Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Take the Culture War litmus test - discover which side you are on...

By reading CS Lewis's The Last Battle (seventh and last of the Narnia Chronicles).


7 comments:

  1. How important is it to read the first 6 chronicles first? And is there a literal test within, or implicit when reading it? Thanks

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  2. @Chip - I don't know. But I myself read the last two Harry Potter (for grown-ups) novels in about 1998, before reading the earlier ones - I just read-through the Wikipedia plot summaries, and had seen the movies - which I did ot think much of. And I ended-up a Potter-phile, going back to the earler books for two or three read-throughs. Maybe you could do the same or similar? The test is your empathic attitude during and after reading.

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  3. The book was instrumental in my concerting to Christianity in my early 20s. I am almost afraid to re-read ot now that I feel somewhat lost, believing in Christ but unable to act in a Christ-like fashion.

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  4. Interestingly, I have a positive reaction to The Last Battle in terms of how it treats both salvation and damnation, but I appear to fail some of the 'litmus tests' around That Hideous Strength, with some of the positive depictions of the household at Logres feeling incredibly tedious or unsatisfying.

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  5. @Seijio - THS is a real rag bag of ideas - genius and clumsiness. Undoubtedly a great book for many who love CSL; yet also - for each such person - surely an imperfect, sometimes embarrassing one. It was a (kind of fusion) of 80% CSL with 20% Charles Williams - and the Williams influence brought gaucheness as well as profusion and colour. JRRT later (and somehwat unfairly) described CSL as an 'impressionable' man - at any rate, CW made an impression on THS.

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  6. I think that there is a transitional moment after the action moves to the inside of the stable, and at some point you realize that it is not going to leave, that the story of Narnia has come to an end. Aslan is not going to emerge with the heroes to set everything right in that world, but that world has come to an end, as is right.

    Narratively, I think that particular scene is supposed to be the one of final Judgment, which all of the beings in Narnia (and that entire world) rushes to the gate and either enters or flees into the dark. This is followed by an extremely grim spectacle of uncreation. It is a low point in the book, and it must be intentionally so.

    Because then the protagonists (and thus the readers as well, by proxy) are instructed to turn around and look at the new and eternal world they have entered. I have to admit that I think C.S. Lewis does not do it justice...or rather, that much should be obvious. Mere language could never succeed in conveying the scene Lewis is attempting to present. What I mean is that others have come closer, and Lewis has a particular tendency which is perhaps most clearly seen at the final exploration of Perelandra.

    Of course, for myself, the fact of Narnia having come to a conclusive end was established by the death of Lewis himself years before I read the books (before I was even born, in fact). The title itself would have been a fairly heavy clue. There is also the fact that the narrative structure established by the idea that time passed differently in Narnia compared to our world always implied that Narnia could come to an end, as had other worlds.

    What is important is what is stated quite explicitly in the text, that the ending of a world does not mean the end of anything (let alone everything) that was good and beautiful in it, only of the temporal perspective that made choosing good over evil seem a difficulty. But for those who have consistently chosen the transient pleasures which cannot be reflected in eternity (mostly because they consist of the temporal gap between transgression and justice), this is not comforting at all.

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  7. "But for those who have consistently chosen the transient pleasures which cannot be reflected in eternity (mostly because they consist of the temporal gap between transgression and justice), this is not comforting at all."

    That insight gave me a jolt!

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