Somewhere amid being reminded of the Kraken eating Johnny Depp, the parting of the Red Sea, Ron making it snow, and Forrest Gump jumping off his boat to swim to Lieutenant Dan, I took some proper enjoyment in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader this afternoon at Bellis Fair. (And I could almost believe that the references above were deliberate jokes.)
Granted, Dawn Treader was not precisely the story that C.S. Lewis wrote. In fact, as friends of mine pointed out, almost none of Lewis’ original dialogue made it into the piece–with one shockingly important exception, something no one who saw the travesty that was Prince Caspian would have ever expected from a Narnia movie.
Has anyone heard of this novel by C.S. Lewis scholar, David C. Downing? I came across the novel’s official website today and was intrigued by the premise. The novel takes place in 1940 in England, where two Americans, one of which was researching the historical evidence for King Arthur and the other troubled by strange dreams, are searching for the Spear of Destiny. They come across and are helped by the Inklings, including C.S. Lewis and J.RR. Tolkien. The novel was published recently (end of October 2010) and looks like an interesting read.
The publication of Planet Narnia was a watershed moment in C.S. Lewis studies. Scholars before were confused as to why only three novels in The Chronicles of Narnia seemed to contain obvious biblical references (Creation, Death/Resurrection, Last Things) while the rest of the novels didn’t.
Michael Ward discovered through his reading of “The Planets,” a poem by Lewis, that beyond the story and the biblical meanings, there was a third layer, a secret code, namely that Lewis infused the characteristics of the seven planets in Medieval Cosmology into each Narnia tale. Now Ward has brought his scholarly findings to a larger audience with the release of The Narnia Code.
The Narnia Code is a fast paced, easy to read book that serves as an excellent introduction to Ward’s discovery of the planetary blueprint that undergirds the Narnia series. Throughout the book, you will learn many things about the seven planets (Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Luna, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn), their characteristics, and word origins that escape our modern (or perhaps post-modern) minds. For example, I never thought the word commerce was connected with Mercury. Fascinating. This book provides a glimpse into Lewis’s appreciation of the pre-Copernican worldview and how his thoughts on the kappa (hidden) element in story show most prominently in how each Narnia book is infused with the characteristics of the planets. The end of the book has a helpful discussion guide.
This book will leave you wanting more and lead you to Ward’s larger work, Planet Narnia, and perhaps to the Narnia series knowing that it was the product of an intricate mind. More importantly this book will give you insight into Lewis’s Christian thinking and understanding that “The heavens are telling the glory of God…”
For me, two very important events happened yesterday and today. Yesterday, November 22, 1963, C.S. Lewis died, his death being overshadowed by the assasination of John F. Kennedy. Aldous Huxley also died that day too. Lewis is well known for his Chronicles of Narnia books and also for his Christian apologetical works, even giving a series of radio lectures during World War II which would later form the book Mere Christianity. Among many works, Lewis also wrote science fiction, The Space Trilogy, and also, what I consider to be his best work, Till We Have Faces, a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. Continue reading →
Adam Barkman has written a book which will quickly become essential to C.S. Lewis studies: C.S. Lewis and Philosophy as a Way of Life. A hardcover volume from Zossima Press, over 600 pages in length, it explores C.S. Lewis as philosopher, a realm Lewis studies that needed a work this in-depth, comprehensive, and profound.
David Baggett, a philosopher who’s done work on our favorite boy wizard, calls Barkman’s book a “magisterial work…a sheer delight to read.”
The New York C.S. Lewis Society, “the oldest society for the appreciation and discussion of C.S. Lewis in the world,” is hosting a 40th anniversary weekend symposium, with excellent Lewis scholars, August 7-9, 2009. If you’re near NYC, this is an event you won’t want to miss. I’m 7 hours away, and I’m trying to figure out how I could manage to make the trip.
BBC’s special, The Narnia Code, which is about Michael Ward’s excellent work, Planet Narnia, is available online for another 6 days! I plan to watch it sometime this weekend. Don’t miss the opportunity!