Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Narnia - the adventurous and domestic

When I was a girl, I got as a gift a thick, very plain-looking book titled "Chronicles of Narnia". It didn't look very interesting, so I wasn't in any hurry to open it. Thankfully, I was (still am) a real bookworm who will eventually read any book that's lying around, so finally I cracked open the cover of this thick grey volume and... was lost. It was a strong lesson for me not to judge a book by its cover (literally).

I enjoyed Narnia as a girl, still enjoy it today as an adult (my husband loves it too), and look forward to passing the joy of this book to my daughters. As a child, I loved the adventures of course, but there is something else I adored while reading the book - the vivid descriptions of food and the amount of detail C.S. Lewis put into telling about each meal the heroes share.

You know what is one of my favorite scenes in Narnia? The one where the Pevensie children sit around the table with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver in their cozy home, and eat a good simple meal, reading about which I always find myself with my mouth watering. If you read the book and love it as I do, surely you know what I mean. For me, Mrs. Beaver is the image of such blissful domesticity I never cease to enjoy reading the lines talking about her.

"Well, I'm nearly ready now. I suppose the sewing machine's too heavy to bring?" — Mrs. Beaver (LWW, Ch. 10)

17 comments:

Rose said...

Love, love, love Narnia, it's a book that I "come home to" every so often. My Uncle Bill gave me "Anne of Green Gables" when I was seven, I finally read it when I was nine, I know it (and the sequels) almost by heart and go back to them every year.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Rose, I once read a Hebrew translation of "Anne" and now I'm looking for the original. I saw all the movies too! Love it.

Rachel said...

We love Narnia!! There are some movies out, not the new ones but an older British series, that our kids just love. They're not quite as good as the books, of course, but my little ones are too small to read yet and they like to see Aslan and all the characters. And whenever my 3-year-old daughter sees a picture of a lion now she calls it Aslan =)

Beth M. said...

I love Mrs. Beaver too! My biggest complaint with the new Narnia movie that came out a few years ago was that they totally messed up the Beaver family, and lost that peaceful domestic scene. Hollywood really doesn't understand traditional family life.

Joy said...

I love the Chronicles of Narnia! I also like the Anne of Green Gables Chronicles--those two series are some of my favorite books. "Anne of Ingleside" and "Rainbow Valley" are my favorites, especially the latter.

Linda said...

Dear Anna,
I'm the very same way. Literature's descriptions of meals, feasts and al fresco picnics make me want to create them myself.

The Gentle Mom said...

Love, love, LOVE the Narnia books. The combination of wild adventure and peaceful domesticity is incredibly appealing to me.

Another series of books that has great descriptions of food is the Little House series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I think Laura's growing up without much food made her very appreciative of every meal she ate, because she described them all in loving, mouthwatering detail.

Anonymous said...

Me too!!! Although I always preferred the tea Lucy has with Mr. Tumnus, with all the different kinds of toast. I am reading these books with my four year old now, and he is completely enthralled and when we discover old characters in the sequels (we just came across Edmund and Susan in the Horse and His Boy, for example) he acts like he's found his long-lost best friends and is beside himself with excitement. I am so loving this, and looking forward to The Hobbit next year (good eating in there, too) and The Lord of the Rings after that. And I too am a huge fan of Green Gables - now that is some cosy, afghan-knitting, plum-puff eating domesticity for you.
Enjoy!
Gracie

Anonymous said...

First read Narnia as an married adult with children. I wish someone had introduced it to me when I was a child. My children have not known life without it and we are known to reference it frequently.

My favorite line is in A Horse and His Boy and happens with Hwin and Aslan: Then Hwin, though shaking all over, gave a strange little neigh, and trotted across to the Lion.
"Please," she said, "you're so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I'd sooner be eaten by you then fed by anyone else."
"Dearest daughter," said Aslan, planting a lion's kiss on her twitching, velvet nose, "I knew you would not be long in coming to me. Joy shall be yours."

Gives me goosebumps.

Kate said...

Make sure you read ALL the books!! I think some of the others are even better than TLWatW!!

annie said...

What do you make of the books as the Christian allegory that Lewis intended?

Mrs. Anna T said...

Annie, the allegory is not as clear-cut Christian as many think. For example, my husband, who also enjoyed Narnia as a child, thought Aslan's character is reminiscent of Moses. He was surprised to hear that the author meant otherwise.

As I grew up I became aware of the source of some of the plot bends (Aslan's sacrifice and his rising from the dead, for example, is impossible to miss), but that doesn't prevent me from enjoying the fantastic storyline and the powerful, universally applicable spiritual and moral message of the Chronicles.

Katie V. said...

Hi Anna, I had to chuckle when I saw your post on this! I just got the Chronicles of Narnia out of the library for my boys a few days ago (a simplified version and the original). One of my favorites! My boys are already loving it. Isn't it amazing how some stories have such universal appeal?! God bless.

Katie V. said...

I think I just lost what I posted. Anyhow, what a coincidence-we just got the Narnia boks out at the library! Amazing the universal appeal they have!

Joluise said...

I can remember looking in my wardrobe at home and just hoping. . . . But sadly no I never found Narnia! My brother and I loved these books.

Andrea said...

Anna, you may also be interested to know that Lewis himself denied the books were meant to be allegorical (that is, a clear-cut, parallel tracing of the Christian gospel). Rather he called them "supposals" -- a sort of "suppose it happened this way, instead of that" approach to the Christian understanding of Jesus. That may be splitting hairs in one sense, but it could also explain why they are considered a comfortable and welcoming read for audiences of different faiths, or even those who profess no faith at all.

Your husband's reading of Aslan as Moses was also interesting to me. I do see how he could have seen him that way, quite easily. Has he read The Horse and His Boy? Shasta is generally understood to be Lewis's Moses-type character, right down to his rescue from the water as an infant and leading his people (the Talking Horses particularly, with Aravis thrown in) to freedom from slavery. Both of you may be interested to read the book knowing that.

I have been very fond of Narnia from a young age, though I have never cared for the final book. Lewis and I part ways, there ;) That said, though, they certainly held and continue to hold a warm place in my heart, and a central spot on my bookshelf. I'm always glad to hear someone else loves them, too!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Andrea, we have both read all the books, though I've never thought of A Horse and His Boy this way! Interesting.