Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday Solicitations: The Chronicles of Narnia

I wanted to share a childhood favorite of mine with you today for the Saturday Solicitations. The Chronicles of Narnia, written by C. S. Lewis, was published as 7 novels between 1950 and 1956. As a child, I entered into Narnia with delight. The animals talk, magic is real, and good triumphs over evil. I grew up wishing Mr. Tumnus would invite me to tea, blaming the terrible Ohio winters on the White Witch, and wondering if the horses in the meadow across the street were Horses.

The seven books are (in order of original publication): The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950), Prince Caspian: A Return to Narnia (1951), The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952), The Silver Chair (1953), The Horse and His Boy (1954), The Magician's Nephew (1955), and The Last Battle (1956). If you wish to read the books chronologically instead of by order of publication, you should read them in this order: The Magician's Nephew; The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Silver Chair; and The Last Battle. It makes no difference to me which order someone prefers to read the series, but there is a huge debate amongst fans as to the "proper" order to experience the stories.

The most recognizable characters in the stories are the recurring Pevensie children: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. A combination of some or all of them appear in five out of seven of the books. Aslan, the Great Lion, is another easily recognized character, and he appears in every one of the stories. I am particularly fond of Reepicheep, a Mouse that appears in 3 of the books. He is spunky, valiant, and completely fearless.

This series is rife with fantasy themes borrowed from Christianity, Greek/Turkish/Roman mythology, and traditional fairy tales. The series itself is quite controversial, as many themes in The Chronicles of Narnia are not generally found in children's lit. The heavy allegorical references to Christianity conflict with the pagan themes found throughout, causing quite the dilemma for those that wish to use the stories to promote Christianity. Many authors have objected to The Chronicles due to the religious contradictions and to supposed rampant sexism and racism of later books. J. K. Rowling and Philip Pullman are two big names that have taken to voicing their dislike of the series for these reasons.

I don't really get the controversies that surround these books. I loved reading them growing up. As an adult, I still love reading them. I find them highly entertaining, and that is my single purpose when I sit down to read a fantasy novel. If I want to worry about religion, sexism, racism, or whatever else real world problems, I will pick up a non-fiction book instead of a fantasy novel. Easy enough for me.

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS


Booksteve said...

I'm one of those that hates when they renumbered the series. THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE introduces the concepts and, if you will, the universe in which the story is set. I GET that the THE MAGICIAN'S NEPHEW takes place earlier but it also presumes you to already have those familiarities...which you don't really if you start with it.

Apropos of nothing, my captcha word on this is INCESTU. Just odd...

Dee said...

Wow. What a captcha fail. Also, Blogger doesn't recognize captcha as a real word. Did you happen to spell it wrong (because I'm copying the spelling from you... everyone knows I couldn't spell it myself)? :P

Booksteve said...