Re: Los Angeles Times Book Review of Narina series
- Fascinating critique-- can't say that I agree with some of the
comparisons with LOTR. IMHO-- the two authors were "about" very
different moral "messages" (if that idea can be applied to Tolkien in
the same way as to Lewis). (Dubious at best, IMHO.)
I liked (and, still like) Narnia because of a certain purity of
*story*, itself, that I never found in Lewis' adult works. Lewis'
penchant for pontification always got in the way of "That Hideous
Strength" (and, the rest) for me. Narnia opened a door in my mind
concerning seeing the art of story in the same way that Beagle.
L'Engle, and, later, Tolkien did. The overtly "Christian" aspects
completely escaped me until "The Last Battle".
The misogyny of the previous generations (British, male, or no) is so
well documented and critiqued that it's not even interesting any
longer as an insight. I read the exclusion of Susan from the "Last
Battle" to be about her embracing the "adult world" and therefore, no
longer having the innocent wisdom of children that Narnia - and belief
in Narnia - requires. ("They will be as little children.") Because
of the obvious allusions to Revelations, it was also the least
interesting of all the books to me as a child, or indeed, now as an
adult. As I said, earlier, I grew up a Unitarian, so religiosity and
allegory had and has little interest for me. ("Pilgrim's Progress"
bored me to tears.)
It was only as an adult coming into my own power as a woman, that I
began to see the running theme of both real and implied misogyny in
fantasy and science fiction. (I'm not the current youthful generation
wherein the interactions between men and women are based, from the
get-go, on a certain egalitarianism.) Something that is hardly the
domain of F & SF prior to the current age, but rather, a basic
assumption of the time and place, like "sky is blue" and "roses have
thorns". Therefore, it would be odd not to find a certain level of
misogyny (and, racism as well) in a genre dominated by educated male
writers and publishers of a certain class and sensibility. The women
writers of previous ages were hardly immune (re: Mary Shelly...) to
the assumptions and attitudes of their time and place.
That children alone have the innocent and imagination to enter a
"different world" through a magical porthole is a literary device that
is (now) used frequently enough in literature for children that I
accepted Susan's exclusion then as a way of preserving Narnia for
*children* and excluding the mysterious, critical, dull and serious,
and sometimes frightening world of adults. I have the notion that
other girl-children of my generation also accepted it in that light.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Marcie Geffner" <mgeff@e...> wrote:
> This article appeared in yesterday's "Los Angeles Times." Is the
> perspective--that literary criticism of Narnia hasn't looked far enough
> beyond the religious issues--well taken?
> FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2005
> Return to Narnia
> By Laura Miller, Laura Miller is a staff writer for Salon.com and
> of "The Salon.com Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors."
> A remarkable critic, C.S. Lewis was generous and acutely sensitive
> way literary works create their own worlds. Other critics have not
> the favor, no doubt because Lewis' best-known writings seem to
> own interpretations. The meaning of his Christian apologetics is
> and so, most people feel, are the intentions of his popular series