Some of my fondest memories of being a child are when my dad read to my sister and me before bed. I couldn’t list most of the stories, I don’t remember all of them, but whenever I remember these moments I think of C. S. Lewis. From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe onwards my Dad read us every book (until it came to The Magician’s Nephew, which I read myself) the books are so familiar to me I sometimes think I read them all myself.
Rereading a children’s classic as an adult is never the same but this was a pleasant journey nonetheless.
“‘They say Aslan is on the move. Perhaps he has already landed,’ whispered the Beaver. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delightful strain of music had just floated by. And Lucy got that feeling when you realize it’s the beginning of summer. So, deep in the bewitched land of Narnia, the adventure begins.
They opened a door and entered a world–Narnia–the land beyond the wardrobe, the secret country known only to Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. Lucy is the first to stumble through the back of the enormous wardrobe in the professor’s mysterious old country house, discovering the magic world beyond. At first, no one believes her. But soon Edmund, Peter and Susan, too, discover the magic and meet Aslan, the Great Lion, for themselves. And in the blink of an eye, they are changed forever.”
Children’s classics have an adult air to them, the characters are often overtly good or moral and the narration is written as though children read no differently from adults. It makes it so much easier for me to read and enjoy them, it broadens the accessibility.
The story is more saccharine than I remembered, more moral, but it is a great adventure. I was suddenly more aware of the religious elements that passed me by when I was young (because why think of Jesus, God and heaven when there is a speaking Lion!) and found it more mystical than dogmatic. My only issue was that Susan and Lucy were forbidden to fight, but if they had they wouldn’t have witnessed Aslan rise like Lazarus, so…., swings and roundabouts.
I thought The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe would make me cry, because of Lucy and Mr Tumnus, but it was actually the dedication to Lucy Barfield that caused me to have a little weep.
My Dear Lucy,
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realised that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand, a word you say, but I shall still be
your affectionate Godfather
C. S. Lewis
I, like Lucy, have found my way back to fairy tales and though I am only on book one, I love it. Saccharine and all.