Published by Zondervan on 1950
Genres: Classics, Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, completed in the winter of 1949 & published in 1950, tells the story of four ordinary children: Peter, Susan, Edmund & Lucy Pevensie. They discover a wardrobe in Prof. Digory Kirke's house that leads to the magical land of Narnia, which is currently under the spell of a witch. The four children fulfill an ancient, mysterious prophecy while in Narnia. The Pevensie children help Aslan (the Turkish word for lion) & his army save Narnia from the evil White Witch, who's reigned over the Narnia in winter for 100 years.
After I re-read this for the first time as an adult and I disliked it so much that I wanted to use the MOVIE ADAPTATION BOOK COVER HERE. Yeah. Passive aggressive all over the place.
So! I picked it up because I read a short story by Neil Gaiman “The Problem of Susan” that referenced The Last Battle which of course is the last book in this series. As a kid I could never finish Prince Caspian so I never read any further. Well I’ve finished Prince Caspian but first I want to express my views on how very distressing I find this book, which I re-read several times growing up.
First, what we already knew.
The extremely heavy Christian overtures undertones. Get ’em while they’re young, I suppose. Yes, yes, I do know C.S. Lewis was also a Christian apologist, but is it fair to sneak theology into children’s food without them knowing? Obviously I’m incredibly uncomfortable with this. Don’t get me wrong, I actually really enjoyed both Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters, but those are books for adults.
I mean the death (and resurrection) of Aslan at the stone table? All we’re missing is a cross and three days. It definitely warms kids up to the religion if you can point to a much beloved fairy tale character and bring parallels, don’t you think? Or am I raving like Richard Dawkins?
ANYWAY. What I find more disturbing, partially because it seems to fit in so well with the Christian undertones, are the extraordinary overtones of misogyny. The most powerful evil character is both a woman and a fool. There is no redemption for her. Even looking at the sisters, Lucy and Susan, they are far weaker than the brothers and irritating to boot. Susan’s character is by far the most distressing (and yes, I’m jumping ahead) by the fact she is cast out of paradise forever for the sin of liking make-up, nylons, and parties. I mean come on.
I know this was published in the 1950’s… but seriously? Ugh. If you haven’t read this series skip it and go straight to Harry Potter instead.
So haters gonna hate. Feel free to totally disagree with me here, Reader. I know I’m probably ruffling feathers today. What do you think?