CS Lewis (Was: Favourite books)

Katarina Hjärpe head_overheels at hotmail.com
Mon Dec 13 18:34:34 EST 2004


>'Strewth, I always thought that the most religiously/culturally dubious 
of
>the whole lot!

Culturally, yes. But there's pretty much no *religious* metaphors. Tash the 
nasty god doesn't show up at all and is pretty much just a part of the nasty 
culture as a whole, and Aslan plays a very bit part.

It also gives a greater chance of counter-reading than the other books – I 
found the Arabian Nights kind of world in it to be very alluring, and Aravis 
is my favourite character in the whole books, arrogant little snob that she 
is. I'm pretty sure Lewis didn't intend for anyone to find Calormen a more 
appealing and interesting world than Narnia, but I still found it to be so. 
It's easier to root for the Calormenes than for Jadis or that slinky little 
snake-witch in the silver Chair.

But the other books have their charms as well – the development of Eustace 
and Edmund and the entire characterisation of Puddle-Glum come to mind.

>Well, probably one is supposed to react in favour of telling the truth 
and
>washing and standing up for oneself and getting on with the job in hand
>from reading *Swallows and Amazons* too, so the hidden agenda is 
"people
>who are the heroes/heroines of books wash and tell the truth and so on, 
so
>should you" even though nobody in S&A ever goes anywhere near a 
church and
>God is never mentioned, so it isn't a wicked Christian agenda, just a
>wicked middle-class one.  Or something.

Well, yeah. Every book comes with *some* kind of morals, and there are many 
I find just as distasteful as the Narnia books or more, and that are even 
more sneaky. There's the house sorting system in Harry Potter, for example. 
(If there's one thing I really *like* about Lewis, it's that he shows that 
bad kids are still just kids and can grow up just fine. Well, in two 
instances out of three, anyway.)

> >And as people have said, nowadays the religious elements are less 
troubling
> >to me than the sexism and general conservatism.
>
>Sexism is less rife in Narnia than in the SF, I think (though quite the
>most grotty character in *That Hideous Strength* is the futile piffler
>Mark).

Oh, god yes. The sci-fi books are *horrid* that way. But still, Lucy gets to 
play nursemaid instead of fight, mixed schools are scoffed at, and poor 
Susan gets kicked out of heaven for being a vain little idiot even though 
Eustace and Edmund were both forgiven. And as for the villains, Jadis and 
what's-her-name play on their sexuality and femininity in a way that has no 
counterpart in the male villains, human or not.

Of course, it'd help if I had the least bit of interest in the kind of 
spunky girls Lewis seems to like. (The non-wicked kids pretty much bore me 
in general. Another counter-reading, I guess.)

I suppose I should at least be happy I'm not a vegetarian. :-)

Katta

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