Oct 14, 2008

Lewis’ Narnia deciphered

by Dominique McKay

Michael Ward, author of “Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis,” made his first appearance at Liberty University last Thursday. Speaking to a packed crowd of students and faculty members, Ward outlined his theory that C.S. Lewis hid a parallel between his “Chronicles of Narnia” series and medieval mythology.

“I hope it will show people Narnia is more than what we’ve been giving it credit for,” Ward said. “It is a very carefully and sophisticated work of art.”

“Planet Narnia,” already in its fifth printing and peaking interests from the BBC for a documentary film, answers the question of why three of the books in the Chronicles series seem to be clear biblical allegories while the other four have no obvious scriptural foundation.

“We teach the world we create,” Ward said. “Lewis creates a world that has a question of coherence.”

In “Planet Narnia,” Ward takes the reader through each of the Chronicles of Narnia’s seven books showing how many of the series’ elements directly correlate with characteristics of the Roman gods.

“It was very interesting and helped me understand a lot of underlying sections of Lewis’ writings. (There were) things that I would never think of until someone pointed them out to me and then they made perfect sense,” Jennifer Lind, a senior English major, said. “Even a person whose study is not English cannot deny that Ward has truth, logic and evidence behind all of his arguments.” 

One example Ward uses to support his medieval theory is the book “Prince Caspian,” which he refers to as the “Mars book.” Ward showed the audience how Mars was not only the god of war but also the god of vegetation. Ward claims C.S. Lewis correlated this strongly with the battle that takes place in “Prince Caspian” as well as the imagery of the trees in the forest, a running theme throughout the novel.

“I thought that was a pretty interesting way of looking at the books,” Julia Stillwagon, a junior and English minor, said. “It was very neat how all the books connected perfectly with the planets, moon and sun.”

“The fact that he could finally give a satisfactory answer for how Lewis made the Chronicles of Narnia cohesive is truly amazing,” Jill Johnson, an officer of Sigma Tau Delta (STD), said. “This new theory will bring such satisfaction and new delight each time the novels are read or studied in classrooms or outside of them.”

STD, the English honor society, hosted the event, which brought in students and professors of all majors, including English and philosophy, as well as many fans of the Chronicles of Narnia series.

“I thought the turn out for the Michael Ward event was wonderfully encouraging,” Johnson said. “It showed that students do care to be challenged in what they think and are willing to hear brilliant new theories.”

“All of the feedback after the event was very positive,” Andrew Walker, an STD officer, said. “Dr. Ward is highly accomplished and his lecture well-reflected his reputation.”


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