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Biographies of C.S. Lewis  

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Wanderer Between Worlds
(@wanderer)
NarniaWeb Nut

If you are looking for other C.S. Lewis biographies, you could try Becoming C.S. Lewis (1898–1918): A Biography of Young Jack Lewis by Dr. Harry Lee Poe. Granted, I have not read the biography yet, but I have met the author, and he seems very knowledgeable about C.S. Lewis and cares deeply about his writings (he teaches a college course on C.S. Lewis’s life and works). He is currently working on a second biography about C.S. Lewis’s later life and conversion to Christianity. 

There is also this book: The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles William by Philip Zaleski. I probably got a fifth of the way though it before I became busy and had to return it to the library. I would like to pick it up again when I have time. It has a heavy focus on Lewis and Tolkien (Barfield and William get a few chapters but not nearly as much as Lewis and Tolkein), and it takes more of a secular approach, with not as much of a focus on their faiths, from what I could tell. It has been a while since I’ve read it though.

Hope this helps @courtenay! Smile  

"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 : December 22, 2020 9:04 am
coracle and Courtenay liked
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb

Thanks, @wanderer! I've got too much on my to-read list at the moment (and may be moving house some time in the next few months, which complicates things even further), but I'll make a note of those.

The news section of NarniaWeb has a "Did you know?" article for this month about some of the fragmentary drafts and plot ideas for Narnia that Walter Hooper included in Past Watchful Dragons, which I was recommending earlier in this thread. For anyone who's interested in the "time-travel Narnia story" mentioned there, here's a little more from the list of ideas quoted in that article — it's simply titled "PLOTS" and was found in one of Lewis's notebooks. Hooper describes it as "written in what looks like a very hurried hand, as if it were dashed off the moment it came into [Lewis's] head". This is the first item in the list:

SHIP. Two children somehow got on board a ship of ancient build. Discover presently that they are sailing in time (backwards): the captain will bring them to islands that have not existed for millennia. Approach islands. Attack by enemies. Children captured. Discover that the first captain was really taking them because his sick king needs blood of a boy in the far future. Nevertheless prefer the Capt. and his side to their soi-disant [so-called] rescuers. Escape and return to their first hosts. The blood giving, not fatal, and happy ending. Various islands (of Odyssey and St-Brendan) can be thrown in. Beauty of the ship the initial spell. To be a v. green and pearly story.

You can definitely see elements of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in this, but it would have turned out a very different story if Lewis had stuck with his original ideas. I wonder if the "capture" episode eventually developed into the incident in Dawn Treader where the main characters are captured by slave traders in the Lone Islands? Also the idea of blood being needed to heal someone comes up at the end of The Silver Chair, where Aslan's blood brings the dead Caspian back to life, but there it has a much more obvious Biblical parallel than Lewis's initial idea in these notes.

Further on in the same list of "Plots" there's the mention of "a magic picture" that's a portal between the fantasy world and ours — "One of the children gets thro' the frame into the picture and one of the creatures gets out of the picture into our world" — plus a "fairy-tale" royal court "into wh. erupts a child from our world", and this final suggestion:

SEQUEL TO L.W.W. The present tyrants to be Men. Intervening history of Narnia told nominally by the Dwarf but really an abstract of his story wh. amounts to telling it in my own person.

I'm not sure whether or not that last note was meant to be connected with the ones about the time-travelling ship and the magic picture, but there we can see these plot ideas were definitely written after Lewis had finished The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe but before he wrote the first sequel. Of course, the last idea there is the basis of Prince Caspian, and that's what Lewis went on to develop into the next Narnia story, before coming back to the ideas of the picture and the ship (but now minus the time-travel) for the third book. Unfortunately Lewis doesn't seem to have kept very many of his early drafts and notes as he was writing the Chronicles, so these and a few other tantalising hints (especially the "Lefay Fragment") are the only direct glimpses we get of how his imagination was working as the stories developed...

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

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Posted : January 2, 2021 4:32 am
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