During the weekend just gone I came to the realisation that I don’t blog nearly enough; certainly not as much as I should. And though it’s true that in person I am a man of very few words, it’s not as though I don’t have anything worthwhile to say with the written word. To remedy this situation (caused by laziness on my part) I’ve decided to commit to posting updates a minimum of three days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If I can keep to that on a regular basis I’ll even consider trying to make it a daily thing (but baby steps first).
If you cast your minds back to late June, you might recall that I wrote a post titled “Critical Acclaim, Commercial Success Or Something Else,” wherein I pondered the question of what it was I hoped to accomplish with my fiction writing. In the article I stated that ideally I would like to attain both critical acclaim and commercial success, but if I was forced to choose between the two I would favour critical acclaim. However, I ultimately came to the conclusion there is something else I want to achieve that’s more important to me than either: I want my writing to have the kind of profound life changing effect on readers that C.S. Lewis had on me. I want my stories to not only engender love for reading but also inspire an affinity for storytelling, and a desire to write in future generations of people.
I mention all this because it provides me with an excuse to reproduce an article I originally wrote in 2014 about the enduring appeal of The Chronicles Of Narnia. So without further ado I present to you, below, a revised edit of the original article that should give you a good idea of why C.S. Lewis is at the top of my list of influences, and why I continue to enjoy reading his seminal Narnia series today, thirty plus years after first reading the books.
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THE ENDURING APPEAL OF THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA
Since the publication of The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, in 1950 (and the subsequent releases of the following six books of The Chronicles Of Narnia between then and 1956), C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s fantasy series has remained in print continuously. It is a testament to the popularity of the series that if you were to stop a hundred random people on the street today and ask them to name any children’s fantasy book series, chances are good that most would mention The Chronicles Of Narnia. So what is the reason for the enduring popularity of C.S. Lewis’ most famous work?
If you think about childhood it is the period of life in which imaginations are most fertile; a time wherein we as children are able to enjoy and revel in the make-believe without having to consciously suspend our disbelief. This is unquestionably at the heart of The Chronicles Of Narnia’s allure. Reading Lewis’ tales during childhood is a magical experience in every way, and young readers are certainly the most receptive to what the books have to offer. How many children can resist the idea of being taken to an imaginary world populated with mythical beings and talking animals? How many dream of engaging in heroic adventures; of being princes or princesses? Very few I’d wager. After all, childhood is the time when we so much want these things to be as real as the world around us.
On a personal note, I first read The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, as a seven year old child way back in 1984, and upon finishing it I immediately went to my bedroom wardrobe, stepped inside and checked the back to see if I could get to Narnia. I don’t believe for a moment I’m the first or only child to ever do this, and I know with certainty I’m not the last person who will ever attempt to reach Narnia via a wardrobe.
These are stories that leave an indelible mark, and once read, stay with you for a lifetime. Even into adulthood people retain their love for the books, and invariably that love gets passed on to the next generation by parents who want their own children to experience the same magic that enchanted them.
It is also the case that The Chronicles Of Narnia retains its appeal to generation after generation of readers because the young protagonists of the books are just ordinary people. There is nothing inherently special about the Pevensie children, for example. They do not possess super powers or magical abilities; they are just like us. This makes the characters relatable, allowing young children to read their adventures and imagine that they can be just like them; that they, too, can be thrown into extraordinary situations and experience magical escapades.
Childhood is very much a time of innocence; a brief period in life when the young remain blissfully unaware of the more unpleasant aspects of the world we live in. One of the more pleasant attractions of the series is that at their core Lewis’s stories are about good always triumphing over evil. While adulthood allows us to observe that this is rarely the case in the real world, children should be allowed to believe this illusion while they’re still young; there is more than enough time for them to learn and accept the harsh reality once they come of age. Until then let them enjoy the never-ending magic of The Chronicles Of Narnia.
Thanks for reading,