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Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis by [Ward, Michael]
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Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis 1st , Kindle Edition


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Length: 388 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English

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For over half a century, scholars have laboured to show that C. S. Lewis's famed but apparently disorganised Chronicles of Narnia have an underlying symbolic coherence, pointing to such possible unifying themes as the seven sacraments, the seven deadly sins, and the seven books of Spenser's Faerie Queene. None of these explanations has won general acceptance and the structure of Narnia's symbolism has remained a mystery.

Michael Ward has finally solved the enigma. In Planet Narnia he demonstrates that medieval cosmology, a subject which fascinated Lewis throughout his life, provides the imaginative key to the seven novels. Drawing on the whole range of Lewis's writings (including previously unpublished drafts of the Chronicles), Ward reveals how the Narnia stories were designed to express the characteristics of the seven medieval planets - - Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Luna, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn - - planets which Lewis described as "spiritual symbols of permanent value" and "especially worthwhile in our own generation". Using these seven symbols, Lewis secretly constructed the Chronicles so that in each book the plot-line, the ornamental details, and, most important, the portrayal of the Christ-figure of Aslan, all serve to communicate the governing planetary personality. The cosmological theme of each Chronicle is what Lewis called 'the kappa element in romance', the atmospheric essence of a story, everywhere present but nowhere explicit. The reader inhabits this atmosphere and thus imaginatively gains connaître knowledge of the spiritual character which the tale was created to embody.

Planet Narnia is a ground-breaking study that will provoke a major revaluation not only of the Chronicles, but of Lewis's whole literary and theological outlook. Ward uncovers a much subtler writer and thinker than has previously been recognized, whose central interests were hiddenness, immanence, and knowledge by acquaintance.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3434 KB
  • Print Length: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (15 January 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000SKMOMY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #386,616 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 62 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars in my top 10 favorites 9 August 2015
By GMBurrahobbit - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
"Planet Narnia" made me enjoy the Narnia tales ten times as much as I had before and opened up an entire cosmos of symbolism for future stories. Dr. Ward shows how the medieval understanding of the planets (which hold “permanent value as spiritual symbols") is a major driving force behind The Chronicles of Narnia. We have the complete set: Jupiter (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe), Mars (Prince Caspian), the sun (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), the moon (The Silver Chair), Mercury (The Horse and His Boy), Venus (The Magician’s Nephew), Saturn (The Last Battle). But the symbolism isn’t true for Narnia alone. Ward demonstrates how it is also behind much of Lewis’ poetry and the space trilogy, especially "That Hideous Strength." Thus, behind much of Lewis’ fictional work is the “discarded image” he loved so well.

Skeptics will insist that the branches here are just too skinny, but in Ward’s defense is Lewis himself: "Supposing you had before you a manuscript of some great work, either a symphony or a novel. There then comes to you a person, saying, 'Here is a new bit of the manuscript that I found; it is the central passage of that symphony, or the central chapter of that novel. The text is incomplete without it. I have got the missing passage which is really the center of the whole work.' The only thing you could do would be to put this new piece of the manuscript in that central position, and then see how it reacted on the whole of the rest of the work. If it constantly brought out new meanings from the whole of the rest of the work, if it made you notice things in the rest of the work which you had not noticed before, then I think you would decide that it was authentic. On the other hand, if it failed to do that, then, however attractive it was in itself, you would reject it" (Grand Miracle).

"Planet Narnia" reveals the center of the Narnian symphony, and suddenly all the sounds not only make more sense, but are more beautiful than ever.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing exploration of Consistency of Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia 19 October 2013
By Steve the Sage - Published on Amazon.com
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Book proposes convincingly that the presence of Father Christmas, Bacchus and other seemingly unrelated characters in the Narnia Chronicles were consistent with Lewis' view of the importance of consistency in his or any fictional work. The underlying cord permeating the seven books in the medieval perspective of the earth, the heavens and the influences of the planets. Example: Lion, Witch and Wardrobe's influence is Jupiter - kings, jovial (Father Christmas is a jovial character) - Aslan and the children's role and responsibility as kings and queens is the atmosphere. Prince Caspian is permeated with the influence of Mars -- martial, knighthood -- but also Mars' silvanous influence -trees stirring to life (March). Well written, clear with excellent footnotes and references to other writings by Lewis that provide insight as to these seven connecting influences. First though read the Chronicles of Narnia for the joy and participation in the stories and read them as first published not as numbered by current publishers. The Narnia Code presents the same concepts in a more general and "simple" exposition. Any wishing to dig deeper into the symbolism and structure of the books would be well served by perusal of this work.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long-time Narnian goes further up and further in. 30 November 2014
By C. Brush - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I started with trepidation. Literary criticism has been known to suck the life out of beloved fiction. And this is literary criticism, not light reading, and best suited to those with some familiarity with philosophy. Disclaimer accomplished, I devoured this book. Far from diminishing my appreciation for my Narnian home, it has deepened it. I started rereading the Chronicles immediately. Dr. Ward has brilliantly yet with due humility advanced his thesis such that I, despite native scepticism, am utterly convinced. Perhaps when I die I'll have an opportunity to ask my teacher, C.S. Lewis, if this is true. Short of his disavowal, I'm sold.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Takes one back to College 1 November 2014
By Carol Dorman - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I must admit, the simplified version (The Narnia Code) is a much easier read and gets to the point so much faster than this version. I needed a dictionary to understand many rarely used words. Nearly every page contained a "new" PhD word! I felt like I was back in college. I was hoping he would touch on some of the other odd things Lewis included in the Narnia series but he stayed with the planetary and astrological theme very closely. I had to go read the Perelandra series in order to make sense of several early chapters. Mainly, it was "That Hideous Strength" that I needed to read in order to keep up with him. The last 100 pages are all reference notes. (That's a lotta notes!) :-)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A reasoned argument and logical conclusion 14 August 2014
By J. Glisson - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Makes perfect sense if you have read Lewis' book *The Discarded Image* about the fundamental ways in which the medieval age's view of the world and the cosmos differed from ours. Also his preface to Sr. Penelope Lawson's translation of St. Athanasius' *On the Incarnation* a/k/a "On the reading of old books."
He was steeped in this worldview. Narnia is a very medieval world, the stars have personality (Coriakin, Ramandu), the centaurs and Dr. Cornelius are astrologers . . . . And Lewis gave us hints all along - "It's the usual muddle about times, Pole" . . .
Dr. Ward has simply given shape and argument to something that we knew all along but couldn't quite articulate.