On Giants' Shoulders

Monday, October 11, 2010

For C.S.Lewis Fans

I have yet to decide whether I actually totally agree with the premise of Michael Ward's Planet Narnia. I haven't finished the book yet, as it's one to savor and ponder not one to rush through pell mell. What I can say is that it's a book I can really already recommend to anyone who likes to read about all the literary influences on Lewis, or who wants to be exposed to his poetry, or who'd like to see more of the connections between things like The Discarded Image, the Space Trilogy, and The Narnia Chronicles.

I bought this book after listening to a CD of a talk Michael Ward gave at the American Cheserton Society conference a year ago. The talk showed connections between the fiction of Lewis and Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday. Reading the book has been a real delight. I'm threatening to buy copies for Christmas presents for some of the other Lewis geeks in the family.

Michael Ward is an Anglican priest with an obviously extensive education in medieval literature as well as an extensive familiarity with Lewis. He references Spencer, Dante, Chaucer, and Shakespeare with the same ease that you would find in Lewis himself. I have to admit to reading The Discarded Image simultaneously with Dante's Divine Comedy myself and seeing the resonances between them. If you're the sort of lit geek that loves to do things like that, I think you'll enjoy this book. If the very idea of reading literary criticism of the Lewis variety, or reading the Divine Comedy or Spencer's Fairie Queen makes you yawn, you probably should pass this one up. However, if you really love Narnia you might have a go at it anyway, it might actually lead you to new worlds further up and further in.

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