Monday, January 12, 2009

Jupiter, Father Christmas and Mr. Tumnus = BFFs!

Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis by Michael Ward

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a work of literary criticism, Michael Ward has succeeded in CS Lewis' footsteps, exploring intellectual and theological insights while managing continually to ignite the reader's imagination. In what will likely be a key text in Lewis scholarship from now on, Ward makes a detailed and convincing argument that Lewis wrote the Narnia septet through the lens of medieval cosmology, using the imagery, language and symbolism associated with each planet, (which includes the sun and moon at that time) to shape the world of each Narnia book, as well as the unique Christological message in each story. Without wanting to give too much away, I'll quote Ward's excellent summary towards the end of the book that acknowledges the main themes in each book and planetary character:

"Thus, in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" they become monarchs under sovereign Jove; in "Prince Caspian" they harden under strong Mars; in "The Dawn Treader" they drink light under searching Sol; in "The Silver Chair" they learn obedience under subordinate Luna; in "The Horse and His Boy" they come to love poetry under eloquent Mercury; in "The Magician's Nephew" they gain life-giving fruit under fertile Venus; and in "The Last Battle" they suffer and die under chilling Saturn." p.237

This new perspective on the Narniad, and indeed on Lewis himself, re-ignited my hope for contemporary integration of theology, astronomy and cosmology, as well as totally convincing me that I need to move to England to study Medieval poetics and cosmology. I love books about books!

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