Muddles of Narnia

I have not yet seen the new film adaption of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and I have not read any of The Chronicles of Narnia since I was a child. So I will leave the debate over whether the books are evil Christian propaganda to others. Tory Convert takes issue with Polly Toynbee’s criticism of the books and the film, and makes some interesting points on moral agency, and the link between religion and culture.
I have just one point to make about The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, something that has been bothering me for ages: If Narnia is a Christian allegory, what on earth is Father Christmas doing in there? Who or what is he metaphoring? Do Narnians celebrate Christ’s birth, or not-yet-saviour Aslan’s birth, or what? It looks like the inclusion of a big name star, just to draw the crowds…

11 Replies to “Muddles of Narnia”

  1. I haven’t seen it, but someone says Santa Claus gives out weapons..?
    My main objection to the narnia books as a kid was complete lack of recognition. Middle class white kids wandering around country houses etc.
    As for kid-ult films, I’m more concerned with what damage will be done to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials by “evil Christians propaganda”.

  2. Middle class white kids wandering around country houses etc.
    No different from any kids literature from that time, eh? Famous Five was pretty much the same form of escapism, with very young kids doing improbably daring things without adult supervision.
    I have yet to read His Dark Materials or indeed Paradise Lost (although the latter is sitting on my bookshelf). But I am reminded of the furore surrounding The Da Vinci Code. Christian groups complained of factual inaccuracies in the book… but the central charge – that the Catholic Church is essentially and necessarily sexist to the core – is pretty much correct, and indeed went almost unchallenged!

  3. Don’t tell them, but in the next decent book, “Prince Caspian”, they meet Bacchus and get involved in little romp. So that’s Lewis the Christian promoting a pagan god.
    I’ve recently been rereading them (got a box set in a remaindered bookstore), and confirmed what others have said; 4 good books, 3 not good books. They’re making 4 films apparently…

  4. No different from any kids literature from that time, eh?
    Indeed not. Thank god for Mary, Mungo and Midge.
    We have got the success of Lord of the Rings to thank for this revival – and maybe even Mr Potter. Dredging up fairly average bits of yesteryear to persuade those in middle Youth and their kids to invest in a factory film is the Hollywood dream of course.

  5. Don’t get me started on Potter. The black-and-white morality of those stories (a hat judging your entire personality and assigning you a good or evil house accordingly) is pretty insidious.

  6. Actually, re Potter, as someone who recently dated an obsessive fan (guess what boxed set of books I got for Xmas…), I have it on good authority that the whole point is the shades of grey.
    Besides, there isn’t an ‘evil’ house, just a house for those of ambition. Quite scary how well I can do the argument despite not having read it yet. Essentially, most of the fans are utterly convinced that Snape is a good guy despite his actions in book six, as otherwise JK’s jumped the shark. Possible, of course, but, well.

  7. I really didn’t get that from the Philosopher’s Stone. In any case, pre-judging someone as a person with ambition or not is still pretty rubbish, no? Surely they should be judged on their actions.
    But I haven’t mustered the energy to read the others yet, which I am told are better, so I shouldn’t whine.

  8. Just a quick note about Rob’s view that Santa is just in the book for a bit of crowd-pleasing. None other than J.R.R. Tolkein told Lewis exactly the same thing after reading his first draft.

  9. I think it is the moment in a series when you know it has reached its peak, and will only go downhill from then on. As in:
    “Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock….his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that [he had already Jumped the Shark]. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning–So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

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