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Wanderer Between Worlds
(@wanderer)
NarniaWeb Nut

This question has been on my mind lately. According to The Companion to Narnia by Paul F. Ford, Lewis made several changes to the Chronicles in the American editions, most notably altering in the end of "The Dark Island" chapter in VDT, Maugrim's name in LWW (to Fenris Ulf), and the location where the Deep Magic was written (from the fire-stones on the secret hill to the trunk of the world ash tree). I seem to remember reading somewhere that Lewis was also planning to make other alterations, but he passed away before he could (I could very possibly be conflating and misremembering information). If Lewis had lived a longer and had indeed intended to make other changes, what ones do you think he might have made? :-?

P.S. I find it interesting that two out of three changes were references to Norse mythology.

"I am,” said Aslan. "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

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Posted : April 18, 2020 3:59 pm
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb

I've read that Lewis did intend to make further revisions to the Chronicles for a new edition. He was certainly aware of some details in them that didn't quite tie up (which is true, if you read them carefully — I can think of several) and he mentioned that to Kaye Webb, the editor of Puffin Books, as they were about to start publishing the Chronicles in paperback for the first time. Unfortunately that discussion was something like two days before he died, so we'll never know exactly what he was thinking of or what changes he might have made!!

There's a bit of debate over whether Lewis's changes to the American editions should be seen as his definitive revisions and therefore it's wrong and unfair that since the 1990s, all reprints have been standardised back to the original British editions. Peter J. Schakel, in The Way into Narnia: A Reader's Guide, makes that argument very strongly. On the other hand, Lewis presumably could have asked his British publishers to make the same changes in future reprints and he never did, so it's a bit of a moot point... :-

The only change I'm aware of that makes an actual difference to the story, anyway — and even then it's not huge — is the change to what happened to the Dark Island in VDT, whether it vanished altogether and everyone laughed, or it simply faded away into the distance, so it was still implicitly real but no longer threatening. I've read both versions of the chapter and I prefer the British version, but I grew up reading it, so I would, wouldn't I? ;) Seriously, though, I feel it makes a more powerful point to show that nightmares, when you're woken up from them, have no reality at all.

Also there's at least one change that to me just sounds silly. In the original edition of LWW, when the Witch has made her bargain with Aslan and asks him how she will know this promise will be kept, Aslan sends her fleeing with this: "'Haa-a-arrh!' roared Aslan..." In the American edition, I gather, Lewis changed it to "'Wow!' roared Aslan..." I mean — really...?! :-o :-s :p

Again, it's interesting to wonder if he would have kept a change like that and made it the same across all editions, or rethought it and changed it back to the original, or maybe something different again, if he'd had the time to do a full revision of all the Chronicles. I wish he'd been able to, or at least had left some notes on what changes he'd have liked to make, but we'll just never know.

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

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Posted : April 18, 2020 11:20 pm
Cleander
(@the-mad-poet)
NarniaWeb Junkie

Well, as someone mentioned recently, there was apparently a discrepancy concerning Queen Swanwhite. Lewis had mentioned in The Last Battle that she lived "long before the White Witch," but in his timeline he placed her as living after the Pevensie reign, thus raising conjecture among fans as to whether there might be two Swanwhites. Perhaps Lewis might have cleared this up in his next revision.

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Posted : April 19, 2020 5:00 pm
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb

Well, as someone mentioned recently, there was apparently a discrepancy concerning Queen Swanwhite. Lewis had mentioned in The Last Battle that she lived "long before the White Witch," but in his timeline he placed her as living after the Pevensie reign, thus raising conjecture among fans as to whether there might be two Swanwhites. Perhaps Lewis might have cleared this up in his next revision.

Oh yes, I've noticed that too. Mind you, the timeline was never actually published during Lewis's lifetime — I think it was first printed in Past Watchful Dragons by Walter Hooper, in 1979. I've always assumed that Lewis remembered he'd made a reference to a Queen Swanwhite in The Last Battle but forgot when he said she'd reigned and mistakenly placed her after the Pevensies instead of before. There are quite a few discrepancies and continuity errors between the Chronicles themselves that make me suspect Lewis didn't do a lot of re-reading what he'd previously written to check he was being consistent before writing a new one... ;)

The example that stands out the most to me is the huge difference between what we're told about the White Witch's background in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Jadis's background in The Magician's Nephew. They are of course meant to be the same person — that's made very clear in MN — but in LWW, which was written first, the Witch is presented as "the Emperor's hangman", someone whose claim to be Queen is false but who has a genuine and divinely appointed role in Narnia as the one who executes traitors, under the Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time. We're also told that she's descended on one side from Adam's "first wife" Lilith (a mythical demonic figure who isn't in the Bible at all), and on the other from "the giants" — that there's "not a drop of real human blood in the Witch".

However, when we meet Jadis in Charn, she's presented as the last of a long line of rulers who (it's implied from the statues of them) started out noble and kind but became more and more corrupt and cruel over many generations, until they culminated in this last Queen who would destroy every living thing in the world (with one word!) rather than let her sister take the throne. Lewis drops a hint about possible "giantish blood" in her family, but that's the only echo of what he told us in LWW.

Then when Jadis comes into what will become Narnia and watches Aslan create it, she is clearly NOT given any cosmic role as the executioner of wrong-doers, contrary to what we're told about the Deep Magic in LWW. She is terrified of Aslan and his power from the start, and flees after she throws the iron bar at him and it simply bounces off. She later steals the apple from the garden and becomes immortal, but all we're told beyond that is that she waits in the far northern lands, "growing stronger in dark Magic", until 1,000 years later — presumably after Narnia's tree of protection has died — when she comes back as the White Witch and begins the 100-year winter. Nothing at all about Aslan or the Emperor giving her a legitimate (though horrible) place in Narnia's scheme of things, which is what she had in LWW; here, she's been thoroughly evil and the servant of evil from the start.

What I'm wondering is — had Lewis forgotten the role he originally gave to the White Witch in LWW, which is the whole point of why Aslan had to sacrifice himself, in order to override the Deep Magic with the Deeper? If Lewis had done a revision of the books and found that discrepancy, would he have rewritten a few passages in both books to make them more consistent with each other? It doesn't bother me too much as a reader, but if Netflix is going to make films or serials of all seven Chronicles, they're going to have to figure out how to handle that issue — especially if they go for chronological order (MN first, followed by LWW) rather than original publication order.

Just another thing we'll never know for sure, but it's intriguing to think about! :D

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

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Posted : April 19, 2020 10:31 pm
Ryadian
(@ryadian)
Member Moderator

The example that stands out the most to me is the huge difference between what we're told about the White Witch's background in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Jadis's background in The Magician's Nephew. ...n LWW, which was written first, the Witch is presented as "the Emperor's hangman", someone whose claim to be Queen is false but who has a genuine and divinely appointed role in Narnia as the one who executes traitors, under the Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time. We're also told that she's descended on one side from Adam's "first wife" Lilith (a mythical demonic figure who isn't in the Bible at all), and on the other from "the giants" — that there's "not a drop of real human blood in the Witch".

I think the second discrepancy is easier to explain - as I recall, Mr. Beaver is the one who says that the White Witch is descended from Jadis, and this is never said by anyone who truly knows. It's been at least 100 years since Aslan has been in Narnia, so there are no sources of reliable information about her. We do know for sure that Jadis is not truly human, having come from Charn. The Narnians may have come up with that as an explanation for why she claimed to be human but clearly wasn't.

As for the Emperor's hangman idea, my thought is that, sometime "off screen" from the events of The Magician's Nephew - and probably as a consequence of Jadis eating the apple - she was appointed as an executioner of traitors for reasons known only to her and Aslan/the Emperor-over-the-Sea. Given her belief (whether that's what really happened or not) that her sister betrayed her, I could see her accepting that role. This would mean she was not technically appointed at the very dawn of time, but if it was within a few days, I think you could still reasonably still call it that.

I remember that in an LWW reading group we had a few years ago, we found another interesting change. In the first chapter, when the children are settling in for their first night, they all mention an animal they'd like to see when they explore the grounds. We found out that different editions listed different animals. I don't remember if we established a consistent pattern, but given that the question was about why the children chose their particular animals, the fact that different editions gave different answers made it even more interesting. ;))

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Posted : April 20, 2020 7:52 am
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb

As for the Emperor's hangman idea, my thought is that, sometime "off screen" from the events of The Magician's Nephew - and probably as a consequence of Jadis eating the apple - she was appointed as an executioner of traitors for reasons known only to her and Aslan/the Emperor-over-the-Sea. Given her belief (whether that's what really happened or not) that her sister betrayed her, I could see her accepting that role. This would mean she was not technically appointed at the very dawn of time, but if it was within a few days, I think you could still reasonably still call it that.

Yes, I was thinking something along those lines too. The only thing that makes me hesitate about it is that it's made pretty clear in MN that Jadis is evil, she's utterly opposed to Aslan, and she's not meant to be in this new world at all — it's through Digory's actions, of course, that she got there. And by the end of the story, she's fled into the northern wilds, far away from Narnia, and she won't be able to come there again while the tree of protection still lives. Why then, after having effectively repelled Jadis, would Aslan and/or the Emperor apparently follow her up and make a bargain with her to allow her to have any power in Narnia at all? And then how could she have carried out that role as Narnia's killer of traitors, which involves the Stone Table (presumably built very early in Narnia's history, from what we're told in LWW), when she's not able to enter Narnia anyway?? :-s I think there have been a few fan-fiction attempts at filling in that gap and those discrepancies, but it's not easy, even from a story-telling point of view, let alone a theological point of view...

I'd heard about the differences between the British and American editions of LWW where the children name the animals they'd like to see. In the original, Edmund says "Foxes!" and Susan says "Rabbits!"; in the US edition, Edmund says "Snakes!" and Susan says "Foxes!" I'm getting this from Peter J. Schakel's The Way into Narnia, where he remarks:

Paul Ford suggests that Lewis's afterthought better fits their characters in this and later books and improves the imaginative experiences of reading the books. "Snakes" conveys associations (including biblical ones) that suit the deceptive traitor Edmund is to become. "Rabbits" gives a warm, cuddly feel that ultimately doesn't fit Susan, but "foxes" suggests a wiliness that does fit and may also convey, as Ford indicates, "a veiled reference to her desire for a high social life, riding to the hounds, and the like."

I'm not sure I agree with Schakel and Ford's opinions there. "Snakes" obviously is a very fitting piece of symbolism for a traitor, but to me it gives away too early that there is something creepy and sinister about Edmund. In any case, there are only four snake species in Britain (and only one of them, the adder, is venomous) and they're just not something most people search for eagerly when they're out walking in the countryside. (Just as well these kids weren't in a part of the world that has really dangerous snakes, or I'd be a bit worried about Edmund. :-o )

"Foxes" from Susan sounds even more puzzling to me. "Rabbits" fits her quite well, I think — she is a mild-tempered, unadventurous character who is easily frightened in the face of danger, and she later becomes known as Queen Susan the Gentle. Foxes, on the other hand, are traditionally characterised as wily and dishonest and sly. A perfect fit for Edmund as we first get to know him (and a less surprising creature for an English schoolboy to want to go looking for), but totally unlike Susan, even as we see her in the later books. She does become a social climber later on and she manages to convince herself that Narnia was only imaginary, but we've no evidence that she's a sly and scheming character. Those are my thoughts, but it's not something that makes a great difference to the story either way.

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

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Posted : April 20, 2020 8:45 am
Wanderer Between Worlds
(@wanderer)
NarniaWeb Nut

Seriously, though, I feel it makes a more powerful point to show that nightmares, when you're woken up from them, have no reality at all.

Interestingly enough, Courtenay, Paul F. Ford says in The Companion to Narnia that Lewis may have changed the ending of "The Dark Island" chapter to emphasize that children's fears are not silly or to be dismissed out of hand. He writes:

His [Lewis's] aim was to correct any impression that the original British edition might have given that night-fears are unreal and ultimately laughable and that they can be obliterated altogether."

Also there's at least one change that to me just sounds silly. In the original edition of LWW, when the Witch has made her bargain with Aslan and asks him how she will know this promise will be kept, Aslan sends her fleeing with this: "'Haa-a-arrh!' roared Aslan..." In the American edition, I gather, Lewis changed it to "'Wow!' roared Aslan..." I mean — really...?! :-o :-s :p

This change is rather odd! ;)) I honestly cannot figure out he would have changed that. Why would Aslan roaring "Wow!" send the White Witch fleeing? If anything, it seems more like an exclamation of awe than a powerful display of authority. As an aside, I think that my father had a pre-1994 American edition, and there, Aslan's roar is kept in its integrity.

Edit: I was mistaken. My father’s copy was published by HarperCollins in 1998 and uses the British text.

I never really read that much into the "Emperor's hangman" line about the White Witch, but her contradicting origins do provide some food for thought. I'd read Ford's thoughts on the changes as well, but I'm inclined to agree with you, Courtenay, that rabbits are a better fit for Susan. At any rate, I think it is fascinating that there is that bit of foreshadowing right at the very beginning!

"I am,” said Aslan. "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

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Posted : April 21, 2020 11:23 am
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb

I never really read that much into the "Emperor's hangman" line about the White Witch, but her contradicting origins do provide some food for thought.

I never thought much about it when I first read the book either (well, mostly Mum read it to me — I think I was only 4 years old, but I just loved it! ;) ), but it stands out to me more now because although Lewis doesn't explain it very thoroughly, it is an essential element of the plot. The reason Aslan can't simply send the Witch packing when he first arrives is because she does have a divinely appointed role in Narnia, and now she's asserting it as giving her the right and the duty to kill Edmund on the Stone Table, in accordance with the demand of the Deep Magic that was put into Narnia at its beginning. And if she's denied that right, as she declares and Aslan agrees, "all Narnia will be overturned and perish in fire and water."

That's why Aslan offers himself in Edmund's place, because unlike the Witch, he knows of a Deeper Magic that will override the Deep Magic when an innocent individual offers his own life in a traitor's stead. It all ties in with the Christian concepts of atonement and redemption, of course, but Lewis keeps it pretty simple so that young readers can get the idea without getting bogged down in heavy theology! :-o But that's why it's important, even though it's a relatively small part of the book itself — it's what sets up the need for Aslan's death and resurrection. If it wasn't for this background of the Witch's role as "the Emperor's hangman", which only Aslan's self-sacrifice can overcome, then there'd be no need for Aslan to die and no good reason why he doesn't simply kill or banish the Witch as soon as he arrives in Narnia.

Jadis's background and role in MN are very interesting in their own right, but there she's presented as an evil force that entered Narnia at its beginning through Digory's actions (a sort of "original sin" equivalent) and needs to be kept at bay for as long as possible. There's no indication at all that she has a divine role to play under the Emperor's Magic (which she will later overstep by claiming the right to rule Narnia), yet that, as I said, is absolutely essential for the plot of LWW to work. I can only guess that Lewis, by the time he completed MN, had moved on so far from LWW that he'd forgotten what he said about the Witch and the Deep Magic and neglected to tie her origin story in with that.

I love both those books (and the other five!), but I wish now that Lewis had either revised one or other of them to fix the inconsistencies, or written another book that fitted chronologically between the two and tied up those loose ends. I'm aware of fan fiction that attempts to do that, but I wish we could know how Lewis himself would have handled it... :-s

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

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Posted : April 22, 2020 2:59 am
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