Debbie

Tasty and Squishable Shelob Candy

Rachel Clark : October 2, 2015 1:24 pm : Columns, Debbie, Guest Author, Rachel, The Chaotic Kitchen

Tasty, squishable, and very, very sticksy, yesssss Precious, sticksy like Shelob’s webs. Everyone’s always hungry for Shelob candy, yesssss. And Smeagol knows the way; good Smeagol shows Master the way to make Shelob candises. Smeagol gives you the recipe.

First, you need these foodses:

  • 4 cups marshmallows
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Next, microwave the marshmallowses and the butter until they are melted. Stir them well.

1

Add the vanilla.

2

Microwave again if the marshmallowses are too stiff, and then mix in 1 1/4 cups flaked coconutses. Should be about the stickiness of giant spider’s web, yesssss, precious:

4

Now add the tasty and crunchable pecanses.

5

Watch out for nasty tricksy hobbitses, who come to steal your juicy sweet candises:

8Keep close watch for nasty hobbitses while you lay out parchment paperses on a plate and spray it with slippery grease:

9

Use two spoons to roll the sticky juicy sweet into a ball. Once that is done, keep the preciousssss in a cold dark cave, or in a nasty refrigerator (your choice) until they are holdable and chewable:

10.

And listen to good Smeagol, don’t let nasty tricksy hobbitses take your Shelob candy. Because nasty tricksy hobbitses will steal it from you. 

13

Nasty hobbit stole our preciousssss. 

14

We must go look for the preciousssss.

gollum tree

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Teatime in Narnia: How to Make a Tumnus-Style Tea

Debbie Clark : July 19, 2015 10:03 pm : Columns, Debbie, Narnia, The Chaotic Kitchen

Narnia LWW 47“And it really was a wonderful tea. There was a nice brown egg, lightly boiled for each of them, and then sardines on toast, and then buttered toast, and then toast with honey, and then a sugar-topped cake.”  ~ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, page 15.

Every true-blooded Narnian likes a good tea, just like every decent hobbit likes a second breakfast. Mr. Tumnus, one of the noblest of fauns, is a delightful teatime host and a fabulous cook, if I do say so myself. And so, I have procured from the archives at Cair Paravel the recipe that tantalizes taste buds throughout all of Narnia: Mr. Tumnus’ all-around enchanting Sugar-Topped cake.

Without further ado, here is the Magic recipe to get you started on your own Narnian tea:

Actually, no. You need more ado — here are some pictures to document the glorious deliciousness of Narnia cuisine.

20150417 Aerial View RS

A Narnian tea for two, with tea (though I shouldn’t wonder if you hadn’t already guessed that), sardines, apples, sugar-crusted lemons, soft-boiled eggs, candied orange peel, toast with honey and butter, and — this is the most important — Mr. Tumnus’ enchantingly delicious Sugar-Topped Cake.

20150417 Cake und Table RS

Mr. Tumnus’ cave was not likely so well-lit, but at least the furnishings would have been fairly similar: books, a map of Narnia, apples from Calormen, and the Magic cake — the recipe for which had been handed down from faun to faun for generations, and now rests in the archives at Cair Paravel.

20150417 Pouring da tea RS

The food is positively scrumptious here in Narnia; it is completely befuddling that more tourists haven’t arrived to experience it all.

20150417 Non-Photo-bombed side view of cake RS

But, in the end, you’ve really only come here for a cake recipe. So let’s get down to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As seen in the pictures above:
Toast (and butter, and sardines)
Tea, sugar, and cream
Lightly boiled brown eggs
Lemon slices
Apples
Candied orange peels
Sugar-topped cake, Tumnus style

The recipe used for this cake came from The Narnia Cookbook (which means it really came straight from the archives at Cair Paravel). Please note that this recipe only makes one 8″ x 8″ cake layer, and if you desire more, double it.

Sugar-Topped Cake

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 cup raisins, chopped
1/2 cup currants
1/4 cup candied orange peel, chopped fine
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup candied cherries (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease an 8″ x 2″ round pan, and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper or waxed paper.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. With an electric mixer or by hand, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar alternately with the milk, beating just until mixed.
5. Fold in the fruit and nuts.
6. Pour the batter into the greased pan.
7. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove to a rack and cool completely. Remove the cake from the pan, and frost with sugar cake frosting. Decorate with candied cherries if desired.

 

Icing:

1 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla.

Some Helpful Suggestions From Your Humble Servant, the Narnian (Well, again, that isn’t quite true, because I’m royalty. You get the picture.)

The icing recipe can be doubled or tripled, depending on how large of a Magic sugar coma you’d like to get yourself into — and as far as I’m concerned, the more cherries there are on top, the better it is.

Serve with some soothing Magic flute music, and don’t try the Turkish delight. It doesn’t end very well most of the time.

 

References: The Narnia Cookbook, Douglas Gresham and Pauline Baynes
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Culture of Marsh-wiggles

Debbie Clark : November 21, 2014 2:16 pm : Columns, Debbie, Narnia

Narnia is replete with abnormal creatures, both small and large. Although C. S. Lewis employed various creatures that are often found in mythology and fairy tales, he also created his own, the Marsh-wiggle being one of them. Marsh-wiggles are purely Narnian beings, and are a favorite amongst readers of The Chronicles of Narnia.

The Silver Chair is the only book in the series that really mentions Marsh-wiggles, though in earlier maps of Narnia a marsh is present. This excerpt is from The Silver Chair, after Jill Pole and Eustace Scrubb have made the decision –with the help of a parliament of owls– that they must go north in search of the lost prince of Narnia, and are taken to the guide that the owls have arranged. This would have been their first good look at a Marsh-wiggle, though they had briefly met him the night before.

 

As they drew nearer, the figure turned its head and showed them

a long thing face with rather sunken cheeks, a tightly shut mouth, 

a sharp nose, and no beard. He was wearing a high, pointed hat

like a steeple, with an enormously wide flat brim. The hair, if it

could be called hair, which hung over his large ears was greeny-

gray, and each lock was flat rather than round, so that they were

like tiny reeds. His expression was solemn, his complexion

muddy, and you could see at once that he took a serious view of

life.

“Good morning, Guests,” he said. “Though when I say good I

don’t mean it won’t probably turn to rain or it might be snow, or

fog, or thunder. You didn’t get any sleep, I dare say.”

Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle

The next smidgen of text is from the paragraph further down, and describes more about the peculiar features of the Marsh-wiggle.

 

 “Puddleglum’s my name. But it doesn’t matter if you forget it. I

can always tell you again.”

The children sat down on each side of him. They now say that he

had very long legs and arms, so that though his body was not

much bigger that a dwarf’s, he would be taller than most men

when he stood up. The fingers of his hands were webbed like a

frog’s, and so were his bare feet which dangled in the muddy

water. He was dressed in earth-colored clothes that hung loose

about him.

 

Marsh-wiggles, on the whole, are tall and have long arms and legs, along with a pessimistic view on life. Though they speak gloomily, they aren’t being mean, it’s just their nature; they are actually cheerful pessimists (even though that’s an oxymoron, its true). Though Puddleglum seems to be the epitome of Marsh-wiggles, among his own friends he is considered an oddball because of his ‘uncommon cheerfulness’.

 

They all say—I mean, the other wiggles all say—that I’m too

flighty; don’t take life seriously enough. If they’ve said it once,

they’ve said it a thousand times. ‘Puddleglum,’

they’ve said, ‘you’re altogether too full of high spirits. You’ve got

to learn that life isn’t all fricasseed frogs and eel pie. You want

something to sober you down a bit. We’re only saying it for your

own good, Puddleglum.’ That’s what they say.”

 

It seems as if a wiggle’s diet mainly consists of eel, and that they have created many varieties of cooking them as well. It appears that they eat frogs too.

 

Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle fishing for eels

“I’m trying to catch a few eels to make an eel stew for our dinner,”

said Puddleglum.

“Though I shouldn’t wonder if I didn’t get any. And you won’t

like them much if I do.”

“Why not?” asked Scrubb.

“Why, it’s not in reason that you should like our sort of victuals, though I’ve no doubt you’ll put a bold face on it.” 

 

Jill and Eustace enjoyed their dinner of eel stew, much to the surprise of Puddleglum; he says that their ‘just putting a bold face on it.’

This is what Puddleglum said, when Jill and Eustace had arrived at his wigwam:

 “There you are. Best we can do. You’ll lie cold and hard. Damp

too, I shouldn’t wonder. Won’t sleep a wink, most likely; even if

there isn’t a thunderstorm or a flood or a wigwam doesn’t fall

down on top of us all, as I’ve known them do”.

 

As was proved in the morning, the bed that Jill and Eustace slept on in the wigwam wasn’t cold, or hard, or damp. There wasn’t a thunderstorm, nor was there a flood, and the wigwam didn’t fall down on top of them either.

Marsh-wiggles are mesmerizing creatures, with many curious habits and personalities. They do a lot of the watery work in Narnia. They all live together in a marsh, though their dwellings are a comfortable distance away because they value their privacy very greatly. Their choice of a home is a wigwam, which seems a reasonable preference as they live in a marsh.

Puddleglum by his wigwam and pot of eel stew. As seen in the illustration, Puddleglum smokes a pipe. It is said of Marsh-wiggles that they smoke a heavy tobacco, perhaps even mixed with mud.

The name ‘Marsh-wiggle’ is indicative of the creatures in general. ‘Marsh’ is obvious because they live in a marsh. ‘Wiggle’ comes in because Marsh-wiggles have feet and hands that are webbed like a frog’s or perhaps a duck’s feet, thus seeming wiggly or floppy.

Further along in The Silver Chair, Puddleglum accepts a drink from the giants at Harfang; though he is skeptical, he does drink it, and in turn, behaves like a frog. As you might be able to see, Marsh-wiggles have about the most amusing character traits and speech habits that you can possibly find in the entity of Narnia.

At the end of The Silver Chair when Jill, Eustace and Puddleglum have completed their quest to find Prince Rilian, Puddleglum inquires about the news that he might have missed while he was away.

 

The whole crowd began to move away through the trees toward

the cave. Jill heard Puddleglum saying to those who pressed

round him.

“No, no, my story can wait. Nothing worth talking about has

happened to me. I want to hear the news. Don’t try breaking it to

me gently, for I’d rather have it all at once. Has the King been

shipwrecked? Any forest fires? No wars on the Calormen border?

Or a few dragons, I shouldn’t wonder?”

And all the creatures laughed aloud and said, “Isn’t that just like a Marsh-wiggle?”

 

Marsh-wiggles are a lugubrious sort, and as was said of Puddleglum at the end of The Silver Chair:

Puddleglum often pointed out that bright mornings brought on

wet afternoons, and that you couldn’t expect good times to last.

 

 

 

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Works Cited:

Lewis, C.S. The Complete Chronicles of Narnia. New York: Harper Collins, 1998. Print.

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Door to the other World

Debbie Clark : November 12, 2014 3:49 pm : Columns, Debbie, Narnia

   The Chronicles of Narnia is notable for its extraordinary comings and goings to and from Narnia and our own world. In all of the books excepting one, there is a doorway or portal which will take you to or from Narnia.

    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe portrays a wardrobe as the magical doorway into Narnia; thus the wardrobe has become an icon for the entire series.

 “This must be a simply enormous wardrobe!” thought Lucy, going still further in and pushing the soft folds of the coats aside to make room for her. Then she noticed that there was something crunching under her feet. “I wonder is that more moth-balls?” she thought, stooping down to feel it with her hand. But instead of feeling the hard, smooth wood of the floor of the wardrobe, she felt something soft and powdery and extremely cold.

“This is very strange,” she said, and went on a step or two further. Next moment she found that what was rubbing against her face and hands was no longer soft fur but something hard and rough and even prickly.

“Why, it is just like branches of trees!” exclaimed Lucy. And then she saw that there was a light ahead of her—not a few inches away where the back of the wardrobe ought to have been, but a long way off. Something cold and soft was falling on her. A moment later she found that she was standing on the middle of a wood at night-time with snow under her feet and snowflakes falling through the air.

 

In the case of Prince Caspian at the ending of the story, there was a wooden doorframe that Aslan created for the purpose of sending the Telmarines and the Pevensies back to earth from whence they came.

 

  At one end of the glade Aslan had caused to be set up two stakes of wood, higher than a man’s head and about three feet apart. A third, and lighter, piece of wood was bound across them at the top, uniting them, so that the whole thing looked like a doorway from nowhere into nowhere. 

 

Later, in Prince Caspian when the Narnians and Telmarines have assembled at the doorway, one of the Telmarines accepts Aslan’s offer of a different world. This Telmarine walks through the doorway, never to be seen in Narnia again. All of the other Telmarines that were there went through the door by the end of the day.

 

There was a silence for a moment. Then a burly, decent-looking fellow among the Telmarine soldiers pushed forward and said:

 

“Well, I’ll take the offer.”

 

“It is well chosen,” said Aslan. “And because you have spoken first, strong magic is upon you. Your future in that world shall be good. Come forth.”

 

The man, now a little pale, came forward. Aslan and his court drew aside, leaving him free access to the empty doorway of the stakes.

 

“Go through it, my son,” said Aslan, bending towards him and touching the man’s nose with his own. As soon as the Lion’s breath came about him, a new look came into the man’s eyes – startled, but not unhappy – as if he trying to remember something. Then he squared his shoulders and walked through the Door.

 

Everyone’s eyes were fixed on him. They saw the three pieces of wood, and through them the trees and grass and sky of Narnia. They saw the man between the doorposts: then, in one second he had vanished utterly. 

 

Further on in the chapter, Lewis describes how it is for the Pevensies as they walked through the Doorway and they were magically transported back to the train station where the whole adventure started.

 

And then, wonderfully and terribly, it was farewell to Aslan himself, and Peter took his place with Susan’s hand on his shoulders and Edmund’s on hers and Lucy’s on his and the first of the Telmarines’ on Lucy’s, and so in a long line they moved forward to the Door. After that came a moment which is hard to describe, for the children seemed to be seeing three things at once. One was the mouth of a cave opening into the glaring green and blue of an island in the Pacific, where all of the Telmarines would find themselves the moment they were through the door. The second was a glade in Narnia, the faces of Dwarfs and Beasts, the deep eyes of Aslan, and the white patches on the Badger’s cheeks. But the third ( which rapidly swallowed up the other two) was the grey, gravelly surface of a platform in a country station, and a seat with luggage round it, where they were all sitting as if they had never moved from it – a little flat and dreary for a moment after all they had been through, but also, unexpectedly, nice in its own way, what with the familiar railway smell and the English sky and the summer term before them.

 

The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’ begins with Edmund and Lucy talking about a painting of a ship which looks like it is from Narnia. Eustace, who is a little tease, is drawn into the painting along with the other two; this magic painting of the Dawn Treader serves as the portal into Narnia, drawing all three into it.

 

I’ll smash the rotten thing,” cried Eustace; and then several things happened at the same time. Eustace rushed toward the picture. Edmund, who knew something about magic, sprang after him and told him not to be a fool. Lucy grabbed at him from the other side and was dragged forward. And by this time either they had grown much smaller or the picture had grown bigger. Eustace jumped to try to pull it off the wall and found himself standing on the frame; in front of him was not glass but real sea, and wind and waves rushing up to the frame as they might to a rock. He lost his head and clutched at the other two who had jumped up beside him. There was second of struggling and shouting, and just as they thought they had got their balance a great blue roller surged up round them, swept them off their feet, and drew them down into the sea. Eustace’s despairing cry suddenly ended as the water got into his mouth. 

 

Further along in the story, after having sailed to the end of the world and into Aslan’s Country, the three of them meet Aslan himself. After a long conversation, Aslan opens a door in the sky, and sends Edmund, Lucy and Eustace back into England.

 

“Come, I am opening the door in the sky.” Then all in one moment there was a rending of the blue wall (like a curtain being torn) and a terrible white light from beyond the sky, and the feel of Aslan’s mane and a Lion’s kiss on their foreheads and then—the back bedroom in Aunt Alberta’s home in Cambridge. 

 

In The Silver Chair, Jill and Eustace are trying to escape the bullies at their wretched school. There is a gate that leads to moors by Jill and Eustace’s school and it’s almost always locked. Here, this gate is the doorway into Aslan’s country; from there, the two of them are blown into Narnia by Aslan. This entrance to by being blown is probably the most peculiar in the series.

 

 “It’s sure to be no good,” said Eustace with his hand on the handle; and then, “O-o-oh. By Gum!!”

 

For the handle turned and the door opened. A moment before, both of them had meant to get through that doorway in double quick time, if by any chance the door was not locked. But when the door actually opened, they both stood stock still. For what they saw was quite different from what they had expected. They had expected to see the grey, heathery slope of the moor going up and up to join the dull autumn sky. Instead, a blaze of sunshine met them. It poured through the doorway as the light of a June day pours into a garage when you open the door. It made the drops of water on the grass glitter like beads and showed up the dirtiness of Jill’s tear-stained face. And the sunlight was coming from what certainly did look like a different world—what they could see of it. They saw smooth turf, smoother and brighter that Jill had ever seen before, and the blue sky, and, darting to and fro, things so bright that they might have been jewels of huge butterflies. Although she had been longing for something like this, Jill felt frightened. She looked at Scrubb’s face and saw that he was frightened too.

 

“Come on, Pole,” he said in a breathless voice.

 

“Can we get back? Is it safe?”

 

At that moment a voice shouted from behind, a mean, spiteful little voice. “Now then, Pole,” it squeaked. “Everyone knows you’re there. Down you come.” It was the voice of Edith Jackle, not one of Them herself but one of their hangers-on and tale-bearers.

 

“Quick!” said Scrubb. “Here. Hold hands. We mustn’t get separated.” And before she quite knew what was happening, he had grabbed her hand and pulled her through the door, out of the school grounds, out of England, out of our whole world into That Place.

 

After Jill and Eustace complete their task in Narnia, they come back to Aslan’s Country. By now, King Caspian is in Aslan’s Country, and he joins them in a playful combat against the bullies at Experiment House, Caspian and Eustace with the flats of their swords, and Jill with a switch that Aslan has turned into a riding crop. Aslan comes with them and roars a great big roar which knocks down the wall thru which they came to Narnia in the first place. When that is finished Aslan repairs the wall and goes back to his own country.

 

The most significant portal in the series is the door to the stable. In The Last Battle, a wicked ape named Shift has created a false Aslan and placed it in a stable; from there, he sends messages to the Tisroc of Calormen and has him send an army of Calormenes to Narnia. Though Shift has created a beautifully clever plot which has both the Narnians and Calormenes in submission by creating ‘Tashlan’, –a mash-up name of Tash and Aslan– he never thought that the real Tash would turn up. Tash enters the stable and doesn’t leave for a good long while.

 

“I feel in my bones,” said Poggin, “that we shall all, one by one, pass through that dark door before morning. I can think of a hundred deaths I would rather have died.

 

“It is indeed a grim door,” said Tirian. “It is more like a mouth.”

 

“Oh, can’t we do anything to stop it?” said Jill in a shaken voice.

 

“Nay, fair friend,” said Jewel, nosing her gently. “It may be for us the door to Aslan’s county and we shall sup at his table tonight.”

 

 

tlb-doorwayAfter a hard battle with the Calormenes, all three pass through the stable, and enter Aslan’s Country. Digory, Polly, Peter, Edmund and Lucy are already there, having died in the same train wreck which sent Jill and Eustace into Narnia at the beginning of the story.

 

 

“And what has been happening since you got here?” asked Eustace.

 

 “Well,” sad Peter, “for a long (at least I suppose it was a long time) nothing happened. Then the door opened— “

 

 “The door?” said Tirian.

 

 “Yes,” said Peter, “The door you came in—or came out—by. Have you forgotten?”

 

 “But where is it?”

 

 “Look,” said Peter and pointed.

 

 Tirian looked and saw the queerest and most ridiculous thing you can imagine. Only a few yards away, clear to be seen in the sunlight, there stood up a rough wooden door and, round it, the framework of the doorway: nothing else, no walls, no roof. He walked toward it, bewildered, and the others followed, watching to see what he would do. He walked round to the other side of the door. But it looked just the same from the other side:  he was still in the open air, no a summer morning. The door was simply standing up by itself as if it had grown there like a tree.

 

In the entire Chronicles of Narnia there are Biblical parallels, some are downright obvious, some are hidden carefully, and some are just faint likenesses to the Bible. This conversation between Aslan and Jill from The Silver Chair has its own similarities to what was said in the book of Revelations.

 “I was wondering—I mean—could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call to – to Somebody—It was a name I wouldn’t know—and perhaps the Somebody would let us in. And we did, and then we found the door open.”

 

“You would not have been calling to me unless I had been calling to you.”

Here, Aslan is basically saying that he is  calling to you, but what happens will depend on what you do, be it to answer or ignore him. This is pretty much what the verse below is says.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him– Revelations 3; 20

There are other similarities to this verse in other parts of the series, such as when the four Pevensies are trying to escape from Mrs. Macready’s tour of sight seers. They all decide to just go in the wardrobe to escape, rather than be chased all over the house trying to evade “the Macready” as they call her. What the Pevensies think is just an annoying coincidence is actually magic, trying to herd them into Narnia so they can deliver it from the White Witch as was prophesied.

Not all entrances to Narnia are by doors or doorways, there are also the magic rings from The Magician’s Nephew. Aslan is always a way back into this world.  Aslan says that there are ‘chinks and chasms’ between the worlds, but they have grown rarer. At that time, he was referring to a cave on an island, which was one of the last doorways into Narnia, but not the last. When he said this he most likely was hinting at the wardrobe, and the painting that Edmund, Lucy and Eustace went through, not to mention the gateway at Eustace and Jill’s school. As Professor Kirke’s advice to the Pevensies at the end of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, referring to trying to get back to Narnia is extremely useful:

 

“Indeed, don’t try to get there at all. It’ll happen when you not looking for it.”

 

So watch for things that look as if they may transport you to a different world and remember what the Professor said; his advice may come in handy if you can remember it in time before you begin searching for the nearest wardrobe in the area.

 

 

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Works Cited:

Lewis, C.S. The Complete Chronicles of Narnia. New York: Harper Collins, 1998. Print.

 

 

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Story of the Thousand-Year Jet Lag

Debbie Clark : October 31, 2014 8:42 pm : Columns, Debbie

wardrobeIn The Chronicles of Narnia, time is a critical component of all the stories. This excerpt of The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’ is the best description of Narnian timing throughout the whole series:

 

Narnian time flows differently from ours. If you spent a hundred years in Narnia, you would still come back to our world at the very same hour of the very same day on which you left. And then, if you went back to Narnia after spending a week here, you might find that a thousand Narnian years had passed, or only a day, or no time at all. You never know till you get there.

 

This conversation from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, between Prof. Kirke, Peter and Susan concerning Lucy’s mad story is explanatory of what Kirke thinks of other worlds; especially since he has been to another world himself.

 

“But there was no time,” said Susan. “Lucy had no time to have gone anywhere, even if there was such a place. She came running after us the very moment we were out of the room. It was less than a minute, and she pretended to have been away for hours.”

 

“That is the very thing that makes her story so likely to be true,” said the Professor. “If there really is a door in this house that leads to some other world (and I should warn you that this is a very strange house, and even I know little about it)—if, I say, she had got into another world, I should not be at all surprised to find that the other world had a separate time of its own; so that however long you stayed there it would never take up any of our time. On the other hand, I don’t think many girls of her age would invent that idea for themselves. If she had been pretending, she would have hidden for a reasonable time before coming out and telling her story.”

 

 

Narnian timing is illustrated in the ending of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a valid demonstration of Professor Kirke’s theory.

 

So these Kings and Queens entered the thicket, and before they had gone a score of paces they all remembered that the thing they had seen was called a lamp-post, and before they had gone twenty more they noticed that they were making their way not through branches but through coats. And the next moment they all came tumbling out of a wardrobe door into the empty room, and they were no longer Kings and Queens in their hunting array but just Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy in their old clothes. It was the same day and the same hour of the day on which they had all gone into the wardrobe to hide. Mrs. Macready and the visitors were still talking in the passage, but luckily they never came into the empty room and so the children weren’t caught.

 

The Pevensies in their school clothes after being drawn into Narnia for the second time.

The Pevensies in their school clothes after being drawn into Narnia for the second time.

Once you are out of Narnia, you can never tell how Narnian time is going. In Prince Caspian, the Pevensie children come back to Narnia, only to find that Cair Paravel is in ruins. They learn later from the news of Trumpkin the Dwarf that Narnia is at war with an usurping tyrant and that it’s been about a thousand years since the Pevensies were Kings and Queens of Narnia.

 

“But, Peter,” said Lucy, “look here. I know I can’t swim for nuts at home—in England, I mean. But couldn’t we all swim long ago—if it was long ago—when we were Kings and Queens in Narnia? We could ride then too, and do all sorts of things. Don’t you think–?”

 

“Ah, but we were sort of grown-up then,” said Peter. “We reigned for years and years and learned to do things. Aren’t we just back at our proper ages again now?”

 

“Oh!” said Edmund in a voice which made everyone stop talking and listen to him.

“I’ve just seen it all,” he said.

 

“Seen what?” asked Peter.

 

“Why, the whole thing,” said Edmund. “You know what we were puzzling about last night, that it was only a year ago since we left Narnia but everything looks as if no one had lived in Cair Paravel for hundreds of years? Well don’t you see? You know that, however long we seemed to have lived in Narnia, when we got back through the wardrobe it seemed to have taken no time at all?”

 

“Go on,” said Susan. “I think I’m beginning to understand.”

 

“And that means,” continued Edmund, “that, once you’re out of Narnia, you have no idea how Narnian time is going. Why shouldn’t hundreds of years have gone past in Narnia while only one year has passed for us in England?”

 

“By Jove, Ed,” said Peter. “I believe you’ve got it. In that sense it really was hundreds of years ago that we lived in Cair Paravel. And now we’re coming back to Narnia just as if we were Crusaders or Anglo-Saxons or Ancient Britons or someone coming back to modern England!”

 

“How excited they’ll be to see us—“began Lucy, but at the same moment everyone else said, “Hush!” or, “Look!” For now something was happening. 

 

In The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’ When Edmund, Lucy and Eustace join King Caspian on board the Dawn Treader, the pace of time has slackened since they were in Narnia last. It has been one year in England and three years in Narnia, opposed to the time differences of the previous books which was about twelve hundred years.

 

“Meanwhile,” said Caspian, “we want to talk.”

 

“By Jove, we do,” said Edmund. “And first, about time. It’s a year ago by our time since we left you just before you coronation. How long has it been in Narnia?”

 

“Exactly three years,” said Caspian.

 

“All going well?” asked Edmund.

 

“You don’t suppose I’d have left my kingdom and put to sea unless all was well,” answered the King. “It couldn’t be better. There’s no trouble at all now between Telmarines, Dwarfs, Talking Beasts, Fauns and the rest. 

 

When Edmund, Lucy and Eustace come back to England at the end of The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’, the time that they have spent in Narnia (approximately four months) has taken no time at all in our own world.

 

In The Silver Chair, Eustace comes back to Narnia, though this time he has one of his schoolmates with him; a girl called Jill Pole. It has only been about two or three months since Eustace came back to our world from his visit to Narnia, but it has been about seventy Narnian years since Eustace was on the Dawn Treader with Caspian. In this conversation, Eustace and Jill are at Cair Paravel for the night, with the invitation of Trumpkin the Dwarf.

 

“Come in,” said Jill. And in came Scrubb, also bathed and splendidly dressed in Narnian clothes. But his face didn’t look as if he were enjoying it.

 

“Oh, here you are at last,” he said crossly, flinging himself in a chair. “I’ve been trying to find you for ever so long.”

 

“Well, now you have,” said Jill. “I say, Scrubb, isn’t all too exciting and scrumptious for words.” She had forgotten all about the signs and the lost Prince for the moment.

 

“Oh! That’s what you think, is it?” said Scrubb: and then, after a pause, I wish to goodness we’d never come.”

 

“Why on earth?”

 

“I can’t bear it,” said Scrubb, “seeing the King — Caspian –- doddering old man like that. It’s — it’s frightful.”

 

“Why, what harm does it do you?”

 

“Oh, you don’t understand. Now that I come to think of it, you couldn’t. I didn’t tell you that this world has a different time from ours.”

 

“How do you mean?”

 

“The time you spend here doesn’t take up any of our time. Do you see? I mean, however long we Spend here, we shall still get back to Experiment House at the moment we left it—“

 

“That won’t be much fun—“

 

“Oh, dry up! Don’t keep interrupting. And when you’re back in England – in our world – you can’t tell how time is going here. It might be any number of years in Narnia while we’re having one year at home. The Pevensies explained it all to me, but, like a fool, I forgot about it. And now it’s been about seventy years –- Narnian years – since I was here last.” 

 

At the end of The Silver Chair, Jill Pole and Eustace Scrubb come back to their school. They have spent about a month or so in Narnia, and come back at the same time as when they departed.

 

King Tirian, Jill Pole, and Eustace Scrubb during the events of The Last Battle.

King Tirian, Jill Pole, and Eustace Scrubb during the events of The Last Battle.

Though Narnian time generally takes none of our time, our time can also take none of theirs. An example of this is given in The Last Battle, when Jill and Eustace come to King Tirian’s aid while he is tied to a tree.

 

And immediately he was plunged into a dream (if it was a dream) more vivid than any he had had in his life.

 

He seemed to be standing in a lighted room where seven people sat round a table. It looked as if they had just finished their meal. Two of those people were very old, an old man with a white beard and an old woman with wise, merry, twinkling eyes. He who sat at the right hand of the old man was hardly fully grown, certainly younger than Tirian himself, but his face had already the look of a king and warrior. And you could almost say the same of the other youth who sat at the right hand of the old woman. Facing Tirian across the table was a fair-haired girl younger than either of these, and on the other side of her a boy and a girl who were younger still. They were all dressed in what seemed to Tirian the oddest kind of clothes.

 

But he had no time to think about details like that, for instantly the youngest boy and both the girls started to their feet, and one of them gave a little scream. The old woman started and drew in her breath sharply. The old man must have made some sudden movement too for the wine glass which stood at his right was swept off the table: Tirian could hear the tinkling noise as it broke on the floor.

 

Then Tirian realized that these people could see him; they were staring at him as if they saw a ghost. But he noticed that the king-like one who sat at the old man’s right never moved (though he turned pale) except that he clenched his hand very tight.

 

 

Then he said:

 

“Speak, if you’re a not a phantom or a dream. You have a Narnian look about you and we are the seven friends of Narnia.”

 

 

Tirian was longing to speak, and he tried to cry out aloud that he was Tirian of Narnia, in great need of help. But he found (as I have sometimes found in dreams too) that his voice mad no noise at all.

 

The one who had already spoken to him rose to his feet.

 

“Shadow or spirit or whatever you are,“ he said, fixing his eyes full upon Tirian. “If you are from Narnia, I charge you in the name of Aslan, speak to me. I am Peter the High King.”

 

The room began to swim before Tirian’s eyes. He heard the voices of those seven people all speaking at once, and all getting fainter every second, and they were all saying things like, “Look! It’s fading.” “It’s melting away.” It’s vanishing.”

 

 

Next moment, he was wide awake, still tied to the tree, colder and stiffer than ever. The wood was full of the pale, dreary light that comes before sunrise, and he was soaking wet with dew; it was nearly morning.

 

That waking was about the worst moment he had ever had in his life.

 

 

  But his misery did not last long. Almost at once there came a bump, and then a second bump, and two children were standing before him. The wood in front of him had been quite empty a second before and he knew they had not come from behind his tree, for he would have heard them. They had in fact simply appeared out of nowhere. He saw at a glance that they were wearing the same queer, dingy sort of clothes as the people in his dream; and he saw, at a second glance, that they were the youngest boy and girl out of that party of seven.

 

“Gosh!” said the boy, “that took one’s breath away! I thought—!”

 

“Hurry up and get him untied,” said the girl, “we can talk afterward.” Then she added turning to Tirian, “I’m sorry we’ve been so long. We came the moment we could.”

 

While she was speaking the Boy produced a knife from his pocket and was quickly cutting the King’s bonds: too quickly, in fact, for the King was so stiff and numb that when the last cord was cut he fell forward on his hands and knees. He couldn’t get up again till he had brought some life into his legs by a good rubbing.

 

“I say,” said the girl. “It was you, wasn’t it, who appeared to us that night when we were all at supper? Nearly a week ago.”

 

“A week, fair maid?” said Tirian. “My dream led me into your world scarce ten minutes since.”

 

“It’s the usual muddle about times, Pole,” said the Boy.

 

“I remember now,” said Tirian. “That too comes in all the old tales. The time of your strange land is different from ours. But if we speak of time, ‘tis time to be gone from here: for my enemies are close at hand. Will you come with me?”

 

“Of course,” said the girl. “It’s you we’ve come to help.” 

 

 

narnia

When you go to Narnia, consider that their climate is similar to that of Southwest England and you might experience a thousand-year jet lag.

Narnian time is a tricky thing: so when you go to Narnia, remember that timing could be an issue and that however long you spend in Narnia, when you come back to this world, it will still be the same time as when you left. In that case, it is really quite handy to have Aslan come and help sort out the mess. Also, for all of you people who don’t live in Narnia, remember the time change that you’ll be having this Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited:

Lewis, C.S. The Complete Chronicles of Narnia. New York: Harper Collins, 1998. Print.

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Narnia: Lessons from the Dwarfs

Debbie Clark : October 24, 2014 11:31 am : Columns, Debbie, Narnia

C.S. Lewis, the Christian apologist, philosopher, and author of The Chronicles of Narnia. Although he was born into a Christian family, he became an atheist and remained until he gradually realized that there had to be a God.

C.S. Lewis, the Christian apologist, philosopher, and author of The Chronicles of Narnia. Although he was born into a Christian family, he became an atheist and remained one until he gradually realized that there had to be a God, and converted to Christianity. He was quite familiar with the subject of disbelief.

Disbelief is a recurrent theme, both major and minor in many of the Chronicles of Narnia. The fear of being ‘taken in’, or exposed as gullible is something everyone fears, but it’s sometimes best to swallow one’s pride and accept the impossible—and this is precisely what C.S. Lewis implied throughout the series. One intriguing aspect of this oft-portrayed struggle is that Lewis himself, a professing atheist, said he was afraid of being ‘taken in’ by the apparent flaws of theism; yet when he slowly came to faith in Christ, he realized that he was so concerned about being ‘taken in’ that he could scarcely be taken out of his own mental prison.

 

Aslan, creating Narnia by singing.

Aslan, creating Narnia by singing.

 

In the very beginning of Narnia, Uncle Andrew—Andrew Ketterley, the amateur magician that sends Polly and Digory into another world during one of his devilish experiments—refuses to believe that the beasts that he hears talking are really talking, or that he’s witnessing a singing lion, creating and perfecting a new world:

 

 

 Then when the sun rose and he saw that the singer was a lion (“only a lion”, as he said to himself) he tried his hardest to make believe that it wasn’t singing and never had been singing – only roaring as any lion might in a zoo in our own world.

“Of course it can’t really have been singing,” He thought, “I must have imagined it. I’ve been letting my nerves get out of order. Who ever hear of a lion singing?” And the longer and more beautifully the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring. Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. Uncle Andrew did. He soon did hear nothing but roaring in Aslan’s song. Soon he couldn’t have heard anything else even if he had wanted to.

 

In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Pevensie children, namely Lucy, inadvertently discover a wardrobe with magical properties. Lucy’s brothers and sister dismiss her story of a different world and a gentlemanly Faun as a falsehood:

 

“What do you mean, Lu?” asked Peter. “What I said,” answered Lucy. “It was just after breakfast when I went into the wardrobe, and I’ve been away for hours and hours, and had tea, and all sorts of things have happened.”

 

“Don’t be silly, Lucy,” said Susan “We’ve only just come out of that room a moment ago, and you were there then.”

 

“She’s not being silly at all,” said Peter, “she’s just making up a story for fun, aren’t you, Lu? And why shouldn’t she?”

 

“No, Peter, I’m not,” she said. “It’s – it’s a magic wardrobe. There’s a wood inside it, and it’s snowing, and there’s a Faun and a Witch and its called Narnia; come and see.”

 

The others did not know what to think, but Lucy was so excited that they all went back with her into the room. She rushed ahead of them, flung open the door of the wardrobe and cried “Now! Go in and see for yourselves.”

 

“Why, you goose,” said Susan, putting her head inside and pulling the fur coats apart, “it’s just an ordinary wardrobe! Look! There’s the back of it.”

 

Then everyone looked in and pulled the coats apart, and they all saw – Lucy herself saw – a perfectly ordinary wardrobe. There was no wood and no snow, only the back of the wardrobe, with hooks on it. Peter went in and rapped his knuckles on it to make sure that it was solid.

 

“A jolly good hoax, Lu,” he said as he came out again; “you have really taken us in, I must admit. We half believed you.”

 

“But it wasn’t a hoax at all,” said Lucy, “really and truly. It was all different a moment ago. Honestly it was. I promise.”

 

“Come, Lu,” said Peter,” that’s going a bit far. You’ve had you joke. Hadn’t you better drop it now?”

 

Lucy grew very red in the face and tried to say something, though she hardly knew what she was trying to say, and burst in to tears.

 

 

It had been one year in our own world and over a thousand years in Narnia since the Pevensies left the events of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, when they were mysteriously drawn back—but to their deep disappointment, they did not see Aslan.  When tromping through the woods in search of Aslan’s How and Prince Caspian (on Trumpkin the Dwarf’s word that there was trouble and the Narnians needed help), Lucy sees Aslan, who wants her and her siblings to follow him:

 

 “Look! Look! Look!” cried Lucy.

 

“Where? What?” said everyone.

 

“The Lion,” said Lucy. “Aslan himself. Didn’t you see?” Her face had changed completely and her eyes shone.

 

“Do you really mean – ?” began Peter.

 

“Where did you think you saw him?” asked Susan.

 

“Don’t talk like a grown-up,” said Lucy, stamping her foot. “I didn’t think I saw him, I saw him.”

 

“Where, Lu?” asked Peter.

 

“Right up there between those mountain ashes. No, this side of the gorge. And up, not down. Just the opposite of the way you want to go. And he wanted us to go where he was – up there.”

 

“How do you know that was what he wanted?’ asked Edmund.

 

“He – I – I just know,” said Lucy, “by his face.”

 

The others all looked at each other in puzzled silence.

 

“Her majesty may well have seen a lion,” put in Trumpkin. “There are lions in these woods, I’ve been told. But it needn’t have been a friendly and talking lion any more than the bear was a friendly and talking bear.”

 

“Oh, don’t be so stupid,” said Lucy. “Do you think I don’t know Aslan when I see him?”

 

“He’d be a pretty elderly lion by now,” said Trumpkin, “if he’s the one you knew when you were here before! And if it could be the same one, what’s to prevent him having gone wild and witless like so many others?”

 

Lucy turned crimson and I think she would have flown at Trumpkin, if Peter had not laid his hand on her arm.

 

“The D.L.F doesn’t understand. How could he? You must just take it, Trumpkin that we do really know about Aslan: a little bit about him, I mean. And you mustn’t talk about him like that again. It isn’t lucky for one thing: and it’s all nonsense for another. The only question is whether Aslan was really there.”

 

“But I know he was,” said Lucy, her eyes filling with tears.

 

“Yes, Lu, but we don’t, you see,” said Peter.

 

Lucy, a prime example of honesty, is disbelieved by Trumpkin and all of her siblings. Though a vote is taken, and Edmund comes to her defense, Lucy is still ruled out and goes with the others though their tramp into the dense forest, later to be proved correct.

 

Eustace Scrubb, as portrayed by Will Poulter in the 2010 movie by Walden Media.

Eustace Scrubb, as portrayed by Will Poulter in the 2010 movie by Walden Media.

The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’ begins with a (priggish) main character, Eustace Scrubb, introduced into the Pevensies’ lives under extenuating circumstances, much to his annoyance. The Pevensies’ obnoxious cousin who scoffs at their talk of Narnia, Eustace disapproves of Edmund and Lucy staying at his house for the summer. Listening in the doorway one afternoon, he barges in and begins teasing Edmund and Lucy about Narnia (even making a corny rhyme, which he says is an assonance):

 

 

 

 

 “Still playing your old game?” said Eustace Clarence, who had been listening outside the door and now, came grinning into the room. Last year, when he had been staying with the Pevensies, he had managed to hear them all talking of Narnia and he loved teasing them about it. He thought of course that they were making it all up; and as he was far too stupid to make anything up himself, he did not approve of that.

 

 

But in a drastic conversion experience, minutes later Eustace, Edmund, and Lucy are sucked into a Magical painting of a sailing ship—and as it turns out, King Caspian is aboard. Though Eustace spends about another two months in his usual annoying form, they land on one of the many islands that they discover and he is transformed into a dragon as a result of his own selfishness. He is later changed back into a boy again by Aslan, much humbled by his experience.  Eustace Clarence Scrubb never doubts Narnia again.

 

Disbelief reappears in The Silver Chair, but this time in a much milder and benign form. Eustace—who had been to Narnia previously—attempts to explain his experiences to Jill Pole, whose reaction is skeptical:

 

Both children were quiet for a moment. The drops dripped off the laurel leaves.

 

“Why were you so different last term?” said Jill presently.

 

“A lot of queer things happened to me in the hols,” said Eustace mysteriously.

 

“What sort of things?” asked Jill.

 

Eustace didn’t say anything for quite a long time. Then he said: “Look here, Pole, you and I hate this place about as much as anybody can hate anything, don’t we?”

 

“I know I do,” said Jill.

 

“Then I really think I can trust you.”

 

“Dam’ good of you,” said Jill.

 

“Yes, but this is a really terrific secret. Pole, I say, are you good at believing things? I mean things that everyone here would laugh at?”

 

“I’ve never had the chance,” said Jill, “but I think I would be.”

 

“Could you believe me if I said I’d been right out of the world—outside this world—last hols?”

 

“I wouldn’t know what you meant.”

 

“Well, don’t let’s bother about worlds then. Supposing I told you I’d been in a place where animals can talk and where there are—er—enchantments and dragons—and-well, all the sorts of things you have in fairy-tales.” Scrubb got terribly awkward as he said this and got red in the face.

 

“How did you get there?” said Jill. She also felt curiously shy.

 

“The only way you can—by Magic,” said Eustace almost in a whisper. “I was with two cousins of mine. We were just –whisked away. They’d been there before.”

 

Now that they were talking in whispers Jill somehow felt it easier to believe. Then suddenly a horrible suspicious came over her and she said (so fiercely that for the moment she look like a tigress):

 

“If I find you’ve been pulling my leg I’ll never speak to you again; never, never, never.”

 

“I’m not,” said Eustace. “I swear I’m not. I swear by—by everything.”

 

(When I was at school one would have said, ‘I swear by the Bible.’ But Bibles were not encouraged at Experiment House.)

 

Jill’s reaction to Eustace’s ludicrous tale wasn’t one of blatant disbelief, but rather one of muddled doubt—and it seems possible that this reaction can be thought of as like Lewis’s own casual childhood acceptance of Christianity.  However, unlike Lewis, Jill grew in trust rather than falling away and went to Narnia herself.

 

But despite all the other examples of disbelief and cynicism within The Chronicles of Narnia, the chief among these is that of the Dwarfs in The Last Battle—and this distrustful, rebellious band of Dwarfs is a Narnian equivalent of atheists. A disbeliever in his early adulthood, C.S. Lewis later described himself in a manner much the same as he did the Dwarfs. Lewis said in Surprised by Joy, “I had (and this was very precisely the opposite of the truth) ‘seen through’ them. And I was never going to be taken in again.” He also said regarding Christianity, “There was no danger of my being taken in.”

 

Both Lewis and the Dwarfs were wounded, confused, and trying to deal with the fact that their long-held beliefs might actually be lies; and both of Lewis’s earlier quotes are similar to what Griffle the Dwarf said in the latter part of this conversation with King Tirian in The Last Battle, when they learn that the Narnians have been taken in by a false Aslan of Shift the ape’s making. Tirian attempts to regain the support of the Narnians, but the Dwarfs reject his leadership:

 

“You must think we’re blooming soft in the head, that you must,” said Griffle. We’ve been taken in once and now you expect us to be taken in again the next minute. We’ve no more use for stories about Aslan, see! Look at him and old moke with long ears!”

 

“By heaven you make me mad,” said Tirian. “Which of us said that was the real Aslan? That is the apes’ imitation of the real Aslan. Can’t you understand?”

 

And you’ve got a better imitation I suppose!” said Griffle. “No thanks. We’ve been fooled once and we’re not going to be fooled again.”

 

“I have not,” said Tirian angrily, “I serve the real Aslan.”

 

 

The Narnian Dwarfs, forever to think that they are stuck in a stable.

The Narnian Dwarfs, forever to think that they are stuck in a stable.

Later, in The Last Battle, when the Dwarfs are brought to Aslan’s Country—the real Narnia, an indescribably beautiful paradise—they are still in a mental prison, in literal, not metaphorical terms. They think that they are imprisoned in a filthy stable. Though Aslan, with one shake of his glorious mane, prepares a fine feast for the Dwarfs, they are still stuck in their mental stable thinking that they are eating nothing more than what you might find in a stable, such as an old turnip, or a raw cabbage leaf, or a trough of water that a donkey has been at.

 

 “You see,” said Aslan, “They will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.”

 

Whatever else you may say about Dwarfs no one can say they aren’t brave. They could easily have got away to some safe place. They preferred to stay and kill as many of both sides as they could, except when both sides were kind enough to save them trouble by killing each other. They wanted Narnia for their own.

 

In Surprised by Joy, Lewis said, “Remember, I had always wanted, above all things not to be ‘interfered with’. I had wanted (mad wish) ‘to call my soul my own’.”

 

Although the depiction of disbelief in The Chronicles of Narnia closely aligns with Lewis’s personal experiences, the disbelievers’ stories and decisions also closely resemble that of the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.

 

In the parable, some seeds fell by the wayside and were consumed by fowls—just like when Lucy saw Aslan but none believed her; some fell upon stony places, and initially grew strong but then fell away because they had no deepness of earth—just like Susan failed to believe in Narnia once she had “grown up”; some were among the thorns, and were choked by their own bitter hearts and painful circumstances—just like the Dwarfs in The Last Battle; but others fell onto good ground, namely Digory, Polly, Peter, Edmund, Lucy, Eustace and Jill.

The Kings and Queens of Narnia.

The Kings and Queens of Narnia.

 

Interestingly enough, whenever there was disbelief in Narnia, it resulted in the disbeliever missing out on something wonderful — like Aslan’s Country, Narnia itself, Talking Beasts, or seeing Aslan; Lewis wanted to show that cynicism and a loss of wonder deprive a man of the greatest things in life, and possibly even life itself. The Chronicles may not be realistic in some ways, with its Centaurs, Fauns, and Talking Beasts, but it is very approximate to real life in its colorful and sometimes tragic showing of disbelief.

 

 

Works Cited

Lewis, C. S. “The New Look, Checkmate.” Surprised by Joy. Orlando: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1955. 204-206+. Print.

Lewis, C.S. The Complete Chronicles of Narnia. New York: Harper Collins, 1998. Print.

 

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The Chronicles of Narnia: Where to Begin?

Debbie Clark : October 17, 2014 7:48 pm : Columns, Debbie

One of the most well-known scenes of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

One of the most well-known scenes of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Since the early 1950s, people have enjoyed reading The Chronicles of Narnia, written by C.S.Lewis; and for some people, this passion for Narnia leads to a disagreement as to whether you should read The Magician’s Nephew or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first. Although it varies from reader to reader (with age, attention span, and interest being factors), starting with The Magician’s Nephew in The Chronicles of Narnia will give background information on the beginnings of Narnia that will become useful later, when reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – whereas others say that reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe first and beginning in publication order is what makes one fall in love with the series.

There are a number of reasons why reading The Magician’s Nephew first is preferable: it explains some otherwise, perhaps, confusing aspects of the story. Why and how would Professor Kirke know about other worlds? And why would he trust in Lucy not being mad, after hearing her wild story about going to a place called Narnia? Those are two common questions a first-time reader of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe might ask. However, in The Magician’s Nephew, Professor Kirke’s younger self – Digory Kirke – visits Narnia and witnesses its beginnings. It explains why he acknowledged that there are other worlds and it is really possible to go to them. The following is an excerpt from The Magician’s Nephew:

However, that might be, it was proved later that there was still magic in its [a tree grown in Digory’s garden from the seed of the Narnian tree of life] wood. For when Digory was quite middle-aged (and he was a famous learned man, a Professor, and a great traveler by that time) and the Ketterleys’ old house belonged to him, there was a great storm all over the south of England which blew the tree down. He couldn’t bear to have it simply chopped up for firewood, so he had part of the timber made into a wardrobe, which he put in his big house in the country. And though he did not discover the magic properties of that wardrobe, someone else did.

King Frank's "otherworldly" experience, moments before he was drawn into Narnia by accident.

King Frank’s “otherworldly” experience, moments before he was drawn into Narnia by accident.

Another possibly confusing question arises when reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first: Why does Narnian culture resemble English culture to such a great extent? Reading The Magician’s Nephew first is how to find the answer. When Frank, a London cab driver, was accidentally brought into Narnia in the confusion of an otherworldly experience, his cab was wrecked and his horse came with him – later, this Son of Adam became the first King of Narnia. Being English, he would have given Narnians the idea for beer, marmalade rolls and other things of the sort, many of which were mentioned in the series and are unique to England.

And lastly, what about the muddle of Narnian technology? How did a sewing machine end up in Mrs. Beaver’s dam?  In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, there is a mention of Mrs. Beaver’s sewing machine: “The first thing Lucy noticed as she went in was a burring sound, and the first thing she saw was a kind-looking old she-beaver sitting in the corner with a thread in her mouth working busily at her sewing machine and it was from it that the sound came.” (Lewis 2)

Because Queen Helen was from our world, she most undoubtedly had a sewing machine at her home. Given time and a few tools, the ingenious dwarfs mentioned in The Magician’s Nephew created excellent crowns for the new king and queen in a short time. Couldn’t dwarfs of that intelligence create a sewing machine, if Queen Helen were to describe her sewing machine to them?

Although The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a loveable story, an easy read, a masterpiece, and a good introduction to Narnia and its people, reading The Magician’s Nephew first makes it possible to fully understand and appreciate The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as well as Narnian culture, history, food, and technology; in the opinion of the author, the best first step into Narnia is through the Wood Between the Worlds.

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Works Cited

Lewis, C.S. “A Day With the Beavers.” The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. New York: Collier, 1970. 68. Print.

Lewis, C.S. “The End of This Story.” The Magician’s Nephew. New York: Collier, 1970. 185. Print.

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