Re: [mythsoc] Planet Narnia
- Paul Meeter <pdmeeter@...> wrote:
>Ward wrote his doctoral dissertation at St. Andrews University in Scotland,1) One needn't hunt down obscure Lewis poetry from the '30s to find him openly using the medieval astrological personifications of the planets. It's right there in "The Descent of the Gods" in _That Hideous Strength_. Hello?
>having graduated from Oxford and gotten his master's at Cambridge. He
>believes that he has discovered a hidden (but not secret) structure to the
>Chronicles of Narnia, based on the medieval perspective of the universe, the
>Seven Heavens. There is poetry written by Lewis from the 30s, about
>Jupiter, which follows the same theme as Carl Orff's "Planets" music on that
>planet. This poem has surprising congruences to the plot matter in The
>Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Jovial spring defeating winter,
>judgement atoned for, romping, and so on. So Ward contends that LWW has as
>its basis, God portrayed in the guise of Jove, as it were. He finds similar
>congruences of a particular planet/heaven and each of the other six books.
2) In fact, Diana Paxson once suggested to me the idea of doing "The Descent of the Gods" as a staged pageant, using the music of Gustav Holst's "The Planets", no less.
3) And it _is_ Holst, not Orff. Sorry.
4) I'll be curious to see how stretched Ward's thesis sounds. I can recall nowhere that Lewis writes about intending such a thing. Could he have generated such an idea subconsciously? Did he even intend to write exactly seven Narnian books before he came to the last one? Or is this a case of a scholar finding what he's looking for?
5) Many years ago a then very young scholar named Steve Yandell presented a Mythcon paper on patterns of the number four in Lewis's work - particularly Narnia as I recall. It was certainly impressive, but made no claims that it was the whole symbolic meaning, or addressed whether Lewis intended it. Certainly it would be more believable as a subconscious effect.
- Sorry, yes, it's Hulst, not Orff. I regularly get the two confused.
I attended a lecture offered by Dr. Ward in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in
mid-January in which he presented the thesis of his book. It was interesting
that he took the time to go on a four-point "detour", as he called it, in
order to "set up our minds", so to speak, to be as receptive as possible for
his thesis. I think he's quite aware of the kinds of objections that will
typically be raised.
Ward gave us a hand-out with 5 quotes from Lewis works as part of his
detour. These are:
1. a section from The Discarded Image (ch. 5) (1935);
2. the "descent of the gods" section of ch. 15 from That Hideous
3. a quote from "The Alliterative Metre" from Selected Literary Essays(1935)
4. a part of a poet, 'The Planets' from Collected Poems (1935);
5. a quote about Jupiter from Arthruian Torso (1948), chapter 4.
More about these later.
Ward disagrees with a subconscious inclusion because of the above quoted
texts. As to "a scholar finding what he's looking for", the way Ward
described it was that he was reading "The Planets" poem and happened upon
the following lines:
"Of wrath ended
And woes mended, of winter passed
And guilt forgiven, and good fortune
Jove is master; and of jocund revel,
Laughter of ladies. The lion-hearted,
The myriad minded, men like the gods,
Helps and heroes, helms of nations
Just and gentle, are Jove's children,
Work his wonders. On his wide forehead
Calm and kingly, no care darkens
Nor wrath wrinkles: but righteous power
And leisure and largess their loose splendours
Have wrapped around him - a rich mantle
Of ease and empire."
Ward read these lines, he told us, and a recognition occurred; he found
himself thinking, "Have I not read such things in Lewis somewhere else?"
And then he reread The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and found this poem
written there, theme for theme, in a children's story.
Ward said that Lewis only intended originally to write the one book. From
Lewis, "The characters of the planets, as conceived by medieval astrology,
seem to me to have a permanent value as spiritual symbols - to provide
des Geistes which is specially worth while in our own generation. Of Saturn
we know more than enough. But who does not need to be reminded of Jove?" -
this from The Alliterative Metre.
Ward said that Lewis seems to have intended to represent God in the aspect
of Jove, incognito as it were. The reference to Saturn, is, of course, a
reference to the first world war.
So Jove is known as "Fortuna Major" and became the first and only intended
story; but Lewis found that he enjoyed himself so much in the writing that
he decided to do another and picked first "Fortuna Minor", that is, Venus.
Apparently, The Magician's Nephew, with its Garden of the Hesperides, was
the Venus story Lewis took up next but apparently had great difficulties
presenting to pre-adolescents. It was the last story he finished, but the
Ward made a point of showing how the seeming incongruousness of Father
Christmas and fauns, for example, coming from two different myths, is
answered by this harmonizing theme of Jove: Father Christmas is a jovial
figure, perhaps the most jovial in the modern era.
There was much more, but I would not belabor you.
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- Last August, there was some talk here about the paper I presented at MythCon
on my work tracing the creation of the published Silmarillion, which I
called "Arda Reconstructed". At the time, I indicated that I was revising
my manuscript at the direction of a reader who had reviewed it for a
potential publisher. I am happy to announce that the revised manuscript has
now been accepted for publication by the Lehigh University Press. I don't
have a publication date yet, but it will likely be early in 2009.
There are many people that have given me invaluable assistance in this
project. However, I need to give special mention to the anonymous reader
who reviewed my initial manuscript. It would have been very easy for that
person to simply recommend rejecting the manuscript out of hand, without
taking the time to provide such detailed and excellent suggestions for
reorganizing and revising it. I honestly believe that had this person not
been so diligent, my hard work likely would have been for naught. Based on
the extensive knowledge of Tolkien's work that the reader showed, I suspect
that there is a very good chance that it is someone who is on this list. If
so, I want to say "thank you".
Here is a brief description of the book:
In The History of Middle-earth, Christopher Tolkien documents in amazing
detail the development of the lifelong work of his father, J.R.R. Tolkien,
that would become The Silmarillion. However, neither Christopher Tolkien
himself, nor anyone else, has ever thoroughly documented the final step: his
actual creation (several years after his father's death) of the published
That has finally changed. ARDA RECONSTRUCTED: The Creation of the Published
Silmarillion reveals a tapestry woven by Christopher Tolkien from different
portions of his father's work that is often quite mind-boggling, with
inserts that seemed initially to have been editorial inventions shown to
have come from some remote other portion of Tolkien's vast body of work. I
demonstrate how material that was written over the course of more than 30
years was merged together. I also make a frank appraisal of the material
omitted by Christopher Tolkien (and in a couple of egregious cases the
material invented by him) and how these omissions and insertions may have
distorted his father's vision of what he considered-even more than The Lord
of the Rings-to be his most important work. It is a fascinating portrait of
a unique collaboration that reached beyond the grave.
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