Planet Narnia

Planet Narnia

The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis

Book - 2008
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"For over half a century, scholars have laboured to show that C.S. Lewis's famed but apparently disorganised Chronicles of Narnia have an underlying symbolic coherence, pointing to such possible unifying themes as the seven sacraments, the seven deadly sins, and the seven books of Spenser's Faerie Queene. None of these explanations has won general acceptance and the structure of Narnia's symbolism has remained a mystery." "Michael Ward has finally solved the enigma. In Planet Narnia he demonstrates that medieval cosmology, a subject which fascinated Lewis throughout his life, provides the imaginative key to the seven novels. Drawing on the whole range of Lewis's writings (including previously unpublished drafts of the Chronicles), Ward reveals how the Narnia stories were designed to express the characteristics of the seven medieval planets - Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Luna, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn - planets which Lewis described as "spiritual symbols of permanent value" and "especially worthwhile in our own generation". Using these seven symbols, Lewis secretly constructed the Chronicles so that in each book the plot-line, the ornamental details, and, most important, the portrayal of the Christ-figure of Aslan, all serve to communicate the governing planetary personality. The cosmological theme of each Chronicle is what Lewis called 'the kappa element in romance', the atmospheric essence of a story, everywhere present but nowhere explicit. The reader inhabits this atmosphere and thus imaginatively gains connaitre knowledge of the spiritual character which the tale was created to embody." "Planet Narnia is a ground-breaking study that will provoke a major revaluation not only of the Chronicles, but of Lewis's whole literary and theological outlook. Ward uncovers a much subtler writer and thinker than has previously been recognized, whose central interests were hiddenness, immanence, and knowledge by acquaintance."--Jacket.
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2008.
ISBN: 9780195313871
0195313879
9780199738700
019973870X
Branch Call Number: 823.912 WARD
Characteristics: xii, 347 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm.

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scribby
Oct 07, 2017

This is an interesting read; a detailed analysis of how Lewis thoroughly subsumed the old pagan world into the Christian symbolism in the “Narniad” in more subtle ways than including dryads and minotaurs in his invented world. What’s particularly intriguing is that all of this had actually been done centuries earlier, in Medieval Europe – and Narnia does seem to be a slice of the Medieval world brought back to life. That’s partly what makes Narnia so enduring and magical (along with longer works by other authors: The Lord of the Rings and, to a lesser extent, the Dune series) – it’s a newly invented world, but it has deep, deep roots. On the minus side, some of the examples seem to be a bit of a stretch (particularly the chapter about Venus, which would not be appropriate in a book for children) and there’s no proof that Lewis had this detailed overarching astrological plan in mind to begin with, but it’s worth thinking about. And then, after thinking about it, read the original Narnia books. They’re even better for adults than for the intended audience of children.

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