Let me tell you this straight: I had the greatest mood swings reading The Chronicles of Narnia (all seven books). At times it was unbelievably corny, at other times it was eery (but not on purpose, I think) and there were rare times were I was truly interested and curious as to how it would unfold. So how do I review this?
First off: it’s very apparent – more so than in the movies – that The chronicles of Narnia is actually a religious work in desguise. And that’s okay, I have got nothing against that: I think one of the great
strenghts of religion is the fact that everyone can be united even if there points of view aren’t exactly the same. But in the end, the view C.S. Lewis shows us in The Chronicles of Narnia is scary to say the least – if not borderlining religious terrorism.
What do you learn from reading these books? That there is a God – Aslan – that creates and destroys. That all things come to an end. Now this is okay. The question is how and why exactly things seem to end. In Narnia’s case, the end of the world comes with its secularisation. Its enlightenment. And that is a scary thought. Do you really want to feed this thought to children – that critical thinking about religion might have desastrous consequences?
My conclusion in all this is the following: there’s books you can read that never age. The Lord of the Rings is such a book: it’s over fifty years old but it still works. Books by Roald Dahl do this too – and they’re almost just as moralizing as Narnia. But The Chronicles of Narnia describes the glory of an era where people still feared God and lived in constant angst of pissing him off.
That means you can only read it as an ancient text – like people who read Jane Austen: it’s a story that doesn’t apply well to the current society. The difference between Lewis and someone like Austen is, however, that Lewis is not a good writer – not even close. His work is chaotic, poorly written and way too stereotypical. If an author says something is indescribable every other page (a trend that seems to get worse towards the end), then you just know he’s not the brightest page in the book.
So why people see C.S. Lewis as one of the greatest authors of the 20th Century, I will never understand. And how deeply religious people don’t get offended by reading this, I don’t get either. I guess that’s just how the world works?