Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Lion, the withch and The Wardrobe by C.S Lewis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Narnia Read a long continues. I only finished this one yesterday, so actually timed it better.
I think this is the most famous book of the series, and definitely the one that I remember the most from childhood. Before I start I will just say that I am finding it a little hard to review this book. I have read it twice at least and watched the movie twice. However, we also have the Playstation game, which my daughter plays continuously. So, I think that all the impressions are a bit jumbled up in my brain, lol and proving hard to seperate.
The story starts with four children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy being evacuated from war torn London and sent to live with an old professor in the country. While there they discover a whole another land which they enter through a wardrobe in the spare room. Every childs dream, lol. Of course, their is evil lurking in this world and they discover that it is actually their job to attempt to drive this evil out and save the world. Of course they do this with the assistance of a whole heap of characters including Father Christmas, Mr & Mrs Beaver and of course Aslan, the God-like Lion.
I really enjoyed reading this book and just find the whole concept so magical. It got some quite withering reports on  Goodreads and a few other places which surprised me. There were some things which I agreed with but all in all I enjoyed the book. After thinking about it though I think that it depends on how you look at it. This is a book written for youngish children and therefore perhaps we shouldnt look too deeply into the writing faults. These would not be so obvious to a young child, and perhaps it is necessary to have them understand it. If you compare it to "great literature" it probably will fall short. The story itself is lovely, but the characters are not really developed and there is not too much "fleshing out" of the plot if that makes sense. It is quick, it is easy to read and the story is simple, and I guess that is what appeals to kids. I think it is hard to compare it to books like Harry Potter because those were written for a slightly older audience. I would say this was geared more for the under 10s.
Some people also criticised it saying it was racist and how the original inhabitants couldnt solve their own problems they had to be sorted out by a bunch of British schoolchildren. Once again you have to look at who it was probably written for - British schoolchildren. And I dont necessarily think a child would pick up on this aspect either.
Lastly, the whole Christianity thing, which has got quite scathing remarks all around, and seems to have really offended some people. As I said with The Magicians Nephew, I really picked this up a lot more now than I did as a child. Yes, there are signs of Christianity, with Aslan coming to save the world etc. However, the way I saw it was more of the fight of good against evil. Once again, it is written for children and I personally dont think that a young child who is not Christian would recognise any of the obvious similarities. Having said that C.S Lewis was a very devout Christian and why shouldn't he be able to write Christian "themed" books. If you dont like it, dont read them. I just don't see why we critisize Christian writers for saying Christian things if we don't critisize Hindus/Muslims/Buddhists for writing books about their religion. I hope I haven't offended anybody with that it certainly was not my intention.
Anyway, off my soapbox and back to the book:
Favourite scenes:
Lucy first entering Narnia and meeting Mr. Tumnus
The scene where Edmund meets the Witch, I love the whole Turkish Delight bit
The scene where Mrs Beaver keeps making them pack things for their journey and asks if she should bring the sewing machine
Aslan bringing the statues to life
The last scene in Narnia where they discuss the lamp-post.

Now I have to go and find my copy of The Prince and his boy.


Whitney said...

You made some fantastic points about the religious references in The Chronicles of Narnia, if people really wanted to be offend they should read Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy, Christianity is really bashed there.

Back to the series, You mentioned some of my favorite scenes too, my personal choices being Lucy Edmund's introduction to Narnia with such vastly different points of view.

Thanks for playing along!

Georgia Girls said...

You both mention some very good scenes that I enjoyed as well. I liked in C. S. Lewis's note to his granddaughter, that "someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." We're never to old are we? I hope to soon post my review of Keturah and Lord Death -- loved it!