Monday, June 14, 2010


Today I start reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the second installment of C. S. Lewis' classic fantasy series.  The first book was a quick read, but it was great to go back and enjoy some parts that I had forgotten.  The first time I read The Magician's Nephew, I was so excited to read the entire series that I probably didn't give the first book quite the depth of read that it merits.  I had completely forgotten about the iconic scene of temptation at the climax of the plot.  In good allegorical form, it's complete with images of a mysterious garden, a sacred apple tree, and a character's test of faith.  I'll share with you one of my favorite parts, and one that I actually remembered from the first time around.  This is an excerpt from the scene where the two children, Digory and Polly (along with a few other characters) witness the founding of Narnia--a passage which serves as a beautiful, loose parallel to the creation story from Genesis.

 (We pick up this story in the middle of a dispute.  The characters have just stumbled into a darkness, presumably death itself.  The Witch says "This is an empty world.  This is Nothing."  The dispute is about which course of action is the best to follow next...)

"Hush!" said the Cabby.  They all listened.
In the darkness something was happening at last.  A voice had begun to sing.  It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming.  Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once.  Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them.  Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself.  There were no words.  There was hardly even a tune.  But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard.  It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it...
...Then two wonders happened at the same moment.  One was that the voice was suddenly joined by other voice; more voices than you could possibly count.  They were in harmony with it, but far higher up the scale:  cold, tingling, silvery voices.  The second wonder was that the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars.  They didn't come out gently one by one, as they do on a summer evening.  One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out--single stars, constellations, and planets, brighter and bigger than any in our world.  There were no clouds.  The new stars and the new voices began at exactly the same time.  If you had seen and heard it, as Digory did, you would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves which were singing, and that it was the First Voice, the deep one, which had made them appear and made them sing.

There's a lot more to this passage that I've left out.  It takes up about two chapters, so I figure I'll leave more of the mystery for you to enjoy yourself.  I would recommend this book as a light summer read, even just for the enjoyment and imaginative picture of the passage I just sampled for you.  And if you're looking for an easy series to get wrapped-up in for a few weeks (or however long you like to make it) then start with this one.

As for me, I'm on to book number two.  It's the one that most are familiar with, and I was tempted to skip it.  My memory tells me that I really loved the third book, but this morning my purism got the best of me, and I decided to read through The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe despite my familiarity.  It shouldn't take too long, and normally a re-read proves to be pretty rewarding.  We'll see!

I can't resist.  Here are the final words of the founding of Narnia, spoken by Aslan the lion, revealed to be the source of "the First Voice, the deep one."

"Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, awake.  Love.  Think.  Speak.  Be walking trees.  Be talking beasts.  Be divine waters."

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