hate narnia?

Postby jewel » May 09, 2013 7:33 am

I certainly agree with DawnTreader07. Anything with true Christianity receives criticism. It's sad but true. :-\
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Re: why do people hate narnia?

Postby DamselJillPole » Jun 10, 2013 8:32 pm

The people and friends I talk to don't hate Narnia itself it's just that they don't like fantasy films or they lost interest in it. I've never seen or heard someone say that they hated Narnia.
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Re: why do people hate narnia?

Postby King_Erlian » Jun 21, 2013 4:38 am

At the risk of being controversial, I wonder whether one reason why some people hate Narnia is because of some Christians' attitude: they (the Christians) see the stories as a "marvellous opportunity to evangelise, especially to children", and really shove the Christian message down people's throats, instead of letting people just read them and make up their own minds. I first read the books when I was 6 but I didn't make any connection to Christianity until I was at university and I started reading his books for adults such as "The Great Divorce". If some Christian had "pounced" on me after spotting me read the books when I was little, it could well have put me off Christianity for life.
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Re: why do people hate narnia?

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jun 25, 2013 5:42 pm

Fair point. But I've also met Christians who disapprove of the Narnia stories. Though I think this was more common when I was a youngster, myself. Another reason is the Narnia stories' emphasis on Kings and Queens. Yes this was part of the medieval period of European history, but today the very concept of monarchies seems to be associated with elitism and privilege rather more so than when I first read the Narnia stories.
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Re: why do people hate narnia?

Postby Nellie of Narnia » Jul 20, 2013 10:37 am

That's a good point, King_Erlian, although I have never come across anyone before who has used the Narnia stories as platforms to "shove the Christian message down people's throats". But there may very well be people like that and I could see how that could turn a person away from Christianity. No one likes something forced upon them.

I find it interesting that you didn't make the connection with the Narnia stories to Christianity until years after you had read them. It also interests me that the way you made that connection was by reading other books by Lewis like The Great Divorce.

I once had a friend who knew someone who had a similar experience with the Narnia stories as you had (not making the connection between the Chronicles and Christianity right away)—but my friend said that this person had grown up in a Christian home. This puzzled both my friend and I, for while The Chronicles of Narnia do not point overtly to Christianity, there are numerous parallels between the two.

And perhaps that is why some people dislike the Narnia stories: they are too close to the Christian message. And the Christian message points to us submitting to Christ as God—who is a power far beyond mankind—and since humans generally want to be in control and not have anyone be 'above' them, then this concept of a higher being far more powerful than they are, requiring submission, scares some people and repels them from both Christianity and Lewis' Narnia stories. And hence, in my opinion, there are two types of people who like the Narnia books: those who see the deeper spiritual meaning of the stories, being humble enough to admit that there is a God over them, and those who simply enjoy the books as pure works of fantasy, not having made the connection between the tales and Christianity yet.
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Re: why do people hate narnia?

Postby Ithilwen » Jul 20, 2013 10:25 pm

I don't know too many people who hate Narnia, but most people I know are pretty apathetic to it. I think there are three main reasons for that.

One is that most people have only heard of LWW. Because of that, they never get a chance to read the other books in the series, and experience the overall story as a whole.

The second reason is that LWW - like Charlotte's Web, Matilda, Wind in the Willows, etc. - is one of those books that most people view as a simple children's storybook. And although good children's storybooks should be just as good when you're an adult, a lot of people don't look at it that way. When they reach a certain age, they start reading things only for their own age group. Or they simply get interested in new things, and the stories they read long ago get forgotten.

Thirdly, people who like Narnia are going to be in the minority because, sadly, avid readers are the minority to begin with. Bookworms, and people who love sci-fi and fantasy, have been stereotyped as "social outcasts" for a long time. Most people will think it's "uncool" to be interested in that sort of thing (especially to the level we're interested in it), or they are just more interested in other things. Kids play sports and video games, teens go to the mall and to parties, adults are wrapped up in their careers, etc., and stories of adventures in magical lands just don't hold any place in their lives.


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Re: why do people hate narnia?

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jul 21, 2013 3:52 am

Ithilwen wrote:One is that most people have only heard of LWW. Because of that, they never get a chance to read the other books in the series, and experience the overall story as a whole.

The second reason is that LWW - like Charlotte's Web, Matilda, Wind in the Willows, etc. - is one of those books that most people view as a simple children's storybook. And although good children's storybooks should be just as good when you're an adult, a lot of people don't look at it that way. When they reach a certain age, they start reading things only for their own age group. Or they simply get interested in new things, and the stories they read long ago get forgotten.


Or is it that when those people who do condescend to read, they prefer to read things about the current era, and the realities of the 21st century? The books you mention can all be considered children's classics, and Ithilwen, you are right to say most people are familiar with LWW but not the other six books. But even if people did go and read those other six books, there would still be this sense of something most people are familiar with, that people have seen at school, and that at least some of these books come from an era that thanks to TV programs like Hogan's Heroes, Dad's Army, and 'Allo, 'Allo, or endless footage of WW2 battles, that the mid 20th century has been 'done to death'.

In 1997, we were hit with the HP series, which was credited with getting people to read again. However, this was a series, that, although still conservative to some degree, was also addressing more contemporary thinking, from 1980 to 1997, a time that many of us would still remember.
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Re: why do people hate narnia?

Postby De_De » Jul 21, 2013 7:49 am

I only met one person in my life who actually hated Narnia, and well...he was kind of special. The reason why he hated Narnia was because it made you believe that Narnia existed when it actually didn't. He said that when he was a kid he actually believed that Narnia existed, and when he was older and realized that Narnia didn't exist, he started to hate it. :-\
Everyone else I met, while maybe didn't LOVE Narnia, but agreed it was a great book and broght them back many happy memories.
I don't know what it's like in different countries, but here in Russia people read quite a bit. So here bookworms are not considered "social outcasts". So I've met a lot of people who read Narnia and liked it. The only reason why some people didn't like it was because of a bad translation (there are several, and one of them is horrible). But overall everyone agrees that it's a great series with great stories
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Re: why do people hate narnia?

Postby Future Narnian » Aug 27, 2014 10:49 pm

I hope it's okay to pull this up, because I've wanted to respond to it since I first started reading the boards a couple of months ago. (I had to wait to register because I was moving and only using my Ipad for the internet and I couldn't get my email to work for registration). But I found a response to this that I knew you guys would love.

My grandmother was a devout Christian and I figured she would love the Narnia stories because of all the symbolism, but she never liked reading. So when LWW came out on DVD in 2006, I was so excited to finally bring it over to her place and show her after all the years I'd talked about it. She ended up not really being crazy about it, and I asked her way, thinking it was because of the violence or maybe the magic elements (she grew up in the generation that really frowned on that in Christian novels). She was fine with that because she knew C.S. Lewis was a Christian and she didn't think the movies were that violent, at least compared to Lord of The Rings. What she didn't like was that the animals talked, because she said that wasn't realistic.

I pointed out she loved all the Disney movies like Bambi, with talking animals. And one of her all-time favorite characters was Garfield, a talking cat. She said those were okay because they were animated, but it just looked too unnatural seeing real live-action animals and it creeped her out. =))
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Re: why do people hate narnia?

Postby puddleglum32 » Sep 15, 2017 8:50 pm

Everyone will always have differing of opinions. In our day and age stories of great battles and knights and magicians and talking animals seems for children. It feels like today, every video game, movie, and story has fast paced action the whole way. With rarely any theological or deep storytelling woven in to the story. In my experience with family and friends they never gave the books or the movies even a chance.
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Re: why do people hate narnia?

Postby Kalta79 » Nov 02, 2017 10:31 pm

De_De wrote:I only met one person in my life who actually hated Narnia, and well...he was kind of special. The reason why he hated Narnia was because it made you believe that Narnia existed when it actually didn't. He said that when he was a kid he actually believed that Narnia existed, and when he was older and realized that Narnia didn't exist, he started to hate it. :-\



This makes me think of the theme of the movie Lost Horizon, the original black and white version, great movie and deserving of the title of timeless classic, just like the Chronicles of Narnia books.

But as to the topic, I have never met anyone who hated the series. I think nowadays there are more people who view film adaptations as canon instead of reading the book, which might have something to do with it. Now that I'm older, I prefer being able to imagine things myself while reading the books, instead of relying on someone else's imagination to 'show me' the story. I freely admit when I was younger, it was more the opposite. It was the BBC version that got me into the books in the first place that is, and I watched the Anne of Green Gables/Avonlea show that...Kevin Sullivan? put out, but never read the books until a few years ago, and they were so much better than the TV version. As for the religious aspect of the Narnia series, I never saw it really as a kid, not even now, except for the Adam/Eve reference. Yes, Aslan's sacrifice for Edmund is similar to Christ's crucifixion, but in fantasy epics, there's usually some sacrifice that happens. So it's all about what you want to think about the series. If people gave the books a chance, they might be surprised.
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