Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Magician's Nephew


Make no mistake: Narnia is not Middle-earth. Nor does it need to be.

Though C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were colleagues and, for a time, the closest of friends, the two writers had very different objectives in writing The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. A comparison of the two works might tell us a great deal about those objectives, about the authors as writers, as men and as Christians—and it might also tell us a great deal about ourselves, and our tastes in literature.

But such lessons are not the purpose of this introduction to Narnia. Instead, over the next seven months, we will be approaching each volume of Lewis’ Chronicles as Lewis intended: as an individual installment of an epic children’s fantasy, and as Christian allegory. We will be asking elemental questions of each of the seven books—What’s the basic story? How does it work as literature? What religious significance does Lewis intend? And rather than muddy the waters by stirring those answers together, we will address each question separately.

We begin not with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as did C.S. Lewis and his original audience, but with that book’s ‘prequel.’ Actually written as the sixth volume of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Magician’s Nephew documents the origins of Narnia, the magical land which the Pevensie children discover through the back of Professor Kirke’s fantastical titular Wardrobe.

Before documenting the End of the Tale in The Last Battle, Lewis thought it important to tell the Beginning of the Tale in The Magician’s Nephew. Honing in on this importance, the editors of some editions of The Chronicles of Narnia have even seen fit to publish The Magician’s Nephew as the first volume of the series.

Our purpose is pretty simple, however, as articulated by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music: “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” And so, as we will see, we start with the sound of music. The music of Narnia.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

ummm i havent read it yet but whats the theme of magicians nephew?

11/29/2005 4:14 PM  
Blogger Greg Wright said...

Take a look at our full coverage of the book for an answer to that question...

11/29/2005 4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have read the CHRONICALS OF NARNIA a few months ago, and I was inpired by C.S Lewis' way of making you believe what you were reading. All should be encouraged to read them (the chronicals), as I myself am a true believer of a good book.

2/26/2006 7:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Lewis said he did not intend any of his "Narnia" books to be allegorical. Rather, he wrote the books to portray what would happen if a Christ-like figure was significant to other worlds.

That the books are allegorical is a testament to Lewis's deep knowledge of God and love of the story of Christ.

4/02/2006 3:02 PM  
Blogger Greg Wright said...

Yes, good point. That was a poor choice of words there. If you read our coverage, I think you'll see we don't actually treat the stories as allegory.

4/03/2006 6:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what's the theme of the magician's nephew? please let me know asap. i am doing a research paper on this book!

11/01/2006 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

some one tell me what the theme is please. asap

12/02/2006 3:49 PM  

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