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View Full Version : What do you think of Chronicles of Narnia?



Titus Raylake
09-08-2005, 12:19 AM
Well, the movie is coming up, so I was wondering what everyone thought of the books.

I read the Chronicles of Narnia series when I was in high school. I found the characters to be rather bland, and nothing in particular struck me as great about the books. But maybe I was just spoiled by The Hobbit and LOTR.

Minister
09-08-2005, 12:39 AM
Oh, I thought the Narnia books were terrific. But then, I think I got to them a little closer to the target age for the books, and before discovering Tolkien. Even today I enjoy them, but I enjoy them more for the incredibly rich and subtle allegories underlying them than for the surface story. C.S. Lewis has become one of my favorite writers and thinkers (not that I like everything he wrote, or agree with everything he proposed -- but he's a skillful writer, and his thoughts always stimulate my own.)

TheIT
09-08-2005, 12:46 AM
I voted "Good". I would have voted Excellent, but I'm not sure whether they've improved my skills as a writer. They certainly improved my skills as a reader. I received the boxed set as a Christmas present when I was a little girl, and read and re-read them I don't know how many times. At the time I didn't notice the symbolism. I just liked the stories and the creatures. I'm almost afraid to go back and re-read them as an adult, but I probably will since the movie is coming out soon. Some stories just don't read the same with experience but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

As a side note, it was only last year that I finally figured out what "Turkish Delight" was.

paprikapink
09-08-2005, 12:59 AM
None of the little circles in your poll fit my dot, so I haven't clicked one.

I loved the Narnia series when I read it as a kid. I'm planning to give the whole set to my soon-to-be 11-year-old daughter for her birthday. I hope I'll get the chance to reread them then and I hope I still love them! I was too young to really estimate the quality of writing, although looking back, I generally read excellent authors (Frances Hodgeson Burnett, E.B.White, Margery Sharp, Jane Austen.)

On the other hand, I recently reread the LOTR and the Hobbit, to get in shape for the movie, and while Tolkien is an excellent, phenomenal story-teller, his writing had me cringing in many places. I'd characterize it as overwrought and schmaltzy.

I hope the Narnia movie does as good a job as the LOTR movies did.

azbikergirl
09-08-2005, 01:20 AM
I remember loving them as a kid, but it's been > 30 years since I've read them! I eagerly await the movie.

Perks
09-08-2005, 02:03 AM
I loved them as a child, but reread The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe not too long ago and found the religious allegory bludgeoning. Still has great merit, but not what I'd read for pleasure anymore.

Leanan-Sidhe
09-08-2005, 07:08 PM
i agree, it does rather knock you upside the head with religious symbolism, but i think the books are so good. Some I found more interesting than others (i had to force myself through the silver chair) but considering the age of the target audience they're quite well written. I hope disney does them justice. I think they're just trying to ride the YA fantasy wave that seems to have become quite popular, but the trailors for the movie looked good.

Pat~
09-08-2005, 07:29 PM
I have loved them for years, though some books in the series were particular favorites (Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe; The Last Battle; Voyage of the Dawn Treader). I taught school for 8 years (3rd-5th grades) and read them every year outloud to my students, who never failed to beg for more when I'd come to the end of a chapter. I found I got more out of them each time with the rereading; (I'm fond of allegory).

You might check the threads by Natesgate for more on this.

Jaycinth
09-08-2005, 09:11 PM
I first read Narnia as an adult, stuck in a house with nothing else to read. I liked them so I started looking for other C.S. Lewis books and found Out of the Silent Planet which was REALLY good and improved my skills as a writer.

My kids have read two sets of Narnia books into rags, and look forward to the movie. ( the most excited kid is ME!)

I hope this time they get it right because there have been several 'Narnia' movies made and they were all hopelessly boring.

victoriastrauss
09-08-2005, 09:57 PM
I didn't like them much (read them as a kid). I don't think I really identified the religious symbolism, but I did think they were preachy, and too consciously kids' books--I felt the author was talking down to me.

- Victoria

dragonjax
09-08-2005, 11:11 PM
As a kid, I'd liked the concept behind THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. As an adult, I hated the book (as well as THE MAGICIAN'S NEPHEW). Can't bring myself to read the others.

zornhau
09-09-2005, 12:07 AM
I prefer the Bernard Cornwall version... "Sharp Through the Wardrobe" and "Sharp's Last Battle"

Seriously, though, I enjoyed them as a kid. Some of the images are iconic beyodn belief. But then, I hadn't read any fantasy prior to that.

Renatus
09-09-2005, 12:24 AM
I didn't vote in the poll, as my answer would be "The writing is excellent, but..."

I first read the Narnia series when I was 11, and enjoyed them immensely. Although I had read fantasy before that, I hadn't read anything quite like that series. It definitely left a lasting impression on me - I have a persistant soft spot for talking animals, and some of the morals of the stories stuck with me and helped to form how I see the world.

I didn't see the allegory in it at all when I was a child; Christianity pretty much rolled off of me like water rolls off of a duck (despite my poor granny's best efforts, heh). When I re-read the series a few years ago, however, the allegory made me quite uncomfortable, especially as it felt quite heavy-handed. Being more aware of the world, I also felt very uncomfortable at how all of the 'bad' people seemed to be dark-skinned, which is put across in a way that makes it more painfully obvious than when Tolkein did it.

All the same, I still love the books - allegory aside, there's a very good story in there and some very good wit. I will always grin when I come across the line, "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."

Titus Raylake
09-09-2005, 10:50 AM
I agree with Leanan-Sidhe in that some of the Chronicles of Narnia books were better than others. I didn't mind reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. The Silver Chair, and Prince Caspian, I found to be so dull and unimaginative that is was painful to read.

On a side note, I saw the preview to the movie yesterday. It actually looked exciting. And the movie is suppose to get a PG-13 rating, so it probably won't be geared toward kids like the books were.

I do have one concern, though. The preview showed a scene with a group of monsters, and they looked just like the orcs in the LOTR movies. I think this points out that Disney may be trying to make the movies much like Peter Jackson did with the LOTR films. But I guess we will have to wait until the movie is in theatres to see.

Ray Dillon
09-13-2005, 08:48 AM
The Chronicles of Narnia were a HUGE influence for me. I was home sick from schol one day and saw the BBC move of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe."

I instantly fell in love with the concept. I stayed home for about a week to watch the other three movies. For years, no one knew what I was talking about, until finally this new movie is coming out.

They've also released the BBC movies on DVD, and have some great new printings of the books. I'm currently finishing up "The Last Battle" and have fallen in love with them all over again.

Fantastic imagination.

No comparison between Lewis and Tolkien, though. Aside from the fact that they were friends and whatnot. The stories are wildly different.

RumBucuresti
09-13-2005, 05:53 PM
Loved it as a child, i found it almost perfect. I thought that the others in the series suffered slightly in comparison though. There is a feature length cartoon of it floating around somewhere, it was on TV a few times when i was young.

Nateskate
09-16-2005, 08:43 PM
I didn't like them much (read them as a kid). I don't think I really identified the religious symbolism, but I did think they were preachy, and too consciously kids' books--I felt the author was talking down to me.

- Victoria

The Hobbit was the same. But I think the early Narnia books, like the Hobbit, were directed at kids. Tolkien never planned to publish the Hobbit. It was a bedtime story for his kids that he loaned to a friend, and wound up at a publishers. When you look at the Silmarillion which was actually written first, it is far more sophisticated. The first few boos of Narnia were addressed to Lewis' niece. Likewise, when you look at the Screwtape Letters, you see that Lewis Fiction can be quite sophisticated as well.

I doubt he thought they'd be considered classics some day, just like Tolkien felt about the Hobbit.

Jamesaritchie
09-16-2005, 09:57 PM
Well, the movie is coming up, so I was wondering what everyone thought of the books.

I read the Chronicles of Narnia series when I was in high school. I found the characters to be rather bland, and nothing in particular struck me as great about the books. But maybe I was just spoiled by The Hobbit and LOTR.

I thought everything about them was excellent. Better written than what Tolkien did, though the Tolkien story was somewhat better, and the Tolkien characters were a bit mor einteresting.

But on the whole, Narnia is wonderful. Write like that and your future is assured.

JerseyGirl1962
09-16-2005, 11:26 PM
I didn't read either LOTR or Narnia as a child; I had no clue such stories were around. My only child/teenager moment with LOTR was when an English teacher, I think it was in 8th or 9th grade (this was in the 1970's), asked if anyone had read LOTR. I didn't know what he was talking about, but a couple of kids in the class raised their hands, including one who was considered a burnout (a slang term for someone who smoked dope or whatever).

On the other hand, my husband read LOTR when he was 11 years old - his 6th grade teacher suggested it to him - and said teacher realized he created a monster when hubby went on and on about the story...heh heh.

Anyway, I only gave it a so-so rating. I read LOTR before Narnia, and I found the Narnia books to be only okay. The religious symbolism didn't bother me; I just found the books to be kind of on the dull side. Oh well. Hubby, on the hand, liked it a lot better. Not as much as LOTR, but he thought the books were pretty good.

~Nancy

Titus Raylake
09-18-2005, 07:01 PM
The Hobbit was the same.

What preaching or religious symbolism is found in The Hobbit? The Lord of the Rings probably had more hidden meanings than The Hobbit did.

Nateskate
09-20-2005, 05:03 PM
What preaching or religious symbolism is found in The Hobbit? The Lord of the Rings probably had more hidden meanings than The Hobbit did.

I was referring to the "Talking down to the reader" perception. It sounds like an adult telling a story to very young children. And he utilizes breaks in narrative where he addresses the audience directly- now this is very much like when you...

The inferrence was that this was addressed to very young children and it wasn't an adult fantasy by a longshot. And so, if you are older than a young child, it comes off as condescending. But it's perfect for young children, or adults who get past those bits.

As far as the Hobbit having religious meaning, I saw none. Then again, I think some people are assuming Narnia is very spiritual, when the relative few Christian symbols are offset by as many hindu/greek/norse pieces. Why shouldn't wickans claim influence when there is a magic house, where things are set aright by spells, and tree spirits...etc?

I think people get the notion this is a Christian Fantasy, simply because Lewis was a Christian and wrote some serious Christian lit. I only see this as a bedtime story for his niece. However, if you read Tolkien's conclusion in the Tolkien reader, you might think he was the more religious of the two. I love Tolkien and his symbols. The flame imperishable...etc. And he was more ingenius at planting his ideas. Elrond was a symbol for the forgotten wisdom of the ages, and not simply a character. Lembas bread was patterned on the Catholic Eucharist.

Yet, I don't see either one of them preaching through these stories. At the time, much of Europe saw themselves as Christian, so it was simply culturally accepted at that time that symbols such as these would be in stories.

Jamesaritchie
09-20-2005, 06:32 PM
I was referring to the "Talking down to the reader" perception. It sounds like an adult telling a story to very young children. And he utilizes breaks in narrative where he addresses the audience directly- now this is very much like when you...

The inferrence was that this was addressed to very young children and it wasn't an adult fantasy by a longshot. And so, if you are older than a young child, it comes off as condescending. But it's perfect for young children, or adults who get past those bits.

As far as the Hobbit having religious meaning, I saw none. Then again, I think some people are assuming Narnia is very spiritual, when the relative few Christian symbols are offset by as many hindu/greek/norse pieces. Why shouldn't wickans claim influence when there is a magic house, where things are set aright by spells, and tree spirits...etc?

I think people get the notion this is a Christian Fantasy, simply because Lewis was a Christian and wrote some serious Christian lit. I only see this as a bedtime story for his niece. However, if you read Tolkien's conclusion in the Tolkien reader, you might think he was the more religious of the two. I love Tolkien and his symbols. The flame imperishable...etc. And he was more ingenius at planting his ideas. Elrond was a symbol for the forgotten wisdom of the ages, and not simply a character. Lembas bread was patterned on the Catholic Eucharist.

Yet, I don't see either one of them preaching through these stories. At the time, much of Europe saw themselves as Christian, so it was simply culturally accepted at that time that symbols such as these would be in stories.

No, people get the notion that Narnia is a religious fantasy from Lewis himself. The Christian theme is not only evident, it runs through every book, and was intentional.Narnia is, literally, a retelling of the New Testament cast as fantasy, though it may well be you either have to be a Christian AND listen to Lewis to see it all. But most of it is not only blatantly obvious, the entire series depends on it. Without this theme, there is no story and no plot.

I found it quite adult.

I think you condescend far too easily. Some of the greatest classic novels, ones written strictly for adults, use this same method of addressing the reader. It was simply a style, a method of telling a tale, and for the most part, I think it worked very well.

As for the Hobbit, yes, the theme is there, as well. If you find Hindu and other religious themes in it, you're seeing what isn't there, other than rarely, and in a negative light, at least according to Tolkien.

mistri
09-20-2005, 06:43 PM
I enjoyed reading the Narnia books when I was around 8 or so. I saw all the religious stuff and though I didn't particularly care for it, I wasn't bothered by it either. I was just pulled along by the story. I seem to remember thinking it all got a bit silly by the end though...

Ray Dillon
09-20-2005, 08:42 PM
I don't think his methods talk down to children or adults. He just has a fun style of writing. Did Douglas Adams talk down to his readers?

And I don't think the books are too preachy by any means. He wasn't owned by the idea that he was passing on religious themes. They tell a fantasy story first and foremost, with a strong influence mixed in. That's not uncommon of a lot of fiction, especially the farther you go back. This was a really imaginative, well-told story.

Funny, I didn't catch religious themes in Tolkiens work. Huh, must have been too focused on the story itself.

NicoleJLeBoeuf
09-20-2005, 11:12 PM
Then again, I think some people are assuming Narnia is very spiritual, when the relative few Christian symbols are offset by as many hindu/greek/norse pieces. Why shouldn't wickans claim influence when there is a magic house, where things are set aright by spells, and tree spirits...etc?That would be "Wiccans." And, no, Wiccans can't claim influence on Narnia. Primarily because Lewis deliberately intended (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=301266#post299588) Narnia to have blatant Christian symbolism, but secondarily because Wicca (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicca) was founded/dreamt up less than a decade before The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was published; the religion was made public some five years after the book's publication. It would be chronologically possible for Lewis to have heard of Wicca while he was writing the book, but highly unlikely, given the secrecy necessitated by the anti-witchcraft laws in place at the time.

Nateskate
09-21-2005, 01:52 AM
No, people get the notion that Narnia is a religious fantasy from Lewis himself. The Christian theme is not only evident, it runs through every book, and was intentional.Narnia is, literally, a retelling of the New Testament cast as fantasy, though it may well be you either have to be a Christian AND listen to Lewis to see it all. But most of it is not only blatantly obvious, the entire series depends on it. Without this theme, there is no story and no plot.

I found it quite adult.

I think you condescend far too easily. Some of the greatest classic novels, ones written strictly for adults, use this same method of addressing the reader. It was simply a style, a method of telling a tale, and for the most part, I think it worked very well.

As for the Hobbit, yes, the theme is there, as well. If you find Hindu and other religious themes in it, you're seeing what isn't there, other than rarely, and in a negative light, at least according to Tolkien.

The hindu and animist influences can be seen in Narnia. I wasn't referring to the Hobbit. The Hobbit however was a bedtime story that he loaned to someone to give to someone who was convalescing from an illness. They showed it to a publisher. This left Tolkien in a quandry, because when they asked for a sequel in his mind there was none. So he tried to give them the Silmarillion which they choked on. Then he split the difference, and tried to think of a way to step back from, "And he lived happily ever after til the end of his days." If you have references to any Christian themes in the Hobbit, I would be interested in hearing them.

And I wasn't saying Narnia was condescending to me. I took it for what it was. But some people take it that he is talking down to their intellectual level. For instance an older teen. In fact, if you see the letter to Lewis' neice, he himself said that by the time it was published she would be too old to read it.

As far as what people might find condescending is the fact that he doesn't always use descriptive metaphors like the Silmarillion, and would -as a peson reading to a child- refer to some food being like the very best jelly rolls when you are really hungry, or something similar. (I don't have the book in front of me)

As for Lewis and Tolkien's statements. Both of them made statements that were contextual. In one place Tolkien implies there are no allegories in his book and in a latter letter implies it is full of allegories and all mythology has allegories. He was referring to one thing to one audience and another to a different audience. As far as the Narnia being a christian fable, I had read a quote on one of these threads to the contrary.

But again, I'm not concerned with him having some other motives, and felt that aspect of his writing was being overstated by some. I'd say there is a sandwhich of sorts, and in the middle of the sandwhich "The bulk of the story" even very knowledgeable Christians would have a hard time seeing Christian messages. However, if you focus on the early resurrection, and perhaps the second coming of Aslan, there are some Christian allegory.

I know I'm overstating this. But Pilgrim's Progress, or The Quest, or This Present Darkness, or Hind's Feet in High Places are what I would consider blatently Christian allegory. In fact, I'll throw Screwtape in there, which is Lewis work, but is basically saying, "Satan is like this" and "Temptation is like this"

I see Narnia in a different light and LOTR in a different light.

Pthom
09-21-2005, 11:23 PM
Because of the deceptions of the originator of this thread, we are closing it. We could have just deleted it, but there are responses here that may be valuable to others. However, to continue any of the topics discussed here, please choose another thread or begin a new one.

Thank you for understanding.