Wednesday, December 28

The Chronicles of Narnia - Reading Order

I read C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia three times as a kid (well, the first time I was 8 or so and quit partway into The Last Battle because I didn't understand it). Each time, I went through the series in the order the books were published - Wardrobe, Caspian, Voyage, Chair, Horse, Nephew, Battle. This was the order in which "full sets" came at the time, and I think it makes a lot of sense. After all, this was the order in which Lewis thought of and created the world of Narnia. (Well, that's not quite true: The Horse and His Boy was actually composed slightly before The Silver Chair.)

I noticed, when visiting my neighborhood Barnes and Noble about six months ago, that full sets are now being ordered semi-chronologically according to the order of events - Nephew, Wardrobe, Horse, Prince, Voyage, Chair, Battle. I say semi-chronologically because the events of The Horse and His Boy actually take place between the penultimate and final chapters of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

You'll notice, in the essay I've linked to below, that these two reading orders sharply divide fans of the series. I won't go into any detail here since it is so plainly laid out in the essay I'm referencing, but suffice it to say that I agree wholeheartedly with the philosophical points raised by the author. The series is neither fantastical history nor allegory (in the strict senses of the words); so an attempt to use reading order to apply either of those descriptions loses the idea of the whole thing.

In any case, the next time I read the Chronicles, I will read them in the order in which they were actually penned (publication order, with Horse and Chair switched), in order to see them more closely through the eyes of their author.

By the way, the BBC recently aired dramatizations of Nephew, Wardrobe, Horse, and Caspian, which are still available to be listened to until next Sunday by visiting this BBC7 Listen Again page.

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Version: 3.12
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W+++ N o++ K? PS PE++ Y+ PGP t !5 X- R- tv+@ b++ DI++++ D--- e*++
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