Another topic

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Thu Dec 4 10:53:48 EST 2003


Charlie replied to me:

>Minnow:
>> >Thanks for the example, Minnow - I should have remembered that. Mind you,
>> >the Narnia books are so steeped in Nesbit's influence that I'm not sure
>> >he counts as an independent witness!
>>
>> Are they?  He read them, according to Carpenter's "Inklings", but I don't
>> know how steeped he was, any more than in eg Mark Twain, which C also
>> cites as books Lewis had available to read.
>
>Well, influence is a hard thing to prove, of course, but personally I think
>the narrative voice he adopts in Narnia has strong echoes of Nesbit's
>(though it's not as witty, and doesn't poke quite so much fun at the
>reader).

It's somewhat like Beatrix Potter too, *I* think!

>And then *The Magician's Nephew* in particular, with its namecheck
>of the Bastables in the first couple of lines, has always seemed to me to be
>a kind of Nesbit homage.

Them and Sherlock Holmes still being in Baker Street at the time the book
is set in.  Yes, true.  I simply assumed that he was giving some sort of
marker for the children he assumed would be reading the book, and would be
sure to know those two names and have associations with them (just as
Nesbit rather expects all children to have read Scott, here and there in
her work).

>E.g. Jadis in London recalls the Babylonian queen
>in *The Story of the Amulet*,

Now you point it out, I suppose she does.  That hadn't struck me.

>while Frank and (can't remember the name) who
>become the first king and queen of Narnia echo the Cook and Thief becoming
>king and queen of the tropical island in *The Phoenix and the Carpet*.

Is her name Helen?  She mostly gets called "my Missus" and "the Queen" in
TMN, but I think she's named in one of the other books, or maybe at the end
with the coronation.

>I think he also had a short but admiring passage about Nesbit in *Surprised
>by Joy*. All this doesn't make a cast-iron case for pervasive Nesbit
>influence, perhaps, but at least I've convinced myself!

He says that the trilogy *Five Children and It*, *The Phoenix and the
Carpet* and *The Amulet* were better than *A Connecticut Yankee at the
Court of King Arthur* and *Sir Nigel*, and then he says that *Gulliver* was
a favourite book of his, and finally (via Tenniel in Punch) goes to Beatrix
Potter and how beautiful those were.

You've gone part-way to making me agree with you, but only thus far, as it
were, because I am still unsure about being "steeped".  Aware of and
admiring of, yes, but...

Minnow


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