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Re: [mythsoc] Planet Narnia

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  • David Bratman
    ... 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
    Message 1 of 8 , Feb 5, 2008
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      Paul Meeter <pdmeeter@...> wrote:
      >Ward wrote his doctoral dissertation at St. Andrews University in Scotland,
      >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.

      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?

      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.
    • Paul Meeter
      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
      Message 2 of 8 , Feb 7, 2008
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        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
        Strength (1945);
        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
        a Phanomenologie
        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
        6th published.

        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.
        Paul Meeter

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      • Doug Kane
        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
        Message 3 of 8 , Feb 8, 2008
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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.

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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