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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The…

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia) (1950)

by C. S. Lewis

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
33,94061443 (4.11)739
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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    The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (FFortuna, Polenth, Omnigeek)
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    Five Children and It (Puffin Classics) by Edith Nesbit (Polenth)
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    GWoloszczuk: Another story were a child goes to a fantasy world.
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    The Secret Country by Pamela Dean (wordweaver)
    wordweaver: This is a YA novel that takes the group-of-kids-discover-a-portal-into-a-fantasy-world idea found in the Narnia books and uses it to explore issues of the imagination. The world the children in this story encounter appears to based upon a fantasy game they had been playing, and many elements of that game were influenced by books the children had read, clearly including the Chronicles of Narnia.… (more)
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    BookshelfMonstrosity: Ruled by a white witch, a wintry forest - enchanted and treacherous -- doesn't deter a young girl from trying to save a spellbound friend. Filled with fairy tale elements, both of these affecting fantasies speak to universal longings.
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    The Wand: The Return to Mesmeria by Allan W. Eckert (bookel)
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    Death_By_Papercut: Normal kids in a magical new world.
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(see all 29 recommendations)

1950s (8)

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» See also 739 mentions

English (598)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (3)  Italian (2)  Finnish (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Polish (1)  Hungarian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  All languages (614)
Showing 1-5 of 598 (next | show all)
I still love this book. It's not perfect, but it's still magical and still a favorite. ( )
  ca.bookwyrm | May 18, 2020 |
I spent a long time being ambivalent about old Jack Lewis, and before that I hated him. What is Narnia, though, if not a Christian fairy-story, where a little girl hiding among the coats discovers the country where the children’s Jesus lives? (Of course, it’s the fair-foul faun she finds first: “In writing this book, Lewis said he had certain images he could not explain. The picture of a faun and a young girl under a snow-covered umbrella had been with him since he was roughly sixteen.” SparkNotes. Jack wrote the scene in his early fifties.)

But anyway, the theme I’d like to work on today—can’t watch cartoons all day, kids; gotta do some work— is that an important thread in the book is age-related conflict. I was originally going to take two examples: Peter & Edmund, and Professor Kirke and the older children. However, I have decided to take only the first, as the two subplots yield very different amounts of material; to understand Peter and Susan versus the professor you need only pay close attention to the Dedication, really. First, you are a little too old for something, but then you come ‘round again. But about the two boys much may be said.

At first glance, the younger and the older child seem quite different; when first we meet him Edmund is already whining like a scullion, while Peter appears to have a good attitude. A second look, however, turns up a thread of ambiguity. Isn’t Peter only optimistic because he thinks he’ll get his way? “‘We’ve fallen on our feet and no mistake,’ said Peter. ‘This is going to be perfectly splendid. *That old chap will let us do whatever we like*’”. (emphasis added).

Is there a shadow of selfishness here? Perhaps he is different from, of course, but not altogether incomparable to, Edmund with his self-centered complaining? This seems to be so to me. Edmund has the most dramatic arch of any character in the novel, but Peter has some development too. He grows up, so to speak, when he forgives Edmund in front of Aslan, and fights in his first battle. Before that, he is a child, albeit a usually good-tempered one who won’t knock on you if you don’t knock on him first.

I should probably mention—and I am indebted to SparkNotes for this— that near the very beginning the children unconsciously identify themselves with animals, specifically, Peter does so with several noble animals like the hawk, while Edmund associates himself with foxes, often seem as tricksters. Both are predators, (the fox is also an invasive species), although the fox would get the worst of it in a meeting with a hawk, which seems to be true of Peter-Edmund conflict, also, at least in the story’s first half.

Anyway, the difference there from the beginning does turn into conflict, over Edmund’s taunting of Lucy in the time before the group as a whole made it to Narnia. Edmund is of course the immoral child, while Peter plays the moralistic one. (How delightful children are!) Edmund tells a lie that turns Peter against him because it doesn’t even have much internal consistency, and Peter in essence tries to knock him down for it. It’s the common case of someone not being reformed for being knocked down, even if he did deserve it. (Susan didn’t like it.) Of course, some good did come from Peter’s intervention, in that he and Susan “saw to it that Edmund stopped jeering” at Lucy, especially after the talk with the professor.

Later they all of course discover Narnia, and this renews the war between the hawk and the fox. They find out that Edmund had lied. Peter, being an honorable boy, doesn’t like this, and in fact briefly insults him; I suppose you could say he rather dismisses him—in just such a way as to ensure that the fox swears revenge under his breath. Things go on with the adventure, and so as they make plans Peter lets Edmund know that he’s not to interfere with their planning. Shut up and stay out of our way, in effect. Of course, the immoral child is the one who bullied the young girl, Lucy, and the moralistic child, Peter, did not so do. But it’s begging for a knife in the back to insult someone and then ignore them, and Peter is a little brusque with his brother.

And so the fox plots, and propagandizes. Edmund does his little “witches are alright” speech with Peter, as he is in the witch’s pay. Long live liberty; long live gluttony. At this point Peter, although not corrupted by Edmund, has begun to forget about him and the fight, albeit without an actual reconciliation. And I don’t see it as a mark of intelligence, certainly not of cleverness or shrewdness, in the hawk to assume that a boy of Edmund’s development has been improved by harsh criticism.... And anyway, what little fighter of a boy takes to being insulted? You have met the enemy and he is yourself; isn’t that what treachery is?

Although it is true that Peter is the truer one. (After all, “Peter” is the secondary hero of the gospels and “Edmund” is a secondary villain in “King Lear”.) While the girls help Mrs. Beaver inside the house, Peter helps Mr. Beaver go fishing, while Edmund.... broods, I guess? Ruminates? Meditates on passive-aggressiveness? Probably: he imagines that he was being snubbed during dinner, when really they had merely assumed that all was forgiven, as they had forgotten.

Now, once the war/treachery begins in earnest, there’s less Peter-Edmund conflict to go around because they’ve been separated.... although Edmund does ruminate a great deal about Peter this Peter that. He comes round in the end, though, and ultimately the wound is healed largely while they are separate, and the concord is really only sealed up when they meet again.

On Peter’s side, when he and the girls meet Aslan, he apologizes for his part in Edmund going wrong. To come round to the beginning of my mini-essay, when I first read this—as an adult, I mean— I thought that Jack wasn’t really being sincere, you know, since wasn’t the story Edmund this Edmund that. How could Jack be being sincere here? Don’t those naughty conservative post-Victorians always hand the bill straight to the younger brother, judgment against appetite, down with goats and bad boys? Isn’t it just propaganda, this insincere admission of wrong-doing? No. Actually, I don’t think so anymore. Having surveyed the subplot, I think Jack knew what he was doing, and was standing on firm ground on this patch of turf. It’s wonderfully done:

“And then something made Peter say,
‘That was partly my fault, Aslan. I was angry with him and I think that helped him to go wrong.’
And Aslan said nothing either to excuse Peter or to blame him but merely stood looking at him with his great unchanging eyes. And it seemed to all of them that there was nothing to be said.”

For that too, then, would He die.

Great stuff, Jack.
  goosecap | May 7, 2020 |
You'd have to be pretty hard-hearted not to enjoy "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", at least as a nostalgia hit. There's no surprise that it has become such a prominent part of so many childhoods, with its fascinating idea of a world reached through someone's wardrobe, where bored children on summer holiday can find white witches and talking lions. It's an ideal escapist story for kids (very much in the 'Harry Potter' vein) and - unlike a lot of today's rather bland children's literature - has a real sense of being a story that can be shared. Lewis' narrative voice is wonderful, somewhere between "kindly adult" and "co-conspirator".

Of course, there is the religious element, which isn't so prominent here as in the later books, but which can leave an uncomfortable taste. Not that I think we should begrudge all items from other eras because of their cultural biases, but if I ever have children, I'd want to be able to explain to them why they should take the whole resurrection business with a grain of salt! Still, it doesn't take away from the childhood magic of this book, even if Philip Pullman is probably a worthy successor-cum-replacement! ( )
  therebelprince | Apr 27, 2020 |
i love it. Much better than the first ( )
  DigitalKB | Apr 13, 2020 |
Re-read to my little sister (her first-ever Narnia book!), Oct. 2016 ( )
  Aerelien | Mar 23, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 598 (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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Though some gender roles

are outdated, the story

stands the test of time.


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