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7chronicles
(@7chronicles)
NarniaWeb Guru

As we all know, there are two ways people tend to read
The Chronicles of Narnia.
The Original Publication Order and the Chronological Order.

Original Publication Order

1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
2. Prince Caspian
3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
4. The Silver Chair
5. The Horse and His Boy
6. The Magician's Nephew
7. The Last Battle

Chronological Order

1. The Magician's Nephew
2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
3. The Horse and His Boy
4. Prince Caspian
5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
6. The Silver Chair
7. The Last Battle

From Wikipedia:

"The books were not numbered until the first American publisher, Macmillan, enumerated them according to their original publication order.
When Harper Collins took over the series rights in 1994, this numbering was revised to use internal chronological order at the suggestion of Lewis' stepson, Douglas Gresham. To make the case for his suggested order, Gresham quoted Lewis' 1957 reply to a letter from an American fan who was having an argument with his mother about the order:
"I think I agree with your [chronological] order for reading the books more than with your mother's. The series was not planned beforehand as she thinks. When I wrote The Lion I did not know I was going to write any more. Then I wrote P. Caspian as a sequel and still didn't think there would be any more, and when I had done The Voyage I felt quite sure it would be the last, but I found I was wrong. So perhaps it does not matter very much in which order anyone read them. I’m not even sure that all the others were written in the same order in which they were published."
In the 2005 Harper Collins adult editions of the books, the publisher cites this letter to assert Lewis' preference for the numbering they adopted by including this notice on the copyright page:
Although The Magician's Nephew was written several years after C. S. Lewis first began The Chronicles of Narnia, he wanted it to be read as the first book in the series. Harper Collins is happy to present these books in the order which Professor Lewis preferred.

Scholars and readers who appreciate the original order believe that Lewis was simply being gracious to his youthful correspondent and that he could have changed the books' order in his lifetime had he so desired.
They maintain that much of the magic of Narnia comes from the way the world is gradually presented in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. These academics believe that the mysterious wardrobe, as a narrative device, is a much better introduction to Narnia than The Magician's Nephew — where the word "Narnia" appears in the first paragraph as something already familiar to the reader.

So which order do you prefer to read The Chronicles of Narnia in?

Mods if this has been discussed or if this is the wrong place feel free to move or delete. :)

The Value of myth is that it takes all the things you know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by the veil of familiarity. C.S. Lewis

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Posted : July 8, 2012 1:07 am
Lady Courage
(@lady-courage)
NarniaWeb Guru

When I read them all, I like to read them in Chronological order. Only because that's what I've been doing forever since I first started reading them. It wasn't until fairly recently I even realized they weren't published in that order. :P

But actually, for as long as I can remember, I've been reading the books in whatever order I felt like. I'd pick out one book, finish it, then start another. Whatever I felt like. Many a night on my Grandmother's couch I spent, lamp on, gobbling up books I'd read dozens of times before, totally out of order, and never even giving a second thought to why I didn't read them all in order. :P

So I voted other. :P


Sig by me | Av by Ithilwen
There is no such thing as a Painless Lesson

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Posted : July 8, 2012 8:02 am
fantasia
(@fantasia)
Member Admin

I was gonna come in here and be like "yeah, I'm weird, I don't have one" and then I see that Lady Courage basically already said what I'm gonna say. :))

I don't have a preferred reading order. If someone asks, I always recommend starting with LWW on your first read through and then going from there. But whenever I read a Narnia book, it's because I thought "Oh, I'd kind of like to read that again" and then I go grab a random book out of order and read it. ;))

Either that or I'm looking for a specific quote for something here on this site and then I realize after I finish the book that I kept on going after finding my quote. :))

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Posted : July 8, 2012 8:49 am
Aslanisthebest
(@aslanisthebest)
NarniaWeb Fanatic

Random unrelated question: I really love that edition of the books -- they're so lovely! Do they have extra illustrations or something? :)

Back to topic...

I don't really take adamant sides of either side of this debate. ;)) The first time I read them, I read LWW, then I read PC to find out what happened to them. I'm not sure how I read the rest. I think I definitely read The Magician's Nephew and The Last Battle last (they were the last two, though I'm not sure which one of the two I read last.) and I think I read HHB, VDT, and TSC all out of order somewhere between LWW and either MN or TLB. So.. yeah, I didn't follow anything the first time around. Like I said above, I used to be on the chronological side because it made the most sense to read them that way--after all, that's how everything happened. However, seeing as how many references are in MN and TSC to the other books, I now gravitate more towards the publication side. When read them now when I plan to read the entire series, I'll read them in publication order so that I kind of see the world of Narnia and surrounding countries and the characters unfurl as C.S. Lewis originally wrote as he was inventing more of Narnia and the ideas along the way. I feel like I can see the books and discover more about them that way. However, if suggesting them to anybody, .... I have no idea what I'd suggest. TMN, maybe for someone who wants to understand from the beginning, but I think LWW is a really beautiful one to start on. So *shrugs* I'm either/or generally, but I'd read them in publication order.


RL Sibling: CSLewisNarnia

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Posted : July 8, 2012 9:22 am
stargazer
(@stargazer)
Member Moderator

Always a fun topic! :)

When I first read them, the Macmillan editions were prevalent in the US, so I read them in original publication order. And for a long time, that was the order I preferred.

But I've gradually softened that position, much as others have noted. Now, for someone reading the books for the very first time, I suggest reading LWW before MN, for the reasons mentioned in the opening post - and it's more consistent with the books themselves. When Aslan's name is first mentioned, in LWW, Lewis comments to the effect that the Penvensies weren't any more familiar with the name than the reader was; reading MN first spoils this.

And reading MN later allows the 'aha!' moments tying together the wardrobe and the apple Digory brings back to England.

But for those familiar with the books, read them in any order you want! As fantasia_kitty said, often I'll just pick out one of the books for reference or a quote, and end up reading it cover to cover. Once you're familiar with the stories, any order is a good one.

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes.

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Posted : July 8, 2012 9:48 am
Ithilwen
(@ithilwen)
NarniaWeb Zealot

I read them in Chronological Order, just because that's the order that makes the most sense to me. When a story is in a different order than the way the events happened, it can be confusing.

But honestly, I think any of the orders are fine. I've watched people get in fights over it, and I've seen people who yell at those who don't read the books in their preferred order. And all of that seems very silly. 8-| The books are written so that each can stand on its own. The order of reading them makes little difference.

~Riella =:)

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Posted : July 8, 2012 11:04 am
wolfloversk
(@wolfloversk)
The Wandering, Wild & Welcoming Winged Wolf Hospitality Committee

No preference. I typically read stuff out of order anyways, and Narnia is no exception... I tend to read the Chronological order a bit more, but that's only cuz I have one of the compiled volumes, and that's the order they're in. Typically I just read whichever one I feel like reading.

I always thought it'd be interesting to read them in this order:

LWW
HHB
PC
VDT
SC
MN
LB

but I've never tried it... I might next time ;)

"The mountains are calling and I must go, and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly." -John Muir
"Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed." -Richard Adams, Watership Down

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Posted : July 8, 2012 11:46 am
Eagle Scout
(@eagle-scout)
NarniaWeb Junkie

Personally, I don't have an order, that I read them in, there to good for that!

However, if I were asked on a recommed reading order by someone new to the CoN, my answer would depend on their age:

Younger: (Btw, the grouping is all relavtive and has no real number-age.)

I would recommend reading them in the Pub. order, mostly beacuse LWW us the most likely (in my way of thinking) to get them hooked and is easier to understand.
1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
2. Prince Caspian
3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
4. The Silver Chair
5. The Horse and His Boy
6. The Magician's Nephew
7. The Last Battle

Older readers:
For older reads (maybe arund my own age and up :P) I would recommend reading them in the chronological order. The books work better as a stroy in the that order and since their reading comp. should be higher than the younger readers, they would be able to handle MN first, as opposed to LWW.
1.MN
2.LWW
3.HHB
4.PC
5.VDT
6.SC
7.LB

If you read any of my posts from middle school I'll die of embarrassment.

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Posted : July 8, 2012 12:21 pm
Varnafinde
(@varna)
Princess of the Noldor and Royal Overseer of the Talk About Narnia forum Moderator

I voted "Original Publication Order" because that is what I think is the best order for a new reader. MN is a flashback, not an introduction, and should not be read as the first book.

But for my own reading - I cannot remember when I last read all seven books in one go. It's almost always just picking up one because I feel like reading it - often because I want to read a particular scene, and then of course cannot stop reading until I've reached the last page.

When you know the books well enough to know what's on the next page anyway, the reading order isn't very important. And that still doesn't take away the enjoyment of reading it all over again ...


(avi artwork by Henning Janssen)

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Posted : July 8, 2012 12:33 pm
Andriel
(@andriel)
NarniaWeb Nut

I prefer to read them in Chronological Order:

1. The Magician's Nephew
2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
3. The Horse and His Boy
4. Prince Caspian
5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
6. The Silver Chair
7. The Last Battle

~Andriel

Previously DP Dessa
My RL sibs are Adeona, NarnianCricket, and DancingPrincesses.
Im a HUGE Fan of The Avengers!!!!!!!!!

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Posted : July 8, 2012 1:07 pm
Louloudi the Centaur
(@louloudi-the-centaur)
Member Hospitality Committee

When I first read the books, I read them in the original publication order, even numbered that way in my mom's boxed set. I'm really glad I read them that way.

I like reading in publication order. It really lets you wonder about things, and then the mysteries are solved as you read the later published books. For example: in LWW, you wonder how a lamppost is growing in a forest. However, later in MN, you learn that an iron bar hit Aslan in the forehead, and it hit the ground, and grew. :)

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Posted : July 8, 2012 1:57 pm
AstroWolfD
(@astrowolfd)
Member Hospitality Committee

I always try to read a series (or watch a series of movies) in chronological order. As long as there are no major spoilers to watch out for. But...

I always thought it'd be interesting to read them in this order:

LWW
HHB
PC
VDT
SC
MN
LB

This is the order I'll try next time. ;)


Sig by the Wonderful wolfloversk

AROOOOOOO!!!

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Posted : July 8, 2012 4:29 pm
King_Erlian
(@king_erlian)
NarniaWeb Guru

The first Narnia book I read was VDT, because at the time (I was 6 at the time) it was the featured book of the month in The Puffin Club, a book club for children which I belonged to. I can't remember which order I read the rest of the books in for the first time, but I remember being confused by a number of things in VDT until I read Prince Caspian (which I'm fairly sure was not the second Narnia book I read).

I now think the books should be read in publication order. In LWW, Lewis introduces things about Narnia, including Narnia itself, as if the reader has never heard of them before. One example is the description of the children's feelings on first hearing the name Aslan: "None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do". On the other hand, he begins MN assuming that the reader knows about Narnia already: "This is a story about something that happened long ago when your grandfather was a child. It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began." If people are being encouraged to read the Narnia books for the first time starting with MN, this doesn't make sense.

I had no problem, at the age of 6 or 7, with HHB and MN being "flashback" stories.

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Posted : July 9, 2012 2:01 am
Narnian_Archer
(@narnian_archer)
NarniaWeb Junkie

I prefer the original reading order because, honestly, it's the most logical. I could go into a list of reasons why I personally like it best, but the most logical reason would be that - LWW is all about salvation. All of the Narnia series sort of follows the life of a Christian and deals with Christian beliefs and has parallels to Christianity, but at the beginning of it all there is always one thing - salvation. A Christian can't be a Christian until he/she is born again and accepts Christ as their Savior. That IS the beginning of a life in Christ, and so it's logical that's how to begin life in Narnia.

Besides, if one were to even take the style of writing that is in the Narnia books, it's much more fulfilling to read LWW first because of the way it is written. The Magician's Nephew is very often referring to things about Narnia that we're already supposed to know, and it's so much more of an explaining of how everything that we already know got to be there than an introduction to something we don't know. Another reason I like this order more is because I know several people who have been frightened away from reading the Narnia series because they started with the Magician's Nephew, which is considerable darker and more mysterious than LWW. When you read all the other books before it, it kind of prepares you for the mystery, but if you start with MN, it can kind of spook you out. (It spooked me out, honestly, as it was!!) Anyway, that's my opinion and recommendation! :) :)


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avatar by me
Member of the Dragon club. PM Narnia Girl or FFJ to join.
RL sibling to De_De and wild rose

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Posted : July 9, 2012 4:47 am
wild rose
(@wild-rose)
Member Moderator

Personally, I am strongly for reading them in original publication order, I believe that is the best way to first be introduced to the world of Narnia. In MN you sort of already know who Aslan is, but in LWW he is as much a mystery to you as to the Pevensie children, we don't know nothing about him, we don't even know if he is human, or beast or some other creature, we get the reaction of the children when they first hear his name and on the whole, (personally) I think there is a better introduction to the world of Narnia in LWW than in MN. Sure, in MN we get the creation of Narnia, and we find out how the animals became talking animals and all that. But somehow in LWW it is so much more mysterious, so much more adventures, it's a strange land to the readers as well as the four Pevensies and we wonder with them why it is in the wardrobe and how it call came to be. Also in the end of MN, when it says that Digory had the tree made into a wardrobe and how when another child was to enter into Narnia and see the lamppost shinning, it's almost hinting that your already know the story, sort of explaining to you, not telling, but if you read MN first, to me it seems that it's almost giving away the next story.
Not really of course, but in a way. Anyway, that's my personal opinion :)


The ends must never justify the means, the means must justify themselves--Ravi Zacharias
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Posted : July 9, 2012 5:39 am
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