The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Reviewing The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

 

Far be it from me to criticize a successful writer of great literary renown like C.S. Lewis. However, I found it interesting to comment on his work from my perspective as struggling children’s novelist. It was surprising that writing styles have changed so dramatically since 1950. Reading this book was definitely a trip back into the past.

 

The first thing that struck me was his breaking character to address me, the reader. This parenthetical switch to second person in the middle of a narrative stream was a real shocker. It did tend to personalize the reading experience, however it jerked me out of my reading dream state. I know that rules are made to be broken and the form and function of grammar has changed since 1950, but I’m not ready to try this trick.

 

Another writing process methodology that Lewis employed was an explanation for the young reader of emotions expressed or shown by a character. It demonstrates his recognition that his young readers may not be familiar with a feeling experienced by one of his characters. He did this on several occasions in the novel and his sensitivity to the immaturity of his readers, I found impressive.

 

Finally, I picked up the second book of the seven book series, Prince Caspian. I was surprised to discover a very brief outline of the first book within the first chapter of this book. Every book in a series must stand alone, but Lewis found it necessary to ‘help’ his readers by relating events from the first book. This helps me determine how much of my first novel to mention in the sequel.

 

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1 thought on “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

  1. You’ve hit on one of my favorite subjects. First of all, you, being shocked by Lewis “breaking character”, is because nowadays, in 2012, we are told that it’s a no-no. I think that it was a common technique in the mid-century and quite acceptable. I personally like the intimate, storytelling feel of it. CS Lewis had no children of his own, but during WW II he took in many children who were evacuees from London. In order to entertain them, in the cold months of rural England, he told them stories. In doing so, he created the mythical land of Boxen, and later, Narnia. He based these on the stories and mythologies that he loved as a child, and of his studies of Ancient Greece. They were really written to entertain the children, but he took such delight in them, himself, that he ended writing the whole set of Narnia books. I’m thinking, that perhaps the style that surprises you, may have come directly from his oral storytelling. Also, the sensitivity to his audience could be explained this way too. Lewis’ good friend and colleague at Oxford, Tolkien, had his own imaginary world going, and they spent many hours discussing the best way of designing their own myth based universes. There was some disagreement here. As far as writing sequels. . . his books were not altogether written in sequence. That might account for his summarizing?? Thank you for bringing this great author to your blog.

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