Abi's Reviews > The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
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's review
Feb 20, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: children-s-literature, 20th-century, ireland
Recommended for: Smug Christians

I read this when I was little (I would guess about 7, 8 or 9), and I didn't pick up on all the Christianity references, despite them being SO overt. What I did feel was astonishment that the children all loved Aslan so much, when I thought he was massively sanctimonious and sickening as a character. I could not stand that lion. I didn't want the Snow Queen to win exactly, I didn't like her either... but at the same time I wanted someone to show the lion up, or force him to do something INTERESTING that would show he wasn't an unmitigating goody-goody. Aslan was just... ugh, completely two dimensional in his perfection, and so smug and arrogant. He was unbearable. I enjoyed the fantasy, but the element that I now realise (and am astonished that I ever didn't realise) is the Christian allegory made me scornful of the character who was supposed to be the supreme 'goody' and left a bitter taste in my mouth that ultimately ruined it. I enjoyed other books in the series more, some more than others (enjoyment increased exponentially as Aslan's involvement decreased), but this one was the worst.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
February 20, 2008 – Shelved
February 20, 2008 – Shelved as: children-s-literature
June 2, 2008 – Shelved as: 20th-century
June 2, 2008 – Shelved as: ireland

Comments (showing 1-33 of 33) (33 new)

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Andrew How old are you now? seven, eight and nine are pretty little.

Andrew Of course, being twelve, I'm not one to talk

message 3: by Abi (new) - rated it 1 star

Abi I'm 20 now.

message 4: by Alissa (new)

Alissa I read this book as an adult (32) and couldn't stand Aslan either--or those obnoxiously goody-goody children for that matter.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm sorry, this review made me laugh hysterically for five minutes. Since it earned such a fantastic rating on the mirth and scorn scale, I just had to comment and let you know. Oddly enough, this child rather enjoyed having a secure father figure in the shape of Aslan. Weird, eh? Oh my...I need to go take my blood pressure medication or something.

message 6: by Abi (new) - rated it 1 star

Abi Edmund was far and away my favourite character. The other children needed to get over their Aslan fetish. This is why Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is so spectacular. It's good to take the Turkish Delight!

Amanda Your comment intrigued me. I really enjoyed this entire series. I love Aslan and the goody goodies as you call them. I never thought of someone reading this book that didn't believe in God or at least have faith in a higher being. It is interesting that a book by a christian author would even be of interest to you. I suppose it works both ways, I don't believe I could enjoy reading about greed, death, and other sinful things. I would like to point out that Edmund did turn away from his sinful ways and realize that he had been wrong.

message 8: by Abi (last edited Apr 24, 2010 03:16PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Abi "I never thought of someone reading this book that didn't believe in God or at least have faith in a higher being. It is interesting that a book by a christian author would even be of interest to you."

Huh? This comment makes NO sense to me. Why would I not read something just because it was written by someone I disagreed with on the matter of whether there's a god or not? I am not so bizarrely narrow-minded or so insecure in my convictions that I think there is something 'dangerous' in reading the work of someone who disagrees with me, especially about something that I consider to be quite a trivial issue. I'm also not so stupid that I think that because someone may foster the idea that there is a god or gods, that everything they have to say is worthless. I love mythology, including some Christian mythology, the only thing is that I recognise it is man-made - man commenting on himself. For that reason, I do not find the myth of Jesus (and by extension the myth of Aslan) particularly satisfying, because you say nothing about humanity if you will insist on talking about perfection.

I sincerely hope you don't avoid reading things by people who have different opinions to you. That's just pathetic.

Plus, I was 9! I thought it was going to be a cool story about some children in an alternate universe! Which of course it was, to a certain extent. And that's the bit I enjoyed!

"I don't believe I could enjoy reading about greed, death, and other sinful things."

Death is a sin, now? But seriously, I like to read about human beings. Human beings are not perfect, whether they be greedy, short-tempered, proud, they sometimes lie, or whatever. You can be a good person, and a good literary character, without being perfect. Indeed I believe that imperfection is a prerequisite of the latter, and an unavoidable fact about the former. Nothing that is real is perfect. Perfection, being unreal, is boring and impossible to relate to. That is why I feel that there is nothing to love in Aslan, because he is hollow. I like reading about good people, brave people, kind people. I do not like reading about perfect people. Or perfect lions.

That's the heart of Christian mythology as I see it - mankind being encouraged to hate himself by judging himself alongside a perfect being that he necessarily cannot live up to. The whole 'died for your sins' just adds an extra layer of guilt and inadequacy. One of the more psychologically damaging mythologies, as far as I can tell. But of course, I can't say that with any real certainty, because I escaped at an early age largely unscathed.

My point about it being good to take the Turkish Delight wasn't a comment about greed, by the way. Of course I don't think it's a good idea to eat sweets until you're sick, or to serve yourself at the expense of other people, or to betray your siblings. It was a comment on the obvious Christian allegory that Lewis is drawing on with the Turkish Delight. The Snow Queen tempts Edmund, and Edmund falls - his 'sin' means that never again can he be as good as the other three, he is 'tainted'. Come on, it can't be just me? The Turkish Delight is the fruit of knowledge and it's sex! His Dark Materials gives a much healthier message to young children growing up - knowledge and an enquiring mind and sex are all healthy and natural things that should not be repressed by dogma that goes against reason. Edmund does indeed realise he's made a mistake - the reason that he was my favourite character was because he actually made a mistake! He was real. I mean I know the other children are not exactly perfect, don't get me wrong. The huge brunt of my scorn was always reserved for Aslan.

So tell me, do you refuse to read books written by atheists? What on earth do you read, if you avoid everything containing 'sin' and/or death?

Amanda I suppose I must apoligize for my comment. I had not intended to call you narrow minded, insecure, or stupid. Also I had not considered your age at reading the book when I wrote my comment. I must explain fully what I meant by "I don't believe I could enjoy reading about greed, death, and other sinful things." I read books that have hints of all these in them. I don't read books that encourage stealing, killing, or adultery. Such as vampire novels. I was wrong in the wording also. Death is not a sin, it's inevitable. I was thinking of killings when I wrote that. I can not honestly say I have never read a book by an atheist. When I am able to read books I look for books where good wins, there is no cursing or vulgar language, and no sex. I started filtering the things I read or watch because I honestly believe that what I feed my mind effects my attitude and behavior. I am not sure if I explained completely or not. It is difficult to fully explain why I avoid certain topics without bringing the Word of God into the discussion. Since I believe in Him and His Word I try to the best of my ability to follow it. I am not perfect and I do make mistakes (just like every other person) but in Philippians 4:8 it states "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virture, and if there be any praise, think on these things." So simply put I just try to be careful what I feed my mind.

message 10: by Abi (last edited Apr 28, 2010 12:12PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Abi It's OK, I know you didn't call me any of those things, there's no need to apologise. I was only trying to say why I thought it would be stupid if I did avoid reading Christian writers.

I personally am not at all in favour of censorship of any kind. I believe that there is truth to be found even in ugliness and I enjoy reading things that make me look at things in different ways rather than just confirming what I already thought.

The most strongly held conviction I have about literature, though, is the importance of empathy - to be able to feel and suffer with characters who are not like you and have experiences that are not yours, that is literature's power.

For an example, if you read the headline 'Man murders his wife', you automatically think: 'he is a bad man'. But if you read a great work of literature about the man, and you empathise with him, and you truly understand why he did it, then you are closer to understanding humanity as a whole. That is not to say that you come away thinking: 'Yes, he was right to kill his wife', but you might come away thinking 'It is sad that he was so confused or angry or hurt that he wanted to do that - I can imagine how he felt'. You don't think of him as a 'bad man' any more, because just as no human is perfectly good, no human is perfectly bad. The best example of this particular plot from literature is probably Othello. If you read that and come away thinking 'Othello is a bad man' your morality is so black and white as to be ridiculous. That is not the same thing as coming away thinking 'Yes, Othello should have killed Desdemona' and the play certainly won't make you consider killing your own spouse.

My favourite novel is about a man who, in his own stubborn pride and desire to be independent, neglects and drives away everybody he loves. He is often cruel. But I love that character with all my heart, because the novel shows me why is so proud, why he dare not allow himself to show love, and how weak and hurt he is underneath his hard exterior. These are tragedies, and 'good' does not win (whatever the forces of good might be outside of a fairy tale context) - they are true (in a metaphorical sense, of course), and truth is more valuable than what is obviously pleasing. In fact, I believe that truth is even more pleasing than pleasant lies. The reason I don't read vampire novels is because I think they're bad art.

Carol Storm Thank you so much. You said things about Aslan that I have been feeling inside for over thirty years but was afraid to admit. And it's not that I don't love these books. I really do love them, especially THE HORSE AND HIS BOY and THE SILVER CHAIR. I just feel Aslan is very hard to like at times. And you said it better than I ever could!

message 12: by Xander (new) - added it

Xander abi, i just have to ask, because you mentioned it, what is your favorite novel?

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Xander- her favorite book appears to be Independent People by Halldor Laxness. I was wondering the same thing so I checked her profile and found it there. I'm reading it now, it's amazing. I feel quite fortunate to have stumbled upon this perfect novel.

message 14: by Xander (new) - added it

Xander I'll have to check it out.

message 15: by Drew (new) - rated it 5 stars

Drew Graham Well... SOMEone missed the point. Aslan is one of the greatest literary and allegorical figures in history.

message 16: by Abi (new) - rated it 1 star

Abi What point did I miss? Aslan is not Jesus? Aslan is not perfect? Do explain.

message 17: by Drew (new) - rated it 5 stars

Drew Graham No. Those are both obviously true. But Aslan is NOT a smug, uninteresting goody-goody. To those who recognize the symbolism this should be especially clear.

Sanctimonious... the very idea.

message 18: by Abi (new) - rated it 1 star

Abi I believe I explained very clearly in previous comments here why I find perfection in a literary character so terribly dull. I hated Aslan and I hated Jesus in my illustrated children's Bible, for exactly the same reasons. Of course I know not everybody agrees with me, and they're welcome to it, but I have not made a mistake here. These are considered opinions.

message 19: by Drew (new) - rated it 5 stars

Drew Graham Yes, of course. But your opinion on this is wrong. I just thought you ought to know. Have a nice day! :)

message 20: by Abi (last edited Dec 14, 2013 04:27PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Abi It can't be wrong. It's subjective, and based on an appropriate level of knowledge rather than ignorance. For me it's correct, and I'm not alone in it. I'm sure you're not really so short-sighted as to think your analysis of a piece of literature is correct and any different analysis is wrong.
If you would like to share what you got out of the character of Aslan I'd be interested to hear. So far you only said what he was not.
P.S. You can leave off the passive aggression, thanks.

message 21: by Drew (new) - rated it 5 stars

Drew Graham 'Twas a joke. Just relax, everything will be all right. I repeat the last sentence and emoticon from my previous comment (no passive aggression intended).

message 22: by Abi (new) - rated it 1 star

Abi So you won't add anything other than "no he's not". I expect I'll be deleting this whole exchange tomorrow morning since it's turning out rather a waste of space. I assure you I'm perfectly relaxed, but thankyou for taking the time to patronise me.

message 23: by Drew (last edited Dec 14, 2013 07:29PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Drew Graham Oh gosh, I guess that's what I get for trying to diffuse the tension.

But since you asked, the reason I love Aslan is exactly BECAUSE he's not smug or arrogant, and definitely not two-dimensional. He says things that seem simple but are really much deeper than even the story he's in. The people around him never fully understand him, but they love and trust him. I think he's actually the exact opposite of smug. He's basically the embodiment of complete perfection, but he's still humble and not at all self-aggrandizing. He loves the Pevensies and Narnians completely, and is willing to show his love even to the point of sacrificing his own life (symbolism aside, that's just pretty strong character). It's not just that he's perfect (which I totally agree can be very annoying in literature), but what it means that he's perfect. Narnia is developed in such a way that there has to be some absolute monarch for it to function how it does, and that's basically his role, even though as a presence he comes and goes. There's a lot more I could say about Aslan, but I think I expressed my basic point.

I'm sorry you seem to think joking around and difference of opinion is a waste of space, but maybe this will explain my perspective a little more (I didn't really think you were that interested before, which is why I didn't fully answer).

message 24: by Romanempire (new) - added it

Romanempire Last I saw was this was titled 'Abigail's Review' .. Not Drew's?? I agree with her analysis on the story. Aslan was not that likable a character to me either. C.S Lewis is brilliant but I prefer his other works than this novel.

message 25: by Drew (new) - rated it 5 stars

Drew Graham Last I saw this was an internet forum, where people are allowed (and encouraged) to comment and contribute to the conversation?? I mean, YOU did, even though this is not titled "Romanempire's Review"...

message 26: by Romanempire (new) - added it

Romanempire Ah stop
Ya whining you little baby
Wah wah wah just like a fire siren
It doesn't matter what you think

message 27: by Drew (new) - rated it 5 stars

Drew Graham HA, nice try. I'm not whining, just pointing out the obvious flaw in your worthless comment. Back under the bridge you go.

message 28: by Romanempire (new) - added it

Romanempire Smd .

message 29: by Travelin (new)

Travelin Can't say I agree, but it's funny. I missed the allegory entirely too, but I thought his self-sacrifice was wrenching.

Carol Storm Why couldn't Aslan be more like Cool Hand Luke? Now there's a Christian allegory with attitude!

message 31: by Drew (new) - rated it 5 stars

Drew Graham Romanempire wrote: ...

I know this is a bit late, but...

HA HA HA HA! Classic, Romanempire! I didn't even take notice of your comment until today and now it seriously amused me, graphic and unclassy as it is. Thanks for complementing my bridge allusion perfectly. I hope the water is flowing slowly and sludgily for you!

message 32: by Matthew (new) - added it

Matthew Bargas So you want Aslan to be more interesting? How about creating a sort of repression between him and Jadis. He is secretly enfatuated with her, gets a masohiistic pleasure out of his self sacrifice and later a sadistic pleasure when he kills and dismembers her.

Chase ur a dumbass

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