Literary trivia: CS Lewis, Narnia and c.

A few things that Y’all Should Know:

  • CS Lewis didn’t believe in “children’s stories” and “adult stories”. He believed in good stories. He said that if a story wasn’t equally as good to a 10 year old as a 50 year old, it was a bad story. So, no, the Narnia books are not “children’s stories.”
  • Also: The Narnia books are NOT allegories. CS Lewis called them “suppositions”:

“I did not say to myself ‘Let us represent Jesus as He really is in our world by a Lion in Narnia’; I said, ‘Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as he became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen.'” (Letter to Maryland schoolchildren, 1954)

  • In true allegory, everything stands for something else. “Well, that’s in Narnia!”, you may say. OK. Narnia=Eden. Aslan=Christ. But then it falls apart. What does Jadis, the White Witch, represent? Not Satan–she doesn’t fit. What about Edmund? Peter, Thomas, Judas? All three? Neither? How about Susan and Peter? And Lucy?The Beavers? (See what I mean?) Not allegory. (Lewis did say that Edmund would be Judas, but that, unlike the real Judas, he repented.)
  • CS Lewis and Tolkein were friends–very good friends–and had many of the same interests. But comparing their works is like comparing apples and wheat bread–they’re both food. That’s about where it stops. They’re both authors, who wrote books. The Tolkien was much more interested in the myth in mythology–creating a consistent, believable world from the ground up. It annoyed him that Lewis chose so many things from different mythological traditions. Lewis also wrote more broadly, shall we say. He wrote the Narnia books, he wrote the Space Trilogy, he wrote Till We Have Faces (which is so underrated, if you ask me), and of course he wrote apologetics. Tolkien? Yeah, not so much, or if he did, I certainly haven’t seen it or heard about it, and I’m pretty “up” on apologetics and Christian writing.  This is not to demean his Hobbits and LOTR, because those are mammoth achievements. I’m saying that Tolkien wrote almost one thing, exclusively, while Lewis…didn’t. This isn’t a bad thing. But it’s not helpful to try and compare the two, just because they were friends. Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville were friends, and their books are not really alike, are they? Yes, they both deal with Christian themes, to an extent. That’s about it.
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2 thoughts on “Literary trivia: CS Lewis, Narnia and c.

  1. Pingback: Monthly Wrap: November | A Year of Living Adventurously–Hitting 30

  2. Great post Emily…is this a new blog? I am so out of the loop LOL!

    BIG fans of both, Tolkien being my favorite. When I read LOTR, I am THERE…transported to another world that {in my mind} really exists : )

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