Reading Round-Up for January 10, 2009

by Trish

A couple of books this week that I’ve read revolve around C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia (or commonly called the Narniad). If you’re a fan, these are worth the time. This adds a great perspective to the beloved series.

Planet Narnia by Michael Ward. The praise for Ward’s book is loud and overwhelming.

“I cannot contain my admiration. No other book on Lewis has ever shown
such comprehensive knowledge of his works and such depth of insight.
This will make Michael Ward’s name.” –Walter Hooper, Literary Adviser
to the Estate of C.S. Lewis

“Noting Michael Ward’s claim that he
has discovered “the secret imaginative key” to the Narnia books, the
sensible reader responds by erecting a castle of scepticism. My own
castle was gradually but utterly demolished as I read this thoughtful,
scholarly, and vividly-written book. If Ward is wrong, his wrongness is
cogent: it illuminates and delights. But I don’t think he is wrong. And
in revealing the role of the planets in the Chronicles, Ward also gives
us the fullest understanding yet of just how deeply Lewis in his own
fiction drew upon those medieval and renaissance writers he so loved.”
–Alan Jacobs, Professor of English, Wheaton College and author of The
Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis

“Michael Ward
presents an absorbing, learned analysis of C.S. Lewis’s bestselling and
beloved series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Readily accessible to the
average reader, Ward’s book reads so much like a detective story that
it’s difficult to put down.” –Armand M. Nicholi, Jr. M.D., Professor
of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and author of The Question of
God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud

“All who have enjoyed the The
Chronicles of Narnia and indeed are interested in any aspect of Lewis’s
imaginative work should read Michael Ward’s book. He argues
convincingly for a hitherto unrecognized inner structure of the
Chronicles, and gives excellent reasons for understanding why Lewis
should have worked in such a mysterious way, his wonders to perform.
Ward has an encyclopedic knowledge of Lewis’s writings and uses it to
support his theory that each of the seven volumes of the The Chronicles
of Narnia is based on the classical, medieval and renaissance
mythography of one of the then seven planets. Even those critics who
dislike the Narnia books in principle because of their implicit
Christianity must consider their planetary structure and its
significance. Michael Ward has made an outstanding contribution to
Lewis studies.” –Derek Brewer, Emeritus Professor of English,
University of Cambridge

“Planet Narnia is not simply one for the
fans. Lewis had, and has, many enemies. This brilliant study may not
persuade them that he was right, but it should convince them of his
extraordinary subtlety.” –The Independent

Nuff said.

The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller. Amazon.com writes “Jam-packed with critical insights and historical context, this
discussion of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia from Miller’s double
perspectives–as the wide-eyed child who first read the books and an
agnostic adult who revisits them–is intellectually inspiring but not
always cohesive. Finding her distrust of Christianity undermined by her
love of Lewis’s indisputably Christian-themed world, Salon.com
cofounder and staff writer Miller seeks to “recapture [Narnia’s] old
enchantment.” She replaces lost innocence with understanding, visiting
Lewis’s home in England, reading his letters and books (which she
quotes extensively) and interviewing readers and writers. Lengthy
musings on Freudian analysis of sadomasochism, J.R.R. Tolkien’s
Anglo-Saxon nationalism and taxonomies of genre share space with
incisive and unapologetic criticism of Lewis’s treatment of race,
gender and class. The heart of the book is in the first-person passages
where Miller recalls longing to both be and befriend Lucy Pevensie and
extols Narnia’s “shining wonders.” Her reluctant reconciliation with
Lewis’s and Narnia’s imperfections never quite manages to be
convincing, but anyone who has endured exile from Narnia will recognize
and appreciate many aspects of her journey.”

Really interesting read. I love the Christian message in the Narniad, but these two books showcase the brilliance in the books even if you remove that Christian influence (which C.S. Lewis would abhor). These have been a delight and I think I may read both these books again very soon.

I’m off to London! Ta-ta!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jenz January 10, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Have a great trip!! 🙂

love ya,
jenz

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