The Chronicles of Narnia

I’ve recently finished re-reading C. S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia” — I must have read them at least two or three times on my own, many years ago, and then read them aloud, individually, to each of my three sons when they were very young, but haven’t re-read them in quite a few years — and I’m still very impressed with them.

In fact, I’ve set out on a program of re-reading Lewis’s works as a whole, and I find that he holds up very well.  Thus far, I’ve re-read not only the Narnia tales, but The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, Surprised by Joy, and Out of the Silent Planet.  Right now, I’m about a third of the way through Perelandra.

C. S. Lewis passed away from renal failure on 22 November 1963, the very same day on which Aldous Huxley and John F. Kennedy also died.  (Because of the Kennedy assassination, his death was scarcely noticed.)  I can’t help but think, in some ways, that he represents the greatest loss of the three.

I’ve been a fan since my high school years, and have even had lunch, with my family, in The Eagle and Child, the Oxford pub where Lewis and his friends J. R. R. Tolkien and Charles Williams and Dorothy Sayers used to meet as “The Inklings” in order to read their works-in-progress to each other.  I’ve also had the marvelous opportunity to have spent time — though not enough of it — in the  Marion Wade Center at Wheaton College, in Illinois, which archives wonderful collections of materials related to “The Inklings,” as well as to Owen Barfield, George MacDonald, and G. K. Chesterton.  (While there, I put my hand into the wardrobe through which Lucy first entered Narnia.  But, unfortunately, all I felt was the wooden back of the wardrobe closet.  No snow.)

If there are any out there who haven’t yet really made the acquaintance of C. S. Lewis, I have to say that I envy you.  And I commend him enthusiastically to you.  He is a great pleasure to read, but also deeply insightful and wonderfully imaginative.  I wish that I could discover him for the first time all over again.  That said, though, my re-readings have been extremely enjoyable, and I’m seeing things in his books that I had never noticed before.  If you’ve already read Lewis, read him again.  If you’ve only read a little, read more.

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