Thursday, March 5, 2015

Good News from Narnia

I am pleased to report, belatedly, that Ana Mardoll has resumed her extended critique of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia with a chapter-by-chapter commentary, already well advanced, of The Silver Chair. This is exciting news to Your Humble Narrator, as this fourth volume of the Chronicles was my favorite of the series. As Mardoll explains, it's the one that most closely resembles a "Tolkienesque" adventure story, with fell wildernesses, fearsome giants, a mysterious underground city, and unlikely heroes seeking a lost prince. It is one of the few C.S. Lewis novels whose heroes I like, probably because Eustace and Jill were raised as liberal atheists and Puddleglum the Marsh-Wiggle is reliably gloomy and curmudgeonly. It is also just as morally problematic as its predecessors: Lewis remains monstrously unkind to his heroes, and his Christ-analogue Aslan is even more of an authoritarian, unhelpful As-hole (so to speak) than usual.

I am particularly glad to share this news because Mardoll had announced last fall that she was withdrawing from blogging, due to a spate of online bullying that had become intolerable. I am glad that she has bravely chosen to re-engage and apply her critical intelligence to the Narnia books, which we too often  recommend to children without understanding the many morally toxic lessons that Lewis wants them to learn. Personally, I can't wait for Mardoll's deconstruction of The Last Battle, the most blatantly racist and misogynist volume of the series.

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