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A better title for The Silver Chair?  

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Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb

The discussion "A better title for Prince Caspian?" (started by The Rose-Tree Dryad a couple of years ago and recently revived) has got me thinking about my own least-favourite title among the Chronicles, which is The Silver Chair. Please note I mean it's only the title I don't like — I love the story itself!!

As I mentioned in a post in the other discussion, the reason I find the title The Silver Chair unsatisfactory is that the silver chair itself only features in a small portion of the book. In fact (I've just rechecked) it only comes into one single chapter ("In the Dark Castle"), where it's introduced almost offhand as "a curious silver chair". Rilian, under the Witch's enchantment, is bound to it in preparation for the "fit" that comes upon him, which is really the return of his sanity; when Jill and Eustace and Puddleglum free him, he immediately smashes the chair with his sword and calls it a "vile engine of sorcery". But we're never told what the chair's evil powers actually were, or why the Witch's hold over Rilian waned once a day and how the chair apparently restored her control over him.

I remember another discussion here recently where someone speculated that the chair magically "recharged" the enchantment on Rilian — I like that idea! But Lewis never says enough about it for us to have any clear picture. And to name the whole book after a plot element that isn't even mentioned in the story until it appears in chapter 11 (out of 16), and is destroyed by the end of that chapter and is never explained or referred to again... even as a young first-time reader, I felt that made for a really weak and misleading title.

We do know that Lewis himself proposed several other titles that were rejected by the publisher: The Wild Waste Lands, Night under Narnia, Gnomes under Narnia and News under Narnia. I don't find any of those really grab me either, but I've never been able to come up with an alternative I really love!

So, over to you, NarniaWebbers... what title would YOU pick for this book, and why? Something completely new and original? One of Lewis's unsuccessful suggestions? Or maybe you prefer the title as it is? I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this... Grin  

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

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Posted : July 18, 2021 11:59 am
KingEdTheJust
(@kingedthejust)
NarniaWeb Nut

Great topic!  I never realized the actual 'silver chair' took up only one chapter of the whole book. Though the title I thought of more metaphorically, not literally. 

I think if I were to pick an alternative title for Silver Chair,  I would choose something along the lines of what C.S Lewis was suggesting, maybe Under the Ruinssuggesting their journey underground. 

I was also thinking of the title The Lost Prince,because the whole book was really about finding Rillian. Or Aslan's assignment (though for some reason that one seems a little different from the rest of the title's) 

You could also do the format of LWW,  The Prince, the city and the Serpent.   

The last one I have is The four signsThis title very much portrays what the characters have to do. 

"But even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did." - (King Edmund the Just, Horse and his Boy)

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Posted : July 18, 2021 1:13 pm
Narnian78
(@narnian78)
NarniaWeb Nut

Or how about The Wilderness North of Narnia, The Autumn Narnia Journey,  Overworld and Underworld, or The Lady’s Enchantment?  I’m not sure if all of these titles work, but I think they might be a start.

This post was modified 1 week ago 6 times by Narnian78
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Posted : July 18, 2021 8:05 pm
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut

Here's something I wrote in the Prince Caspian title thread, which applies to this one too.

None of the other books mention Narnia in the title so I feel this shouldn't either.

Honestly, I vote for keeping the book's title. The silver chair may not be the biggest part of the story, but it's still fairly important and the scene that features it is highly dramatic. More importantly to me, The Silver Chair is a cool sounding title and none of the suggestions I've heard sound better to me. Wink  

But if people really want suggestions for a title that reflects the story's overall focus, I have one. It's boring, even more of a boring title than Prince Caspian, which at least sounds kind of lyrical. But here it is.

Puddleglum

For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen check out my new blog!

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Posted : July 18, 2021 8:30 pm
Cleander
(@the-mad-poet)
NarniaWeb Junkie

@col-klink, I agree, the title is pretty cool and does its job as is.

However, for the sake of speculation, here's a few: 

Darkness in the North

The Underworld Menace

The Forbidden Quest (after all, they go without Trumpkin's permission).

The Green Serpent

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Posted : July 18, 2021 9:45 pm
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb

I'm really enjoying all the suggestions here and have finally come up with one myself — not really original, as it combines two other people's ideas.

Two of the suggested titles I like the most so far are The Four Signs and The Green Serpent (thanks, KingEdTheJust and Cleander!). But still neither of those felt quite right to me on their own until it came to me just earlier that we could combine a piece of each — how about The Signs and the Serpent ...? That brings in two of the most important elements of the plot without giving away any major spoilers. (We learn about the serpent early on, when the children are told the story of Rilian's mother's death, so it's not a big giveaway to know from the start that there is one in the book somewhere.)

It's also a title that has a nice ring to it (rhythm and alliteration), fits well with the titles of the other Chronicles, and to me sounds intriguing enough that I would definitely want to read it! There's a real sense of mystery and danger there, which the story itself has in bucketloads, but the title The Silver Chair doesn't really convey that feeling — certainly not the element of menace, which is a pity in what to me is one of the "darkest" in tone of all the Chronicles.

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

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Posted : July 19, 2021 10:53 am
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut

I just remembered that one of the chapters of The Silver Chair has my suggestion for a title (Puddleglum) so that's off the table. I mean you can have the title of a chapter be the same as the book's title, but none of the Narnia books do, I think.

For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen check out my new blog!

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Posted : July 19, 2021 12:06 pm
The Rose-Tree Dryad
(@rose)
Secret Garden Agent Moderator

Great discussion idea, @Courtenay. Smile

I've actually always really liked the title The Silver Chair; it's very mythic, perhaps the most mythic-sounding of all the titles, and very mysterious. (So mysterious we don't actually get many answers about it IN the book, as Courtenay pointed out. Giggle ) I think that really fits the Arthurian romance vibes we find in the book.

That said, @KingEdtheJust's suggestion of The Four Signs is giving me chills and I really like that as well. Grin It doesn't have quite the mythic quality that The Silver Chair does, but it still has the mystery and it captures the sweep of the whole book better.

Your suggestion of The Lady's Enchantment is also interesting, @Narnian78, because it's a bit of a red herring — at a glance, the title makes it sound like the lady in green is the one under an enchantment, not Rilian. (And perhaps she is, but that is another discussion for another thread for another time. Tongue ).

Twitter: Rose_the_Dryad

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Posted : July 22, 2021 4:50 pm
Narnian78 liked
Narnian78
(@narnian78)
NarniaWeb Nut

@rose

The enchantment comes from the Lady so it is actually hers. Or perhaps a clearer title would be The Enchantment of Rilian.  I always liked the way the BBC Narnia showed it with the woman becoming a snake in the woods.  Maybe Rilian Under Magic would work too.  The spell is one of the most interesting parts of the book. 

This post was modified 5 days ago by Narnian78
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Posted : July 22, 2021 7:09 pm
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