The Magician’s Nephew

This is not the place to talk about the author CS Lewis, his time as a revered scholar of English at both Oxford and Cambridge or his friendship with JRR Tolkien and their evenings at the Eagle and Child in Oxford.  It is not a place to talk about Christianity or the Screwtape Letters.

The Chronicles of Narnia need no extraneous detail, no introduction. They need to be revelled in for the beauty of the eternal tales of good and evil and for the language in which they are written.   They need to be delighted in for the loveliness of Pauline Bayne’s illustrations.

In the Magician’s Nephew, Polly Plummer and Digory Kirke are hijacked by evil Uncle Andrew Kettering and unwillingly sent on an adventure into parallel worlds via the lovely wood between the worlds – a sort of Clapham Junction for magical travel.

By mischance in the desolation of Charn, they wake evil empress Jadis and unwittingly take her back to Edwardian London, where she terrorises Uncle Andrew and rides a hansom cab for her imperial carriage. A veritable Boudica.

The children remove Jadis with the help of Uncle Andrew’s magic rings and back through the wood between the worlds they end up in a black, darkened and unformed universe.

Magical and majestic Aslan sings the new world into existence with talking animals as well as spirits – the Dryads and Naiads and gods of springs and woods.  The cabbie and his wife from Edwardian London become the benevolent King and Queen.

After a visit to a green hill far away on the cabbie’s horse Pledge (now given wings by Aslan) Digory makes up for his mistakes by seeking a magic apple to ward off Queen Jadis from this newly created paradise.

As a small child you are unlikely to ponder the parallels with Christian mythology, let alone worry about it.  These are simple, glorious, colourful tales where good always triumphs over evil and comfort is alway eventually attained, even peace.

If as a child you are mesmerised by these books you will never forget them and will return year after year to re-read them as an adult, finding the same pleasure they gave you as a child.


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