04 October 2017

On Reading the Narnia Series

During the 1970's my family reunited for a few years.  My father returned from the USA bringing along his wife.  My older brother and I were sent from Jamnagar to join him.

It was not wholly pleasant for me to be uprooted from my comfortable existence in Jamnagar among my dear cousins, school and friends.  What made me thaw was the books I got to read in Bangalore.

My stepmother had brought along some books dear to her from the USA. I cannot claim to remember them all, as I was just eleven years old then. There was Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Chronicles of Narnia, Beowulf, and a dog eared anthology of poetry. 

Out of these I fell in love, like Bella Swann, unconditionally and irrevocably in love with the Narnia series and Lord of the Rings.

The Narnia books, I remember, were laid out in our dining room cupboard, in chronological order, The Magician's Nephew, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse and his Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Last Battle. Hence, I read about the wonderful land of Narnia where flora and fauna were respected and spoke. Humans were rare and mostly imported by the will of  Aslan, their real king.

I must have read and re-read these books time and time again. They opened up a magical world to be me where I could wander for hours together.

When the movie based on The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was released in 2005, I heard about it but was not able to see it on screen. I saw it in parts when it appeared on television. Seeing the movie in bits and pieces was not the best introduction to it, and I was a little underwhelmed.  I did not get the high I had experienced while reading the book all those years ago.

Three years later, I watched Prince Caspian in the theater and was suitably impressed. However, I did not recall the story as it was in the book much.  So I embarked upon reading the books once again. This time there were no neatly lined books in the dining room cupboard for me. Nearly forty years had passed, and times had changed.  I found ebooks of the series and read them once again. 

Nothing can replicate the joy of coming across a wonderful book that you want to read and re-read again.

The books are full of platitudes and homilies for children who must resist temptation and not fall prey to any of the seven deadly sins.  Aslan is said to be Jesus, or his father. Narnia is perhaps a sort of utopia. It has been criticized for this.

I did not heed the moral angle overmuch when I read it. All those years ago, when I read the books, I was captivated only by the world of Narnia where animals talked, trees had life and all was beautiful. It was where the Pevensie children were at their happiest and so was I.

Today I will curl up in my sofa and read The Magician's Nephew once again, admittedly the book I like best in the series. I will discover the beautiful yellow and green rings in Uncle Andrew's laboratory once again and vanish into worlds beyond our ken.