The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #1)

By C.S. Lewis

Rating: 4 stars

I read and enjoyed The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe several times as a child, but it wasn’t until I went to university, that I heard about its religious subtext, which surprised me (not growing up in a Christian household). This was the first time that I’ve re-read it as an adult and the religious subtext is pretty blatant coming to it now (I especially liked the mention of Jadis as being a Daughter of Lilith, rather than Eve), but it’s still a very enjoyable read. Despite the allegory, I still felt the pain of the temptation of Edmund and the humiliation and death of Aslan just as much as I did as a child.

It reads very much of its time, in terms of language and assumptions, not to mention style. I pretty much grew up on Lewis and Enid Blyton, so it was all very familiar to me, and comforting, in a way, but it does make assumptions about gender, class and status that would be more challenged today. The voice of the narrator talking directly to the reader is also something that has fallen out of favour in modern writing. It definitely feels, not exactly ‘dated’, but recognisable as not being a modern story (even setting aside the contents).

Even so, I still think it holds up well as a children’s book that draws the reader in and holds their attention well. Characters such as Mr Tumnus, the beavers and, of course, Aslan will live long in the memory and affection of readers for a long time to come.

Book details

ISBN: 9780006716631
Publisher: Fontana Lions
Year of publication: 1980

Perelandra (Voyage to Venus)

By C.S. Lewis

Rating: 2 stars

This is the second in Lewis’s Space trilogy, which started with Out of the Silent Planet. It’s been a while since I read it, but I quite enjoyed the first book, but the second has been a real chore to work through. It’s less a novel and more a theological discussion and, in my opinion, not a very good one at that.

The basic plot, what there is of it, sees Dr Elwin Ransom travelling to Perelandra (Venus) to find that planet’s Eve being tempted by the devil, possessing the body of his old enemy from the first book, Dr Weston. Most of the book is taken up with what Ransom’s encounter with the Lady of Perelandra and his argument with Weston. The arguments put forward in the book for Christianity didn’t seem that convincing to me, they seemed like the arguments of a man who couldn’t cope with the rate of progress of his time.

And towards the end, when he realised that he can’t out-argue Weston, he resorts to physical violence. He tries feebly to justify this by saying something like it being a new world and new rules, but it really doesn’t pass muster. His arguments weren’t as strong as his enemy’s so he resorted to violence. So he “wins” by brute force, rather than through discussion. Just like religions have done for millennia.

I’d avoid this book, unless you’re interested in a theological debate, although even there, I’d say it’s somewhat unsound.

Book details

ISBN: 9780330281591
Publisher: Pan
Year of publication: 1943

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