Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Narnia, Narnia, and more Narnia

I recovered from my warehouse adventures better than expected, so Sunday I decided to go ahead and try baking bread from scratch. (It turned out all right. Not great, but all right. The consensus is that I got a bit too free adding flour during the kneading stage to keep the dough from being sticky.) At any rate, since the bread baking required some waiting time, I decided to get some reading in. And since I'd recently read “Let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage” by Micheal Flaherty, President, Walden Media (Imprimis, February 2007), I pulled down my omnibus The Chronicles of Narnia, which has the seven books, in the order C.S. Lewis preferred for them to be read (as opposed to the order in which they were written and published).

If you're wondering, the way he recommended was The Magician's Nephew, then The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, then The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, and then The Last Battle.

The Chronicles of Narnia One Volume
The Chronicles of Narnia One Volume

Months and months ago, I'd read the first two, and later had made a stab at The Horse and His Boy. (Some emergency or something came up, and I'd given up on finishing it, if I recall correctly.) It was no good trying to pick up The Horse and His Boy from where I'd left off - too much time had gone by to remember what I'd read. So I started at the front of that one. And that was Sunday afternoon, and here it is Tuesday afternoon and I've read The Horse and His Boy and Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Not quite in one gulp, but close enough. Whew. I even took a not-quite-full-load of laundry to the laundromat yesterday so I could pretend I was working while I read. :)

I suspect that if I'd tried to read this series when I was young (even into my twenties, and possibly probably thirties) I might have thrown the books down in disgust (being something of a pacifist cum feminist on the one hand, and definitely being squeamish on the other, amongst other reasons) or in despair (from not understanding enough of it). But I've finally grown into them I guess, because I'm getting a great deal out of them besides rip-roaring adventure and mind-bending flights of imagination.

Scho late schmart.

I think I'll let these books digest a bit before I try to finish the series. (Besides, I have a friend who likes the series up to this point, and doesn't like the ending at all. It makes me hesitate, just a bit.)

What's rather hard about these books is that so much of what's in them seems so applicable to other people - try telling me you haven't dealt with Dufflepuds, for instance - but, of course, in the spirit of the thing one probably shouldn't go around calling other people Dufflepuds (for instance), since one has one's own shortcomings to work on...

(And how did C.S. Lewis know what my shortcomings are, anyway? ;)

I can see how the Narnia books could easily annoy the stuffing out of a wide variety of people, from "I am woman, hear me roar" feminists (I expect they'd have heart attacks, some of them; at the very least we're talking major hyperventilation attacks) to a stricter or easily-ruffled sort of Christian (the books are crawling not only with magic, but with ancient myths that aren't at all Christian). But, for me, Lewis handles the myth and magic well, using them to tell his story and make his points, and I don't find it objectionable at all. And I like that the girls are heroines in their own right, while being treated as special and worthy of protection by the heroes.

I am in awe, by the way, of the way Lewis could be blunt but gentle and understanding at the same time. I'm enjoying his method, and his manners, immensely.

One downside, such as it is, is that the way the characters speak is almost contagious. I find myself wanting to say "Oh, bother" and "rot" and "he's a brick" and so on. Actually, I do say "Oh, bother" and "rot" anyway, but this "he's a brick" business might seem odd to people who know me. (I have more or less the same trouble when I read Wodehouse, by the way.)

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