The Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven fantasy novels written by C.S. Lewis. Written between 1949 and 1954, the stories focus on adventures in the magical land of Narnia. The first book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has been made into a feature film and the sequel, Prince Caspian, is scheduled to be released in 2008. Film versions of the remaining books may follow.
The books were originally published in the following order, though packaged sets have included them in chronological storyline order as well.
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- Prince Caspian
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
- The Silver Chair
- The Horse and His Boy
- The Magician's Nephew
- The Last Battle
C.S. Lewis was Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at the University of Cambridge and a lifelong student of mythology and fairy tales. The books reflect these influences as well as Lewis' Christian beliefs. Many have described the series as Christian allegory, though Lewis preferred to call them "suppositional" - the distinction being that allegory consists of figurative language to relay literal meaning while the Narnia series is a literal work in a fictional setting. From a literary standpoint, Lewis may be correct but some claim that this view considers the book on its own, while considering the book in the context of an extended message for life beyond the fantasy realm renders it allegorical. The confusion of terms has little bearing on the fact that books do, intentionally, place the character of Jesus Christ in an alternate reality, with another body and another name (Aslan).
With regard to motive, Lewis stated:
"Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument, then collected information about child psychology and decided what age group I'd write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out 'allegories' to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn't write in that way. It all began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn't anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord."
- — Lewis in Of Other Worlds
Regardless of his initial plan, the parallels between Aslan and Jesus exist and were structured, Lewis claims, to give "an imaginary answer to the question, 'What might Christ become like, if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?' " The parallels have made this a favorite series for Christians while the fantasy elements have endeared the books to non-Christians as well.
Despite the parallels, there are some Christians who object to this series. Some feel that depicting Jesus is an anthropomorphic lion is blasphemous while others object to pagan and occult references as well as the positive depiction of mythical creatures traditionally associated with evil.