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Tales Before Narnia Edited and with Commentary by Douglas A. Anderson

November 8, 2011

There is very little truly original scholarship in the relm of C.S. Lewis studies in this day and age especially that which is readily available to anyone interested in the development of Narna. Tales Before Narnia edited by Douglas A. Anderson (Ballantine, 2008) is such a volume. The concept is so original as to be brilliant. Anderson searched for references to fantasy and science fiction either by name or just clear influence and then puts the stories together in an anthology so the reader can see the development of ideas that shaped Lewis and his fiction. Anderson does an introductry commentary about each of the stories and its link to Lewis. These are uniformly well written and helpful. The 20 selections include works by George McDonald, G.K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens, Hans Christian Anderson and many of the Inklings. Of special interest to me was Letters From Hell by Valdemar Thisted which was an influence on The Screwtape Letters. I enjoyed each and every story selected and feel much more knowledgable about Lewis’s fiction and its influenses. I can’t image a more signifigant contribution to Lewis scholarship than this book. If you love Lewis’s fiction run don’t walk to the book story for your copy of this wonderful book which in my mind is a contemporary classic in the field.

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