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my big book of little catastrophes
I ate WHAT?
revisionist Narnia chronology 
12th-Dec-2005 09:13 am
puss
I've been looking forward to the new Narnia movie, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Since I don't have my collection of the 7 Narnia books anymore (I think one of my nieces who doesn't ever read has them), I had to go pick up the stories again so I could read them once more. I found a single-volume softback collection of all the stories for only about $20, which was a great value compared to $56 for the 7 book set. But the order of presentation of the stories is not what I'm used to.

The original publication order of the stories, and the order I originally read them in, is:

1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
2. Prince Caspian(1951)
3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
4. The Silver Chair (1953)
5. The Horse and His Boy (1954)
6. The Magician's Nephew(1955)
7. The Last Battle (1956)

But the order of stories in my new collection is:

1. The Magician's Nephew
2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
3. The Horse and His Boy
4. Prince Caspian
5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
6. The Silver Chair
7. The Last Battle

This new order reflects the objective chronology of events in Narnia, and C.S. Lewis appears to have expressed a preference for this order of presentation. Well, I think this is a case where the author doesn't know his works as well as his readers.

Half the fun of TLtWatW is the unveiling of the mysteries of Narnia and Aslan. When we meet Aslan in that book we don't quite know what to think of him. He's a bit scary, being a lion and all. But if you read TMN first, most of the mysteries and surprises of the first book (and some of the others) would be lost. It's like watching the Star Wars movies in the order of the chronology of the events - all the startling revelations lose their impact. We already know who Luke's father is, so the pronouncement of one of the most famous lines in cinema becomes rather pointless and obvious.

Anyway, I just started reading TLtWatW last night (had to finish my re-read of Kiln People first). I should be able to finish it up before I go see the movie, probably next week.
Comments 
(Deleted comment)
12th-Dec-2005 05:54 pm (UTC)
I read those books when I was a young boy. Growing up in a Jewish family, I wasn't aware the stories were Christian allegories. So the stories work fine even without knowing they are based on xian mythology:-)

Glad you liked it - I hadn't heard from anyone yet how the movie turned out. Funny thing, I had read something last week about how C.S. Lewis was vehemently opposed to a live-action movie of his stories. He preferred an animated movie, but hated the idea of Disney doing it. I wonder what he'd have thought if he could have known what computer animation would be capable of, and if he'd be happy with the result.
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