What? Stephanie is doing a blog post? That’s weird… It’s also weird that it’s Tuesday. But see what happened was I wrote this post yesterday…..but then instead of posting it I got drunk on the beach and watched fireworks. AMERICA! So…little late, but here it is.
Anyway, Cassie-wa is the only one who cares about this, but this is my Narnia post. I did not grow up with Narnia at all. I perhaps read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in elementary school at some point. Once Cassie-wa and I were in a musical version so I basically knew what it was all about. I really fell in love with the movies. I admit it – I’m slightly obsessed. At the age of 22, I decided to read the series. And found out that the books are HORRIBLE. Wow.
I still find it hard to believe what an incredible disappointment The Chronicles of Narnia were to me. I feel bad because with Harry Potter I am so book-crazed and movie-hating, but with Narnia I just cannot understand this viewpoint at all. This post will contain spoilers, but these books were published like 60 years ago so I don’t know if anyone cares about that at this point.
First – the books are boring. They are around a hundred pages long, written for children, and about a wild, fantastic adventure in an exotic world full of talking animals – and I struggled to finish them I was so bored. I don’t know what it is about the pacing or the detail or the lameness as a whole, but these books are hard to get through. Like, congratulations C.S. Lewis – you had the most amazing idea for an epic fantasy and you made it boring as hell somehow. I feel you really have to try to achieve something like that.
Second – Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. What the fuck. I mean I knew these books were about Jesus. Obviously Aslan is Jesus/God. He created Narnia, everybody worships him, and he does that whole sacrifice himself to save the sinners and rise from the dead thing. I got it. However, it’s not just that there are biblical themes (like in Harry Potter and pretty much everything else) – it’s that it is all about Jesus all the time. This is most annoying in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Last Battle and the most racist in The Horse and His Boy.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie really did a good job of being a movie considering that the book it is based on has no plot whatsoever. There’s a bit about finding some seven lost lords or some such, but really what they do is just sail a long way – sometimes some not very interesting to read about adventures happen – and then they get to the end of the world. Beyond that, of course, is Aslan’s Country. Reepicheep, the badass mouse, decides he’s just going to go there and not come back because I guess he’s had enough of being a badass. Lucy and Edmund go too and have lunch with a Lamb. With a capital L of course, because then the Lamb turns into Jesus/Aslan. He tells Lucy and Edmund that they must get into his country from their own world. And then he tells them about how he is also in their world, “But there I have another name.” It’s Jesus. Blah blah blah. Their cousin Eustace also stops being an atheist.
In The Last Battle….oh my god. What the fuck is that book. Okay, so here’s what happens. Peter, Edmund, Lucy, Jill, Eustace, Professor Digory, and Aunt Polly (all the characters who have been to Narnia) are on one train. The Pevensie kids’ parents are on another train. The trains crash and EVERYONE DIES. Um…happy ending? Apparently it’s supposed to be, because then they get to go to special Narnia heaven and be happy forever. Except they all died before the age of 20. Oh and Susan doesn’t get to go because she likes to wear lipstick and stockings so that makes her a stupid whore who isn’t allowed in heaven. What kind of story is that?? That’s the end of the series?? Ugh. Sickening. Here is where I’m going to start quoting Philip Pullman’s infamous interview in which he rightly bashes these books:
“That’s what I find particularly objectionable in Lewis – and also the fact that he kills the children at the end. Now here are these children who have gone through great adventures and learned wonderful things and would therefore be in a position to do great things to help other people.
But they’re taken away. He doesn’t let them. For the sake of taking them off to a perpetual school holiday or something, he kills them all in a train crash. I think that’s ghastly. It’s a horrible message.”
Mostly I hate Aslan bossing everyone around all the time. Everyone has to do what he says and he just kicks everyone out of Narnia as he pleases. The first time the Pevensies went to Narnia they ruled for 15 years. Then all of a sudden, Aslan decides they have to go back to the real world and they fall back through the wardrobe. My favorite Narnia fanfictions deal with the angsty aftermath of something so jarring and crazy. However, in the books the kids don’t really seem to care and just revert right back into being children with hardly a thought for Narnia except that they miss Aslan. Of course – it always has to be about him. At the end of Prince Caspian, Aslan tells Peter and Susan that they are not allowed to come back ever again because they are too old. I assume this to be because they are going to hit puberty and come into their own sexuality and then they won’t be fit for Aslan’s pure, perfect Narnia. Or some other shit like that. Please. The same thing then happens to Lucy and Edmund at the end of Voyage of the Dawn Treader. One would think this would be upsetting, but they claim to only be sad because they can’t see Aslan in their world. Ugh. Pullman totes the idea of a Republic of Heaven where we are all free citizens – but Aslan is all about the kingdom and him being the divine ruler no matter what.
Oh yes and the racist part. Pullman calls the series “blatantly racist” and it so is. In The Horse and His Boy (which would be an AWESOME movie by the way and could feature the same kid actors as grown ups), much of the action takes place in Calormen (like colored men??? What the eff….). This country which is south of Narnia (although despite the maps I always think Lewis’s different countries are way too vague and not properly explained), is supposed to be based off of Muslim/Arab culture I guess…sort of. Anyway, everyone there worships this heathen god Tash. The Calormenes think that Aslan is a heathen god for Narnians, but of course they are WRONG and the Narnians are RIGHT. Because Narnians are white people. Well some of them are animals.
Which brings me to something else – the whole creationist idea that humans are at the top of the ladder and that God created humans special. Only a “Son of Adam” or a “Daughter of Eve” can rule Narnia. Because obviously stupid dirty animals can’t rule themselves! Even if they can talk and seem pretty intelligent…hm…
Anyway, the list of complaints and horrible morals in these books goes on and on and on. And I just don’t get it. Lewis had SUCH a good idea. Children walk through a wardrobe into a magical land, defeat an evil witch, and become kings and queens! What an excellent idea for a fantasy book! So what happened? So much Jesus is what happened. Totally wrecked it.
Now the movies definitely have a couple groaner moments with the Jesus stuff, but it’s not nearly as weighed down. Also Liam Neeson is Aslan in the movies so I like him anyway, haha.
I think that’s about all I have to say on the subject. I will leave you with this quote that Cassie-wa tweeted one day, knowing that I would be the only one to find it hilariously ironic:
“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” – C.S. Lewis
I completely agree!!