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ecurb1216
(@ecurb1216)
NarniaWeb Regular

"Planet Narnia", written by Michael Ward and published in 2008, points out that the Narnia series is organized on the basis of Medieval Astrology. Ward was a PhD. student at Oxford, studying Lewis for his Doctor of Divinity dissertation.

Those familiar with C.S. Lewis and his works know that Lewis was interested in Medieval astrology. In his Science Fiction trilogy, "Out of the Silent Planet" is set on Mars, and has a "martial" plot and tone. "Perelandra" is set on Venus, and has a venereal mood and tone. In "That Hideous Strength" the rulers of the Planets (equivalent to angels in Christian mythology) play a personal role.

Narnia has been criticized as a "mish mash" -- mixing up Greek mythology, talking animal English fiction, and E. Nesbit - like children's fantasy. Indeed, Lewis begins "The Magician's Nephew" with an homage to Nesbit (from memory) --"This was back in the days when the Bastables were still looking for treasure on Lewisham road."

Probably because of the obvious Christological symbolism, readers did not look further for an organizing principle -- until it occurred to Ward.

Ward's theory (and it's obvious and irrefutable, once he lays it out) is that each of the novels portrays the "aspect" of Christ symbolized by one of the planets. In addition, the mood, or "humor": of each book is imbued with the humor of the planet.

Ward backs his theory with both textual evidence, and evidence from Lewis's life. For example, Lewis wrote a poem called "The Planets". He describes Jupiter's tale as one:

Of wrath ended
And woes mended, of winter passed
And guilt forgiven, and goof fortune
Jove is master; and of jocund revel,
Laughter of ladies. The lion-hearted,
The myriad-minded, men like the gods,
Helps and heroes, helms of nations
Just and gentle, are Jove's children,
Work his wonders.

Of course, "winter passed" is exactly what happens in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe".

The plan is: The Lion -- Jupiter
Prince Caspian -- Mars
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader -- Sol (the sun and moon were "planets" for medieval astrologers)
The Silver Chair -- Luna
The Horse and His Boy -- Mercury
The Magician's Nephew -- Venus
The Last Battle -- Saturn

Ward is a good writer, and he goes into detail supporting his theory. There can be little doubt that Lewis used it as an organizing principle, and the book is well worth reading for fans of Narnia.

As one example: Mercury is the patron of messengers and thieves. In "The Horse and His Boy", Shasta "steals" the horse Bree, and saves Archenland by serving as a messenger. In astrology, the constellation "Gemini" is ruled by Mercury. The Gemini were the twins, Castor and Pollux. Homer (whom Lewis had doubtless read) describes Castor as the "horse tamer" and Pollux as a great boxer. Of course Shasta "tames" Bree, not by teaching him to obey, but by befriending him and teaching him about prideless honor. Shasta's twin brother Corin is a boxer. Indeed, Shasta's real birth name is "Cor", and is we combine the names, we get C(sh)ast(a)or, which can hardly be a coincidence.

The argument for all of the other books is equally persuasive (or more so, because I've given the Cliff Notes version). Perhaps fans of Narnia and medieval astrology can try to figure out some of the connections for themselves. Or they can read the book. Medieval astrology, by the way, almost vanished with Copernicus and Gallileo, (who disproved the paradigm on which it was based), and astrology was revived in the late 19th century along with an interest in other forms of mysticism and supernaturalism. It bears only a slight resemblance to modern astrology.

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Posted : April 15, 2020 7:05 am
Justin of Archenland
(@justin-of-archenland)
NarniaWeb Regular

First of all, ecurb1216, welcome to this forum! I hope you'll enjoy your time here :)

Ward's theory (and it's obvious and irrefutable, once he lays it out)

There can be little doubt that Lewis used it as an organizing principle,

I am afraid I have to disagree with these parts in your post, though. Although I very much agree with the next part:

and the book is well worth reading for fans of Narnia.

I believe that Ward's inspiration for Planet Narnia was a great one and I advise any fan of Narnia to read either Planet Narnia or The Narnia Code. For me personally it has greatly enriched my love for Lewis' literary skills. Moreover, I've grown a love myself for the heavens and stars that I did not have before this read.

Nevertheless, I don't believe Ward's theory in saying that Lewis' used these planets as a pre-planned formula or 'code' to write the stories.
I do believe they have a great influence in the stories and I am sort of okay with saying that perhaps he did use the imagery deliberately in some of them.

Perhaps this is a good read to add, for anyone who is looking into this right now:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282851446_Some_Planets_in_Narnia_A_Quantitative_Investigation_of_the_Planet_Narnia_Thesis

“Child," said the Voice, "I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

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Posted : April 16, 2020 3:18 am
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb

There was a NarniaWeb Talking Beasts podcast on this topic a few months ago: Does "The Narnia Code" Explain How the 7 Books Fit Together? It's well worth a listen for anyone who's interested. There's also a variety of responses to it, and discussions of some of the arguments both for and against, in the comments underneath.

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

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Posted : April 16, 2020 8:31 am
ecurb1216
(@ecurb1216)
NarniaWeb Regular

Thanks for the response. I tried (and failed) to read Barrett's essay (in general I think the "scientific approach" to literary criticism is dull and ineffective), but I'll give it another try later. I'll grant that the middle three Narnias support Ward's thesis better than the other four, and I'll also grant that the extent to which Lewis consciously organized the series based on Medieval Astrology could be questioned (or could constitute the "intentional fallacy" in literary criticism). Nonetheless, Lewis familiarity (even obsession) with astrological imagery is clear, based on the poem "The Planets" and on his Science Fiction trilogy. If the "code" is obvious in "The Horse and His Boy" (as seems clear from the evidence I gave above, which constitutes only part of Ward's case), isn't it reasonable to assume that it influenced the other novels as well? Perhaps Lewis didn't set out to organize the series based on the Planets,but he must have had some awareness of the connection, given his interest in Medieval astrology and skill as a literary critic.

I haven't read Barrett's article carefully (I promise I'll try again), but I don't think counting how many times the word "moon" (or whatever) appears in each novel is particularly effective at refuting Ward's theory. Barrett's tedious exercise may SEEM scientific, but I find it merely silly. Let's leave counting word frequency to the mathematically inclined, and let literature remain one of the Humanities (unscientific as that approach may be).

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Posted : April 16, 2020 2:03 pm
coracle
(@coracle)
NarniaWeb's Auntie Moderator

This idea comes up every so often, but if Lewis was interested in astrology it's only as part of the mythologies that he had studied, not as something he believed.
Lewis was formerly an atheist, and became a convinced Christian; this left no room for other beliefs, and I remain unconvinced that he would include them in a series of books deliberately written to get children past 'those watchful dragons' into the joy and wonder of Christian faith.

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Posted : April 16, 2020 8:02 pm
Justin of Archenland
(@justin-of-archenland)
NarniaWeb Regular

I can understand what you are saying, ecurb1216. In many cases, I would agree that the scientific approach leaves a lot room for fallacy. However, here I find it quite a worthy addition, since it is Ward himself that tends to ascribe a lot of proof of his theory to the frequency of conceptual imagery in each of the stories.

Barrett used both absolute frequency as by-concept frequency, trying to preserve the deeper layers of such concepts. He does admit it being a possibility that the results could have changed through not being aware of the deepest or other concepts used by Lewis, but he argues those would not have changed the results greatly.

I have some issues with a possible 'evidence bias' in Ward's works. There are quite a number of reasons to call one book a representation of a specific planet, but also enough reasons to doubt that. He doesn't go into those as much in his work, disproving why they do not weaken his thesis statement. He tends to avoid them, in my opinion.

Nevertheless, I definitely agree with you that the Planets did have an influence throughout the writing of Narnia. This is why I said in my first reply that I greatly encourage anyone to read Ward's work, to find out more about the Lewis' love for the heavens and his skills in using them as beautifully laid-out imagery.

My biggest problem is still believing in the 'Code'. In Planet Narnia, Ward starts proving that Lewis was capable of being secretive and that should be enough reason to carefully assume that he could have kept such a code a secret.
In my opinion he spends so much time trying to proof this characteristic of Lewis, that it actually weakens my trust in the statement itself. I guess that part is the part that many people fall over, as have I, which will always be a matter of belief. We can't ask the man himself, anyway.

Again, I love what he pointed out and brought into discussion and believe that any Narnia fan should read at least some of Ward's work. I believe in the influence of the heavens throughout Narnia, but I can not comply with the 'Code'.

“Child," said the Voice, "I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

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Posted : April 16, 2020 11:57 pm
Justin of Archenland
(@justin-of-archenland)
NarniaWeb Regular

This idea comes up every so often, but if Lewis was interested in astrology it's only as part of the mythologies that he had studied, not as something he believed.
Lewis was formerly an atheist, and became a convinced Christian; this left no room for other beliefs, and I remain unconvinced that he would include them in a series of books deliberately written to get children past 'those watchful dragons' into the joy and wonder of Christian faith.

To then turn Astrology into Astronomy, it is widely known that Lewis was a enormous fan of the heavens and that he believed they proclaimed a greater glory of God. I do believe Ward when he spoke on how Lewis found the medieval heavens to be more 'romantic' and 'alive' than the scientific representation of the galaxy today.

I don't believe Astrology would have had a place in Lewis' life. Astronomy all the more :D

“Child," said the Voice, "I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

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Posted : April 17, 2020 12:00 am
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut

Ward is a good writer

I actually find Ward to be an annoying writer :)) He comes across as kind of presumptuous the way he insists that his take on Lewis' writing is definitely the truth. (To be fair, a lot of literary analysts comes across this way to me.) He tends to browbeat readers into agreeing with his thesis by overwhelming them with a quantity of arguments in his favor rather than quality arguments. But there are plenty of people who finds his books engaging. So nobody should take my word for it.

There can be little doubt that Lewis used it as an organizing principle

Actually there can be. ;) I'm not saying this interpretation isn't true. I wouldn't be surprised at all if it were true. I just wouldn't be surprised at all either if it were untrue. It's the kind of thing that can't really be proven or disproven. Here's an example.

In astrology, the constellation "Gemini" is ruled by Mercury. The Gemini were the twins, Castor and Pollux. Homer (whom Lewis had doubtless read) describes Castor as the "horse tamer" and Pollux as a great boxer. Of course Shasta "tames" Bree, not by teaching him to obey, but by befriending him and teaching him about prideless honor. Shasta's twin brother Corin is a boxer. Indeed, Shasta's real birth name is "Cor", and is we combine the names, we get C(sh)ast(a)or, which can hardly be a coincidence.

True enough, but why would you combine those names as C(sh)ast(a)or? Most people if they were told to combine the names, would come up with Shastacor or Corshasta? It's also a bit of a stretch to say that Shasta "tames" Bree. He humbles Bree definitely but the word, tame, doesn't seem like it would occur to anyone unless they were thinking way too hard.

I'm probably being way too harsh on Ward's interpretation. I guess I'm biased against it because Ward's motivation annoys me. He and a number of other people seem to feel like there has to be a super specific reason why there are seven books. Why? :p Why couldn't Lewis have stopped because he didn't have any more ideas for Narnia after seven books? Is there something wrong with the number, seven? :))

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

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Posted : April 17, 2020 3:17 am
ecurb1216
(@ecurb1216)
NarniaWeb Regular

Lewis was formerly an atheist, and became a convinced Christian; this left no room for other beliefs, and I remain unconvinced that he would include them in a series of books deliberately written to get children past 'those watchful dragons' into the joy and wonder of Christian faith.

Lewis didn't need to "believe in" astrology to use it as a plan for his novels. I assume he didn't believe in fauns or centaurs or Greek Mythology, either, but he invited Mr. Tumnus into Narnia.

As far as Barrett's article is concerned (now that I've read it), I find it unpersuasive. I'll grant that Ward discusses the number of times Lewis uses words and themes in associated with the appropriate planet in the novels. However, his thesis doesn't rest solely on this point. It's not a mathematical proof, where if you prove one of the steps invalid, the entire proof crashes down. Even if Ward is incorrect that words associated with Planetary themes are common in the appropriate novels ((and Barrett simply says that he's sometimes right and occasionally wrong), the rest of his argument stands.

To then turn Astrology into Astronomy, it is widely known that Lewis was a enormous fan of the heavens and that he believed they proclaimed a greater glory of God. I do believe Ward when he spoke on how Lewis found the medieval heavens to be more 'romantic' and 'alive' than the scientific representation of the galaxy today.

:D

Perhaps Lewis agreed with Walt Whitman, who wrote:

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
Walt Whitman - 1819-1892

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Or maybe he was a George Meredith fan.

Lucifer in Starlight
BY GEORGE MEREDITH

On a starred night Prince Lucifer uprose.
Tired of his dark dominion swung the fiend
Above the rolling ball in cloud part screened,
Where sinners hugged their spectre of repose.
Poor prey to his hot fit of pride were those.
And now upon his western wing he leaned,
Now his huge bulk o'er Afric's sands careened,
Now the black planet shadowed Arctic snows.
Soaring through wider zones that pricked his scars
With memory of the old revolt from Awe,
He reached a middle height, and at the stars,
Which are the brain of heaven, he looked, and sank.
Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank,
The army of unalterable law.

One of my favorite Narnia quotes is (from memory) when Eustace says, "In our world, stars are huge balls of flaming gas." Ramandu replies, "Even in your world that is not what stars are, but only what they are made of."

(As an aside, G.K. Chesterton, one of Lewis's favorite writers and Christian apologists often quoted from memory, and defended the practice by claiming that if the author of the quoted text had left good Ol' GK with that memory, that was what is important. Of course GK often improved the original, although I doubt that I will.)

The Bible itself sees stars as romantic.

3When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

4What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

So if Lewis liked the romantic vision of the heavens, he had good company in Meredith, Whitman, and King David.

Ward is a good writer

I actually find Ward to be an annoying writer :)) He comes across as kind of presumptuous the way he insists that his take on Lewis' writing is definitely the truth. (To be fair, a lot of literary analysts comes across this way to me.) He tends to browbeat readers into agreeing with his thesis by overwhelming them with a quantity of arguments in his favor rather than quality arguments. But there are plenty of people who finds his books engaging. So nobody should take my word for it.
)

I think writers should make their case as forcefully as they can. Lewis (in his apologetics) appears to agree. We may disagree with the writer, but why should we be "annoyed" by a forceful argument? I'm quite sure Lewis (who loved to argue) wouldn't be.

I'll grant that piling on the evidence does not constitute "proof" unless one particular argument rises to that level. Nonetheless, I think Ward makes a strong case. In the long run, it doesn't much matter what Lewis's intentions were: the text of the novels stands on its own, and Ward's interpretation is a reasonable one. Also, I think it's fun when someone stumbles on a new interpretation of famous books. Ward's theory reminds me of that librarian who wrote "The Web of Childhood" proving (?) that Emily Bronte's poems were written by characters in the games the Bronte children played as children.

By the way, Lewis was a big Jane Austen fan (he wrote essays about it). In Sense and Sensibility, the "foil" is the "steely" Lucy Steele, and when she marries becomes (Lucy Fer)ars. Perhaps Lewis got his Cor -Shasta idea from her (she loved word games, although I don't think Lewis did. At least he didn't like games in general.).

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Posted : April 17, 2020 4:26 am
coracle
(@coracle)
NarniaWeb's Auntie Moderator

After visiting The Kilns in August last year, I became aware that there was a new generation of 'Lewis scholars' who are quite convinced about this. Nothing I could say to these clever young men was going to change their minds!!

But his stepson, Doug Gresham, says it's just a theory and he doesn't endorse it. And I don't accept it either. In addition, the idea of the planets and the books being associated is shaky; they can be rearranged in different combinations, and that's a poor argument.

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Posted : April 17, 2020 2:01 pm
Justin of Archenland
(@justin-of-archenland)
NarniaWeb Regular

One of my favorite Narnia quotes is (from memory) when Eustace says, "In our world, stars are huge balls of flaming gas." Ramandu replies, "Even in your world that is not what stars are, but only what they are made of."

I agree wholeheartedly and enjoyed the Walt Whitman, George Meredith and Bible quotes you used :)

On the whole, I hate being this guy, but I think both sides have made their case.

I agree that Ward has a fine theory and adds a lot to the conversation on the novels.
I personally don't believe in an intention of Lewis that existed before the writing of these stories. And thus not the full descriptive theory of Ward concerning every single book.
I do believe in an influence of the planets throughout the Chronicles.

That's probably it for me, for now. I hope others will join in and that we will all have new insights into the stories we adore :)

“Child," said the Voice, "I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

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Posted : April 18, 2020 8:18 am
ecurb1216
(@ecurb1216)
NarniaWeb Regular

After visiting The Kilns in August last year, I became aware that there was a new generation of 'Lewis scholars' who are quite convinced about this. Nothing I could say to these clever young men was going to change their minds!!

Well, maybe the clever young men are right, and you are wrong.

But his stepson, Doug Gresham, says it's just a theory and he doesn't endorse it. And I don't accept it either. In addition, the idea of the planets and the books being associated is shaky; they can be rearranged in different combinations, and that's a poor argument.

What's a "poor argument"? I have no idea, because Coracle fails to clarify. As far as I can tell, Coracle's only "argument" is that Doug Gresham doesn't endorse Ward's theory. So what? Why should Doug Gresham have any particular authority on the subject?

To offer some insights into Ward's theory, here are some associations of TLWWD with Jupiter:

Jupiter is the king -- and TLWaW is about restoring Narnia to it's proper ruler (Aslan) and enthroning the Pevensie chjildren. I cited the poem earlier in which Lewis talks about Jupiter being about "winter passed" and "guilt forgiven" (Edmund), and about Jupiter being "lion hearted". In the novel, Aslan's return is predicted in the couplet:

When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death
And when he shakes his mane we shall have Spring again.

Edmund is co-opted into treachery by the Queen's promise that he will be king, one day.

The wardrobe is clearly a Jovial place: "In fact, they were standing amidst a collection of robes of state -- dozens of robes which hung, each separate, from its little pillar of wood."

According to the poem "Planets", Jovial nations are "just and gentle". When kings and queens, Edmund is known as "Edmund the Just", and Susan as "Susan the Gentle". Jupiter is associated with the color "red". According to Frazer, Roman generals celebrating victory would dress as Jupiter and have their faces "reddened with vermillion". Father Christmas makes his red-faced and jovial appearance in this novel, crimson against the white snow. Red represents Jovial celebration, but also blood and sacrifice. The witch and wolf have red mouths; Tumnus wears a red muffler; the children follow a red-breasted robin; Peter's shield bears a red lion; the girls clean the red blood from the dead Aslan. The metal associated with Jupiter is iron, like Peter's sword (which he forgets to clean).

Along with The Horse and His Boy,the most blatant association is that of Sol with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. After all, dawn is in the title. In addition, gold is the metal associated with Sol, and the magic pool turns anything it touches into gold. The sun gives light to the world: the dufflepuds are invisible, and the dark island blots out the sun. Stars make a personal appearance. Apollo was the serpent-slayer in Greek mythology, and (of course) Aslan "slays" the dragon that Eustace has become. I could go on and on.

I have a question: why are some posters here hostile to Ward's theory? Do they think astrology is heretical (from a Christian perspective)? If so, why not object to the influence of Greek and Norse mythology on the Narnia books? Lewis (in Surprised by Joy, and in some of his essays) discusses how ancient religions come close to the truth without quite grasping it (this in response to attempts by Frazer and others to trace the origins of Christianity to older dying and rising God myths). Ward thinks that in each of the Narnia books, Lewis tries to illuminate that aspect of God symbolized by the planets. The "clever young Lewis scholars" (from Coracle's post) agree. It's reasonable to disagree -- but why object?

By the way, I have no dog in this fight. I'm not an astrologer or a Christian -- but I am a Lewis fan.

Ward, however, is a Christian. Although specific symbols may represent Jupiter and his associations, it is the mood of the novel that is jovial. In this lovely scene the children look at Cair Paravel:

They began marching eastward down the side of the great river..... The castle of Cair Paravel on its little hill towered above them; before them were sands, with rocks and little pools of salt water, and seaweed, and the smell of the sea and long miles of blue-green waves breaking for ever and ever on the beach. And oh, the cry of the sea-gulls! Have you heard it? Can you remember?

Ward's take on the quote (paraphrased):

Of course we can all remember the cry of the gulls, but Lewis is evoking in his readers something deeper and more eternal -- memories of a palace as eternal as the waves that break forever and ever, and a kingship -- magnanimous, festive, and lordly -- that will last forever.

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Posted : April 20, 2020 3:38 am
coracle
(@coracle)
NarniaWeb's Auntie Moderator

If you didn't understand what I said, let me clarify.
(perhaps 'a poor argument' is too subjective here)

The basis of this theory that each book is associated with a planet [and therefore a mythical god] has problems for me, in how the planets/gods are to be paired off with the seven books.

The author suggests one set of matches, but I have met different pairings with equally valid arguments. This is where the 'proof' becomes less sturdy.

Mr Ward has presented an interesting idea, and it leads to great discussions of how the mythological elements from the Graeco-Roman world can be involved in Narnia.

You need not like my reasoning, but I'm afraid this is the most I can credit this theory.

Edit: The following will give some indication regarding the views of Lewis's stepson; it is an article by Devin Brown, published on the official C.S.Lewis website.

https://www.cslewis.com/planet-narnia-spin-spun-out/

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Posted : April 20, 2020 3:35 pm
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut

I have a question: why are some posters here hostile to Ward's theory?

I feel like I can't really answer this question (for myself) without gossiping about Michael Ward and gossip is discouraged in the forums and not an admirable activity as a rule. If you'd really like insight into our contrasting impressions of Ward, feel free to PM me.

Edit: A non-gossipy reason is that I worry Ward's theory is stunting the analyses of Narnia nerds who believe it. For example, you wrote about The Horse and his Boy being about swiftness, quick speech, etc. I'd say the book is much more about slavery vs freedom, tyranny vs magnanimity, self discipline vs external discipline, etc. And there are probably lots of other impressions people get from it.

But if people blogging or podcasting about the book buy into Ward's interpretation, they'll assume they know exactly what Lewis intended the book to be about and they'll likely as not only focus on its "mercurial" elements, assuming anything other take isn't scholarly enough or contrary to the author's intent. That doesn't mean their analyses will be bad. After all, Ward got his interpretation from multiple readings and analyses of the Narnia books. But I find the idea of all writers and speakers on Narnia reading the book through Ward-colored glasses depresses me.

"In fact, they were standing amidst a collection of robes of state -- dozens of robes which hung, each separate, from its little pillar of wood."

Where'd you get this quote incidentally? I don't recognize it.

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

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Posted : April 20, 2020 4:26 pm
ecurb1216
(@ecurb1216)
NarniaWeb Regular

To Col Klink: My bad. The quote was from "Planet Narnia". It's Ward's description of the Wardrobe, in support of his theory. I didn't make that clear.

Also, "gossip is discouraged"? Oh no! As Mr. Bennet says in Pride and Prejudice, "For what do we live but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn."

To Coracle: I finally understand your point, which was illuminated by the Devin Brown article to which you linked. Thanks for offering it, although, as an aside, I can't but wonder under what aegis an "official" C.S. Lewis website has been created. Hasn't Lewis been dead for more than half a century? Isn't it presumptuous of anyone running the website to claim to have some "official" capacity as far as preserving his works or his memory or his opinions? Perhaps the keepers of the "official" website retain some copyrights or other legal rights to Lewis's works, but I (at least) don't recognize their authority (except that it allows them to make money from Lewis's works). IN any event, the fact that these "officials" seem hostile to Ward's theory simply mirrors what I'm seeing on this board, and once again, I don't understand the motive.

As far as Brown's essay is concerned, I find it unpersuasive. Of course their are martial elements in LWW, and jovial elements in "Prince Caspian" (the title includes the word "Prince", for example). So what? Both PC and LWW are about dethroning a usurper, and reinstalling the rightful king. However, the mood of the books is quite different.

PC is a thoroughly astrological book. Dr. Cornelius brings the young Caspian up to the tower to witness the conjunction of two planets. Later, Glenstorm tells Caspian, "The time is ripe. I watch the skies... Tarva and Alambil have met..."

In Roman and Greek mythology, one aspect of Mars is "Mars Silvanus". This is the God of the forest and fields. Dr. Cornelius cannot see the conjunction of the planets because a tree interferes with his view. Later, Aslan leads a romp which includes dryads and hamadryads and sylvans, none of which appear in any other Narnia book, and all of which are subservient to Mars Silvanus.

This theme reaches its climax when Mars Gradivus (warlike) and Mars Silvanus unite:

"Have you ever stood at the edge of great wood on a high ridge when a wild south-wester broke over it in full fury on an autumn evening? Imagine that sound. And then imagine that the wood, instead of being fixed in one place, was rushing at you; and was no longer trees bu huge people, yet still like trees...."

The Telmarines flee, but ivy has destroyed the bridge.

These same themes of Mars Gravidus conjunction with Mars Silvanus are found in both "Out of the Silent Planet" and "That Hideous Strength".

I'll grant that if Ward's argument was strictly textual, Brown's counter argument would have more weight. However, Ward's argument hinges on several non-textual factors:

1) Lewis's interest in medieval astrology, and his poem "The Planets", which is highly suggestive of the mood of each of the Narnia novels.

2) Lewis's discussion of astrology in "The Discarded Image".

3) The fact that in Lewis's other series (the science fiction series) the astrological influences are obvious.

How could Lewis (the scholar and critic) possibly have been unaware of the astrological connections between the Narnia books and the Planets, given these undisputed facts. Since he wrote one entire series of novels based on astrology, isn't it likely that it influenced another?

I don't remember "Til We Have Faces" all that well, but doesn't that novel show the "aspect" of the Christian God hinted at by Eros (Cupid)? Isn't this a standard method in Lewis's fiction?

I'll grant the point (made by both Lewis and Brown) that trying to reconstruct an author's motives and methods in writing a novel is risky. But seeing the connection between the Planets and the books of the Narniad is fun, useful in enhancing understanding, and meaningful as a form of criticism.

p.s. Being an opinionated sort, I don't call the Narnia books "the Chronicles" because they were never so identified until after Lewis's death. Besides, they are not "Chronicles" which refers to "a register of event in order of time." However, "chronicle" is derived from "Cronus" (Saturn) so anyone who does refer to the series as "The Chronicles' is (unwittingly?) supporting the notion of an astrological connection.

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Posted : April 21, 2020 4:17 am
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