Beyond the Wardrobe: Celebrating the Chronicles of Narnia: Part 5: Mr. Tumnus

By the very nature of the word “fantasy”, such a story will be nothing short of “fantastic”. Things will happen that defy any logical or scientific explanation, with such a phenomena being attributed to “magic”. This extends to the very denizens that dwell in these worlds. Tolkien had his Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, Orcs, dragons, and Istari. Lewis Caroll not only had talking rabbits but the Cheshire Cat, talking caterpillars, jabberwockies and anthropomorphic playing cards. L. Frank Baum’s Oz books not only featured the familiar flying monkeys, munchkins, talking scarecrows, talking lions, and a tin woodsman, who in retrospect is an early cyborg, but people made of porcelain. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter had house elves, owls, three headed Hell-hounds, and a phoenix. Even George RR Martin’s more adult Game of Thrones features dragons.

Mr Tumnus

Mr. Tumnus

Without these wondrous creatures the worlds would feel less extraordinary. Something about the presence of these creatures is almost like a warning on the old maritime maps where past continental Europe all they wrote was,“ here there be dragons”. Creatures like these convey a sense of mystery, wonder and at times horror, as we venture into these worlds. Lewis himself was no stranger to such a thing. As Brian Sibley notes in The Land of Narnia,

“In the Land of Narnia we find an extraordinary collection of creatures-there are domestic animals, wild animals and imaginary animals living alongside each other, together with witches, dwarfs, gods, men and monsters. No wonder Eustace remarks, at one point, that there seem to be “some queer specimens” among the inhabitants of Narnia.”

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Beyond the Wardrobe: Celebrating the Chronicles of Narnia: Part 4: Peter Pevensie

Like many writers, CS Lewis went through several drafts of the Narnia books, and in many cases, character names could be very different. Consider the first draft for Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings, that featured Frodo being named “Bingo Baggins”,  Stryder being a Hobbit named “Trotter” and a sinister Treebeard that was in league with Sauron. In the case of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe the book originally began with the opening paragraph:

“This book is about for children whose names were Ann, Martin, Rose and Peter.

Peter Pevensie

Peter Pevensie

But it is most about Peter who is the youngest. They all had to go away from London suddenly because of the Air Raids and because Father, who was in the Army, had gone off to the War and Mother was doing some kind of war work. They were sent to stay with a kind of relation of Mother’s who was a very old Professor who lived all by himself in the country.”

CS Lewis wrote this paragraph back in 1939, and set it aside and in fact it wouldn’t be until 1948 that he would pick it up again. By the time resumed his work on the story, the Professor was no longer a relation of their mother’s, nor was any mention made to the father of the children being off in the war. However it was an easy inference for any child who grew up during that time to make, and it was a plot thread that the 2005 film even picked up upon.

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Beyond The Wardrobe: Celebrating the Chronicles of Narnia: Part 3: Susan Pevensie

Like any good mythology of fairy tale, there are many heartbreaking moments in the Chronicles of Narnia. Chief among them is Alsan’s death on the Stone Table. Lewis, the narrator, even says to his readers that he hopes they were never as miserable as Susan or Lucy were the night they watched Aslan killed by the Witch. There is also the illness of Digory’s mother in The Magician’s Nephew, which was drawn from Lewis own childhood as he watched his mother succumb to cancer. Last of all is the destruction and end of

Narnia itself.

Susan Pevensie

Susan Pevensie

Neverland and Wonderland got to go on and on. To some readers there is a hope that other fantasy realms like Narnia and Middle-earth would do the same. In fact even the characters in the final Narnia book, The Last Battle, express the same sentiment. However much as Asgard in the Norse myths, Camelot in the Arthur legends, and the age of heroes in ancient Greece came to an end, so to must Narnia, all so something better can take its place. It’s the way the world works, old things must give way to new.

Yet in the shadows of this end and new beginning is another heart wrenching revelation. Susan Pevensie one of the original four children in the Narnia books is not with her brothers and sister in The Last Battle. King Tirian, the last King of Narnia inquires about this, knowing from his history lessons that there were two sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve during Narnia’s golden age. Peter solemnly tells him that Susan is no longer a friend of Narnia.

Eustace elaborates on this, saying,

“Yes…and whenever you’ve tried to get her to come and talk about Narnia or do anything about Narnia, she says ‘What wonderful memories you have! Fancy your still thinking about all those funny games we used to play when we were children.'”

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2015 in review

Well, another year has come and gone. Time for my New Years review! We’ve had a lot of fun this past year. I hope you enjoyed my Star Wars series, and my look back at such big movies as Apollo 13 and Back to the Future. Stick around! I have plenty more planned for 2016 including my Narnia series and even more fun surprises.

As always, thank you, loyal readers!

Bellow you’ll find my year end report that the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. Aren’t helper monkeys awesome? Just ask Agent Fitz on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,100 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Beyond the Wardrobe: Celebrating the Chronicles of Narnia: Part 2: Edmund Pevensie

Of the many aspects of the Narnia books that tend to be lost on more modern readers, Edmund’s willingness to betray his siblings, and Aslan, for Turkish Delight, is perhaps one of the biggest. Turkish Delight is not a Hershey Bar that can be picked up for a dollar, it is more of a delicacy, with the best kind is usually being imported from Turkey.  The only other way to get it is by making it yourself, which is fairly simple when its three main ingredients are sugar, butter and nuts. However, for Edmund importing a delicacy from Turkey or making it from scratch would have been impossible due World War II.

This was a time in which aluminum cans, rubber tires, glass bottles, comic books, and news papers were collected and recycled for the war effort. Among the necessities that were rationed were gasoline, milk, bread, coffee, chocolate, and last but not least; sugar, butter and nuts, the three ingredients for Turkish delight. Children often had to do without candy, and if they got it at all it would be for a very special occasion like Christmas. Then they would have to share it with their siblings.

In many ways it is not that dissimilar form those who scorn the idea of Edmund’s Biblical analogue of Judas Iscariot betraying the Christ for 40 pieces of silver. While silver is still valuable in today’s market, in  A.D. 29, 30 pieces of silver would be comparable to at least 5 weeks work of pay. Some scholars pin-point this in today’s currency as being anywhere

Edmund Pevensie

Edmund Pevensie

from $600USD a month to $4000USD. For a man who was following an itinerant preacher for three years, dependent on handouts being able to actual have food, clothing and a place to stay would be desirable.

Either way Edmund, like Judas is willing to sell out someone he loves for worldly pleasures and wealth. We never really get inside Judas’ head in the scriptures, and many ideas about him have been extrapolated by theologians and scholars, but we do get inside Edmund’s head and know he wants the power the witch promise and to get back at his siblings.

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Beyond The Wardrobe: Celebrating the Chronicles of Narnia: Part 1: Lucy Pevensie

As is the case for most authors, CS Lewis dedicated each of his books to those he was closest too. While most skip over the dedication, some readers note that it is the authors way of honoring those who helped inspire or encourage the story. For example The Screwtape Letters had been dedicated to his friend JRR Tolkien. The first book in his space trilogy was dedicated to his brother Warren. His final novel, Till We Have Faces was dedicated to his wife Joy Davidman Gresham, and the Narnia book, The Horse and his Boy was dedicated to his step-sons Douglas and David Gresham.

Perhaps one of his sweetest dedication was in the first book in the Narnian Chronicles, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In many ways it serves as an invocation not only to his goddaughter, Lucy Barfield, but to every child who would read it after her. He writes,

“My Dear Lucy,

      I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow

Lucy Pevensie

Lucy Pevensie

quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say but I shall still be

                your affectionate Godfather,” Continue reading

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Coming Soon to this Blog

Once there was a blogger, who lead his readers on a countdown to The Avengers and an adventure in the DC Universe. Then he shared with them an Unexpected Blog Series about The Hobbit. Then he commemorated the Star Wars saga. Now, Jonathon D. Svendsen gets ready to celebrate another huge milestone.

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