Narnia: Unlocking the Wardrobe – by Paul A Karkainen

31 12 2014

As a non-fiction book, this has taken me a bit longer to read – I reckon about seven weeks. I always find they contain so much more information that it takes me longer to digest it!

I’m a devoted Narnia and C.S. Lewis fan. As a child I listened to the BBC audio books every night as I went to sleep and probably got close to word-perfect at one point. I have a whole stack of his signature classics upstairs too, I’ve only read one so far, but aim to do another soon! And last month I watched “Shadowlands” which is a film based on a portion of his life (of which you can see the horribly American trailer)

This book basically takes each Narnian book, and looks at the Christian symbolism and application in it. Some of this is obvious and we pick it up without needing to be told – e.g. Creation, and Aslan’s sacrifice on the stone table. But there’s a lot more to be pulled out from it. We see things like the idea that the Calormene folk may be like those who follow Islam, the conversion stories that are told through various books (Edmund, Trumpkin, Eustace and Jill to name a few), and all sorts.

You probably want to have read each Narnia book before reading the associated chapter in this book as it does assume knowledge, but then, I don’t think you’d find it interesting unless you’d read them anyway! It’s definitely in the form of a commentary.

As I went, I turned down some of the corners of pages I found interesting, and so a few lines from this are below:

  • “Lewis avoided using sustained allegory in his writings. […] the Narnia chronicles contain a mixture of symbolism and passages that are pure fantasy, without profound meaning.”
  • He likens each of the children in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to one of the disciples. He gives them at least a paragraph each, but here are the headlines:
    • “Peter deserves the role of the apostle Paul. […] the leader of the Gentile church”
    • “Lucy is much like John, the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
    • “Edmund is a bit harder to categorize. For a long time he seems to be Judas, […] But he does come around in the end, rather in the fashion of the apostle Peter [who] makes every mistake in the book.”
    • “Susan does not really show her true colours in this book.”
  • “Bree [The Horse and His Boy] is the perfect picture of a reluctant convert, as he heads toward Narnia. Even though he has had his meeting with Aslan, he still wants to wait in Archenland until his tail grows, and he is still concerned whether Narnian horses roll.”
  • “When they left Narnia at the end of the Golden Age, they were maturing into real kings and queens. But when they returned to this world, they became children again. Living in Narnia represents living in the Spirit, and living in this world represents living in the flesh, because the children have not yet discovered the earthly equivalent of Aslan.”
  • “Wickedness is known by its fruits, just as righteousness is”
  • “Civilisation by itself is no substitute for righteosness. Some of the world’s most advanced nations have caused some of the most horrible carnage. Some of the most congenial and intellectual people around the world have espoused some of the most wrongheaded, perverted, and destructive philosophies.”
  • “In every age Satan has a different plan for enslaving man. He might use mystery religions, as he did at the time of Christ. Or he might use the Inquisition, as he did during the Middle Ages. Or he might rely on witchcraft, as he did in Elizabethan England. Or he might turn to dictators like Hitler and Mussolini. Bus his intention is always the same. He means to trick, betray, bind, and kill mankind.”
  • “A true servant of God does not make much of himself – he makes much of the God he serves. True devotion brings humility, not pride.”
  • “Satan knows that a fake Christian is an even more powerful tool in his hands than a strong atheist.”
  • “But Shift [The Last Battle] finally becomes the victim of his own deceit. In blinding himself to the reality of Aslan, he has also deceived himself into thinking there is no Tash. He has cut himself off from Aslan’s protection and becomes fair game for Tash’s claws.”
  • “People’s minds, as well as their bodies, will be made flawless in heaven.”
  • There’s also an interesting bit about Emeth who worshipped Tash but only did good things in his name and ended up being accepted by Aslan, but that’s too long to quote here – you’ll have to read it for yourselves!

narnia unlocking the wardrobe