The Chronicles of Narnia

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The Chronicles of Narnia

First-edition covers, in order of publication.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Prince Caspian
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
The Horse and His Boy
The Magician's Nephew
The Last Battle
Author Clive Staples Lewis
Language English
Genre Fantasy
Children's literature
Publisher HarperTrophy
Published 1950–1956
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback)

The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven fantasy novels for children written by C. S. Lewis. It is considered a classic of children's literature and is the author's best-known work, having sold over 120 million copies in 41 languages. Written by Lewis between 1949 and 1954 and illustrated by Pauline Baynes, The Chronicles of Narnia have been adapted several times, complete or in part, for radio, television, stage, and cinema. In addition to numerous traditional Christian themes, the series borrows characters and ideas from Greek and Roman mythology, as well as from traditional British and Irish fairy tales.

The Chronicles of Narnia present the adventures of children who play central roles in the unfolding history of the fictional realm of Narnia, a place where animals talk, magic is common, and good battles evil. Each of the books (with the exception of The Horse and His Boy) features as its protagonists children from our world who are magically transported to Narnia, where they are called upon to help the Lion Aslan handle a crisis in the world of Narnia.


[edit] The seven books

The Chronicles of Narnia have been in continuous publication since 1954 and have sold over 100 million copies in 41 languages.[1][2] Lewis was awarded the 1956 Carnegie Medal for The Last Battle, the final book in the Narnia series. The books were written by Lewis between 1949 and 1954 but were written in neither the order they were originally published nor in the chronological order in which they are currently presented.[3] The original illustrator was Pauline Baynes and her pen and ink drawings are still used in publication today. The seven books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia are presented here in the order in which they were originally published (see reading order below). Completion dates for the novels are English (Northern Hemisphere) seasons.

[edit] The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, completed in the winter of 1949[3] and published in 1950, tells the story of four ordinary children: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie. They discover a wardrobe in Professor Digory Kirke's house that leads to the magical land of Narnia, which is currently under the spell of the evil White Witch. The four children fulfill an ancient, mysterious prophecy while in Narnia. The Pevensie children help Aslan and his army save Narnia from the evil White Witch, who has reigned over the kingdom of Narnia in winter for 100 years.

[edit] Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951)

Completed in the autumn of 1949 and published in 1951, Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia tells the story of the Pevensie children's second trip to Narnia. They are drawn back by the power of Susan's horn, blown by Prince Caspian to summon help in his hour of need. Caspian has fled into the woods to escape his uncle, Miraz, who had usurped the throne. The children set out once again to save Narnia; and aided by other Narnians, and ultimately by Aslan, they return the throne to Caspian, the rightful ruler.

[edit] The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

Completed in the winter of 1950 and published in 1952, The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’ returns Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, along with their priggish cousin, Eustace Scrubb, to Narnia. Once there, they join Caspian's voyage to find the seven lords who were banished when Miraz took over the throne. This perilous journey brings them face to face with many wonders and dangers as they sail toward Aslan's country at the end of the world.

[edit] The Silver Chair (1953)

Completed in the spring of 1951 and published in 1953, The Silver Chair is the first Narnia book Lewis wrote without the Pevensie children. In their place, Aslan calls Eustace back to Narnia together with his classmate Jill Pole. There they are given four signs to find Prince Rilian, Caspian's son, who had been kidnapped ten years earlier. Eustace and Jill, with the help of Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle and many others, face great danger before finding Rilian, who has lost his memory due to enchantment by a silver chair.

[edit] The Horse and His Boy (1954)

Completed in the spring of 1950 and published in 1954, The Horse and His Boy is the first of the books that does not follow the previous one sequentially. The novel takes place during the reign of the Pevensies in Narnia, an era which begins and ends in the last chapter of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The story is about Bree, a talking horse, and a young boy named Shasta. Both of the main characters have been held in bondage in Calormen, a country to the south of Narnia. By chance, they meet each other and plan their return to Narnia and freedom. On their journey they discover that the Calormenes are about to invade Archenland, and they plan to arrive there first to alert the King.

[edit] The Magician's Nephew (1955)

Completed in the winter of 1954 and published in 1955, the prequel The Magician's Nephew brings the reader back to the very beginning of Narnia where we learn how Aslan created the world and how evil first entered it. Digory Kirke and his friend Polly Plummer stumble into different worlds by experimenting with magic rings made by Digory's uncle (the titular "magician"), encounter Jadis (The White Witch), and witness the creation of Narnia. Many long-standing questions about Narnia are answered in the adventure that follows.

[edit] The Last Battle (1956)

Completed in the spring of 1953 and published in 1956, The Last Battle chronicles the end of the world of Narnia. Jill and Eustace return to save Narnia from Shift, an ape, who tricks Puzzle, a donkey, into impersonating the lion Aslan. This problem causes a fierce battle between the Calormenes and King Tirian together with Jill, Eustace and a faithful dwarf.

[edit] Reading order

Fans of the series often have strong opinions over the correct ordering of the books. When the books were originally published, they were not numbered. The first American publisher, Macmillan, put numbers on the books in the order in which they were published. When HarperCollins took over the series in 1994, the books were renumbered using the internal chronological order, as suggested by Lewis' stepson, Douglas Gresham.

Publication order Chronological order
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe The Magician's Nephew
Prince Caspian The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader The Horse and His Boy
The Silver Chair Prince Caspian
The Horse and His Boy The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Magician's Nephew The Silver Chair
The Last Battle The Last Battle

To make the case for his suggested order, Gresham quoted Lewis' reply to a letter from an American fan in 1957 who was having an argument with his mother about the order:

I think I agree with your order [i.e. chronological] for reading the books more than with your mother's. The series was not planned beforehand as she thinks. When I wrote The Lion I did not know I was going to write any more. Then I wrote P. Caspian as a sequel and still didn't think there would be any more, and when I had done The Voyage I felt quite sure it would be the last, but I found I was wrong. So perhaps it does not matter very much in which order anyone read them. I’m not even sure that all the others were written in the same order in which they were published.[4]

In the Harper Collins adult editions of the books (2005), the publisher asserts Lewis' preference for the numbering they adopted in a notice on the copyright page:

Although The Magician's Nephew was written several years after C. S. Lewis first began The Chronicles of Narnia, he wanted it to be read as the first book in the series. HarperCollins is happy to present these books in the order which Professor Lewis preferred.

Some readers who appreciate the original order believe that Lewis was simply being gracious to his youthful correspondent: he could have changed the books' order in his lifetime had he so desired.[5] They maintain that much of the magic of Narnia comes from the way the world is gradually presented in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. They believe that the mysterious wardrobe, as a narrative device, is a much better introduction to Narnia than The Magician's Nephew — where the word "Narnia" appears in the first paragraph as something already familiar to the reader. Moreover, they say, it is clear from the texts themselves that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was intended to be read first, and that The Magician's Nephew was not. When Aslan is first mentioned in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, for example, the narrator says that "None of the children knew who Aslan was, any more than you do". Fans of the original order point out that this is nonsensical if one has already read The Magician's Nephew.[6] Other similar textual examples are also cited. This argument hinges partly on the difference between Chronology and Narrative.[7]

[edit] Christian parallels

Specific Christian parallels may be found in the entries for individual books and characters.

C.S. Lewis was an adult convert to Christianity and had previously authored some works on Christian apologetics and fiction with Christian themes. However, he did not originally intend to incorporate Christian theological concepts into his Narnia stories. As he wrote in Of Other Worlds:

Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument, then collected information about child psychology and decided what age group I’d write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out 'allegories' to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn’t write in that way. It all began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn't anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord.

Lewis, an expert on the subject of allegory[8] and the author of The Allegory of Love, maintained that the books were not allegory, and preferred to call the Christian aspects of them "suppositional". This indicates Lewis' view of Narnia as a fictional parallel universe. As Lewis wrote in a letter to a Mrs Hook in December 1958:

If Aslan represented the immaterial Deity in the same way in which Giant Despair [a character in The Pilgrim's Progress] represents despair, he would be an allegorical figure. In reality, however, he is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, 'What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?' This is not allegory at all.[9]

With the release of the 2005 Disney film there has been renewed interest in the Christian parallels found in the books. Some find them distasteful, while noting that they are easy to miss if you are not familiar with Christianity.[10] Alan Jacobs, author of The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis, implies that through these Christian aspects, Lewis becomes "a pawn in America's culture wars".[11] Some Christians see the Chronicles as excellent tools for Christian evangelism.[12] The subject of Christianity in the novels has become the focal point of many books. (See Further Reading below.)

[edit] J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien was a close friend of Lewis and a fellow author and Christian, instrumental in Lewis's own conversion to Christianity. As members of the Inklings literary group the two often read and critiqued drafts of their work. Nonetheless, Tolkien was not enthusiastic about the Narnia stories, in part due to the eclectic elements of the mythology and their haphazard incorporation, in part because he disapproved of stories involving travel between real and imaginary worlds. Though a Christian himself, Tolkien felt that fantasy should incorporate Christian values without resorting to the obvious allegory Lewis employed. [13]

[edit] Influences on Narnia

[edit] Lewis's life

Lewis's early life has echoes within the Chronicles of Narnia. Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1898, Lewis moved with his family to a large house on the edge of the city when he was seven. The house contained long hallways and empty rooms, and Lewis and his brother invented make-believe worlds while exploring their home [14]. Like Caspian and Rilian, Lewis lost his mother at an early age. Lewis also spent much of his youth in English boarding schools which correlates with the education of the Pevensies. During World War II, many children were evacuated from London because of air raids. During this time, some of these children, including one named Lucy, stayed with Lewis at his home in Oxford, just as the Pevensies stayed with the professor.[15]

[edit] Inklings

Lewis was the chief member of the Inklings, an informal literary discussion group in Oxford which at various times included the writers J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Lewis's brother W. H. Lewis, and Roger Lancelyn Green. Readings and discussions of the members' unfinished works were one of the main activities of the group when they met, usually on Thursday evenings, in C. S. Lewis's college rooms at Magdalen College. Some of the Narnia stories are thought to have been read to the Inklings for their appreciation and comment.

[edit] Influences from mythology

The fauna of the series borrows from both Greek mythology and Germanic mythology. For example, centaurs originated in Greek myth, and dwarves have origins in Germanic myth. Drew Trotter, president of the Center for Christian Study, noted that the producers of the film version of The Chronicles of Narnia felt that The Chronicles of Narnia closely follows the archetypal pattern of the monomyth as detailed in Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces.[16]

In His 2008 book Planet Narnia[3] Michael Ward has claimed that the seven books take up the characteristics of the seven planets of medieval and Renaissance cosmology. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Aslan takes on the characteristics of Jupiter, in Prince Caspian Mars, in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader the Sun, in Silver Chair the moon, in The Horse and His Boy Mercury, in The Magician's Nephew Venus, and in The Last Battle Saturn. All the other characters in the books also come under the influence of the prevailing planet. Lewis was known to have an interest in the literary symbolism of medieval and Renaissance astrology which is reflected far more overtly in other works of his. Ward's theory has gained widespread approval among the C.S. Lewis Scholarly Community.[17]

[edit] Name

The origin of the name Narnia is uncertain. According to Paul Ford's Companion to Narnia, there is no indication that Lewis was alluding to the ancient Italian Umbrian city Nequinium, which the conquering Romans renamed Narnia in 299 BC after the river Nar. However, since Lewis studied classics at Oxford, it is possible that he came across at least some of the seven or so references to Narnia in Latin literature.[3] There is also the possibility (but no solid evidence) that Lewis, who studied medieval and Renaissance literature, was aware of a reference to Lucia von Narnia ("Lucy of Narnia") in a 1501 German text, Wunderliche Geschichten von geistlichen Weybbildern ("Wondrous stories of monastic women") by Ercole d'Este.[18] There is no evidence of a link with Tolkien's Elvish (Sindarin) word narn, meaning a lay or poetic narrative, as in his posthumously published Narn i Chîn Húrin, though Lewis may have read or heard parts of this at meetings of the Inklings.

[edit] Narnia's influence on others

[edit] Influence on authors

A more recent British series of novels, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, has been seen as a response to the Narnian books. The series by Pullman, a self-described atheist, wholly rejects the spiritual themes that permeate the Narnian series, but treats many of the same issues and introduces some similar character types (including talking animals).[19][20][21][22] Both His Dark Materials and the first published Narnia book open with a young girl hiding in a wardrobe.

Fantasy author Neil Gaiman wrote the 2004 short story The Problem of Susan,[23] in which an elderly woman, Professor Hastings, is depicted dealing with the grief and trauma of her entire family dying in a train crash. The woman's first name is not revealed, but she mentions her brother "Ed", and it is strongly implied that this is Susan Pevensie as an elderly woman. In the story Gaiman presents, in fictional form, a critique of Lewis' treatment of Susan. The Problem of Susan is written for an adult audience and deals with sexuality and violence.[24] Gaiman's young-adult horror novella Coraline has also been compared to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. (Both books involve young girls traveling to magical worlds through doors in their new houses and having to fight evil with the help of talking animals.) Additionally, Gaiman's Sandman graphic novel series features a Narnia-like "dream island" in its story arc entitled A Game of You.

In Katherine Paterson's book Bridge to Terabithia, one of the main characters, Leslie, tells the other main character, Jesse, of her love of C. S. Lewis' books, and mentions Narnia. Some people have accused Paterson of plagiarism, claiming that her book has taken the name of a Narnian island named "Terebinthia"; but Paterson has said that the reference was not deliberate.[25]

Science-fiction author Greg Egan's short story Oracle depicts a parallel universe with an author nicknamed "Jack" who has written novels about the fictional Kingdom of Nesica, and whose wife is dying of cancer. The story uses several Narnian allegories to explore issues of religion and faith versus science and knowledge.[26]

[edit] Influence on popular culture

As one would expect with any popular, long-lived work, references to The Chronicles of Narnia are relatively common in pop culture. References to the lion Aslan, travelling via wardrobe, and direct references to The Chronicles of Narnia occur in books, television, songs, games, and graphic novels. Characters in fiction who enjoy the Narnia books include the title character of Roald Dahl's book Matilda, the children in Bridge to Terabithia and Roger in A Mango-Shaped Space.

Musical references to Narnia include Phish's song Prince Caspian from the album Billy Breathes.

The graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (vol. 2, num. 1) makes multiple references to many famous works of fantasy literature including a text fragment referring to the apple tree from The Magician's Nephew. The next comic in the series mentions the possibility of making a wardrobe from the apple tree.

Popular television shows which refer to Narnia include multiple appearances of Aslan in South Park, and a character in Lost named Charlotte Staples Lewis among many other references to authors in that series.

A computer game with an oblique reference to Narnia is Simon the Sorcerer which contains a scene in which the main character finds a stone table and calls it "perfect for troll meals and shaved lions".

[edit] Controversies

[edit] Sexuality

C. S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia have received various criticisms over the years, much of it by fellow authors. Most of the allegations of sexism centre around the description of Susan Pevensie in The Last Battle where Lewis characterizes Susan as being "no longer a friend of Narnia" and interested "in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations".

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, has said:

There comes a point where Susan, who was the older girl, is lost to Narnia because she becomes interested in lipstick. She's become irreligious basically because she found sex, I have a big problem with that.[27]

Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy and so fierce a critic of Lewis' work as to be dubbed "the anti-Lewis",[19][20][21][22] calls the Narnia stories "monumentally disparaging of women",[28] interpreting the Susan passages this way:

Susan, like Cinderella, is undergoing a transition from one phase of her life to another. Lewis didn't approve of that. He didn't like women in general, or sexuality at all, at least at the stage in his life when he wrote the Narnia books. He was frightened and appalled at the notion of wanting to grow up.[29]

Among others, fan-magazine editor Andrew Rilstone opposes this view, arguing that the "lipsticks, nylons and invitations" quote is taken out of context. They maintain that in The Last Battle, Susan is excluded from Narnia explicitly because she no longer believes in it. At the end of The Last Battle Susan is still alive and may end up rejoining her family. Moreover, Susan's adulthood and sexual maturity are portrayed in a positive light in The Horse and His Boy, and therefore are argued to be unlikely reasons for her exclusion from Narnia.

Additionally, Lewis supporters cite the positive roles of women in the series, including Jill Pole in The Silver Chair, Aravis Tarkheena in The Horse and His Boy, Polly Plummer in The Magician's Nephew, and particularly Lucy Pevensie in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Jacobs asserts that Lucy is the most admirable of the human characters, and that, in general, the girls come off better than the boys through the stories.[11][30][31] Karin Fry, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, notes, in her contribution to The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy, that "the most sympathetic female characters in the Chronicles are consistently the ones who question the traditional roles of women and prove their worth to Aslan through actively engaging in the adventures just like the boys."[32] Fry goes on to say, however,

The characters have positive and negative things to say about both male and female characters, suggesting an equality between sexes. However, the problem is that many of the positive qualities of the female characters seem to be those by which they can rise above their femininity ... The superficial nature of stereotypical female interests is condemned.[32]

[edit] Race

In addition to sexism, Pullman also accused the Narnia series of fostering racism,[28][33] alleging that for Lewis:

Death is better than life; boys are better than girls; light-coloured people are better than dark-coloured people; and so on. There is no shortage of such nauseating drivel in Narnia, if you can face it.[29]

About alleged racism in The Horse and His Boy specifically, newspaper editor Kyrie O'Connor writes:

It's just too dreadful. While the book's storytelling virtues are enormous, you don't have to be a bluestocking of political correctness to find some of this fantasy anti-Arab, or anti-Eastern, or anti-Ottoman. With all its stereotypes, mostly played for belly laughs, there are moments you'd like to stuff this story back into its closet.[34]

The racism critique is based on a negative representation of other races, particularly the Calormenes. Novelist Philip Hensher and other critics regard the portrayal of Calormene culture as an attack on Islam.[35] (Although the portrait of the Calormenes is potentially coloured by European perceptions of Ottoman culture, the Calormene religion as portrayed by Lewis is polytheistic and bears little resemblance to Islam.)

[edit] Paganism

Lewis has also received criticism from some Christians and Christian organizations who feel that The Chronicles of Narnia promotes "soft-sell paganism and occultism", because of the recurring pagan themes and the supposedly heretical depictions of Christ as an anthropomorphic lion. The Greek god Bacchus and the Maenads are depicted in a positive light (with the caveat that meeting them without Aslan around would not be safe), although they are generally considered distinctly pagan motifs. Even an animistic "River god" is portrayed in a positive light.[36][37] According to Josh Hurst of Christianity Today, "not only was Lewis hesitant to call his books Christian allegory, but the stories borrow just as much from pagan mythology as they do the Bible".[38]

Lewis himself believed that pagan mythology could act as a preparation for Christianity, both in history and in the imaginative life of an individual, and even suggested that modern man was in such a lamentable state that perhaps it was necessary "first to make people good pagans, and after that to make them Christians".[39] He also argued that imaginative enjoyment of (as opposed to belief in) classical mythology has been a feature of Christian culture through much of its history, and that European literature has always had three themes: the natural, the supernatural believed to be true (practiced religion), and the supernatural believed to be imaginary (mythology). Colin Duriez, author of three books on Lewis, suggests that Lewis believed that to reach a post-Christian culture one needed to employ pre-Christian ideas.[40] Lewis disliked modernism which he regarded as mechanized and sterile and cut off from natural ties to the world. By comparison, he had hardly any reservations about pre-Christian pagan culture. He disdained the non-religious agnostic character of modernity, but not the polytheistic character of pagan religion.[41] [42]

[edit] Internet domain

In 2006, Richard and Gillian Saville-Smith purchased the Internet domain,[43] The Lewis estate asked the couple to transfer the domain to them, first offering to reimburse the couple for the registration charge and later asking them to name a price for transferring it.[44] The couple refused to transfer the domain, claiming that it was intended to be 11th birthday present for their son so that he could use the email address[44] The Lewis estate filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization in May 2008 as part of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.[43][44][45]

The Lewis estate won the complaint and the Saville-Smiths were ordered to transfer the domain in July 2008.[46][47][48][49] The couple have said that WIPO ignored their evidence and that they were perfectly entitled to the domain.[48][49] WIPO's decision, however, found that no use had been made of the domain or any associated email address in the two years between it being registered and the complaint being filed. Instead the domain had been directed to a Sedo website providing sponsored links to commercial websites.[46] The WIPO panel decided that they could not envision any plausible, good faith basis upon which the Saville-Smiths could have concluded that they were free to appropriate the C.S. Lewis company's distinctive and widely known Narnia mark for use as a personal email address.[50] Additionally, the couple's actions in registering many other domain names in 2006, including, and, as well as registering and after the complaint was filed were seen to be evidence of bad faith.[46]

[edit] Reception: influence of religious viewpoints

The initial critical reception was positive, and the series quickly became popular with children.[51] In the time since then, it has become clear that reaction to the stories, both positive and negative, cuts across religious viewpoints.

When adapting the story to film, producers were concerned about the perception that the books had strong proponents among Christians and non-religious fans alike, a perception echoed by film reviewers.[52] Long before the release of the films, there was discussion about using the books as conversion tools, or whether non-believing audiences could enjoy the books on their own merits, despite the Christian parallels.[53] Certainly a great deal of Narnia 'tie-in' material is marketed overtly to Christian and even Sunday school audiences.[54]

The book has also been included, however, in neo-pagan reading lists[55] (by the Wiccan author Starhawk,[56] among others), while, as noted above, a number of conservative Christians have criticized the series for including pagan imagery such as fauns, nymphs, and Bacchus.[57] Positive reviews of the book by authors who share few of Lewis's religious views can be found in Revisiting Narnia, edited by Shanna Caughey.

Some of Phillip Pullman's objections to the Narnia series are rooted in his anti-religious views. Christian authors who have had difficulties with the Narnia books include fantasy author J.K. Rowling (on ethical grounds) and Lewis's close friend and fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien (on aesthetic ones). (See Controversies and J.R.R. Tolkien above.) Another Christian detractor is literary critic John Goldthwaite, who in The Natural History of Make-Believe decries elitism and snobbery in the books.

Two full-length books examining Narnia from a non-religious point of view take diametrically opposite views of its literary merits. David Holbrook is the author of many psychoanalytic treatments of famous novelists, including Dickens, Lawrence, Lewis Carroll, and Ian Fleming. His 1991 book The Skeleton in the Wardrobe treats Narnia psychoanalytically, speculating that Lewis never recovered from the death of his mother and was frightened of adult female sexuality, and describing the books as a failed attempt to work out many of his inner conflicts. Holbrook does give higher praise to The Magician's Nephew and Till We Have Faces (Lewis's reworking of the myth of Cupid and Psyche), as reflecting greater personal and moral maturity. Holbrook also plainly and simply states his non-belief in Christianity.

In contrast to Holbrook, Laura Miller's The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Guide to Narnia (2008) attempts to find in the Narnia books a deep spiritual and moral meaning from a non-religious perspective. Blending autobiography and literary criticism, Miller (a co-founder of discusses in detail how as a child she loved the Narnia books but resisted her Catholic upbringing, and later felt betrayed when she discovered the Christian subtext in Narnia. As an adult, however, she found deep delight in the Narnia books, and decided that the qualities of these works transcend their Christian elements. Ironically, a section in His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, one of Narnia's severest critics, in which he discusses how children get grace from innocence but adults from experience, proved to have a profound influence on Miller's later appreciation of the Narnia books.[58]

[edit] The Narnian universe

Most of The Chronicles of Narnia take place in Lewis' constructed world of Narnia. The Narnian world itself is posited as one world in a multiverse of countless worlds including our own. Passage between these worlds is possible, though rare, and may be accomplished in various fashions. How visitors to Narnia observe the passage of time while they are away is unpredictable. For example, if one year had passed since one left Narnia, a thousand years or perhaps only a week might have gone by in Narnia. Narnia itself is described as populated by a wide variety of creatures, most of whom would be recognizable to those familiar with European mythologies and British fairy tales.

[edit] Inhabitants

See also: Narnia creatures and Narnian characters

Lewis largely populates his stories with two distinct classes of inhabitants: people originating from the reader's own world and creatures created by the character Aslan and the descendants of these creatures. This is typical of works that involve parallel universes. The majority of characters from the reader's world serve as the protagonists of the various books, although some are only mentioned in passing. Those inhabitants that Lewis creates through the character Aslan are viewed, either positively or negatively, as diverse. Lewis does not limit himself to a single source; instead he borrows from many sources and adds a few more of his own to the mix.

[edit] Geography

See also: Narnian places

The Chronicles of Narnia describes the world in which Narnia exists as one major landmass faced by "the Great Eastern Ocean". This ocean contains the Seven Isles, Galma, Terebinthia, and the Lone Islands which are visited in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. On the main landmass are the countries of Narnia, Archenland, Calormen, and Telmar, as well as a variety of other areas that play a part in the narrative but are not described as countries: The Western Wild, a mountainous place to the west of Narnia, and Wildlands of the North. Lewis also provides glimpses of more fantastic locations that exist in and around the main world of Narnia, including an edge and an underworld.

Notably, Narnian geography is subject to the ravages of geological processes. In Prince Caspian, the children return after an unknown period of time to discover that a river which they had known during The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe had changed course, creating an island at its mouth and deep gorges in its upper reaches.

There are several maps of the Narnian universe available, including what many consider the "official" one, a full-colour version published in 1972 by the books' illustrator, Pauline Baynes. This is currently out of print, although smaller copies can be found in the most recent HarperCollins 2006 hardcover edition of The Chronicles of Narnia. Two other maps have recently been produced following the popularity of the 2005 film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. One, called the "Rose Map of Narnia", is based loosely on Baynes' map and has Narnian trivia printed on the reverse. Another map, made in a monochromatic, archaic style reminiscent of Tolkien's Middle-earth maps, is available in print and in an interactive version on the movie DVD. However, this last depicts only Narnia and does not include the other countries in the Narnian universe.

[edit] Cosmology

A recurring plot device in The Chronicles is the interaction between the various worlds that make up the Narnian multiverse. A variety of devices are used to initiate these cross-overs which generally serve to introduce characters to the land of Narnia. The Cosmology of Narnia is not as internally consistent as that of Lewis' contemporary Tolkien's Middle-earth, but suffices given the more fairy tale atmosphere of the work. During the course of the series we learn, generally in passing, that the world of Narnia is flat, geocentric, has stars with a different makeup than our own, and that the passage of time does not correspond directly to the passage of time in our world.

[edit] History

See also: Narnian timeline

Lewis takes us through the entire life of the world of Narnia, showing us the process by which it was created, snapshots of life in Narnia as the history of the world unfolds, and how Narnia is ultimately destroyed. Not surprisingly in a children's series, children, usually from our world, play a prominent role as all of these events unfold. The history of Narnia is generally broken up into the following periods: creation and the period shortly afterwards, the rule of the White Witch, the Golden Age, the invasion and rule of the Telmarines, their subsequent defeat by Caspian X, the rule of King Caspian and his descendants, and the destruction of Narnia. Like many stories, the narrative is not necessarily always presented in chronological order.

[edit] Narnia in other media

[edit] Television

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was first adapted for television in 1967. The ten episodes, each thirty minutes long, were directed by Helen Standage. The screenplay was written by Trevor Preston and unlike subsequent adaptations, it is currently unavailable to purchase for home viewing.

In 1979 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was again adapted for television, this time as an animated special co-produced by Bill Meléndez (known for A Charlie Brown Christmas and other Peanuts specials) and the Children's Television Workshop (known for programs such as Sesame Street and The Electric Company). The screenplay was by David D. Connell. It won the Emmy award for Outstanding Animated Program that year. It was the first feature-length animated film ever made for television. For its release on British television, many of the characters' voices were re-recorded by British actors and actresses (including Leo McKern, Arthur Lowe and Sheila Hancock), but Stephen Thorne was the voice of "Aslan" in both the U.S. and British versions.

From 1988–1990, parts of The Chronicles of Narnia were turned into four successful BBC television serials, The Chronicles of Narnia. They were nominated for a total of 14 awards, including an Emmy in the category of "Outstanding Children's Program". Only The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Silver Chair were filmed. The four serials were later edited into three feature-length films (combining Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) and released on VHS and DVD.

[edit] Radio

The critically acclaimed BBC Radio 4 dramatisation was produced in the 1980s. Collectively titled Tales of Narnia it covers the entire series and is approximately 15 hours long.

In 1981, Sir Michael Hordern read abridged versions of the classic tales set to music from Marisa Robles, playing the harp, and Christopher Hyde-Smith, playing the flute. These were re-released in 1997 from Collins Audio. They have also been re-released in 2005 (ISBN 978-0-00-721153-1).

Between 1999 and 2002 Focus on the Family produced radio dramatisations of all 7 books through its Radio Theatre program. The production included a cast of over a hundred actors (including Paul Scofield as "The Storyteller" and David Suchet as "Aslan"), an original orchestral score and cinema-quality digital sound design. The total running time is slightly over 22 hours. Douglas Gresham, the stepson of C. S. Lewis, hosts the series. From the Focus on the Family website:

Between the lamp post and Cair Paravel on the Western Sea lies Narnia, a mystical land where animals hold the power of speech ... woodland fauns conspire with men ... dark forces, bent on conquest, gather at the world's rim to wage war against the realm's rightful king ... and the Great Lion Aslan is the only hope. Into this enchanted world comes a group of unlikely travellers. These ordinary boys and girls, when faced with peril, learn extraordinary lessons in courage, self-sacrifice, friendship and honour.[59]

The series was released in Great Britain on both audio cassette and CD by BBC Audiobooks.

[edit] Stage

In 1984, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was presented at London's Westminster Theatre, produced by Vanessa Ford Productions. The play, adapted by Glyn Robbins, was directed by Richard Williams and designed by Marty Flood; and was revived at Westminster and The Royalty Theatre and on tour until 1997. Productions of other Narnian tales were also presented, including The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1986), The Magician's Nephew (1988) and The Horse and His Boy (1990). Robbins's adaptations of the Narnian chronicles are available for production in the UK through Samuel French London.

In 1998 the Royal Shakespeare Company premiered The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The novel was adapted for the stage by Adrian Mitchell, with music by Shaun Davey. The musical was originally directed by Adrian Noble and designed by Anthony Ward, with the revival directed by Lucy Pitman-Wallace. The production was well received and ran during the holiday season from 1998 to 2002, at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. The production also subsequently transferred to play limited engagements in London at the Barbican Theatre, and at Sadler's Wells. The London Evening Standard wrote:

...Lucy Pitman-Wallace's beautiful recreation of Adrian Noble's production evokes all the awe and mystery of this mythically complex tale, while never being too snooty to stoop to bracingly comic touches like outrageously camp reindeer or a beaver with a housework addiction... In our science and technology-dominated age, faith is increasingly insignificant — yet in this otherwise gloriously resonant production, it is possible to understand its allure.

Adrian Mitchell's adaptation later premiered in the US with the Tony award-winning Minneapolis Children's Theatre Company in 2000, and had its west-coast premiere with Seattle Children's Theatre playing the Christmas slot in its 2002–3 season (and was revived for the 2003–4 season). This adaptation is licensed for performance in the UK by Samuel French.

Other notable stage productions of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe have included commercial productions by Malcolm C. Cooke Productions in Australia (directed by Nadia Tass, and described by Douglas Gresham as the best production of the novel he had seen) and by Trumpets Theatre, one of the largest commercial theatres in the Philippines.

A streamlined version of the full-scale musical Narnia (adapted by Jules Tasca, with music by Thomas Tierney and lyrics by Ted Drachman) is currently touring the US with TheatreworksUSA. The full-scale and touring versions of the musical are licensed through Dramatic Publishing; which has also licensed adaptations of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Joseph Robinette and The Magician's Nephew by Aurand Harris.

A licensed musical stage adaptation of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader made its world premiere in 1983 by Northwestern College (Minnesota) at the Totino Fine Arts Center. Script adaptation by Wayne Olson, with original music score by Kevin Norberg.

Theatrical productions of "The Chronicles of Narnia" have become popular with professional, community and youth theatres in recent years. A musical version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe written specifically for performance by youth is available through Josef Weinberger.

[edit] Film

A film version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, entitled The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, produced by Walden Media and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures was released in December 2005. It was directed by Andrew Adamson. The screenplay was written by Ann Peacock. Principal photography for the film took place in Poland, the Czech Republic and New Zealand. Major Visual Effects Studios like Rhythm and Hues Studios, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and many more worked on the VFX for the movie. The movie achieved critical and box-office success, reaching the Top 25 of all films released to that time (by revenue). Disney produced a sequel, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, released May 16, 2008. At the time of Caspian's release, Disney was already in pre-production on the next chapter, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. As of December 2008, Disney has announced it will not co-finance the third movie due to budgetary constraints although it appears that 20th Century Fox will continue the series.[60]

[edit] Music

Themes or references to The Chronicles of Narnia have appeared in music. For example, American Christian rock band Relient K and British hard-rock band Ten have recorded songs called "In like a Lion (Always Winter)" and "The Chronicles" respectively, both of which are based upon The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Narnia, a Swedish Christian power metal band whose songs are mainly about the Chronicles of Narnia or the Bible, features Aslan in all of their covers.

A musical retelling of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe entitled The Roar of Love was released in 1980 by the contemporary Christian music group 2nd Chapter of Acts.

[edit] Audio books

The Chronicles of Narnia are all available on audiobook, read by Andrew Sachs. These were published by Chivers Children's' Audio Books.

In 1979, Caedmon Records released abridged versions of all seven books on records and cassettes, read by Ian Richardson (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Silver Chair), Claire Bloom (Prince Caspian and The Magician's Nephew), Anthony Quayle {The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Horse and his Boy) and Michael York {The Last Battle).

HarperAudio published the series on audiobook, read by British and Irish actors Michael York (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe), Lynn Redgrave (Prince Caspian), Derek Jacobi (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), Jeremy Northam (The Silver Chair), Alex Jennings (The Horse and his Boy), Kenneth Branagh (The Magician's Nephew) and Patrick Stewart {The Last Battle}.

Collins Audio also released the series on audiobook read by Sir Michael Hordern with original music composed and performed by Marisa Robles, as well as releasing a version read by the actor Tom Baker.

From 1998-2003 Focus on the Family Radio Theatre recorded all seven Chronicles of Narnia on CD. Each book had three CDs apart from The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which both had two CDs. They were released in association with The C.S. Lewis Company, with an introduction by Douglas Gresham. They used a cast of over one hundred actors, an original orchestral score, and digital sound design. The stars of the cast were Paul Scofield as the storyteller, David Suchet as Aslan, Elizabeth Counsell as the White Witch and Richard Suchet as Caspian X.

[edit] Games

In November 2005, Buena Vista Games, a publishing label of Disney released videogame adaptations of the Walden Media/Walt Disney Pictures film. Versions were developed for most videogame platforms available at the time including Windows PC, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox, and PlayStation 2 (developed by the UK-based developer Traveller's Tales). A handheld version of the game was also developed by Griptonite Games for the Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance.

[edit] References

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Kelly, Clint (2006). "Dear Mr. Lewis". Respone 29 (1). Retrieved on 2008-09-22. "The seven books of Narnia have sold more than 100 million copies in 30 languages, nearly 20 million in the last 10 years alone.". 
  2. ^ Edward, Guthmann (2005-12-11). "'Narnia' tries to cash in on dual audience". (San Francisco Chronicle). Retrieved on 2008-09-22. 
  3. ^ a b c Ford, Paul (2005). Companion to Narnia: Revised Edition. San Francisco: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-079127-6. 
  4. ^ Dorsett, Lyle; Marjorie Lamp Mead (ed.) (1995). C. S. Lewis: Letters to Children. Touchstone. ISBN 0684823721. 
  5. ^ Brady, Erik (2005-12-01). "A closer look at the world of Narnia". USA Today. Retrieved on 2008-09-21. 
  6. ^ Schakel, Peter. Reading with the Heart: The Way into Narnia. Grand Rapids: Erdmans. ISBN 0-8028-1814-5. 
  7. ^ Rilstone, Andrew. "What Order Should I Read the Narnia Books in (And Does It Matter?)". The Life and Opinions of Andrew Rilstone, Gentleman. 
  8. ^ Collins, Marjorie (1980). Academic American Encyclopedia. Aretê Pub. Co.. pp. 305. ISBN 0933880006. 
  9. ^ Martindale, Wayne; Root, Jerry. The Quotable Lewis.
  10. ^ Toynbee, Polly (2005-12-05). "Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion". The Guardian. Retrieved on 2008-10-28. 
  11. ^ a b Jacobs, Alan (2005-12-04). "The professor, the Christian, and the storyteller". The Boston Globe. Retrieved on 2008-10-28. 
  12. ^ Kent, Keri Wyatt (November 2005). "Talking Narnia to Your Neighbors". Today's Christian Woman 27 (6): 42. Retrieved on 2008-10-28. 
  13. ^ On eclecticism, see Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship by Colin Duriez, p. 131; also The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter, p. 224. On allegory, see Diana Glyer, The Company They Keep, p. 84, and Harold Bloom's edited anthology The Chronicles of Narnia, p. 140. Tolkien expresses his disapproval for stories involving travel between our world and fairy-tale worlds in his essay On Fairy-Stories.
  14. ^ Lewis, C.S. (1990). Surprised by Joy. Fount Paperbacks. pp. 14. ISBN 0006238157. 
  15. ^ Wilson, Tracy V. (2005-12-07). "How Narnia Works". HowStuffWorks. Retrieved on 2008-10-28. 
  16. ^ Trotter, Drew (2005-11-11). "What Did C. S. Lewis Mean, and Does It Matter?". Leadership U. Retrieved on 2008-10-28. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ *Green. "The recycled image".
  19. ^ a b Miller, "Far From Narnia.
  20. ^ a b Cathy Young, "A Secular Fantasy - The flawed but fascinating fiction of Philip Pullman", Reason Magazine (March 2008).
  21. ^ a b Peter Hitchens, "This is the most dangerous author in Britain", The Mail on Sunday (27 January 2002), p. 63.
  22. ^ a b Chattaway, Peter T. "Chronicles of Atheism, Christianity Today.
  23. ^ The story can be found in Flights: Extreme Visions of Fantasy Volume II (edited by Al Sarrantonio) and in the Gaiman collection Fragile Things.
  24. ^ Gaiman. "The Problem of Susan", p. 151ff.
  25. ^ Paterson, Katherine Paterson: On Her Own Words, p. 1.
  26. ^ Egan, Oracle.
  27. ^ *Grossman. J.K. Rowling Hogwarts And All.
  28. ^ a b Ezard. "Narnia books attacked as racist and sexist".
  29. ^ a b Pullman. "The Darkside of Narnia".
  30. ^ Anderson. "The Problem of Susan".
  31. ^ Rilstone, "Lipstick on My Scholar".
  32. ^ a b Chapter 13: No Longer a Friend of Narnia: Gender in Narnia. The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy: The Lion, the Witch and the Worldview. Edited by Gregory Bassham and Jerry L. Walls. Open Court. Chicago and La Salle, Illinois. 2005.
  33. ^ "Pullman attacks Narnia film plans", BBC News 16 (2005).
  34. ^ O'Connor, "5th Narnia book may not see big screen".
  35. ^ Hensher, "Don't let your children go to Narnia: C. S. Lewis's books are racist and misogynist".
  36. ^ Chattaway, Peter T. "Narnia 'baptizes' — and defends — pagan mythology".
  37. ^ Kjos. Narnia: Blending Truth and Myth.
  38. ^ Hurst, "Nine Minutes of Narnia".
  39. ^ Moynihan (ed.). The Latin Letters of C. S. Lewis: C. S. Lewis and Don Giovanni Calabria.
  40. ^
  41. ^ "The paganism of Narnia". 
  42. ^ See essay "Is Theism Important?" in God in the Dock by C.S.Lewis edited by Walter Hooper
  43. ^ a b Scots family embroiled in Narnia Internet dispute, Reuters.
  44. ^ a b c Legal fight for heart of Narnia - News
  45. ^ IPKat - news and fun for everyone!: Narnia domain name dispute
  46. ^ a b c WIPO Domain Name Decision: D2008-0821
  47. ^ IPKat - news and fun for everyone!: Narnia domain name dispute concludes
  48. ^ a b Author's estate wins battle of Narnia domain name - Times Online
  49. ^ a b "Family lose Narnia web name fight", BBC News.
  50. ^ Bakers wins Narnia domain name battle - 24 July 2008
  51. ^ Into the Wardrobe: C.S. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles p. 160 by David C. Downing
  52. ^ On the dual concerns of the film makers, see See Edward, Guthmann (2005-12-11). "'Narnia' tries to appeal to the religious and secular". (San Francisco Chronicle). Retrieved on 2008-09-22.  On talk of Christian appeal see "'Prince Caspian' walks tightrope for Christian fans". (USA Today).  and The 'secular' appeal of the films is discussed in the San Francisco Chronicle's review Edward, Guthmann (2005-12-11). "Children open a door and step into an enchanted world of good and evil — the name of the place is 'Narnia'". (San Francisco Chronicle). Retrieved on 2008-09-22. 
  53. ^ The hope among Christian readers that Narnia could be conversion-tool is mentioned in "Revisiting Narnia: Fantasy, Myth and Religion in C. S. Lewis' Chronicles" by Shanna Caughey on p. 54. However, on p. 56 of "Encyclopedia of Allegorical Literature" by David Adams Leeming and Kathleen Morgan Drowne, it is argued that "They are by no means suitable only for Christian readers." A prominent Narnia online game site requests that Christians visiting the site not try to convert non-believers during game-chat. See The dispute over the relative prominence of the Christian fan-base is reflected in a cartoon at
  54. ^ A Sunday school book entitled "A Christian Teacher’s Guide to Narnia" is offered for sale at "Christian Teachers guide to Narnia".  The United Methodist Church has published its own Narnia curriculum as noted at "United Methodists find spiritual riches, tools, in 'Narnia'".  Although Walden Media's Study Guides were not overtly Christian, they were marketed to Sunday schools by Movie Marketing.
  55. ^ See [1] and [2]
  56. ^ "How Narnia Made me a Witch". 
  57. ^ See also the Sayers biography, p. 419
  58. ^ see Miller, p. 172
  59. ^ Enter Narnia, Focus on the Family Radio Theatre, 2005.
  60. ^ "Disney No Longer Under Spell of Narnia". December 2008. 

[edit] Further reading

  • Bruner, Kurt & Ware, Jim. Finding God in the Land of Narnia. Tyndale House Publishers, 2005.
  • Bustard, Ned. The Chronicles of Narnia Comprehension Guide. Veritas Press, 2004.
  • Duriez, Colin. A Field Guide to Narnia. InterVarsity Press, 2004.
  • Downing, David. Into the Wardrobe: C. S. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles. Jossey-Bass, 2005.
  • Hein, Rolland. Christian Mythmakers: C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, J.R.R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton, & Others Second Edition. Cornerstone Press Chicago, 2002. ISBN 094089548X
  • Jacobs, Alan. The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis. HarperSanFrancisco, 2005.
  • McIntosh, Kenneth. Following Aslan: A Book of Devotions for Children. Anamchara Books, 2006.
  • Wagner, Richard. C. S. Lewis & Narnia For Dummies. For Dummies, 2005.
  • A Guide for Using The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the Classroom. Teacher Created Resources, 2000.
  • The Lion, Witch & Wardrobe Study Guide. Progeny Press, 1993.
  • The Magician's Nephew Study Guide. Progeny Press, 1997.
  • Prince Caspian Study Guide. Progeny Press, 2003.

[edit] External links

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