"If ever they remembered their life in this world it was as one remembers a dream."
The real world is boring; it's mundane, unimaginative and dry. So humans create fantasy as a means of escape. We watch movies or go to the theatre to see something more interesting than the standard realities of the everyday. We paint pictures and gaze up at the stars. We play video games and roleplay. We dream. Authors like C.S Lewis and J.K Rowling show us this miserable world; they show us its tones of grey. Then underneath it all they reveal something spectacular: they reveal fantasy.
So we have four rather ordinary children about to embark on an extraordinary adventure. As a child I used to always daydream. I've always been somewhat introverted and would prefer imagining faraway places than existing in the now. I still do this as an adult. And this is why I love fantasy so much because it is so immersive; it literally takes my mind away. Lucy, Susan, Edward and Peter are the lucky ones. When they stumble across the wardrobe, the gateway into a more interesting realm, they experience something spectacular.
"She did not shut it properly because she knew that it is very silly to shut oneself into a wardrobe, even if it is not a magic one."
Sure, there's a war going on. And, certainly, there's an evil witch going around murdering people. But, for me, that'd be a price worth paying. For in Narnia there is also Aslan and a whole bunch of interesting characters. There is hope, magic and companionship. The wise old Aslan though is the star of the show. He sacrifices himself for his friends, for his people. Though one issue I have with the book, and one that makes me very much aware of the text as a construct, is the questions over why Aslan actually needed to the four children. He pretty much deals with the problems by himself. There's prophecy involved, but on a plot level he clearly could have sorted this mess out without any outside interference.
I've seen a lot of hate over these books because of the Christian allegories involved in the storytelling. Now I find this somewhat stupid. I'm not a Christian, far from it, but you can't really criticise a book because of this. It's incredibly naïve. It would be like judging Jane Eyre based on its feminism aspects or Shakespeare's exploration of colonialism in The Tempest. It's silly. This book is, undeniable, full of Christian dogmatism. But it's what the author wanted it to be. If you read Tolkien's work there are so many allusions the world wars; this doesn't affect the overall storytelling. It's simply what is there. Read this with an open mind, as an English Literature student, I read the bible. I don't believe the words inside, but I can still enjoy the experience. And this story is no different. Take it for what it is.
"Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again."
And that's something special. I do, however, much prefer the works of Tolkien. I feel that his writing is more universal in terms of age audience. With this though, I'm very much aware of it as a children's book. The prose is designed to sound like a children's bedtime story in places. That's not exactly a bad thing though. I love Narnia but I can, at least from my perspective, objectively say that Tolkien was a better writer. Though what Narnia does have is Aslan. It's hard not to Aslan. Wouldn't it be just wonderful if he met Gandalf Could you imagine the stories those two could share I'm dreaming again.
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