The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

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Summary

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis is an allegorical series of seven novels that chronicles the story of the magical land of Narnia and its residents, as well as select humans that have the opportunity to visit and interact with the world.

The story begins with young Digory Kirk and his friend Polly accidentally traveling first to the world of Charn and then to Narnia with the aid of Digory's uncle's magic rings. The two accidentally bring Jadis, a villain responsible for the demise of Charn, to Narnia to witness Aslan, the Great Lion and God of Narnia, singing the land into existence. Jadis escapes into the world, vowing to rule it one day and destroy Aslan. Digory must travel to find a magical fruit to save his mother's life; having completed that task, he eventually buries the rings near his home on Earth. A tree grows where they were buried, and it is used to create a wardrobe.

Many years later, the Pevensie children are staying at elderly Professor Kirk's estate during World War II, and they stumble upon the wardrobe, finding that it leads into Narnia. Lucy, the youngest, enters first and meets with a faun, Mr. Tumnus, who tells her that the White Witch has kept it in perpetual winter for over a hundred years. Edmund, the second-youngest, eventually ventures in and sells the family out to the White Witch, starting a war during which Aslan is killed to secure Edmund's safe return. Aslan comes back to life, and the winter ends in Narnia after he kills the White Witch. The children are crowned kings and queens.

Many centuries later in Narnia, the children are called back to help the young Prince Caspian as he attempts to overthrow his uncle, King Miraz. The men are descendants of human pirates who stumbled into Narnia on an island upon which they had been shipwrecked. The children successfully overthrow Miraz and return home. Eventually, Lucy and Edmund return with their cousin Eustace and voyage to the edge of Narnia alongside Caspian. Eustace is temporarily transformed into a dragon.

Eustace later helps save Caspian's son from the bottom of the world with his school friend Jill Pole. During this time they hear prophecies about the end of Narnia, which they will eventually witness. When the two are called back by Tirian, a descendant of Caspian, they see that Narnia has been ravaged by its enemies. Aslan returns to the land and calls up Father Time to end the world. All of the "Friends of Narnia"—the Pevensies, Digory Kirk, and others who have traveled there throughout the series—are called to the Narnian Paradise, which is a heavenly land connected with perfect versions of every other world in existence.

Summary

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

C. S. Lewis was a celebrated academic in the field of medieval literature, first at Oxford University, then at Cambridge, where he held the first chair in medieval and Renaissance literature. He also was a noted convert to Christianity who in the 1940’s established himself as a popular Christian apologist with a series of wartime radio talks, later collected under the title Mere Christianity (1952). Between 1938 and 1945 he wrote a trilogy of science-fiction books (the Space Trilogy, consisting of Out of the Silent Planet, 1938; Perelandra, 1943; and That Hideous Strength: A Modern Fairy Tale for Grownups, 1945) with underlying Christian themes. He was still unmarried in the early 1950’s, living with his brother and an elderly widow and her daughter.

It is perhaps surprising, then, that Lewis is best known by those other than academics as a children’s writer. The seven novels in his fantasy series the Chronicles of Narnia have remained consistent best sellers ever since their publication, and have inspired several film and television series. Although children evacuated from London did stay at his house in Oxford during World War II, the main inspiration for the stories came from memories of his own childhood reading, as recounted in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (1955), as well as by certain...

(The entire section is 1,611 words.)