The Listener has a good piece on CS Lewis and his Narnia books this week. In it, the charges of Lewis’s critics (principally Phillip Pullman) are examined. The Listener concludes (correctly I think) that Pullman is wrong to say that Lewis’s books lack love; and its example of evidence against this: Digory’s Love for his sick mother (in the Magician’s Nephew) is a good one. The Listener’s arguments are more fragile when it tries to claim that Lewis’s Calormen aren’t a racist stereotype, however. (Although it makes the fair point that, in The Last Battle, he lets one/some of them into heaven, despite their worshiping of Tash, because they are good people).
And I totally agree with the point made in the article that, when Lewis works allegory hardest (The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Last Battle), it is at its least effective. He could have toned down the Christian imagery some, and the message – the underlying Christian message – would have been stronger in my mind.
The article also mentions Lewis’s relationship with Tolkien. Now I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings books and though Peter Jackson did a good job with the movies, but – by the time the last movie was released – I was sorely tired of the whole phenomenon. Accordingly, I was cheered to read that Lewis (who thought the books sprawled on and on) once – supposedly – exclaimed to Tolkien “not another fucking elf”.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005