Friday, July 08, 2005

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader


One criticism of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia that would be almost impossible to defend is that he repeats himself. Each of the seven books has its own character, its own unique flavor and style. In one sense, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader “picks up” the story line of Prince Caspian, giving us a glimpse of Caspian’s reign as King of Narnia. And while it’s also true that Caspian’s character is only here fully realized, Voyage is still no retread of the earlier books. In this story, we go to sea and are entertained in the fashion of classic tales like The Odyssey and Gulliver’s Travels. We haven’t seen the likes of this in Narnia before.

Paul McCusker, writer and director of the Chronicles of Narnia Radio Theatre production, has pointed out the problems of adapting the books in a different order than that in which they were published. To a certain extent, he says, Voyage works best when taken as the third book in the series, as originally published. But McCusker also points out that Voyage has the advantage of being the most literarily “mature” of the original three stories—and that Lewis further invested the story with a certain narrative weight since he conceived it as the “final” book in the series.

So in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, we find Lewis at the peak of his story-telling game, and we also find compelling and moving themes. This month, George Rosok brings us our story synopsis, and Kathy Bledsoe entertains us with a review of the literary themes of the story in an imaginative fashion consistent with the creativity of Lewis’ tale. Finally, Jenn Wright uses Lewis’ imagery of the episode at the Dark Island as a jumping-off point for a meditation on how the spirituality of the novel has interlaced with her own life.



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