Narnian Glossary

So you want to talk about Narnia? Here are ten terms for the knowledgeable.

abbreviations: On the Internet, the titles of the Chronicles of Narnia are often shortened to abbreviations. These are:

  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: LWW
  • Prince Caspian: PC
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: VDT or DT
  • The Silver Chair: SC
  • The Horse and His Boy: HHB
  • The Magician’s Nephew: MN
  • The Last Battle: LB

allegory: A story in which the author uses characters and events to represent characters and events from another source, such as the Bible. One example of allegory if The Pilgrim’s Progress. The Chronicles of Narnia are sometimes referred to as allegories, but in truth they are not. See supposal, below.

applicability: The potential for a reader to recognize echoes of other stories or truths in something they are reading. For example, seeing Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings as an example of the value of a servant’s heart and attitude. Applicability is something brought to a story by the reader. Allegory is something intended by the author.

Baynes: Pauline Baynes was the original illustrator of the Chronicles, selected by C.S. Lewis. Her illustrations are still almost always used inside each edition, though many editions only use one picture per chapter, when many more exist.

The Inklings: A group of friends and writers who met weekly at an Oxford pub, the Eagle and Child (by locals called the Bird and Baby) to talk and share their writing. Some of the members were C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield.

Jack: C.S. Lewis disliked his own name, Clive, and began insisting on the name Jack at about age four. He was known as Jack by friends throughout his life.

joy: see sehnsucht.

Lewis: C.S. Lewis (short for Clive Staples Lewis) was the author of the Chronicles of Narnia.

sehnsucht: [ZAIN | zookt] A German word that literally means “longing”. C.S. Lewis used it to mean “the ‘inconsolable longing’ in the human heart for ‘we know not what.'”. “The key ingredient of the experience…is that this longing—never fulfilled—is itself sweeter than the fulfillment of any other human desire.” (Wikipedia) Lewis also referred to this experience by the term “joy.” Lewis says, “”It was when I was happiest that I longed most…The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing…to find the place where all the beauty came from.” For a more in depth explanation, visit this Wikipedia Article

supposal: Lewis’ explanation for the Chronicles of Narnia. Suppose that God created a world and chose to become incarnate and die in that world as He truly did in ours. What might that world be like?