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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)

by C. S. Lewis

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
34,25062143 (4.11)748
Four English schoolchildren find their way through the back of a wardrobe into the magic land of Narnia and assist Aslan, the golden lion, to triumph over the White Witch, who has cursed the land with eternal winter.
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1950s (8)

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» See also 748 mentions

English (603)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (3)  Italian (2)  Finnish (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Polish (1)  Hungarian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  All languages (619)
Showing 1-5 of 603 (next | show all)
Yeah I gave this 3.5 stars. Come at me bro.

I know that if I had been younger I would have been delighted with this entire book and said to myself oh what a cool adventure/fantasy story.

I weirdly read The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia #7) when I was 23 or maybe 24. I know that it happened when I went to a friend's house for his annual Halloween movie marathon.

During The Exorcist I wandered around his apartment and took the book off his shelf and mentioned that I had not read any of the Narnia books. Of course this led into a lot of people exclaiming how in the world had I not read the Narnia books (what can I say I was knee deep in The Babysitter's Club, Nancy Drew, and Stephen King books around my teen years) and one of the women being super bitter about the Last Battle. So that of course made me have to read it right then and there. I won't go into details about that book in this review except seriously my face had disbelief all over it when I got to it.

I remember thinking that it was a total dick move and I had not even read any of the previous books at that time. So let's just say that before starting this book, I was already going in with that last book in my head. Maybe that colored my perception with this book. I don't know.

The book starts off in 1940. We find that four children (2 brothers and 2 sisters) named Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie are moved from their home in London to live in the country.

I do believe that C.S. Lewis assumed that many children reading would be from England and realize that the reason that the children were being moved was because of the Blitz occurring at that time. What I thought was weird was that Lewis does not include any of the children's reactions to being moved, and I don't recall any mention being made of their parents at this time. If I went into this cold I would probably have assumed they were orphaned.

The Pevensie children move in with professor Digory Kirke who seems to be a gentle, but very absent minded person. The professor's home is a large place with many rooms that even he mentions having never been in. During a game of hide and seek, Lucy (the youngest) hides in what is called the wardrobe room and climbs into a wardrobe. The wardrobe is a portal to another land called Narnia. Once in Narnia, Lucy meets a faun named Tumnus who provides her with a prophecy about the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve who would come again to rule over Narnia. We also get details about the White Witch who has plunged Narnia into a 100 year winter at this point.

So in the first few chapters Lewis sets up the plot to this book rather quickly. Readers rightly assume that the Pevensie children are going to be the ones to overthrow the White Witch.

I think out of all of the characters, readers, are supposed to be more sympathetic to the character of Lucy.

I do feel for her, coming back through the wardrobe and telling her older brothers and sister about Narnia and being told she is making it up had to be hard on her. I think that Lucy is supposed to represent truth, loyalty, and love in the first book.

From there Lewis focuses on the character of Edmund. He is next through the wardrobe and realizes that Lucy had been telling the truth about Narnia. Right away we get that Edmund is jealous of his brother Peter, and takes delight in making fun of Lucy. Edmund is supposed to represent treachery and redemption.

Sadly we don't get any real insight into the characters of Peter and Susan besides some throwaway lines here and there.

Eventually of course all four children make their way into Narnia. The children hear about the White Witch and resolve to go help Lucy's faun friend who has been captured by the White Witch at that point. Edmund races off in order to ally himself with the White Witch and tells himself that she can't be all that bad (of course she is).

Other major characters in this book are Santa Claus, Aslan, the White Witch, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, and of course the professor.

Now what made me kind of laugh a bit is that there is mention of the fact that Santa Claus has not been in Narnia for at least 100 years at this point, because the White Witch has somehow prevented it from occurring. So in that way readers are supposed to get that Christmas or in this case Jesus Christ (Aslan) has not been able to come to Narnia in that time. With the arrival of Santa he proceeds to give the Peter, Susan, and Lucy gifts. And oh boy. I had a major problem with that.

Peter receives a sword and a shield in order to defend himself in battle.

Susan is given a bow and arrow that is only to be used in the time of greatest need and tells her that she is not supposed to fight in battles. She's also given a horn to blow that will save her from danger.

Lucy is given a dagger that once again she is told only to be used when she is in the greatest need and Lucy rightfully calls bullshit and says that she thinks she is brave enough to fight in battles. And then Santa Claus says this:

"Battles are ugly when women fight."

This book was published in 1956 and I know reflected the attitudes of the time (women stay home, bear children, and be happy with that) regarding women. I know that England during WWII had a lot of services and forces made up of women and that women were at the front lines during war (though not armed). And I know after the war, a lot of women had problems with going back to do "women's work".

Either way I thought it was funny the boy was told hey go out and kill, and two of the girls' are given weapons and told to not use them unless they were in desperate need. And we have Santa freaking Claus pretty much saying that women should not fight.

Onto the White Witch. I actually found myself fascinated by the White Witch based on comments made by Mr. Beaver about how she was the offspring of Lilith and probably a giant. And it is even mentioned that Lilith was Adam's first wife. Now I was super surprised for C.S. Lewis to even include this in his Christian fantasy tale since a lot of the myths and texts about Lilith are very sexual in nature. I assume most children would not make the connection at all, or just think this was something that Lewis made up to include in the book, but still I thought it was kind of strange to include.

The character of Aslan is supposed to represent Christ, or a Christ-like figure that is there to save Narnia from the White Witch. I think my main problems with Aslan is that he acts like a jerk throughout this book. We have several key scenes with him that to me had him seem petty or strange.

One was with Peter after Peter had just slain a wolf and Aslan admonishes him for not cleaning his sword properly. Peter had just killed a living thing for the first time, but that was ignored to tell him proper cleaning etiquette.

The second was when Aslan went off to complete his deal with the White Witch (that he would be slain in Edmund's place) and he moped the whole way there. Now this makes sense if Aslan didn't know that he would be resurrected due to the old old magic of Narnia. So I was wondering to myself why was he acting like that when he knew what would happen. I think Lewis was probably trying to tie it into when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane and was praying and in distress over what he knew he would have to endure. The execution of that whole scene just didn't work for me.

The third was when he rebukes Lucy who wants to stay with Edmund to make sure he is okay after she gives him some of the drink from her bottle. This of course makes sense, she loves and wants to be with her brother. However, Aslan rebukes her for staying there and also that her delay could mean that other people could die for Edmund and even asks her does she want more people to die for Edmund?

Um what. The whole battle that occurs is because people are fighting for Aslan. Heck Edmund is fighting for Aslan and to overthrow the White Witch. That whole line just felt wrong to me and just rude.

Eventually of course the four Pevensie children are crowned the Kings and Queens of Narnia. They live in Narnia and rule over it and the attributes they get are just kind of funny to me (not funny ha-ha by the way). The boys are all known for either being strong or intelligent, the girls for being beautiful, gentle, and happy...

Peter is known for his valor and strength and is called King Peter the Magnificent.

Susan is known for her beauty and grace, and is called Queen Susan the Gentle.

Edmund is known for his intelligence and fairness, and is called King Edmund the Just.

And Lucy is known for being gay and high spirited (is that a thing?) and is called Queen Lucy the Valiant.

We have kind of a rushed timeline about all of the things that they did while ruling Narnia and then move to the four now young adults in the forest one day hunting a white stag. This leads to them remembering the way back to the wardrobe and eventually making their way back into the wardrobe and climbing out children again.

Let's think about that for a moment. You lived and ruled an entire kingdom for a decade and a half at this point. You grew up, you became men and women. Heck I am assuming the girls had to deal with women's issues and all that jazz. And then you tumble out children again. I would probably have needed a strong drink.

Of course the children tell the professor all about it and he makes mention that they probably will see Narnia again, but probably will not be able to go through the wardrobe again.

We readers of course know that they will see Narnia again. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
This was fine? Sort of fun (the discussion of the meal at the Beavers made me hungry, Brian Jacques eat your heart out,) but I don't know that this aged very well--or rather, I think I outgrew this and so returning to it, I didn't find it especially compelling or interesting. It wasn't a bad book, just not as interesting as I remember it being. This might be another situation where screen versions have replaced parts of the book in my head, or the audiobook didn't hold my attention as much, but I just wasn't as drawn in to this as I thought I would be. But I can definitely see that a much younger person would like it, and since it's meant for them, I'd recommend it on that basis! ( )
  aijmiller | Jun 22, 2020 |
  slick_schick | Jun 16, 2020 |
Staples, Lewis Clive
  Willrandall98 | Jun 4, 2020 |
The great Narnia read for my daughter. :) So scary! You know what I mean... when *spoiler spoiler* happens. *gasp* So wicked!

My daughter got bored. Then interested. Then bored a lot more. Then she freaked out. Then she got tired.

Is this the ultimate book report... or what???

For me, I got bored just like the first time I read it. Then I got a bit interested. Then I got bored a lot more, thinking how much better Persephone and Hades had it, and then... well... I got tired of all the Christian Allegory. Again.

But I DID try to not spoil it for my daughter. She may have gotten a bit more out of it than me. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 603 (next | show all)
When I began reading the story, it seemed well written but the fairy-tale atmosphere was curiously cut-and-dried... Two of my daughters re-educated me. I made the mistake of reading them the first chapter, and since then it has been two chapter a night, sometimes followed by tears when a third chapter is not forthcoming.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times Book Review, Chad Walsh (pay site) (Nov 12, 1950)

» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lewis, C. S.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dan San SouciIllustratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baynes, PaulineCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baynes, PaulineIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Birmingham, ChristianIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bovenkamp-Gordeau, Madeleine van denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hague, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hane, RogerCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hämäläinen, KyllikkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, CliffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rettich, RolfIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tetzner, LisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van Allsburg, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
York, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To Lucy Barfield
My Dear Lucy,
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be
your affectionate Godfather,
C. S. Lewis
Til Lucy Barfield

Kære Lucy

Jeg skriver denne historie til dig, men da jeg begyndte på den, havde jeg ikke gjort mig det klart, at piger vokser hurtigere end bøger, og at du allerede er blevet alt for gammel til at læse eventyr, og at du vil være endnu ældre, når den engang er blevet trykt og udgivet. Men en skønne dag bliver du gammel nok til at begynde at læse eventyr igen. Så kan du tage den ned fra hylden, støve den af og fortælle mig, hvad du synes om den. Til den tid er jeg sikkert for døv til at høre, hvad du siger, og for gammel til at forstå det, men jeg vil stadig være
din hengivne gudfar
C.S. Lewis
First words
Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy.
Der var engang fire børn, som hed Peter, Susan, Edmund og Lucy.
"It means," said Aslan, "that though the witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still, which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards."
"How stupid of me! But I've never seen a Son of Adam or a Daughter of Eve before. I am delighted..."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Unabridged. Please do not combine with any abridged edition.

Please do not combine ISBN 0007206054 (abridged movie storybook) with original full-length book.

Please do not combine The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with The Chronicles of Narnia.

ISBN 0001857010 is also an abridged version.
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Haiku summary
Though some gender roles

are outdated, the story

stands the test of time.


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