rambling about CS Lewis (2005-07-20 - 8:52 a.m.)

I borrowed the Chronicles of Narnia off of Grand and started (and nearly finished) the Voyage of the Dawn Treader last night. This was pretty close to my favorite book as a kid, with the result that I have large chunks of it nearly memorized. ("There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.") But what I didn't notice when I read (and read it and read it and read it) then was all the subtext. C S Lewis is a very PRESENT sort of author. You never forget that he's narrating because he keeps sticking little asides into the text. I learned a lot of safety tips from his books: for example, Lucy knows to kick off her shoes when she falls into the ocean, "as everyone should do when they fall into deep water". (I also learned never to go into a wardrobe and shut the door, despite having only a very vague idea of what a wardrobe was!)

However, he also transmits some pretty strong ideas through the stories - and some really old-fashioned ideas at that. He's obviously disgusted with poor old Eustace for demanding Plumptree's Vitaminized Nerve Food, and his parents are snubbed for being teetotallers, vegetarians and republicans. Imagine if they'd been feminists as well! (Though they probably were. Caspian gives Lucy her cabin and Eustace comments that "that sort of thing is really lowering girls").

Actually, I bet there's a PhD student out there somewhere who's done their thesis on "Gender Politics and the Writings of CS Lewis" or something similar. I'd actually quite like to read that. Again, I never noticed this kind of thing as a kid. It could be described as a sort of courtly chivalry, I suppose, with the girls (despite displaying considerable bravery in most situations) being given the best rooms and protected by their brothers and male friends. I find this really noticable (reading the books now) but not very offensive. C S Lewis is very much a product of his time and place - hence his constant comparisons of everything to trains and railway lines! I did not fully understand any of these similes until I got to Britain myself and started taking trains - and even then, I'm sure the trains are considerably different than in 1940.

It's just really strange reading something that shaped my childhood (I suspect I may have developed my obsessive curiousity about the ocean from the Dawn Treader, and I still have a crush on Prince Caspian) now that I'm older than it ever occured to me I'd be.

backwards ~ onwards

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Missed anything?
moved! - 2008-05-12
Sunday = time to ramble on - 2008-05-11
apparently I'm doing monthly updates these days. Sorry. - 2008-05-04
watershed - 2008-04-06
end of trip - 2008-03-31

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