Did C.S. Lewis pre-plan Narnia's History?

I agree that Wardrobe pretty much has to be first.

The only two book published out of chronological order, Horse and his Boy and Nephew could really be put anywhere as long as they are between Wardrobe and Last Battle.

Personally, I’m not convinced that the Lewis scholars who push the MN = first are correct. That’s one interpretation of his intentions, but the evidence for this is fairly scant.

The 1957 letter to the young reader is the most frequently cited explanation of his intentions, but let’s keep in mind that Lewis was writing to a young boy who had already read the complete series with LW&W first. My interpretation of this letter is that Lewis intended for the books to be re-read in whatever order the reader likes best, and he always seemed to encourage young children to have their own opinions about books.

There’s no reason to take the 1957 letter by Lewis as being anything more than a polite agreement by Lewis with a young boy. What else should he have said?: “Gee, I think your proposed ordering is a really stupid idea.” If Lewis had really wanted to re-order the books, he would have written the publisher to tell them to re-order them, and there’s no evidence he did any such thing.

It’s interesting to see that some of Lewis’s later thoughts on the series are currently being ignored by the publishers. After the series was finished, in a letter to the American publisher, Lewis suggested a few changes to the names of some minor characters and places in the books. The American publisher made these changes, but for some reason these changes never got made to the British editions. (The changes are only in a few things, so it’s entirely possible that you could read both editions and never notice the differences.) These slight differences remained until sometime within the last ten years. At the same time that the series was re-ordered, the American editions were changed back to remove the suggested changes of names from Lewis’s letter. So now the series is being published with an ordering that Lewis only offhandly mentioned in a letter to a fan but without the changes in names that come from a letter to the publisher.

Another vote for the original order of the books. So far it’s not much of a debate, is it?

The first time I saw one of the new editions with the re-numbering, I thought it was some kind of mistake. “But… that’s not right!”

I’m pleased to see many are in favor of the published order.

It saddens me to think of how much of the magical experience of LTWW is being denied so many children by reading Nephew first. And, heck, that goes for Nephew too. It is obvious when reading Nephew it is taken for granted that the reader is familiar with the Witch, the lamppost, etc.

I once wrote a letter to Harpercollins expressing my disapproval. I wonder how many such letters they have gotten?

Rest assured, Harpercollins doesn’t give a hoot about which order they should be read in. If they’re sticking to a controversial decision, it must be because they think the books are more marketable in that order.

So why would they be able to sell more in the Nephew-first order?

Ha! Amazon has the Chronicles of Narnia listed in the correct order, even though the titles give the volume number in the “chronological” order.

Looks like there is a friend of Narnia at Amazon.

If you really feel that, I feel sorry for your current state of mind. I hope you become more understanding as you get older.

Aside from that, I have actually spoken with people who read the series and didn’t realize it was Christian. They look at me like I’m a crazy person when I describe the Christian themes. I have to swear to them that Lewis was Christian.

Reading the books as an adult, I always thought that the Christian themes were fairly thinly veiled, especially in LW&W and LB. However, when I first read the books as a young child, I read them as good fantasy-adventure stories. That’s one of the things that I think is so great about the series - not only does it work on both levels, it works well on both levels and is very accessable to people of all ages and, notwithstanding the (adjectives withheld) comments by Theom, people of various faiths and backgrounds as well.

I heard a rumour (the books pages of Private Eye) that the success of the Harry Potter money machine has prompted the Lewis estate to consider bringing out a few more books… only without the heavy Christian allegorical content. :rolleyes:

Personally, I like my CSL just the way it is… hence the nick.

That’s actually true. The publisher, HarperCollins, wanted to write new stories without Xianity. They gave up on this because of the vehement reaction to the more extreme rumor that they were going to publish a version of the original stories without the Xian content.

Would they be able to actually do this? Does Harper Collins own the rights? Yeargh! Sure, there is Christian metaphor, but its not Left Behind or anything! I mean, who (besides Theom :rolleyes:) could get offended by a kid’s book? And a wonderful kid’s book at that!

The Narnia books were my all-time favorites as a child. However, I, despite all my years of Sunday School, didn’t catch the Christian themes until some adult pointed out to me that they were what I was supposed to be getting out of the books (gee, I just thought they were fun–what a dreadful kid I must have been).

I’ve gotta’ jump on the bandwagon and say one should read them in the published order. Don’t get me wrong, I do love all the books (though The Last Battle is my least favorite), but LW&W is just so magical–it draws you into the fantasy like none of the others can. MN is a wonderful book–but it doesn’t capture you as well as LW&W, and you get so much more out of it when you realize “hey, THAT’S where the lamp post came from, THAT’s why that wardrobe worked…”

Plus, MN is a lot darker. And part of the fun of discovering Narnia was meeting all those talking animals and magical creatures. You don’t get that so much in MN.

The Lewis estate owns the rights, and they were apparently willing to have someone write new books in the series. The question of who exactly controls the estate is a very complicated issue. The estate apparently would like to make a lot of money out of the books now, since eventually they are going out of copyright so that they will no longer profit from them.

The Lewis estate owns the rights, and they were apparently willing to have someone write new books in the series. The question of who exactly controls the estate is a very complicated issue. The estate apparently would like to make a lot of money out of the books now, since eventually they are going out of copyright so that they will no longer profit from them.

Can I say I am not offended by these books, I just don’t like them. Give your Children bloody Greek myth to read, it will prepare them far better for thier lives ahead plus it has most of the Bible stories with better characters and more depth!
I am not trying to start a whole christian debate, I was just giving my opinion on these books and that is that I don’t like them.
Mahaloth, I thank you for your pity, tell me how did Christianity help the state of mind of my (very Christian and Alpha Course Tutor) Gay Friend when he decide he wanted to change sex? By telling him that he was going to burn in hell for all eternity. I admire Christian’s strength of belief and many of the good works they do but I fear it more.
I am not close-minded, my many many years of experience have allowed me to carefully form MY opinion and my teachings have encoraged me to apply it to my life without bigotry or predjudice.

P.S My spelling mistakes are due to dyslexia not age, I have a spelling age of a 12 year old.;j

What does the fact that your friend had problems about whether he should have a sex change because he had been told that “he would burn in hell for all eternity” have to do with the Narnia books? There’s no place in the series where it discusses sex changes. Just because you have problems with the attitudes of (some) Christians toward one issue seems to me to be a pretty poor reason for you to “hate the whole Narnia thing” (as you put it). On some other thread we can discuss whether Christianity in general is opposed to sex changes, but that’s out of place here.

For what it’s worth, Lewis never discusses sex changes in any of his books, fiction or nonfiction. He discusses homosexuality very little. He said that a homosexual Christian is under the same obligation to chastity that a unmarried heterosexual Christian is. Lewis had two good friends who were homosexual and there’s no evidence that he felt any need to discuss their sexual habits with them. In general, he didn’t consider sexual sins to be any more important than any other kind of sins.

I realize that you are dyslexic, Theom, but you should proofread your posts a little more carefully. I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out what you were saying. Do you have spell-check on your computer? Could you run it before you post? You could write the message in a file and spell-check it before copying it to the thread.

You can’t much bloodier than Prince Caspian without actual descriptions of the gore. You can tell it was written by someone who had actually seen front-line combat. Pretty rough stuff.

Well I’m another one who didn’t see the Christian allegory until I got round to reading The Last Battle in my early teens. You’ll be relieved to hear, Theom, that while it interested me enough to make me read The Screwtape Letters and a couple other of Lewis’s more overtly Christian books, it did not turn me into a bible-bashing fundamentalist.

I, too, never saw the Christian stuff in the Narnia books until I was an adult. That said, I still don’t see what’s wrong with it. I despise Bible-thumping, small minded hypocritical Christians as much as the next Doper, but I don’t think it’s fair to lump C. S. Lewis in with that batch of people. Regardless of whether or not you subscribe to the same belief system that he does, it’s still possible to read his writings and get some Good Stuff out of them. Much in the same way that I can and do read the writings of the Dalai Lama without becoming a Buddhist, I manage to read C. S. Lewis and the Bible without feeling compelled to start leaving Chick Tracts lying about.

That said, what exactly is so bad about the “Christian” teachings in the Narnia books? From what I can see, the books include a lot of the very, very good things about Christianity (and there ARE a lot of good things about it) and very little (if any) of the bad (ie, hatred of homosexuals, pushing one’s own belief system over all others, etc.) From what I remember, the values that are stressed in the Narnia books include:

  • Honesty (several scenes of people being rewarded for honesty even though lying would have been easier)
  • Sacrificing oneself for the greater good (including the Big Allegory - Aslan sacrificing himself on the stone table, plus Puddleglum burning his feet to stomp out the fire in the Silver Chair, the half-dwarf in Prince Caspian putting himself in harm’s way to teach Caspian the truth about Narnia, etc.)
  • Bravery (the boy in Horse and his boy facing the lion to save the girl and the horses, the children in the Silver Chair rescuing the prince, the children in the Magician’s Nephew getting Jadis out of our world)
  • Forgiveness (Edmund being forgiven in LWW, Eustice forgiven)

I contrast this stuff with the Harry Potter books where the kids are constantly being rewarded for sneaking around, lying, and generally behaving badly and I wonder what is the problem, exaclty, with the Narnia books? Where are the “bad values”? Pretty much, people get what they deserve in the books - people who lie, cheat, and steal typically get caught and punished (rarely, if ever, killed) and people who are honest, brave, and stand by their friends get rewarded. Why is this such a bad thing to teach children?

I vote for the original order, most definatly.

I first read the series in first grade at a Christian school, in the original order, and absolutly loved it. BTW, I got in trouble at that school because they said I was to young to read and understand those books, and when I mentioned that I had already read and understood satans book, The Hobbit, I got in even more trouble :rolleyes: And yes, even at that young age I got all the christian subthemes.