Thursday, August 19, 2010

So, C.S. Lewis was awesome

Dad has been reading to Colin from C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, and they're in the middle of reading The Silver Chair right now. Anyway, the one part I heard last night made me stop and listen because it's been a while since I read the books.

For some context (and it will probably only make sense if you've read the books I'm afraid) the children and Puddleglum the marshwiggle are looking for the giants' ruined city and words to tell them where to go to rescue Prince Rilian.

They discovered the words "Under Me" in the rocks, and it led them to the underground world where the prince (who is bewitched and clueless of who he really is) is being kept. They get there, and upon finding him, tell him what their quest is, and about how Aslan told them to look for the words, and they found them, right above where they fell down into the underworld. Prince Rilian proceeds to laugh at them and informs them that what they saw is the remains of the engraving on an old tombstone of a giant king, and in full the verse was:

Though under Earth and throneless now I be,
Yet, while I lived, all Earth was under me.

and that it was carved long ago, and not meant as any sign to them.

Upon hearing this, the children are extremely disheartened and figure they probably haven't found the right place after all, at which point Puddleglum interjects with the passage that made me stop and say "Wow!":

"Don't you mind him," said Puddleglum. "There are no accidents. Our guide is Aslan; and he was there when the giant King caused the letters to be cut, and he knew already all things that would come of them; including this."

I knew The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was allegorical, we all know that, but I didn't remember that clear reference to God's sovereignty in this book! Simply amazing.

7 comments:

Rayanna Calhoun said...

I love the Chronicles of Narnia for that very reason. There are so many points in the books where CS Lewis is clearly speaking of God and it is awesome. I don't think I will ever grow out of loving these books.

John Calvin Young said...

I recently reread The Silver Chair and was incredibly impressed by the philosophical arguments presented through the text. I especially noticed this one, above, and the beautiful refutation of agnosticism in the final showdown with the Witch. Additionally, the smell of burnt Marshwiggle is not at all enchanting!

But on the topic of literary presentations of sovereignty, one of my favorite passages of Lewis (and in all of literature) comes from Perelandra:

""It is not for nothing that you are named Ransom," said the Voice.
And he knew that this was no fancy of his own. He knew it for a very curious reason--because he had known for many years that his surname was derived not from "ransom" but from "Ranolf's son." It would never have occurred to him thus to associate the two words. To connect the name Ransom with the act of ransoming would have been for him a mere pun. But even his voluble self did not now dare to suggest that the Voice was making a play upon words. All in a moment of time he perceived that what was, to human philologists, a merely accidental resemblance of two sounds, was in truth no accident. The whole distinction between things accidental and things designed, like the distinction between fact and myth, was purely terrestrial. The pattern is so large that within the little frame of earthly experience there appear pieces of it between which we can see no connection, and other pieces between which we can. Hence we rightly, for our use, distinguish the accidental from the essential. But step outside that frame and the distinction drops down into teh void, fluttering useless wings. He had been forced out fo teh frame, caught up into the larger pattern. He knew now why the old philosophers had said that there is no such thing as chance or fortune beyond the Moon. Before his Mother had borne him, before his ancestors had been called Ransoms, before "ransom" had been the name for a payment that delivers, before the world was made, all these things had so stood together in eternity that the very significance of the pattern at this point lay in their coming together in just this fashion. And he bowed his head and groaned and repined against his fate--to be still a man and yet to be forced up into the metaphysical world, to enact what philosophy only thinks."

What an incredible passage. I'm going to go think about it for a while.

Natalie said...

I agree, Rayanna!

Ah, yes, Perelandra (and the rest of the Space Trilogy) is also very good in that respect, John.

um...which comment did you want published? Or, just delete whichever one you want to.

sharon barker said...

Excellent post, Natalie. Can you send this to Jessica somehow? She loves Lewis also, but not sure how much facebook reading she gets to do.
Keep on writing.

Natalie said...

Thank you!

Sure, I could send her the link. :)

John Calvin Young said...

Very sorry about that, Natalie...Google was giving me an error on posting, so I thought I had to retype and repost. The first is the full comment--it includes my thoughts on Marshwiggles!

Unfortunately, because I didn't log in with my Google account, I am unable to retrieve/delete the comment. Arrgh...

Natalie said...

Ok, I fixed it.