I’ve just recently been given the Chronicles of Narnia set by my brother-in-law. I will be forever grateful!
I realize that Lewis’ intended audience may possibly be a bit younger than I am, but I’m not totally sure about that yet. Either way, I want to give you a few reasons why I LOVE reading Narnia, even at age 22.
1. C. S. Lewis’ Writing Style: In my opinion, you will be hard pressed to find anyone else who can accomplish this style of writing as effortlessly as Lewis. Lewis writes like he is talking to you, including parenthetical citations explaining why you can’t possibly understand what is going on, or why he must leave out the gory details lest the adults forbid you from reading the story. He reminds me a slight bit of Twain in that he can write in a way that makes me laugh out loud. Only a few authors have done that. Twain is far more sarcastic and American in his humor, but Lewis is just a friend sitting there telling an old fairy tale at the end of your bed. I can’t get over how genius his style is.
2. The Profundity of it All: Yes, they are fairy tales. And yes, they have half-men, half-goat creatures. There are talking animals and crazy things that you would never be able to imagine on your own without the help of Mr. Lewis. But none of that overshadows the profound statements woven all throughout the novels. These books are not for the thoughtless crowd. Here are a few of my favorites::
(speaking of Uncle Andrew in Narnia, Aslan says:) “he has made himself unable to hear my voice. If I spoke to him, he would hear only growlings and roarings. Oh Adam’s sons, how cleverly you defend yourselves against all that might do you good!” –The Magician’s Nephew
(after he had been killed on the Stone Table and come back to life, Aslan says:) “when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.” –The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
(after stamping out the fire in the Queen’s Underworld, Puddleglum says:) “I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.” –The Silver Chair
3. The Parallels: I realize that there has been a good deal of debate about this whole aspect of the Narnian series, but I for one cannot read the stories and not see a picture of Christ in them. I am not going to sit down with them and outline how they fit in the story line of the Bible, nor am I out to convince everyone of the religious merit of these books. No, for me, I cannot read these stories and not be reminded of how beautiful is the story of Jesus Christ coming to rescue me from the vice of sin. Aslan is not Jesus. I do not claim that he is, but there are certainly parallels which cause me to rejoice and reflect on the real-life, hard-world aspect of Christianity. Paragraphs such as the one above taking from The Silver Chair put into words feelings and questions that I wrestle with. My faith is not a fairy-tale, but this particular fairy-tale causes me to revel in my faith, and I see nothing wrong with that.
So, yes, I am 22, and I am thoroughly enjoying my journey through Narnia. I cannot wait for the day when I have little ones running around plotting their escape from Prince Rabadash in the middle of the night, or exploring islands of invisible Dufflepuds, whining about the uglification spell. But for now I am perfectly content to read them on my own, and I will make no excuse for doing so.