Books About Narnia

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Books About Narnia

Postby Col Klink » Sep 15, 2018 10:11 am

Here are my thoughts on some books I've read recently that talked about Narnia.

Wild Things the Joy of Reading Children's Literature as an Adult by Bruce Handy has a chapter where the author talks about his experiences with the Narnia books. He describes how he was a big fan as a kid, disliked them when he grew older because he felt that they were propaganda for Christianity, then became a big fan again as an adult (in part) because he admired what a great job Lewis did describing his beliefs even if he (Handy) didn't agree with them. I thought this chapter did a great job selecting memorable passages from the books to demonstrate the author's points. I really agreed with what he said about the writing style. The emphasis on humor was great because I feel that this is an aspect of the books that doesn't get as much praise as it deserves. (He describes the humor as "donnish" which is interesting because I love the jokes and I hate college. )

Unfortunately, this chapter kind of ended on a sour note for me because the author basically agrees with the interpretation that Susan's lack of interest in Narnia equals C.S. Lewis renouncing adulthood. (He's one of the critics who finds it overly sentimental and a little annoying; not one who finds it super offensive.) Everyone has a right to their opinion, of course, but I just don't get this criticism! The only people who see lipstick as a symbol of maturity are in Middle School.

The other book was Live Like a Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis's Chroniclesby Joe Rigney. I enjoyed this book because clearly both the author and I love Narnia. We seem to love it for different reasons though. I'm more interested in the atmosphere of Narnia. He's interested in the books as a source of good role models. (That's a trite way of expressing it but not a basically inaccurate one.) I suspect that's why I like the Narnia movies and he doesn't.

I guess it's also why he, like some other people, sees gender roles as being a theme in the books while I don't. (He sees this as a good thing and the other people as a bad thing.) Doubtless, Lewis's views on gender did influence him while writing the characters but I don't see how that equals gender being a major theme in the books. On the whole, this book did a really good job summarizing the themes in the Narnia books which influenced Rigney's life. There were a few chapters were I though his points were kind of confusing. Like the chapter where he writes about Eustace's parents and Governor Gumpas. I couldn't understand his specific reasons for condemning those characters. (I guess Lewis arguably didn't do a great job specifying that either.)

Anyway, I enjoyed these books because the authors and I were both big Narnia fans. Though I suspect we would end up arguing if I actually talked about Narnia with either of them.
For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen
Col Klink
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