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Planet Narnia

April 14, 2014

In 2008 Chaplain of St. Peters College in Oxford Michael Ward dropped a literary bombshell on the world of C.S. Lewis scholarship with the publication of his book, Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens on the Imagination of C.S. Lewis (Oxford, 2008). The thesis of the book is simple to declare but the book requires 250 pages of argument and an additional 100 pages of indexes and notes as proofs. The thesis is simply this, “The unifying element of all of the Chronicles of Narnia is Lewis’s cosmology. Each of the book represents the themes of a planet in the solar system. Jupiter is the focus of The  The Witch and the Wardrobe, ” I (Peter) will contend that the first chronicle was deliberately designed to communicate the Jovial spirit” (p.42). Prince Caspian ties in to Mars and so fourth. Michael Ward begins the book with reasons for “digging deeper” and looking for undeclared secret themes woven into the story themselves as well as the characters and dialog in the Narnia context. The book would be a fraction of its size if only the Chronicles were quoted and explored. Instead the bulk of the book looks at Lewis’s science fiction, poetry, essays, letters as well as portions of books that Lewis would have read and been influenced by to prove the point. The bottom line is that I am unconvinced of the truth of the thesis but am a fan of the book because of the gathering together of so much of Lewis’s thought and writings in ways I have never seen done before in a very thoughtful and interesting way. Agree or disagree this book will become a standard jumping off point for discussions by Lewis fans (maybe even heated). It is hard to imagine a neutral opinion. Don’t take my word for it- read it for yourself and see if if Ward convinces you!

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