Monthly Archives: March 2014

Dedications of Lewis’ Narnia Series

By Always Narnian

C.S. Lewis’ Narnian books have been enthralling readers for 63 years, with more than 100 million of the books being purchased. Can you imagine having one of these outstanding books dedicated to you?

The Magician’s Nephew, which is now usually numbered as the first book in the Narnia series, was actually published five years after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the original opening book of the series. This novel was dedicated to The Kilmers, a large family that had written to Lewis about his other books in the Chronicles. Lewis told the Kilmers in March of 1954:

“The typescript of your book went off to the publisher last week, though it will not be out till next year. It is called The Magician’s Nephew. You must have often wondered how the old Professor in The Lion, Witch & W could have believed all the children told him about Narnia. The reason was that he had been there himself as a little boy.” [1] 

The children faithfully wrote to Lewis for some time and would also send him drawings they had created. In 2004, Nicholas Kilmer noted about the author: “Lewis was absurdly generous in his responses to our letters…We could not believe then, and I still cannot believe, with what care he read and answered our letters, and how successfully he labored to find something in them to respond to.” [2]

Lucy_barfield

Lucy Barfield – © 2014 Owen Barfield Literary Estate

Lucy Barfield, to whom The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is dedicated, was C.S. Lewis’ goddaughter. In his dedication to her he notes: “I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books.” Lucy’s father, Owen, was a long-time friend of C.S. Lewis and was also a member of the Inklings group. Lucy was a dancer and musician and went on to teach in these fields. She lived from 1935 to 2003, and from about 1966 onwards was often sick with multiple sclerosis. [3] It is a great possibility that Lucy Pevensie, who is one of the main heroines of the Narnia series, was named after this Lucy.

The Horse and His Boy was dedicated to David and Douglas Gresham. In a letter to the Kilmers, C.S. Lewis said about his dedication to David and Douglas: “The one before yours (The Horse and His Boy) is also dedicated to two Americans and will be out “this Autumn” (Fall, as you say).” [4] This letter was written in 1954, and a little over two years later C.S Lewis married the two American boys’ mother, Joy Davidman Gresham, who had become friends with Lewis while in England in 1952. Lewis described the two boys in a letter he wrote to their father, William Gresham (who had been divorced from Joy in 1954), as follows:

“They’re a nice pair and easy to get on with – if only they got on better with one another: but of course they are v. different types and have no tastes or interests in common. According to school reports both have brains (David more) and are both disinclined to work hard. (Who isn’t?)” [5] 

The dedication of Prince Caspian was to Mary Clare Havard. She was the daughter of C.S. Lewis’ doctor, Robert Emlyn Havard, an Inkling member as well as being a witness to the wedding of Lewis and Joy. [6] By the time Prince Caspian was published in 1951, Mary would have been around fifteen years old. Mary had read C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe before its publishing and had obviously been delighted with it. [7]

Jeffrey-Barfield-1948

Jeffrey Barfield – © 2014 Owen Barfield Literary Estate

Jeffrey Barfield (born Geoffrey Corbett) had the honor of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’s dedication being written to him. He was the foster child of Owen and Maud Barfield, who had already adopted Lucy and a boy by the name of Alexander. [8] Jeffrey was born in 1940 during World War II and because air raids were a possibility where he lived, he was placed in the safety of the Barfield’s home. [9] It was in the year of 1962 that Jeffrey, whose surname was really Corbett, chose to take the last name of Barfield. [10]

The Silver Chair was dedicated to a boy by the name of Nicholas Hardie, who was around eight at the time of its publishing in 1953. Nicholas’ father, Colin, was part of the Inklings. Nicholas said of C.S. Lewis visiting his family when he was a child:

“There was only one occasion I was explicitly aware of, probably because my mother put me on best behaviour. I vaguely remember sitting and making adult conversation, and being aware that this was C.S. Lewis, whose Narnia books I had already read.” [11]

In 2012, Nicholas sold a copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe that he had received from the author. It was a special one, autographed by Lewis – the only book auctioned bearing his nickname. The message inside says: “Nicholas Hardie, with love from Jack Lewis, Christmas 1950.” [12]

The Last Battle, the final story of the Chronicles, is surprisingly left without a dedication. Lewis wrote this book in 1953, but it was not published until September of 1956. Perhaps, being the last book of the series, and a little darker and more serious of a story, Lewis felt it more appealing to leave off a dedication. We may never know the reason behind Lewis’ decision, but we do know that he waited to publish this story last, and it became a very triumphant and fulfilling climax to this beloved series.

The Chronicles of Narnia have been read and loved by millions of fans worldwide, yet how many stop to think about the people whose lives were intertwined with the author’s? Narnia may perhaps have a completely different meaning to these, the recipients of Lewis’ dedications, as seen in Lucy Barfield, who had her brother read the stories to her while she was sick in the hospital [13]. Douglas Gresham has been involved in bringing three of the Narnia books to the screen, with a fourth in planning. Their lives were much changed by C.S. Lewis’ stories and his dedications to them. 

References:

[1] The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963
[2] Companion to Narnia, by Paul F. Ford
[3] Wikipedia: Lucy Barfield
[4] C.S. Lewis, Letters to Children
[5] The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963
[6] ibid
[7] Inside Prince Caspian: A Guide to Exploring the Return to Narnia by Devin Brown
[8] Owen Barfield: Romanticism Come of Age: A Biography by Simon Blaxland-de Lange
[9] Owen Barfield: A Biographical Note by Marjorie Lamp Mead
[10] Companion to Narnia, by Paul F. Ford
[11] The Oxford Times – Nicholas Hardie
[12] Paul Fraser Collectibles
[13] Companion to Narnia, by Paul F. Ford

Caption Contest 22 – Show Me Your Battle Faces!

Winning Entries:

Georgie gives everyone a demonstration on how to lift a water pail…Narnian style! ~ Lilliandil

Ben (to the cameraman): Scoundrel! I am going to enjoy destroying you! ~ AGB

William: “C’mon, guys, give the camera a look that says, ‘I am Inigo Mont–‘” Ben: “Seriously, if I hear that joke one more time….”  Georgie: “… I really will kill somebody.” ~ Ariel_of_Narnia

When the cast of the Narnia films started advertising a new bug spray, everyone thought it would be sure to succeed. But then Peter started whacking invisible flies with his invisible flyswatter, and nothing was ever the same again. ~ Luthien

*swings invisible sword* Will- ‘ haha…I just cut ben’s head off:D’ ~ Geek4Narnia

Skandar: “Rock, Paper, Scissors for who has to speak to the reporters.” ~ Tom Duffy

Photographer: Could you all pretend to be holding swords, please? And could you say a fierce line for the camera?

Ben: Prepare to die!  Georgie: Your days are numbered!   Will (singing): Because I’m happy, clap along if you know what happiness is for you, because I’m happy clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do, because I’m happy…  Ben: Somehow I feel as if Will hasn’t quite gotten into character yet.  ~ AGB

Narnian Tour Guide: “And her is a picture of High King Peter, Queen Lucy, and King Caspian X wearing weird outfits and brandishing invisible swords.” ~ Niara of Narnia

Georgie: “Don’t mess with the dress.” ~ Ariel_of_Narnia

 

 

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Like Narnia? You’ll Love The Wingfeather Saga

by Tenethia South

“The old stories tell that when the first person woke up on the first morning in the world where this tale takes place he yawned, stretched, and said to the first thing he saw, ‘Well, here we are.’ The man’s name was Dwayne, and the first thing he saw was a rock.”

I read that quote upon opening On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, and, being amused, continued reading and didn’t stop until I had read it all the way through – and then I went right back to the beginning and started over.

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, book one in The Wingfeather Saga, is a Christian fantasy book by musician Andrew Peterson (his character Peet the Sockman might say “Peter Andrewson.”).

The land of Skree in the world of Aerwiar has been at peace for years, but an unnamed evil, (named Gnag the Nameless) rises, and with armies of lizard-like Fangs, subdues and occupies Skree. But Gnag wants more than power over the land. He wants the Jewels of Anniera.

When the story opens, the three Igiby children, Janner, Tink, and Leeli are living with their dog Nugget, their mother Nia, and their ex-pirate grandfather Podo in the town of Glipwood in Skree. For the first time Podo allows the children to go to the Dragon Day Festival without their mother. The day is going smoothly until, while Janner and Tink have their backs turned, Leeli disappears after Nugget, who has run off. While trying to catch her dog, Leeli angers a Fang, who tries to hurt her. The boys are able to save their sister, but later in the evening all three are captured by the Fangs and taken to the local jail. Nia ransoms them, but before long the Fangs come after the family, demanding they turn over the Jewels of Anniera.  Nia and Podo insist they have given the Fangs all the jewels they have, but Janner knows they haven’t. If the Jewels are not turned over, it will cost the Igibys their lives. What are the Jewels of Anniera and why do Janner’s mother and grandfather protect the Jewels at risk of the children’s lives?

One of the things that makes this book so enjoyable is its humorous use of footnotes. This is not often done in fiction (probably because it would makes things really tedious), but Mr. Peterson puts in interesting little tid-bits that make the book even more fun to read. The footnotes often include references to Anniera’s strange creatures, as well as books “written” in Anniera, such as In the Age of the Kindly Flabbits. Peterson’s novel sense of humor helps to lighten tenser parts of the book, providing a flavor to his story that is entirely unique.  Another thing that makes his book so enjoyable is the variety of creatures he introduces. Thwaps run rampant through the gardens, horned hounds haunt old houses, and toothy cows (Careful, they pounce!) roam free in the woods.

In addition to humor, Peterson endows his world with a spiritual foundation that will resonate with fans of the Chronicles of Narnia.  While no character such as Aslan walks the landscape in a Christlike capacity, the Maker is both mentioned and known, and the book is richer for it.  I would recommend this book to any lover of a good tale, well-told.

The fourth and last book in the series, The Warden and the Wolf King, will be released in April 2014, so we will be releasing reviews of the rest of the series as we lead up to the happy event.

Visit the Rabbit Room website to buy On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.