Forum

Share:
Notifications
Clear all

What do you think Tumnus' book "Is Man a Myth" contains?  

  RSS
Tumnus
(@tumnus)
NarniaWeb Regular

The more I read the books and watch the movies, the more I'm fascinated by the books on Tumnus' shelf and what they might contain, especially "Is Man a Myth" which is the one that draw's Lucy's eye (and the camera's focus) the most in the Walden movie.

Of course we'll never know, and Lewis himself admitted that he wrote The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe not knowing if he'd write more books, so that book's title is probably more about building the world and letting the reader know that humans haven't been in Narnia for a long while but that their existence is something the Narnians have a lot to say and think about. Nevertheless, it's fun to imagine what the book might actually contain.

I would imagine, given that the books on Tumnus' shelf seem fairly academic, that it is a systematic work of anthropology and history describing what humans are believed to be like, their appearance and customs, and their history in Narnia dating back to King Frank and Queen Helen. I also imagine that, if Tumnus and the Beavers' reaction to seeing the children is any indication, Narnians know enough about humans to be able to figure out what one is when they see one, and they seem somewhat aware that there is a portal to Narnia from another world especially Tumnus.

I just find it fascinating that, during the White Witch's reign, there is apparently enough of an erasure of very crucial Narnian history which dates back to the world's founding that someone bothered to write a book asking if man exists. The year that Lucy enters the wardrobe is 1,000 years since the founding of Narnia, which is fewer than the 1,300 years between the events of LWW and Prince Caspian. Furthermore, we know from the later books that Calormen, Telmar, and Archenland are still inhabited by humans, so the Narnians are under such a powerful spell and such isolation from the rest of the world they inhabit that some have apparently started to doubt if humans exist. It reminds me of European maps from 1,000 years ago that assume the lands far away are fantastical and even mythical because most people weren't travelling far from their front doors to tell of the wider world.

What do you think?

"Narnia, Narnia, Narnia,
Awake.

Love. Think. Speak.

Be Walking Trees

Be Talking Beasts

Be Divine Waters"
-The Magician's Nephew

Quote
Posted : January 25, 2020 4:51 am
King_Erlian
(@king_erlian)
NarniaWeb Guru

I imagine that "Is Man A Myth", unless the work is tongue-in-cheek, may date back a couple of centuries or so, possibly before the prophecies about the end of the White Witch's reign were made. Certainly, those Talking Beasts who believe the prophecies ("When Adam's flesh and Adam's bone...") must believe humans are real or the prophecies are meaningless.

Furthermore, as Mr. Beaver says, the White Witch claims to be human to make her claim to the throne legitimate. So the Narnians would know what a human looks like, at least approximately, from seeing her.

And as for the countries around Narnia seeming to be mythical, it doesn't take strong enchantment to make that happen. If you look at Facebook, there appear to be some Americans who think that the rest of the world is mythical. :ymdevil: (Ducks for cover)

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 26, 2020 9:21 pm
Tumnus
(@tumnus)
NarniaWeb Regular

These are fair points. I also wonder if the title "Is Man a Myth" is the Narnian book title equivalent of click-bait. The first king and queen and generations after were human, the prophecy predicts that humans will come to sit on the thrones at Cair Paravel, and the lands beyond Narnia are populated by humans. So one could almost imagine the first page of "Is Man a Myth" starting with 'of course man is real, now let's look at all the evidence and why it matters.'

As for people thinking the world beyond their own country is a myth, I saw that most clearly when I signed up for the Peace Corps and was assigned to Mali where Timbuktu is. Most people (and I was one for a long while) likely don't know that Timbuktu is a real city, and that's in our 21st century world with internet and copious reference materials, so it's true that it's not too far-fetched for someone living in a world where it takes word of mouth from magical creatures to send messages would think the lands beyond their own borders were mythical and the inhabitants too.

I imagine that "Is Man A Myth", unless the work is tongue-in-cheek, may date back a couple of centuries or so, possibly before the prophecies about the end of the White Witch's reign were made. Certainly, those Talking Beasts who believe the prophecies ("When Adam's flesh and Adam's bone...") must believe humans are real or the prophecies are meaningless.

Furthermore, as Mr. Beaver says, the White Witch claims to be human to make her claim to the throne legitimate. So the Narnians would know what a human looks like, at least approximately, from seeing her.

And as for the countries around Narnia seeming to be mythical, it doesn't take strong enchantment to make that happen. If you look at Facebook, there appear to be some Americans who think that the rest of the world is mythical. :ymdevil: (Ducks for cover)

"Narnia, Narnia, Narnia,
Awake.

Love. Think. Speak.

Be Walking Trees

Be Talking Beasts

Be Divine Waters"
-The Magician's Nephew

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 28, 2020 11:21 pm
Reepicheep775
(@reepicheep775)
NarniaWeb Junkie

Of course we'll never know, and Lewis himself admitted that he wrote The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe not knowing if he'd write more books, so that book's title is probably more about building the world and letting the reader know that humans haven't been in Narnia for a long while but that their existence is something the Narnians have a lot to say and think about. Nevertheless, it's fun to imagine what the book might actually contain.

Since Lewis initially planned LWW as a one-off and he didn't seem as interested in world-building in LWW than he would in later books, I don't think we can take it for granted that he intended there to be humans in Narnia before the arrival of the Pevensies. Cair Paravel has four thrones, unlike the usual two, so it seems likely that it was originally intended for the Pevensies specifically rather than the residence of all Narnian royalty. If that's the case, I would imagine the book was meant to be the mirror of books we might have in our world about whether fauns and dryads are myths. What is myth in one world is reality in another.

I imagine that "Is Man A Myth", unless the work is tongue-in-cheek, may date back a couple of centuries or so, possibly before the prophecies about the end of the White Witch's reign were made. Certainly, those Talking Beasts who believe the prophecies ("When Adam's flesh and Adam's bone...") must believe humans are real or the prophecies are meaningless.

I don't know. I actually think it's more likely that it would be written after the prophecies had been made and it was a discussion about whether there is any truth to them.

Much like in PC, I could see a bunch of Narnians coming to doubt the prophecies as time went on. Even Tumnus says, "And if she is extra and specially angry she’ll turn me into stone and I shall be only statue of a Faun in her horrible house until the four thrones at Cair Paravel are filled and goodness knows when that will happen, or whether it will ever happen at all.” Maybe Tumnus has that book because he questions whether the prophecies are true even though he desperately wants to believe them.

On a sort-of-related note, I find it amusing that Tumnus has a book titled Nymphs and Their Ways because fauns and nymphs were often romantic partners in mythology. Tumnus needs some dating advice. :P

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 31, 2020 6:53 am
Tumnus
(@tumnus)
NarniaWeb Regular

Where I wrote 'world building' I really should have written 'atmosphere.' I agree that Lewis originally wrote LWW not knowing if there would be more books so we shouldn't assume some larger plan, so what I meant was that the 'Is Man a Myth' book gives us a glimpse into the current state of Narnian culture and helps to establish an air of mystery by getting us to wonder why this book exists and to further juxtapose our surprise at a faun being the first creature we meet with the faun's surprise to have met a human.

Of course we'll never know, and Lewis himself admitted that he wrote The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe not knowing if he'd write more books, so that book's title is probably more about building the world and letting the reader know that humans haven't been in Narnia for a long while but that their existence is something the Narnians have a lot to say and think about. Nevertheless, it's fun to imagine what the book might actually contain.

Since Lewis initially planned LWW as a one-off and he didn't seem as interested in world-building in LWW than he would in later books, I don't think we can take it for granted that he intended there to be humans in Narnia before the arrival of the Pevensies. Cair Paravel has four thrones, unlike the usual two, so it seems likely that it was originally intended for the Pevensies specifically rather than the residence of all Narnian royalty. If that's the case, I would imagine the book was meant to be the mirror of books we might have in our world about whether fauns and dryads are myths. What is myth in one world is reality in another.

I imagine that "Is Man A Myth", unless the work is tongue-in-cheek, may date back a couple of centuries or so, possibly before the prophecies about the end of the White Witch's reign were made. Certainly, those Talking Beasts who believe the prophecies ("When Adam's flesh and Adam's bone...") must believe humans are real or the prophecies are meaningless.

I don't know. I actually think it's more likely that it would be written after the prophecies had been made and it was a discussion about whether there is any truth to them.

Much like in PC, I could see a bunch of Narnians coming to doubt the prophecies as time went on. Even Tumnus says, "And if she is extra and specially angry she’ll turn me into stone and I shall be only statue of a Faun in her horrible house until the four thrones at Cair Paravel are filled and goodness knows when that will happen, or whether it will ever happen at all.” Maybe Tumnus has that book because he questions whether the prophecies are true even though he desperately wants to believe them.

On a sort-of-related note, I find it amusing that Tumnus has a book titled Nymphs and Their Ways because fauns and nymphs were often romantic partners in mythology. Tumnus needs some dating advice. :P

"Narnia, Narnia, Narnia,
Awake.

Love. Think. Speak.

Be Walking Trees

Be Talking Beasts

Be Divine Waters"
-The Magician's Nephew

ReplyQuote
Posted : February 5, 2020 8:56 am
Share: