The Way into Narnia: A Reader's Guide

The Way into Narnia: A Reader's Guide

The Way into Narnia: A Reader's Guide

The Way into Narnia: A Reader's Guide

Excerpt

This is the third book I’ve written dealing primarily with the Chronicles of Narnia. In the first, Reading with the Heart: The Way into Narnia (1979), I discussed universal themes and traditional literary structures created by the archetypal symbols and patterns Lewis used in the Chronicles, and the specifically Christian themes Lewis developed through establishing parallels between the Chronicles and Lewis’s Mere Christianity. In the second, Imagination and the Arts in C. S. Lewis: Journeying to Narnia and Other Worlds (2002), I examined Lewis’s theory of imagination, especially as it bears upon the Chronicles, and showed the importance of the imaginative arts — music, dance, art, architecture, and clothing design — in Lewis’s life and as motifs in the Chronicles.

Perhaps, as the most basic of the three books, this is the one I should have written first: the “guide” pointing out the “way” into Narnia and preparing for the journey. But I needed to write the others first to get to know the Chronicles well enough to do this one. This book reuses some material from those earlier studies, but it is a new book in approach, emphasis, and insights. Its unifying theme is that the best way to enter Narnia is to read the Chronicles as fairy tales. The book brings out the influence on the Chronicles of the ideas about Faërie developed by Lewis’s friend J. R. R. Tolkien in his essay “On Fairy-Stories.” A chapter on each of the Chronicles walks readers through the work, pointing out fairy-tale features, considering literary strategies and structures, and examining universal themes, particularly religious ones.

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