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Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction

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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  92 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
In his acclaimed collection Tales Before Tolkien, Douglas A. Anderson illuminated the sources, inspirations, and influences that fired J.R.R. Tolkien’s genius. Now Anderson turns his attention to Tolkien’s colleague and friend C. S. Lewis, whose influence on modern fantasy, through his beloved Narnia books, is second only to Tolkien’s own.

In many ways, Lewis’s influence ha
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 25th 2008 by Del Rey (first published January 1st 2008)
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Highlyeccentric
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-for-fun
I don't know how long I've owned this for - perhaps since 2009? - but I only just got around to reading it. It's a collection of short stories by authors Lewis is known or supposed to have enjoyed. Not all have much in common with the Narnia books - for instance there was a 'letter from hell' cited as loosely connected to the Screwtape Letters. I skipped quite a few of the stories. However, I really enjoyed E. Nesbitt's "The Aunt and Amabel", about a universe through a wardrobe; and Andersen's " ...more
Julie Davis
Nov 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
As with this editor's Tales Before Tolkien, this collection presents not only tales Lewis read but those which would have been in the current story environment when he was growing up. A really wonderful collection and one which I enjoyed thoroughly, all the moreso for the inclusion of short stories by some of Lewis's fellow Inklings who are lesser known.

I didn't feel I had to painstakingly read every story if one wasn't the sort I like. A quick skimming was perfectly adequate to give me the gist
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Vivian
Jul 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The most interesting aspect of this collection is the inclusion of an introductory sidebar relating why each piece was selected and how each may have influenced Lewis's writing. I enjoyed learning of friendships and acquaintances. Sadly, there is no helpful table of contents.

I enjoyed the story "The Aunt and Amabel" by E. Nesbit about a girl who enters another world by means of a wardrobe and boards a train bound for "Bigwardrobeinspareroom".

The Hans Christian Andersen story of "The Snow Queen"
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Julie
Jan 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I found this a really interesting read as it catalogues the writers and stories that influenced and inspired Lewis. Each story is introduced in terms of its impact and often with a quote or comment. Unfortunately, I didn't love all of the stories and did find myself skipping a few along the way.
Elizabeth
Mar 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
In this volume Douglas Anderson has selected works that represent the influences on the literary sensibility of C. S. Lewis. These works include children's stories, fairy tales (often from the German or Scandinavian traditions), religious allegory, and science fiction. Each selection contains an introduction indicating Lewis's relationship with the work (when he read it, what he thought of it, whether he knew the author personally, etc.). The selections are for the most part worthwhile reading i ...more
Arabella
Apr 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
Like any anthology, some of the stories really worked for me while others fell flat and were, to me, unreadable. I particularly enjoyed the beautiful "Undine" which was apparently very well known in the last century, and the original letters which were the foundation for "The Wind in the Willows".

As a Narnia fan since childhood, I found this book incredibly frustrating in that the editor presents these stories as those that CS Lewis read and was influenced by. However, with a couple of exceptio
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Kendell
Nov 04, 2011 rated it liked it
I loved this collection of stories written by friends or authors that inspired C.S. Lewis. My favorites include: The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson, The Magic Mirror by George MacDonald, Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque, The Tapestried Chamber by Sir Walter Scott, The Dragon's Visit by J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Dream Dust Factory by William Lindsay Gresham. Some of these authors were the pioneers for all modern folk lore and sci-fi/fantasy and I really enjoyed this anthology!
David
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
[Read a detailed review on The Warden's Walk.]

I loved this collection – it played right to my tastes. The variety of authors ensures a variety of writing styles, so if some don’t suit you, something else likely will. An excellent read for anyone interested in fantasy literature, loosely defined, especially that which is fifty or more years old. Anyone interested in C.S. Lewis would be interested in this collection.
A.
Feb 21, 2014 rated it liked it
I found one or two of the selections to be so boring that I couldn't finish them, but I comforted myself with the thought that the author wrote that C.S. Lewis himself didn't particularly care for those authors, so I'm in good company. Generally speaking, I found myself thinking that I wished people still wrote things like this. The language is just so much more vivid and controlled than the way people write now.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Jan 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: C.S. Lewis fans, people curious about the antecedents of the fantasy genre
If you're curious about the precursors to fantasy generally or you are a C.S. Lewis aficionado, I'd recommend this.

A bit to my sorrow and regret, I bounced off Undine. And there was a Hans Christian Anderson story that was a bit on the twee side. (I finished it anyway.) But there were some fine and surprising stories in here.
Kristiina
Jun 22, 2008 rated it liked it
This book was very interesting and thoroughly enjoyable. the author did use quite a few stories not specifically listed by Lewis as a story he had even read, however the excerpts explaining each passage proved to be interesting. The story of Undine is particularly fascinating!
Varnika
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
The joy when the dusty pick from the second hand shop turns out to be a nugget of pleasure. These tales turned me right back into a phase of children's books, bringing with it gentle and insightful commentary from the author.
Mimilaila
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
These short novels are really amazing. Beautifully written and there are so many that you are bound to love at least one of them. If you loved reading Narnia and the Lord of the Rings you will also enjoy this book.
François B
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great book with quite a few stories I'd enjoy reading a few more times. I especially enjoyed Undine, The Snow Queen, and (not sure I remember the title correctly..) The Magic Mirror(?).

These three stories alone are worth price of the book.
Jon
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Interesting take on all things C.S. Lewis. Disappointing that many of the tales seem to be inspirations for things like Screwtape and not Narnia specific, but a fascinating collection nonetheless
Lisa
Dec 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Works of fantasy and sci-fi that had some influence on C.S. Lewis including authors like Hans Christian Anderson, Longfellow, E. Nesbit, Owen Barfield, etc.
Amanda
Sep 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I really enjoyed all the stories in this book. It's amazing to see how many elements of the Narnia series were adapted from earlier works. Definitely a must read for fans of the Narnia series.
Ernest
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
This was an interesting collection of stories, with some influences particularly evident. The similarity of some of the stories might put some readers off.
Tim
Oct 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-fiction
An interesting collection of fairy tales and other excerpts of authors who influenced CS Lewis. Always good to get exposure to undeservedly obscure fantasy writers.
Debi
May 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
I grew up on fairy tales so I loved this book. These are all stories that C S Lewis read and liked or that influenced some of his own writings. These are stories I'll read again and again.
Chris
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Apr 30, 2011
Margaret McDonald
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Paula
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Douglas Allen Anderson (born 1959) is an author and editor on the subjects of fantasy and medieval literature, specializing in textual analysis of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien.

His first published book was The Annotated Hobbit (1988), which grew out of a study of the revisions made by Tolkien. The Annotated Hobbit won the Mythopoeic Award for scholarship.

Anderson has also edited modern editions o
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More about Douglas A. Anderson...

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