When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy took their first steps into the world behind the magic wardrobe, little do they realise what adventures are about to unfold. And as the story of Narnia begins to unfold, so to does a classic tale that has enchanted readers of all ages for over half a century. (from Goodreads)
This is more like a discussion/thoughts sort of thing than a proper review. If you haven’t read this book already, you may be in trouble. Sorry!
I mentioned somewhere else that I put off rereading this series– and this book in particular– because I’d been wounded by the sneaky Christianity stuff as a youngun. Nowadays I don’t care about that: in fact, I enjoyed picking out the different Biblical references! I also found something else out: there’s more than Bible stuff in here. There’s lots of mythological things from other countries and cultures, and it’s all mixed together in a kind of glorious fantasy literary dessert.
For example, near the end there’s the dance with Bacchus and all the animals and forest beings and whatnot. (Pretty hedonistic stuff for a kids’ book!) It’s a return of all the beings that were kicked out/in hiding during the White Witch’s reign, sure, but it’s also a symbol of regrowth and stuff (right?). And, see, I don’t know anything about Bacchus or that other dude who was there except for the hedonism/orgy stuff, so a lot of the more subtle meanings are lost to me.
Usually I don’t feel the need to do any deeper background research on books, but occasionally (as in the case with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books) I’ll want some more depth to my stories.
Though it’s a perfectly fine story on its own, I can’t help but think that I’d enjoy it even more if I could recognize some more of the references CSL worked into the story. I’m also wondering if he MEANT for children to get these references– or are they a kind of literary parental bonus?1
A weird thing that happened to me was that I couldn’t stop picturing the 1979 animated movie version while reading it. Like, the scene with Lucy and Susan and the mice nibbling of Aslan’s ropes. I can remember the scene from the movie very clearly, and it kept overtaking the actual book version of that scene while I was reading it. Same thing with when it finally became Christmas and Santa showed up. What should have been a very emotional/uplifting scene was ruined by my memories of some other thing entirely. Very annoying!
(Does anyone else remember watching that movie? Has the same thing happened to you?)
There were, of course, some annoyingly dated things in this book. The whole thing about war being worse when women fight, for example, was completely ridiculous. And then Lucy becomes known for kicking butt in battle anyway! Ha. And everyone is white and British-y and upper crust– even the animals, which was weird. On the whole, though, it wasn’t AS annoyingly dated as it could have been, I guess? And there are worse things in some of the later books, anyway.
Despite the problems, I think this reread of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was entirely successful! I enjoyed myself, and while I’m not sorry I put it off for so long, I DO wonder what would have happened if I’d read it sooner. Maybe I would have gone to see the new movies when they were in the theaters, eh?
Read: June 8-9, 2013
- Children did seem to cover that sort of thing more in school back then, though. I don’t remember doing any sort of mythology studies except for ancient Egypt, and even that was a bonus thing outside of regular classes. ↩