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

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
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Jul 23, 2009

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bookshelves: re-read, 2009

Unlike some who re-read "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" as adults and bring their fond childhood memories to the experience, I barely remember reading it the first time, when I was quite young. So, reading it now, I'm judging it solely as an adult would. And while some children's books fare incredibly well when read by adults -- even those adults who never read them as children -- C.S. Lewis's book, I'm sorry to say, is not one of them.

"Lion" is not a bad book, to be sure, but its characters, especially the humans, are a bit bland to stick with the reader once the book is closed. The exception is Edmund Pevensie, who is memorable only because Lewis makes him so unrelentingly obnoxious for almost the entire book. Lewis also draws on myriad old myths, fables and legends to create the hodgepodge that is Narnia, creating little from scratch -- a criticism also leveled at J.K. Rowling decades later. The plot of "Lion" is a bit creaky, too, with some machinations making little sense on their own, and needed solely to keep the story moving forward. I'm thinking, for example, of the note left behind at Mr. Tumnus's house after he is arrested -- a note that exists only so that the Pevensie children can find out what became of the faun.

But some of the touches in Lewis's writing remain fresh almost 60 years after the book was written. Lewis never lets you forget he's telling you a story, occasionally interjecting his own opinions of the characters' doings, and more than once reminding the reader of something that happened in "the last chapter." Also, now and again, he directly addresses the reader as "you," as would a parent trying to draw a child into a story.

What else makes "Lion" intersting to the adult reader? Well, there is, late in the book, some hot girl-on-girl-on-lion action. Sure, C.S. Lewis mostly was writing a religious parable for children, but he threw in some thinly veiled steaminess for his adult readers too. Don't think I don't know what you were doing, Jack. I do.

Also, spoiler alert: Aslan is totally Jesus Christ.

OK, on to "Prince Caspian."
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 1, 2009 – Finished Reading
July 23, 2009 – Shelved
July 23, 2009 –
page 40
July 24, 2009 – Shelved as: re-read
July 24, 2009 –
page 60
July 25, 2009 –
page 100
July 27, 2009 –
page 130
July 28, 2009 –
page 170
July 28, 2009 –
page 186
August 27, 2009 – Shelved as: 2009

Comments (showing 1-17)

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Kirsti I read this for the first time as an adult and ended up weeping over it as I rode a Metra train out of Chicago. I was kind of embarrassed because I was crying in front of all the besuited commuters. Hope you like it!

Daniel Kirsti, I did read this one when I was quite young, and barely remember it. I never read any of the other books in the series. This time around, I'm intending to read the entire Chronicles of Narnia. Reviews to follow as I finish each book.

Kirsti Well, that ought to keep you out of trouble for awhile.

Daniel Not that long. They are, after all, children's books -- and short ones at that. I'll be back to making trouble before you know it.

message 13: by Sandi (new)

Sandi Kirsti wrote: "I read this for the first time as an adult and ended up weeping over it as I rode a Metra train out of Chicago. I was kind of embarrassed because I was crying in front of all the besuited commuters..."

I never read it as a child. The part that got to me when I did read it was when the mother sent her children to live in the country. I was so choked up. The rest of the story didn't really grab me and I never went on to read the rest of The Chronicles of Narnia.

Kemper Girl on girl on lion? I know it's been a while since I read this, but I think I may have missed that part....

Daniel You have to read between the lines, Kemper, but it's all there.

Kemper Well, I was pretty young when I read it. I must have missed the subtext. Who knew old C.S. was so freaky?

message 9: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen I did. He had animals and humans humping all over the glorious place at the end of That Hideous Strength, the last of his space trilogy.

Kemper This is turning into one of those days where I'm learning things I'm not entirely sure I want to know...

To quote Janeane Garofalo, "It's OK to love your pets. Just don't LOVE your pets."

message 7: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen Clarification:

The bears hump bears and the humans hump other humans of opposite gender. In fact, one of the ways you can tell the good guys in THS is their healthy "straight" sexuality. Lewis' bias.

Kemper OK, that makes me feel a little better. I was starting to worry what other things I'd been too stupid to understand during my childhood reading...

message 5: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen Oh, you missed it, friend.

Remember that part in the Lion when the Snow Queen forces the faun to ride her into the sunset? It was in the uncut version.

Just kidding.

Kemper Now I gotta deal with that mental picture all day....

message 3: by Sandi (new)

Sandi I just had trouble with the faun and Lucy.

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

The faun and Lucy actually freaked me out a bit in the movie version, for reals. And the talking beavers.

Anthony Buckley Good review. I too have problems with CS Lewis. He has a special rather uncomfortable resonance for me since "Narnia" was apparently based on the hills that lie above our small town of Holywood in N Ireland. I suppose I don't share his theology (I'm not a Christian, but Lewis's Christianity seems to be decidedly peculiar) or his prejudices. Perhaps he is too much a man of the 1940s and 1950s which I still recall, and still dislike. Each to his (or her)own.

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