The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven fantasy novels for children written by C. S. Lewis. It is considered a classic of children’s literature and is the author’s best-known work, having sold over 120 million copies in 41 languages. Written by Lewis between 1949 and 1954 and illustrated by Pauline Baynes, The Chronicles of Narnia have been adapted several times, complete or in part, for radio, television, stage, and cinema. In addition to numerous traditional Christian themes, the series borrows characters and ideas from Greek and Roman mythology, as well as from traditional British and Irish fairy tales.
The Chronicles of Narnia present the adventures of children who play central roles in the unfolding history of the fictional realm of Narnia, a place where animals talk, magic is common, and good battles evil. Each of the books (with the exception of The Horse and His Boy) features as its protagonists children from our world who are magically transported to Narnia, where they are called upon to help the Lion Aslan handle a crisis in the world of Narnia.
he Chronicles of Narnia have been in continuous publication since 1954 and have sold over 100 million copies in 41 languages. Lewis was awarded the 1956 Carnegie Medal for The Last Battle, the final book in the Narnia series. The books were written by Lewis between 1949 and 1954 but were written in neither the order they were originally published nor in the chronological order in which they are currently presented. The original illustrator was Pauline Baynes and her pen and ink drawings are still used in publication today. The seven books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia are presented here in the order in which they were originally published (see reading order below). Completion dates for the novels are English (Northern Hemisphere) seasons.
The Seven Books
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
Main article: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, completed in the winter of 1949 and published in 1950, tells the story of four ordinary children: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie. They discover a wardrobe in Professor Digory Kirke’s house that leads to the magical land of Narnia. The Pevensie children help Aslan save Narnia from the evil White Witch, who has reigned over the kingdom of Narnia for 100 years of perpetual winter.
Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951)
Main article: Prince Caspian
Completed in the autumn of 1949 and published in 1951, Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia tells the story of the Pevensie children’s second trip to Narnia. They are drawn back by the power of Susan’s horn, blown by Prince Caspian to summon help in his hour of need. Caspian has fled into the woods to escape his uncle, Miraz, who had usurped the throne. The children set out once again to save Narnia; and aided by other Narnians, and ultimately by Aslan, they return the throne to Caspian, the rightful ruler.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
Main article: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Completed in the winter of 1950 and published in 1952, The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’ returns Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, along with their priggish cousin, Eustace Scrubb, to Narnia. Once there, they join Caspian’s voyage to find the seven lords who were banished when Miraz took over the throne. This perilous journey brings them face to face with many wonders and dangers as they sail toward Aslan’s country at the end of the world.
The Silver Chair (1953)
Main article: The Silver Chair
Completed in the spring of 1951 and published in 1953, The Silver Chair is the first Narnia book without the Pevensie children. Instead, Aslan calls Eustace back to Narnia together with his classmate Jill Pole. There they are given four signs to find Prince Rilian, Caspian’s son, who had been kidnapped ten years earlier. Eustace and Jill, with the help of Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle, face great danger before finding Rilian, held prisoner in an enchantment by a Green Witch.
The Horse and His Boy (1954)
Main article: The Horse and His Boy
Completed in the spring of 1950 and published in 1954, The Horse and His Boy takes place during the reign of the Pevensies in Narnia, an era which begins and ends in the last chapter of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The story is about Bree, a talking horse, and a young boy named Shasta. Both of whom have been held in bondage in Calormen. By chance, they meet each other and plan their return to Narnia and freedom. On their journey they discover that the Calormenes are about to invade Archenland, and they plan to arrive there first to alert the King.
The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
Main article: The Magician’s Nephew
Completed in the winter of 1954 and published in 1955, the prequel The Magician’s Nephew brings the reader back to the very beginning of Narnia where we learn how Aslan created the world and how evil first entered it. Digory Kirke and his friend Polly Plummer stumble into different worlds by experimenting with magic rings made by Digory’s uncle, encounter Jadis (The White Witch), and witness the creation of Narnia. Many long-standing questions about Narnia are answered in the adventure that follows.
The Last Battle (1956)
Main article: The Last Battle
Completed in the spring of 1953 and published in 1956, The Last Battle chronicles the end of the world of Narnia. Jill and Eustace return to save Narnia from Shift, an ape, who tricks Puzzle, a donkey, into impersonating the lion Aslan, precipitating a showdown between the Calormenes and King Tirian.
The Narnian universe
Main article: Narnia (world)
Most of The Chronicles of Narnia take place in Lewis’ constructed world of Narnia. The Narnian world itself is posited as one world in a multiverse of countless worlds including our own. Passage between these worlds is possible, though rare, and may be accomplished in various fashions. How visitors to Narnia observe the passage of time while they are away is unpredictable. For example, if one year had passed since one left Narnia, a thousand years or perhaps only a week might have gone by in Narnia. Narnia itself is described as populated by a wide variety of creatures, most of whom would be recognizable to those familiar with European mythologies and British fairy tales.
Lewis largely populates his stories with two distinct classes of inhabitants: people originating from the reader’s own world and creatures created by the character Aslan and the descendants of these creatures. This is typical of works that involve parallel universes. The majority of characters from the reader’s world serve as the protagonists of the various books, although some are only mentioned in passing. Those inhabitants that Lewis creates through the character Aslan are viewed, either positively or negatively, as diverse. Lewis does not limit himself to a single source; instead he borrows from many sources and adds a few more of his own to the mix.
The Chronicles of Narnia describes the world in which Narnia exists as one major landmass faced by "the Great Eastern Ocean". This ocean contains the Seven Isles, Galma, Terebinthia, and the Lone Islands which are visited in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. On the main landmass are the countries of Narnia, Archenland, Calormen, and Telmar, as well as a variety of other areas that play a part in the narrative but are not described as countries: The Western Wild, a mountainous place to the west of Narnia, and Wildlands of the North. Lewis also provides glimpses of more fantastic locations that exist in and around the main world of Narnia, including an edge and an underworld.
Notably, Narnian geography is subject to the ravages of geological processes. In Prince Caspian, the children return after an unknown period of time to discover that a river which they had known during The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe had changed course, creating an island at its mouth and deep gorges in its upper reaches.
There are several maps of the Narnian universe available, including what many consider the "official" one, a full-colour version published in 1972 by the books’ illustrator, Pauline Baynes. This is currently out of print, although smaller copies can be found in the most recent HarperCollins 2006 hardcover edition of The Chronicles of Narnia. Two other maps have recently been produced following the popularity of the 2005 film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. One, called the "Rose Map of Narnia", is based loosely on Baynes’ map and has Narnian trivia printed on the reverse. Another map, made in a monochromatic, archaic style reminiscent of Tolkien’s Middle-earth maps, is available in print and in an interactive version on the movie DVD. However, this last depicts only Narnia and does not include the other countries in the Narnian universe.
A recurring plot device in The Chronicles is the interaction between the various worlds that make up the Narnian multiverse. A variety of devices are used to initiate these cross-overs which generally serve to introduce characters to the land of Narnia. The Cosmology of Narnia is not as internally consistent as that of Lewis’ contemporary Tolkien‘s Middle-earth, but suffices given the more fairy tale atmosphere of the work. During the course of the series we learn, generally in passing, that the world of Narnia is flat, geocentric, has stars with a different makeup than our own, and that the passage of time does not correspond directly to the passage of time in our world.
Lewis takes us through the entire life of the world of Narnia, showing us the process by which it was created, snapshots of life in Narnia as the history of the world unfolds, and how Narnia is ultimately destroyed. Not surprisingly in a children’s series, children, usually from our world, play a prominent role as all of these events unfold. The history of Narnia is generally broken up into the following periods: creation and the period shortly afterwards, the rule of the White Witch, the Golden Age, the invasion and rule of the Telmarines, their subsequent defeat by Caspian X, the rule of King Caspian and his descendants, and the destruction of Narnia. Like many stories, the narrative is not necessarily always presented in chronological order.
J. R. R. Tolkien
J. R. R. Tolkien was a close friend of Lewis and a fellow author and Christian, instrumental in Lewis’s own conversion to Christianity. As members of the Inklings literary group the two often read and critiqued drafts of their work. Nonetheless, Tolkien was not enthusiastic about the Narnia stories, in part due to the eclectic elements of the mythology and their haphazard incorporation, in part because he disapproved of stories involving travel between real and imaginary worlds. Though a Christian himself, Tolkien felt that fantasy should incorporate Christian values without resorting to the obvious allegory Lewis employed.
Text courtesy: Wikipedia
Narnia Portal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Narnia
official book website: http://books.narnia.com/movielanding.html