Shanna Caughey, editor,
Revisiting Narnia:
Fantasy, Myth & Religion
in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles

(BenBella, 2005)

With the impending release of Walt Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, everyone's talking about Narnia these days (just as a few years back, everyone was talking about Middle-Earth). Folks are remembering when they first read the series, how they felt when they realized that the stories were Christian allegory, what lessons they may or may not have learned from the books. In this new anthology, part of BenBella's SmartPop series, we get to read discussion on Narnia from theologians, scholars and fantasy writers.

Among my favorite essays was Jacqueline Carey's "Heathen Eye for the Christian Guy," in which she discusses both how she felt when she realized that "C.S. Lewis had slipped a yucky egg of Christianity into the paganish goodness of my Narnia" and how she "got over it." Marie-Catherine Caillava's "A Knight in the Mud" is a fascinating -- and very brief -- biography of Lewis, while Sally D. Stabb's "'Most Right and Proper, I'm Sure...,' Manners & Politeness in the Chronicles of Narnia" is an entertaining look at the very proper manners of the Pevensie children and other Narnian characters.

In "Narnia and Middle-Earth: When Two Worlds Collide," Joseph Pearce talks about the differences between Lewis's Narnia books and the Middle-Earth books of his friend and colleague J.R.R. Tolkien. There are even a couple of essays regarding the proper order in which to read the Chronicles (Peter J. Schakel's "The 'Correct' Order for Reading the Chronicles of Narnia?" and Wesley A. Kort's "The Chronicles of Narnia: Where to Start").

As with any anthology, the essays vary in readability and quality. Some of them are quite engaging, some of them are more difficult (and you might want to brush up on your Plato) and there are one or two which seem only tangentially related to either C.S. Lewis or Narnia, and you wonder what on earth the author was thinking. If you're looking for intelligent and thoughtful discussion of The Chronicles of Narnia, you can't go wrong with Revisiting Narnia.

by Laurie Thayer
10 December 2005

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