Friday, March 4, 2011

Planet Narnia by Michael Ward: Book Review

A most remarkable and very fine book by any standard! Michael Ward, chaplain of theological imagination at Oxford University makes a good argument for a "heavenly" pattern within C.S. Lewis's Narniad. Each book corresponds to a different planet--in a classic medieval sense. Ward goes so far as to create a new term to describe Lewis's technique of hiding these things: He calls the form of a hidden Enjoyment, "Donegality." (Drawn from the actual seaside town of Donegal, Ireland where Lewis visited as a child). Ward is no conspiracy theorist either! It is evident he has done his homework when compiling this work and his scholarship and love of Lewis comes through. Ward follows a repeated pattern with each chapter by exploring planetary themes of all 7 books. Early in each chapter, he shows how Lewis interacted with a particular Planet in his work outside the Narniad; drawing largely from Lewis' early poem The Planets, The Discarded Image, and the Space Trilogy. He then shows how the planetary themes play themselves out in each of the Narnia Chronicles. At the end of each chapter, Ward examines the poiema (things made) and logos (things taught) in all 7 stories as it relates to the each respective planet and shows how a pagan concept such as astrology can fit within the framework of a Christian world view. This book should be read after one is WELL acquainted with the Narnia stories but if you do love them (as I do) you'll be blown out of your seat and into blue heaven! By Jove!

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