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Michael Ward

Planet Narnia

The seven Narnia books have been bestsellers ever since they were first published, and much has been written about the messages which they contain. In Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis Michael Ward argues for a previously unrecognised link of each book to one of the medieval planets.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is linked to Jupiter, Prince Caspian to Mars, the Dawn Treader to the sun and so on. For each book Ward details its links to a planet, and how the story fits in with medieval cosmology. For instance the medieval cosmos was divided into realms above and below the moon, and the 'moon' book The Silver Chair also has two realms, above and below the ground.

I had hoped for a reminder of what makes the Narnia stories so entralling but unfortuately that isn't what I found in this book. Ward writes in a very academic style and he discusses much more of C.S. Lewis's work than just Narnia, in particular the third book of the 'Planetary' trilogy That Hideous Strength which I didn't like when I read it. I think that there is much going for Ward's arguments, but the book needs more space devoted to Narnia to make them convincing If you are a fan of the works of C.S. Lewis then I think that you will like this book, but you'll need to be a fan of all of his works, not just the Narnia books. info
Hardcover 347 pages  
ISBN: 0195313879
Salesrank: 507577
Published: 2008 Oxford University Press
Amazon price $41.95
Marketplace:New from $31.33:Used from $13.50
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Hardcover 380 pages  
ISBN: 0195313879
Salesrank: 267589
Weight:1.46 lbs
Published: 2008 Oxford University Press
Amazon price £28.49
Marketplace:New from £10.20:Used from £2.64
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Hardcover 400 pages  
ISBN: 0195313879
Salesrank: 859329
Weight:1.46 lbs
Published: 2008 Oxford University Press
Amazon price CDN$ 42.95
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 42.95:Used from CDN$ 26.74
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Product Description
For over half a century, scholars have laboured to show that C. S. Lewis's famed but apparently disorganised Chronicles of Narnia have an underlying symbolic coherence, pointing to such possible unifying themes as the seven sacraments, the seven deadly sins, and the seven books of Spenser's Faerie Queene. None of these explanations has won general acceptance and the structure of Narnia's symbolism has remained a mystery.

Michael Ward has finally solved the enigma. In Planet Narnia he demonstrates that medieval cosmology, a subject which fascinated Lewis throughout his life, provides the imaginative key to the seven novels. Drawing on the whole range of Lewis's writings (including previously unpublished drafts of the Chronicles), Ward reveals how the Narnia stories were designed to express the characteristics of the seven medieval planets - - Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Luna, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn - - planets which Lewis described as "spiritual symbols of permanent value" and "especially worthwhile in our own generation". Using these seven symbols, Lewis secretly constructed the Chronicles so that in each book the plot-line, the ornamental details, and, most important, the portrayal of the Christ-figure of Aslan, all serve to communicate the governing planetary personality. The cosmological theme of each Chronicle is what Lewis called 'the kappa element in romance', the atmospheric essence of a story, everywhere present but nowhere explicit. The reader inhabits this atmosphere and thus imaginatively gains connaƮtre knowledge of the spiritual character which the tale was created to embody.

Planet Narnia is a ground-breaking study that will provoke a major revaluation not only of the Chronicles, but of Lewis's whole literary and theological outlook. Ward uncovers a much subtler writer and thinker than has previously been recognized, whose central interests were hiddenness, immanence, and knowledge by acquaintance.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews