Saturday, January 16, 2021

Planet Narnia Chart

In my reconsideration of the thesis behind Planet Narnia I went looking to see if there were a good chart to do a preliminary evaluation of whether it was a forced theory. I found a good one by Brenton Dickieson at his blog A Pilgrim in Narnia, which I have linked to a few times over the years. 

Some of them just jump out at you.  I had already noticed that wateriness is all over The Silver Chair, and both gold and something about things becoming clear were prominent in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, so when lunacy, doubt, and enchantment were added in to the former and both light and dragon-slaying are added in to the latter the pattern is certainly looking good. Yet I didn't know what to do with tin and copper, associated with Jupiter and Venus respectively, nor with The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe or The Magician's Nephew. Nor, in the chart, do I see the geometry of LWW or the grammar of SC. Are these all just blanks that have been filled in because something had to go there, like a clumsy rhyme? Yet by happy chance I remembered that Lewis had written about Venus - Venus as a destination, not a goddess or a planetary influence - and went to browse there to see if copper fit in somehow. Before he has even landed and is still in the casket by which he traveled, Ransom notices that the intense white light of being in space has suddenly changed after entering the atmosphere of Perelandra 

The prevailing colour, as far as he could see through the sides of the casket, was golden or coppery.
It's the first color he sees on Venus. So Lewis has done this sort of thing before. 

Don King tried years ago to fit the Seven Deadly Sins onto the Chronicles as well. I didn't even bother to read it after hearing about it, but now, having read Till We Have Faces and seeing that Lewis is not only interested in but capable of writing on many levels at once in his world building I took a look. I really don't want to have hidden structures being discovered every few years, but I had to admit that King makes a slightly different point, of a downstream consequence of the sin (and of the mode of rescue) and it does make sense.  That Edmund's gluttony - and its rescue - had more downstream consequence than any other act in LWW was pretty obvious; The greed of Eustace and its repair is the central fact of VDT; I am not sure I would have agreed about anger in The Magician's Nephew had I not just read moments before about the exemplifying scene of Jadis throwing the lamppost at Aslan in fury during the creation.  The lamppost that had consequences centuries later in LWW. For the others, see what you think yourself.

Could Lewis have been doing both? And are the Seven Virtues, three theological and four cardinal, also going to turn out to be an underlying pattern? I'm sure someone has given those a try. Three of the books have biblical parallels, four do not.  One might start there.  After TWHF I might believe anything about Lewis's intent.  In particular, having seen what he did there, I can no longer think that the Chronicles, nor any of his works were slapdash and hodgepodge, as has been accused. Once started down any such road, he would continue it with precision and thoroughness, even if he handled it lightly, regarding it as an influence rather than a structure, as he did with the myth of Cupid and Psyche in Faces.

Just for fun: The name Lucy, means "light," appropriate for the one who sees more clearly than the others; Susan comes from a Hebrew word for "beautiful," for which Queen Susan was indeed renowned, enough to make Lucy jealous.  Peter, of course, is "rock," also fitting and Edmund meaning "fortunate protector" is a remarkable double use of a name, for he was initially very, very fortunate, and later became the great swordsman, and wise in counsel, Edmund the Just. Those don't seem accidental, nor slapdash.

1 comment:

james said...

He might have tried something like this, but sometimes a story sets off on its own and shrugs off the stuff you tried to add on.