Currently Reading: The Chronicles of Narnia

I decided to ignore all my Book Expo America books for the moment and (re)read the entire Chronicles of Narnia. I’m pretty sure I’ve read them all before, but I don’t remember more than three or four. I DO remember The Magician’s Nephew being my favorite, though now that I’ve reread it I don’t know why that is. I’m up to #3 (internal chronologically, which is how my omnibus is set up)– The Horse and His Boy– and I’m really enjoying the whole thing. Chronicles of Narnia omnibus

A few years ago I remember some bloggers talking about Narnia and the underlying Christian themes and how those themes made some people upset. I remember myself being upset and I wrote a comment (I think on Memory’s blog) about how I felt betrayed or something. I don’t feel any of that now; in fact, I kinda LIKE picking out the different Biblical references and seeing how C.S. Lewis explains his POV re:Christianity. Makes me want to read an annotated version or a critical analysis of the series or something. (Anyone have any recommendations regarding that, send ‘em my way.)

I think I’m not upset any more partly because I’m older and less prone to being upset by books, and ALSO because I can see that C.S. Lewis wasn’t trying to make me upset. Maybe we don’t agree about some things (I’m worrying about Susan already, for instance) but that doesn’t mean he wanted to stomp all over my childhood feelings about fantasy lands and the people therein.

That said, I DO have some issues. I think they’re related to Christianity? For example, in The Magician’s Nephew, two humans are made King and Queen over all of Narnia. They’re not from Narnia, they aren’t magical people, and though they’re very nice I can’t help but think that it’d have been less weird for a country filled with magical talking animals/creatures (and one that was CREATED by a magical talking animal/creature, for that matter) to have been ruled over by, like, a talking horse or something. It doesn’t seem right that outsider humans are given domain over Narnia; it’d be like someone from Mars being made president of the United States by Santa Claus.

However! It’s a Biblical thing, right? Like, humans have domain over all animals– I’m sure I remember that from Sunday school– so in the context of the Narnian view of Christianity it makes total sense. Also it DOES set it up for the four Pevensies to be made rulers in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; selected (by Aslan/God) instead of by birthright, see.

Anyway, I’m starting Prince Caspian right now and I expect I’ll be done with the series by the end of the week. I’ve gotten an urge to reread The Magicians, too, and possibly also watch the newer Narnia movies (I’ve only seen the first and that was back when it first came out in 2005).

What are you reading this week?

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  1. I’m a huge fan of the Narnia series and they’ve been a big part of my life since I was a kid, so I’m glad you’re reading them. :) I just wanted to point out that there are a few more reasons that humans would be made to rule: the first being that all of the creatures were fairly new, having just been created, while Frank and Helen (I believe that’s her name, but I’m too lazy to go check my copy) were in their thirties or forties. It makes sense that he would choose the ones that are more likely to care about keeping order than those that have just been created and are still basically children.
    Also, Narnia has lordship over a few other islands that are populated with humans (I’m also not sure whether this happens immediately or during the reign of the Four) and also have to have much social relations with other humans in Archenland, Caormene, and Telmar. They are known (excluding Archenland) for showing disrespect to Talking Beasts and wouldn’t be taken seriously in meetings, and all intermarrying (such as in The Horse and His Boy) would be out of the question.
    Sorry for writing you a novella of a response, but I figured I would go ahead and put in my two cents. :) Have a lovely day! And enjoy the rest of the series!

    • No no! I loved your novella! :D And yes– I can see the difficulties one would have in running an animal kingdom in a world of man. However! I seem to be remembering something from The Magician’s Nephew that says the children from the first King/Queen will be the ones to populate the other (non-Narnia) countries. Which is even weirder to me, but I suppose it has something to do with the Witch who is kinda human-ish? (And also to do with the Bible, of course.)

      But you make a very good point about having someone older and more experienced run things. And ALSO, yes, without having a human run things no doubt relations would have deteriorated even faster than they did in Caspian’s uncle’s time and all the animals would have been killed ages ago. (I’ve just gotten to Voyage of the Dawn Treader, so now I can see what you mean about the other non-Narnian countries not respecting talking animals. Poor Reepicheep!)

  2. Have you ever considered picking up The Magician’s Book by Laura Miller? She had pretty much the same reaction as your first one to finding about the Christian themes.

  3. Oh dear I dread what you will say about The Horse and His Boy when you get to it. It has some seriously problematic things inside of it, and yet I am still awfully fond of it. It makes me giggle.

    • I liked it! I mean, yeah, racism. But I liked it a lot– especially the ending, when everyone got married, including the horses (but not to each other).

  4. So, I’ve actually never read all of the Narnia books. I got a whole box set of them when I was in elementary school, but after I realized that the kids from the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe weren’t in all of them, I stopped reading. I still have the whole set sitting on my shelves, just waiting for the chance to read them. I’m excited to hear what you think.

    • The Pevensies are in quite a few, though! At least half, I think. :D And now that it’s summer it’s the perfect time to read the series– all the books are short and snappy, perfect for a lazy weekend.

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