I’ve just received the latest issue of ‘Touchstone’ magazine and am excited to see the news of your new book. I first heard about your hypothesis in the Times Literary Supplement when I was an undergrad, but not hearing anything about it since then made me worried the project had been abandoned, so I’m very glad to see it now being published by Oxford University Press.
As far as I can tell this will be the first important book of criticism on Narnia, as most work till now has been relatively lightweight, and I hope your thesis is quickly accepted. It’s the kind of observation that is so obvious — after being noticed of course! — that it can never be ignored once foregrounded. Perhaps the highest compliment I can offer is that I wish I had been the one to make the discovery, as my favorite aspect of the Ransom trilogy has always been its synthesis of classical mythology with medieval angelology and modern cosmology.
I am naturally sceptical of over-ingenious interpretations (as evident in a forthcoming article on Spenser’s ‘Telamond’) but the internal textual evidence which you cite — even in the short space of the Touchstone pages — seems sufficiently convincing to me. I look forward to the book, especially the section on The Magician’s Nephew which limited space prevented elaboration on, for more on the relationship between Venus and Jove insofar as the 6th book is an etiology of the White Witch. (I suppose Venus as the “morning star” provides a Luciferan association for Jadis as both tempter in M.G. — where she doubles as the apple-biting Eve(nstar?) — and as ‘victim’ of the ransom plot in L.W.W.)
In any case, your book is the first item on my Christmas list this year. Congratulations on your achievement; I hope it does for Narnia what The Allegory of Love did for Spenser studies.
To say that I very much enjoyed your article in the December issue of Touchstone would be an understatement.
Thank you for your time and research and love of the Chronicles. By Jove I think you got it! You, and Lewis, have opened my eyes to the fact that I am oblivious to the obvious!
The Chronicles have been my favorite stories since I was a child; and I still read them, at the age of 35. They are timeless. Even though I know that Lewis wrote many great works, whenever I begin something else authored by him I eventually put it down and turn back to the Chronicles. All roads lead to Narnia.
Peace of Christ to you,
Nashville, TN USA
Great article! I’m tired of the poor scholarship we so often see with regards to C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s refreshing to have new and valuable content to pass on. It’s like you have handed us a key to turn within these literary treasures, a key which unlocks a new dimension of meaning and understanding in Lewis’s fiction. Great job!
The delightfully rich insights and understanding made possible by Dr. Ward’s thesis testify to its plausibility and power.
I haven’t yet read the book, so I’m at risk of duplicating his remarks here, but I wish to add another thought (on top of those already at the Touchstone site). Dr. Ward’s explanation of the Chronicles as a typological tour of the planets reflects a pattern of thinking found among the Inklings. The parallels are most obvious in Charles Williams’s The Place of the Lion, where the Platonic forms discussed by medieval writers find their place in a fantastical adventure. While The Place of the Lion is only one book, to Lewis’s seven, the device is similar and lends further plausibility to the Planet Narnia rubric. Moreover, Williams’s moral – that these supernaturals are not to be trifled with – echoes an abiding theme in Lewis and another reason for not disclosing the pattern.
I think this is not only a brilliant insight into the books themselves, but also, necessarily, an interesting glimpse into the power of archetype and of myth in general in literature, and in particular, the lasting impact of the Greek “Classics”, moulding and making the man who reads them, and yet being themselves transformed, and baptized by the rich intellectual and spiritual ferment of Lewis’s own Anglo-Catholic faith, and the spiritual and literary community that surrounded him.
Where to now, fellow C.S. Lewis fans? One wonders if one ought not to learn Greek, and perhaps follow where the master trod. My Latin’s fair to middling, but I have no Greek whatsoever.
I read and thoroughly enjoyed Planet Narnia. What is the release date for The Narnia Code book? I’m looking forward to reading that one as well as viewing the BBC documentary on DVD. In fact I just made a blog post about the DVD at http://phoenixweasley.wordpress.com.
I am a lecturer on the deeper meaning of the Harry Potter series and the author of The Lord of the Hallows: Christian Symbolism and Themes in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, a little book that was published by Outskirts Press last year. You can also read more about that at my blog.
Planet Narnia was absolutely brilliant! I am looking forward to reading more of your work.