NarniaFans Mailbag #32: More Dawn Treader Art, and old letters surface

For this week’s Mailbag, I looked in my inbox and realized a couple of things: first, there was only one e-mail for this week’s mailbag. I could take this to mean that it’s not a good feature to bring back, but that would be ridiculous. I enjoy the chance to answer e-mails and also to put my own voice into the site just a little bit.

On a related note, I share Andrew Adamson’s birthday. Who knew? Andrew, if you’re reading this, that must be the reason we have similar creative minds.

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C.S. Lewis, Narnia Books now available for Amazon Kindle 2 has today announced the release of their new edition of Kindle. With that announcement comes new additions to the library of books available for Kindle, including many works written by C.S. Lewis.

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Pauline Baynes, Narnia’s illustrator, dies at 85 – UPDATED (2)

Pauline BaynesWe’ve just received the sad news that the original illustrator of The Chronicles of Narnia has just passed away:

Wayne Hammond reports the death of Baynes at her home in Surrey. Pauline Baynes was the original illustrator of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series, as well as of Tolkien’s Farmer Giles of Ham (1948), The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book (1962), and Smith of Wootton Major (1967).

Read more .. Wikipedia Entry

Narnia expert Brian Sibley has written a blog entry about Pauline Baynes that you can read here:

Brian Sibley’s Blog on Pauline Baynes: Queen of Narnia and Middle-Earth

And note that obituaries will be appearing in The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent and The Guardian later in the week.

Kind regards,

Brian Sibley

Update 2:

Rem, from the Philippine Order of Narnians, sent us an update with links to the articles posted athe both the Independent and the Guardian:

I thought you’d like to know that, as Mr Sibley said they would, Pauline Baynes’ obituaries have already shown up at the Independent and the Guardian. Narnia Quiz

paradeThe fantasy novel series from C. S. Lewis has sold over 100 million copies. And after the success of the first movie, audiences are ready for the sequel, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

We’re celebrating the release of the movie with a quiz and exclusive interviews with the cast. You could win the ultimate Narnia prize package, which includes a signed book from the cast, posters, action figures and more!

Put your Narnia skills to the test with our 50-question quiz, written by — the ultimate resource for everything Narnia.

Once you’ve mastered the quiz, enter for your chance to win an ultimate prize package from THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN and check out their exclusive interviews of the cast! Narnia Quiz

Narnia Pop-up Book – In Depth

narnia-pop-upAt HarperCollins Childrens, they’ve added a new video feature and behind the scenes on the making of the Pop-up book. Here’s what you’ll find there:

Robert Sabuda invited us to visit his New York City studio for a behind-the-scenes look at his creative process. He talked with the book’s editor, Katherine Tegen, about his inspiration for the magic that springs off the pages of The Chronicles of Narnia Pop-up.

HarperCollins Childrens

Take a look at what really goes into designing the complex mechanics of a pop-up book. Robert Sabuda’s production sketches show the intricate details and special effects found in each spread of these hand-assembled books.

‘Prince Caspian’ Movie Tie-In Edition Features Exclusive Narnia Timeline Originated by C. S. Lewis

prince-caspian-book-coverThe countdown to Walt Disney Pictures’ and Walden Media’s film ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian’ begins today with the release of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA MOVIE TIE-IN EDITION. For the first time, readers can experience Narnia in a collectible edition featuring an 8-page, fold-out insert based on C. S. Lewis’s own timeline conceived for Narnia. The stunning cover artwork from ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian’ movie introduces a dashing new hero-actor Ben Barnes (‘Stardust’) as Prince Caspian.

The full-color timeline, recreated from C. S. Lewis’s original and paired with Pauline Baynes’ classic full color illustrations for the first time, provides the key to the passage of time in Narnia and Earth by laying the two worlds side by side. Never before has C. S. Lewis’s timeline been included in a complete edition of all seven books of Narnia. Readers can now enjoy the beloved stories and use the timeline as a guide to orient themselves within the epic work.

This Spring the timeline will be expanded into NARNIA CHRONOLOGY: From the Archives of the Last King (April 1, 2008; $19.99), an interactive version of The Chronicles of Narnia. NARNIA CHRONOLOGY will include pop-ups, gatefolds, pull tabs and many other exciting features to tell the stories in a sweeping linear format as C. S. Lewis imagined it.

On May 16, 2008, audiences will be enthralled by the film, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.’ With THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA MOVIE TIE-IN EDITION and NARNIA CHRONOLOGY, readers will have the chance to experience Aslan’s world first, in their own imagination.

Clive Staples Lewis, known as Jack to his friends, was born in 1898. Lewis and his good friend J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, were part of the Inklings, an informal writers’ club that met at a local pub to discuss story ideas. Lewis’s fascination with fairy tales, myths, and ancient legends, coupled with inspiration drawn from his childhood, led him to write The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, one of the best-loved books of all time. Six further books followed to become the immensely popular The Chronicles of Narnia. The final title in the series, The Last Battle, was awarded the Carnegie Medal, one of the highest marks of excellence in children’s literature.

HarperCollins Children’s Books is one of the leading publishers of children’s books. Respected worldwide for its tradition of publishing quality, award-winning books for young readers, HarperCollins is home to many timeless treasures-Charlotte’s Web, The Chronicles of Narnia, Goodnight Moon, Where the Sidewalk Ends and Where the Wild Things Are; and popular new classics-A Series of Unfortunate Events, Warriors and Fancy Nancy. HarperCollins Children’s Books is a division of HarperCollins Publishers, one of the leading English language publishers in the world and a subsidiary of News Corporation . Headquartered in New York, HarperCollins has publishing groups in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australasia. You can visit HarperCollins Children’s Books at and HarperCollins Publishers at

Written by C. S. Lewis
Illustrated by Pauline Baynes
Paperback / Ages: 10 and up / January 8, 2008 / ISBN: 978-0-06-123105-6 /
$21.99 / 6 x 9 /
767 pages with b & w illustrations and a full-color 8-page foldout

From the Archives of the Last King
Based on the books by C. S. Lewis
Including full color illustrations by Pauline Baynes
HarperCollins Children’s Books
Paperback/ Ages: 8 and up / April 1, 2008 / ISBN: 978-0-06-124005-8 /
$19.99 / 10 1/4 x 11 3/4 /
32 full-color pages

Behind the Wardrobe: An Interview Series with Douglas Gresham. Part 5 of 6: ” On The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe .”

Hey, Narnia Fans! Welcome to “Behind the Wardrobe” an Interview Series with Douglas Gresham. Join me as we find out about CS Lewis, Narnia and more in this interview series.

Special thanks to Paul Martin (The Webmaster for NarniaFans) and to Mr. Douglas Gresham himself for this amazing opportunity. And an even bigger thanks to Mr. Gresham for putting up with a few of my impossible questions. Thanks for being such a great sport about it!

For this week: On The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe .

On The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe

JS: The first Narnia movie did extraordinarily well at the box office, and exceeded many people’s expectations . What was your reaction to this?

DG: I expected it.

JS: So then it was really no surprise to you when The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe ended up being one of the top grossing films of 2005 along with the likes of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith , Batman Begins, or Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire?

DG: Not at all, what surprises me is that those other movies did so well. :-)

JS: I as a fan thought it was pretty neat that the first time outing for the Narnian film franchise did do as well as such films with a pre-established fan basis, such as Star Wars, Batman, or Harry Potter.

DG: We are all very happy about it too, but of course this success means that we have to make our next movie even better.

JS: Do you think Jack would have been pleased with the film? If so, in what ways?

DG: I certainly hope so otherwise I wasted five years of my life. I think he would have loved the realism we brought to unreal estates and characters. I also think he would appreciate our faithfulness to his book.

JS: Where you pleased with the film?

DG: As a producer of it, if I hadn’t, I would only have had myself to blame.

JS: What do you think led to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe being done so well in terms of acting and quality of the production?

DG: Thousands of things, Philip Anschutz, Mark Johnson, Phil Steuer, Perry Moore, Marcus and McFeely, Andrew Adamson, KC Hodenfield, Roger Ford, Don McAlpine, Howard Berger, William Mosely, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Isis Mussenden and —but I think you should be beginning to get the idea. Had I the time and you the space I would name every single member of all the teams that put the movie together from the very first to the very last in no particular order. The folks who cleaned the toilets, serviced the generators, drove the trucks and did a myriad of tasks that the public never even think of, all contributed to how well the movie was made. Each and every one of them was indispensable, and I owe them my heartfelt gratitude and admiration.

JS: Of any one in the film, who do you think gave the best performance?

DG: I did. How on Earth could I single out anyone else?

JS:So would you say the film was more of an ensemble piece?

DG: I think the nature of the story makes it imperative that the film be a team effort not only among the cast, but also with all the invisible members of the team, those amazing guys who do the CGI for example, and everyone else involved. I think that it is important that the star of the movie is in fact the story itself and that no one performance eclipses that.

JS: I felt in terms of casting one stroke of genius was that none of the actors were “major names” ( ie No Michelle Pheiffer as Jadis, or James Earl Jones as Aslan or Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff as Susan and Lucy).

DG: Yes, I agree with you.

JS: Adamson did a marvelous job directing the film. A lot of things he did had always been things I would have done if I made the film. (Such as opening with the air raid on London, haveing Peter and Edmund wear armor into battle, and even the relationships with the children.) He also did a great job making people who weren’t fans of the book interested in what was happening in the story and care for the characters.

DG: Yes indeed. Human beings are made for relationships, firstly a relationship with God and to achieve a good relationship with God we must guard and develop our relationships with our fellow human beings.

JS: In terms of the children, (and even Adamsons direction) they were perfect in the roles. They actually seamed like real life siblings!

DG: And I think that you will find that they actually feel very like siblings in real life. We are so fortunate to have found four really good young actors who are not only that but also very nice people. As the making of the film progressed it soon became evident that a strong bond was developing between the four children and that in turn came through onto the screen.

JS: How was it to have the cameo as the radio announcer?

DG: Fun, but not as much fun as my cameo in Prince Caspian. >:-}

JS: Did you approve the changes made to the film from the book?

DG: Again, I am a Co-Producer which means that I am one of the team that makes those decisions.

JS: I have to admit one of my favorite things in the film was the design of the wardrobe. Many fans of the book noted that etched onto it were scenes depicting the events of The Magician’s Nephew. Was this your suggestion?

DG: No, I think that came from Andrew or it may have been Roger, I am not sure.

JS: What was your favorite scene in the film?

DG: All of them.

JS: I take it as co-producer you got to be onset?

DG: Yes, of course. My ancillary duties meant that I could not spend as much time as I would have liked to on set, but I did spend quite a lot of time there.

JS: Seeing it on film was great , but to actually see it (come to life), well that had to be amazing!

DG: To me it was both exciting and hugely gratifying. After all it is not a gift given to many people to watch an almost life-long dream come true.

JS: I know when I saw the film it actually seemed like the Narnia I saw in my imagination.

DG: I am so glad that you say that, it means that we got it right.

That’s it for this week. Come back next week when wrap up the interview series with part six, in which we’ll get some special ( and spoiler free) sneak peeks into the next installment of the series Prince Caspian

Tumnus’s Book Shelf: The NarniaFans Book Reviews : The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew

Welcome to Tumnus’s Book Shelf where we review any and all books related to Narnia and CS Lewis! For this weeks review, we will be looking at CS Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew !

Book Title:The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew
Author: CS Lewis
Illustrator: Pauline Baynes
Publisher: HarperCollins

Language: English

ISBN-13: 978-0060764906

Summary of the book:

Some Possible Spoilers.( Please Highlight to read)


Long ago in London around the turn of the 19th Century there was a girl named Polly Plummer. One day she was out in her yard when she saw a boy run out from the house next door. The boy was crying. She introduced herself to him and he to her. His name was Digory Kirke.

After a brief argument about who had the funnier name, who had the dirtier face and whether or not London was a hole, Polly found out why Digory was crying. His mother was horribly sick and about to die, his father was away in India and he and his mother had to come live in London with his insane uncle Andrew Ketterly.

The two children soon became friends and spent lots of time together as it was a very cold and rainy summer in London. Polly showed Digory her favorite hiding spot that they called “ The Smuggler’s Cave” which was an attic like space that connected between their houses.

One day the two of them entered into what they believed was the vacant house in between there respective homes. This house always posed a lot of mystery, as people heard strange noises and saw lights on at odd times of the night. The children believed it was either burglars or haunted while the adults said it was only the drains.

They entered the attic of this house to find a well lit and well furnished study that had many books, and scientific instruments. On a tray were several rings, half were yellow, and half were green. They find out that they were not in the empty house at all, but Digory’s . They turn and see Digory’s uncle standing in front of them.

He locked them in the room and refused to let them go. After a while he gave in, only to trick Polly into taking one of the yellow rings and putting it on. As she did, she immediately vanished. Andrew explains what happened.

The rings were forged from the dust of the lost civilization of Atlantis and had “magical” abilities. The dust was given to him by Andrew’s late godmother LeFay, in a special box that she had instructed him to destroy. He disobeyed and set about to find out what the dust was and what it could do. After several attempts he found out that it had the ability to send people to other worlds. He tested it on guinea pigs and none of them were successful. When Polly came, he tricked her into testing it for him.

After much persuasion, Digory agreed to put on a yellow ring and take two green ones with him. For one reason only: so save his friend. He put it on and soon vanished out of this world and entered into another that was a vast forest with many pools . He found Polly was sleeping.

He went to her and she woke up, at first they had no memory of each other or of life in our world, but after a short time their memories returned. They explored the wood and discovered it was actually a wood between worlds. The pools could send them to entirely new ones. They leapt into one pool and found themselves in a world where all the buildings were in ruins and a red sun hung over head.

They entered into a palace and found a hall of statues. At the end was a statue of a tall and beautiful woman. Next to it was a bell with a strange inscription next to it. The inscription not only warned them not to ring the bell or trouble would come, but also that they would go mad if they didn’t ring it.

Polly said they shouldn’t ring it. Digory ignored her and behaved like a bully as he grabbed her hand and twisted her arm around to keep her from leaving as he rung the bell.

The bell woke up the last statue, which wasn’t a statue at all, but Empress Jadis, the last ruler or the world of Charn who had placed herself under an enchantment. She told them what happened to her world and how she destroyed it by using the “Deplorable Word” in battle against her rebellious sister. The children thought it was horrible, but the witch told them she had the power so she had to use it. They tried to escape her. As they were leaving, she grabbed on to Polly’s hair and left with them.

Jadis was weakened in the wood between the worlds, but she managed to regain enough strength to grab onto Digory’s ear and follow them into our world. Andrew was immediately infatuated with her and agreed to take her into the city . She was less then pleased with him as he was only a man and not a magician or of royal blood, so he could only be her slave.

After fixing himself up, he called a cab for them. Polly had gone home and was ordered by her mother to go to her room for two hours. Some time later Jadis and Andrew returned and there was a riot near the lamp post as she was attacking many people with an iron bar from a lamp post.

Digory and Polly raced outside and managed to grab her in time. Jadis was in contact with Andrew, the cabby, and the horse and buggy, and they were all pulled along out of our world and into the wood between the world. They entered into a pool and found themselves in Nothing. They all heard a strange sound: singing .They watched as light, land and life came into being. Then they saw who the singer was. It was a Lion. They witnessed the creation of a whole new world. Jadis attempted to throw the bar at the Lion. It hit him in the forehead but glanced off him and landed on the ground.

Animals and other creatures were also created. The Lion selects some of them to speak, among them was the Cabby’s horse. Jadis ran away while the rest of them watched as a lamp-post grows from the bar. Andrew claimed it was the land of eternal youth were all things could grow. Digory hoped that meant he could find a cure for his mother.

He went to speak to the Lion who had called into a council several other creatures as evil had entered Narnia through the coming of Jadis. Digory spoke to the Lion, who is named Aslan. Digory asked Aslan to help him. Aslan agreed to nothing, but rather gave Digory a job.

SPOILERS!Since Digory was the one who brought evil into Narnia, he was the one to set it right. Aslan told him go to a hill top an pluck from a tree a silver apple. Digory agreed to the assignment and Polly asked to come with. Aslan turned the Cabby’s horse into a flying horse and instructed him to take them. The horse who’s name was changed from Strawberry to Fledge, accepted his job.

Fledge carried the children to the hill, which was far from the land that was called Narnia. Digory went into the garden where the apples were. The garden was surrounded by a wall, and only by going through the gate could someone go into the garden, to rightfully take the fruit. He found the tree as Aslan instructed. It was a massive tree with a beautiful bird nesting in it, who kept watch over it.

Digory took one of the apples, and turned to see the witch standing behind him eating one herself. After three attempts to get him to disobey Aslan, Digory refuses and returns with Polly to Narnia. Aslan instructed Digory to throw the apple. Then they all witnessed the coronation of Frank the Cabby and his wife Helen (who Aslan brought into Narnia) as King and Queen.

Then Aslan showed them where a tree had grown from the apple. He told them it would serve as a shield to keep Jadis out as she can’t stand the smell of the fruit due to the fact she ate of it. Aslan told Digory he may take one of the apples and give it to his mother. Aslan returned the children and Andrew to their world, but not before first giving them a warning about their race and the potential to be like Charn.

From then on Andrew no longer dabbled in “magic” and was a bit nicer. Digory and Polly were friends for life, and his mother was healed. They planted the core of the apple in the yard and it grew to a great tree, and they buried the rings in the backyard. Digory’s father returned from India and told them they were to go live in a big house in he country. Years later Digory became a professor.

Sometime after, the tree fell down in a storm and Digory didn’t want the wood destroyed. He turned it into a wardrobe and put it in a spare room in his big house in the country.END SPOILERS!


Where did the White Witch come from? Why was their a lamppost in Narnia? Why was the professor so knowledgeable about the possibility of other worlds? These were some of the questions Lewis sought to unravel in The Magicians Nephew, the prequel to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. And he did a great job of doing it, too.

This story is set in the turn of the 19th century, and Lewis makes it clear from the outset that this is a fantastical tale as he informs the reader “At this time Sherlock Holmes was still living on Baker Street and the Bestabels children were searching for treasure on Lewisham Road.” This lets the reader, even a young reader know that they are reading a fictional story set in a strange and weird land as it happens in the same time as the mysteries of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and E. Nesbit’s The Treasure Seekers.

We meet the young Digory Kirke who is around ten years old. He has very few friends and is grieving as his mother is dying. This continues to show how Digory is like Lewis, as Lewis drew from his own experiences as a child, when he watched his own mother die, and than latter in life as his step-sons Douglas and David watched his wife Joy suffer from cancer. Digory is one of few characters in “children’s literature” who encounters grief.

Digory’s best ( and only) friend is a girl named Polly. Lewis again continues to show a different view on girls then most writers had at the time. Polly is independent and free thinking, but also helpful and considerate. If Lucy Pevensie was a voice of faith for her siblings, than Polly Plummer is a voice of reason for Digory as she tries to tell him when to not do something stupid. Both children are very loyal to each other.

There are two villains in this installment. First is Digory’s Uncle Andrew who is in some ways like the villain Weston in Lewis’ Space Trilogy as he cares only about gaining power and wealth at everyone else’s expense. At one point Andrew paraphrases the ideas of Nietzsche by saying that some one of his intelligence and ability is above and beyond all morals, and deserves all the power they have.

Jadis shows similar views in her desire to dominate not only Charn but Earth and Narnia as well. Like Andrew she is willing to use any means necessary to gain power even by using the dreaded “Deplorable Word”, and also believes she is above morals and wishes to set herself above everything else, making her a representative of Satan.

SPOILERS!We also first encounter Aslan and see he is not only the Savior and Ruler of Narnia, but it’s Creator. Like JRR Tolkien in The Silmarillion , he draws on the idea of the music of creation as Aslan sings Narnia into being. It is well known, that through out Lewis’ life he heard all of the tales of Tolkien and was enchanted by them and had great respect for them. It is greatly shown here in the means that Aslan uses for creation.

Lewis draws again from mythology for creatures to inhabit his worlds as he shows the creation not just of the talking animals but the other beings that dwell in Narnia. Even some of the scenery is taken from ancient folklore. For example, the description of the tree upon the hill is drawn heavily from Yggdrasil, the World Tree from Norse mythology that was upon a hill, surrounded by a gate with a bird over looking it. Much as Yggdrasil in Norse mythology, the apples of the tree in Narnia could restore health and give long life to the eater. The wall around it is like the wall around the path to the Celestial City in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, and it is only through the gate that people may enter.

Much like Tolkien, as well as other authors such as John Milton, Lewis explores the question of the problem of evil. If something is created good, where does evil come from? Lewis shows through the actions of Diggory, the witch and Andrew that it comes from within the created beings who have the right to choose good or evil, and through the extreme pride they all show.

Lewis shows this in a thinly veiled retelling of the temptation and fall of man as Digory awakens the witch, due to his curiosity. Digory giving into his curiosity draws on another story about how evil entered the world, that of Pandora’s box. Digory’s fall to temptation in the hall of wax brings sorrow and trouble to him, Polly and others around them as well as the new world of Narnia.

However, Lewis also shows that there is a solution to evil, that comes through willful submission to a higher authority and through love. Digory then acts not just as Adam-like figure, but also Christ like as it is he who must set things right by doing Aslan’s bidding, and not his own. He is even tempted by the witch, not once, not twice but three times on the hill, as Christ was by Satan. This not only draws on the Bible, but also Milton’s epic poems Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, which Lewis studied greatly, that tell not only of how Paradise was lost through disobedience and the fall to temptation, but how it was regained through obedience and the resistance to temptation, and humility.

Lewis also shows one of his beliefs about humanity. In his essays on space travel he believed that humanity would bring it’s evil into other worlds and further pollute the universe, this was an idea dealt with in the Space Trilogy.END SPOILERS!

He also shows some of his roots in science fiction. First is that we discover Narnia is not an “imaginary world” but rather one of several parallel worlds that exist separate from our own in it’s own universe with it’s own time-stream( which he deals with heavily through out the other six books in the series.)

He also shows this through the means of getting into the parallel universes. It is through the rings which are forged from the dust from Atlantis. Andrew tells Digory that when our civilization was beginning, Atlantis was far more advanced then us in a variety of ways, which include the ability to travel to other worlds. This goes along the ideas of Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law in his three laws of prediction, which states that, “ The technology of a sufficiently advanced culture will appear indistinguishable from magic to an under developed mind.” This would be the case for Andrew, and Digory not just with the travel to other worlds, but the witch’s power .

Another way is simply through the descriptions of some of the worlds. For example, Charn is described as an old, dead world. Because of this it has a red sun, which would be a red super giant. Such a star is one near the end of it’s life.

In this book Lewis deals with the questions of life, death, temptation and obedience. He also grapples with the question that is often ignored in adult literature and debated by theologians, that of the problem of evil. He warns against the destructive power of evil with Jadis, and her world of Charn, and even the allusion to Atlantis which according to some accounts was destroyed because of it’s evil. He also warns against the search for power and even more about the danger of pride.

Lewis’s narrations are again very welcome and comforting ,especially as we deal with such things as evil, and death and go to the cold and dreary world of Charn. It feels as though you have a good friend with you in these sad places, much as Digory and Polly had each other. But at the same time he also helps us share in the excitement and wonder of the creation of Narnia.

The only downside to this book, is that the origin’s of the Witch contradict what is told to the children in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Other than that, it’s a children’s book that actually deals with the very serious and philosophically difficult question of the problem of evil. No one can pretend it doesn’t exist for long and try to shield children from it. Lewis can be one author we can trust to help teach younger people about it.

The Magician’s Nephew will leave you as spell bound as Digory and Polly were on their own adventure.

Five out of Five shields

Order the book from

The Right and Left Paws of Aslan

The idea of a “left wing” and “right wing” in politics and society is a fluid one, subject to a lot of confusion. You can’t understand liberals unless you know what they want to liberate, and you can’t understand conservatives unless you know what they want to conserve. The things people want to conserve or liberate vary widely from nation to nation, and from generation to generation.

It isn’t enough to say that it’s about order vs. freedom, law vs. liberty. There’s no one anywhere who really wants EVERYTHING to be 100 percent restricted OR 100 percent unrestricted. Each of us, and each society, decides WHICH THINGS we believe should be more or less restricted. The Scandinavian countries, for instance, are extremely wide-open with sexual permissiveness, but exert stern control over some other things. A woman from Norway informed me once that Norway has a law dictating WHAT NAMES Norwegian parents can give to their children! I consider that to be a tyrannical intrusion upon the rights of parents; but it had never even occurred to my Norwegian correspondent to resent this law.

A single essay can’t sort out all the elements of what makes a person or an idea “right wing” or “left wing.” But it may help us toward clarity if I attempt, presupposing what I think to be reasonable modern definitions of the left and right, to identify some places in The Chronicles Of Narnia where C.S. Lewis expressed sometimes liberal ideas, and sometimes conservative ones.

In “The Magician’s Nephew,” Jadis is revealed to have destroyed all life on her home planet by using the tremendous magic spell called the Deplorable Word. Before the book is over, Mr. Lewis has strongly hinted that this evil spell is to be compared to nuclear weapons. An insistence that nuclear weapons are inherently immoral and should never be used at all would be a liberal position on Mr. Lewis’ part. On the other hand, the coldly inhumane approach of Uncle Andrew to his research is very much like today’s left-wing scientists wanting to use unborn human beings as laboratory animals and stem-cell reservoirs (while dishonestly obscuring the fact that they could be using ADULT stem cells WITHOUT killing any babies); therefore Mr. Lewis, a pro-lifer, could be said to be acting as a conservative in his condemnation of Uncle Andrew’s attitude.

The Telmarines in “Prince Caspian” come in for a two-sided rebuke. They are shown to be descended from Earth humans who had committed violence and oppression against persons of another race; accordingly, it is liberalism that gets the credit for condemning this prejudice-related evil. But the society created by the Telmarines in the Narnian world also features a left-wing evil, such that opposing it is the act of a good conservative. I refer to the Telmarine school system, which is dedicated to denying the existence of the supernatural, ESPECIALLY the existence of Aslan. This is very much like the government school system in the United States today, where sex education for kindergarten children is advocated, yet God is not supposed to be mentioned.

The scene where Aslan disrupts Miss Prizzle’s class is PRICELESS.

When the aging Trumpkin in “The Silver Chair” fails to act promptly after Eustace and Jill turn up at Cair Paravel, causing the Talking Owls to intervene to assist the children, Trumpkin could be said to personify unimaginative, foot-dragging, custom-bound authority. Thus Mr. Lewis is wearing his liberal hat when making us understand that Trumpkin, though by no means evil, is in error.

Later, when the Green Witch tries hypnotically to convince the children and Puddleglum that neither Narnia nor Aslan exists, she is reflecting a bad sort of liberalism: the liberal theology, rooted in the so-called Enlightenment, which denies the truth of God’s Word and the involvement of God Himself in our world. Mr. Lewis is being spiritually conservative when he shows her arguments as serving the cause of evil. (And indeed, it is a plain and indisputable fact of real-world history that the ATHEISTIC Communist system has murdered far more people than ANY supernatural religion ever did.)

In “The Horse and His Boy,” we are clearly shown that the overall form of society prevailing in Narnia is morally superior to the culture of Calormen–as when, for instance, the Narnians visiting Calormen are described in a strikingly favorable light: “They were obviously prepared to be friends with whoever was friendly, and didn’t care a fig for whoever wasn’t.” Mr. Lewis was being a true conservative–and frightfully politically incorrect in today’s terms–to say that all cultures are NOT equally good and valid. But don’t despair, my liberal friends. Later in the book, when King Lune talks about the responsibilities of a king as understood by Narnians and Archenlanders, Mr. Lewis is uttering what could be considered a liberal idea through Lune’s mouth: the idea that rulers OWE it to their people to be just. In real-world history, the vast majority of monarchs everywhere have treated their subjects as one big rug to wipe their feet on. Thus, if Lune of Archenland were transported to Earth at any of most periods in history, he would emerge as a liberal hero in the very best sense, wanting to see justice done for the undeprivileged.

These examples should be enough to demonstrate that C.S. Lewis was well-rounded in his approach to social and theological issues, not blindly adhering to the right wing or the left. I try to emulate him in this; and if I ever seem to lean extremely to one side, it’s because I see so many others in society leaning extremely to the other side.

Ut fidem praestem in difficultate!


NarniaFansCast – Episode 12

The newest episode of NarniaFansCast has just been released! Join Paul Martin (Specter) and Austin Fury (CSLewisFan) as they discuss the news, talk about the upcoming movie, and answer questions submitted by YOU! Also included is a new short story by Roger Thomas (PrinceOfTheWest) called “Complications.”

This week, the hosts discuss :
~A duel in Prince Caspian,
~Polly and Digory’s influence giving talking animals the English language, and
~What if C.S. Lewis was alive and still writing? What would it be about?

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