CS Lewis (Was: Favourite books)

JOdel at aol.com JOdel at aol.com
Sun Dec 12 18:00:28 EST 2004

My experience with the Narnia books was a bit off from the usual. I first 
encountered - completely by accident - The Magician's Nephew in the public 
Library when I was about 9. Enjoyed it a lot and never could find it again to reread 
it. This was because I had paid no attention whatsoever to the author's name, 
and was even vague on the title. I kept checking that general area of the 
library shelf but never managed to find it again.

Fast-forward to age 11 or 12 at a friend's house and picking up her copy of 
Lion, Witch and Wardrobe. Something about it struck me as vaguely familiar from 
the get-go (probably the style) even though I was sure I had never read it 
before. Borrowed the book. Was completely aware once I got into the story that 
not only was this the *Easter* story, but I was delighted to find that it was 
the *same world* as that book I had never been able to find again! By 11 or 12 
I was aware that you needed the author's name to find a book in the library 
and was so pleased to discover that there was a whole series of these books 
(even though I never found Prince Caspian or Horse and His Boy until I bought my 
own copies when i was in college).

Now, even though I recognized the Easter story when I saw it, with absolutely 
no warning and difficulty, and thought that it was pretty cool to be 
retelling it as a fantasy story, truth to tell, I had *not* recognized Magician's 
Nephew as a paraphrase of the Genesis story when I had first read that.

I suspect that maybe you have to blunder into Lewis's retold Christian 
mythology unaware on your first experience of it and experience it as a *story* 
first in order to really apreciate it. If you can't hack his style of storytelling 
(which was an anachronism some 30-40 years out of date by the time he was 
using it) it doesn't matter how much you agree with his theology. If you go into 
it aware that it is Christian allegory you are always going to be cheated of 
the thrill of discovering it for yourself, no matter how high your tolerance 
for didactic storytelling.
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