C.S. Lewis

 

The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe

 

Still magical after all these years.

 

Narnia still got me Ďiní, and Iím a bit harder to ensorcel than when I first read it back in school. While some would find it stifling, the undercurrent of clear morality is a vital part of what lifts this book out from the pack. Lewis had something to say beyond convention, he managed to combine it with his adult love of Ďfairy-talesí, and this without condescension. Sure the characters are one-dimensional (something that put me off a bit on re-reading Out of the Silent Planet), but do we really need tortured vacillating disenchantment in a kidís book? Moreover in some ways this allows for greater truth: we can lose moral clarity in hurling words, justifications and complications into some choices that are, at heart, simple. Lewis was a master of the stinging comparison, which can be used well or ill: just because a metaphor is clever hardly makes it true. However I think that thereís a deal of insight and honesty in, for example, the revelation of Edmundís (letís just come out and say it) sinful thought processes. How does Lewis know about such ugly self-deception? Thereís a deal of confession in having the character most open to temptation as an intellectual, like himself.

 

So, unlike some other reviewers, I reject the notion that you lose the joy of the book once you realise the deliberately Christian nature of this fable. Take that away and the book becomes just another cynical money-making venture. Lewis, rather, cares about his readers and wants to offer them a taste of something good, and an awareness of something evil. Itís not that heís tacked a dumb and nasty old superstition onto a fabulous story Ė the story is only fabulous because itís fuelled by a passionate belief in the prime value of goodness.

 

May 2005

(2nd reading: 1st in 1970s)