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Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Author: C.S.Lewis
Publisher: First published 1950 by Geoffrey Bles, First published by Lions,  Collins Publishing Group, 1980, edition featured 1988

I read this to my 5 year old and 7 year old boys a couple of months ago, to mixed success. I set The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe up as a nostalgia trip for myself, I thought I 
remembered soldier queens and exhilarating battles, but some of this memory was 
implanted from watching the Children's BBC series adaptation from the 1980s. I wasn't disappointed by re-reading the book, just resolute by how 'of its time' the book was, and how adaptations since had skewed the book's ideological stance so much, I had no recollection of how stiff the writing comes across. Enid Blyton eat your heart out, and I'm really not a fan of Blyton and don't buy in to any of this, new wave Blyton fandom popular with the mums at school. 
As my children proved though, ideology is clearly an aside to adventure when you're young. The boys followed the chase chapters excitedly, particularly when the beavers were helping hide the children, and loved the deception of Edmund, his lust for the Turkish Delight ( though I had to refer to these as 'sweets', as the kids had no idea what Turkish Delight might mean). While as an adult I was aghast at the sexism In the book, particularly the moment Peter saves his sister Susan from baying wolves as she climbs a tree; she does a great job at defending herself and younger sister but when Peter is then preparing for battle, he tells Susan the battle is no place for a girl. ( I edited this slightly as I read aloud, but there was no need as the boys were too busy anticipating some sword fighting and didn't really care who'd be involved!) 

What I also found as an adult, was how obvious the 'Aslan as Jesus' parallel is, while I remember this being pointed out to me as a child, and feeling it was clever and subtle. The whole moment of sacrifice on the stone table, the witch's long laboured torture scene, then the breaking of the table in half like Jesus's tomb, was long winded while the battle scene itself, was anticlimactic, short, lacked description of 'one-one' combat. There were also these strange intervals in the book where CS Lewis indulges in encyclopaedic paragraphs about the flora and fauna of the forest, which made my two quite restless and bored. 

Positives though, finishing reading and watching the 2002 film the following day, what a treat that film is! Well paced, well told and beautiful cinematography, particularly the long shots; vast, eerie, magical. I hate to say it, but in this exceptional circumstance, the film is better than the book ( eek! did I say that?)Maybe I'm feeling brave like Susan! 

On that note, here's a link to the superb 2005 Chronicles of Narnia film:

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