Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical
hermionesviolin

Prince Caspian (C. S. Lewis) reread

At church group [CAUMC young adults] a couple weeks ago, Prince Caspian came up.  (Trelawney said she was really skeptical given the LWW movie, where she felt like they made the one battle scene the biggest part of the movie.)  Despite having reread the Narnia Chronicles only about 3 years ago, I still really only remember The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and secondarily The Last Battle and The Magician's Nephew.  So clearly I had to reread the book again. 
Your Kings are in deadly fear of the sea because they can never quite forget that in all stories Aslan comes from over the sea. They don't want to go near it and they don't want anyone else to go near it. So they have let great woods grow up to cut their people off from the coast. But because they have quarreled with the trees they are afraid of the woods. And because they are afraid of the woods they imagine that they are full of ghosts. And the Kings and great men, hating both the sea and the wood, partly believe these stories, and partly encourage them.
I'm not always a fan of Lewis, but sometimes he is really good with words.  Your Kings are in deadly fear of the sea because they can never quite forget that in all stories Aslan comes from over the sea.  (On reflection, I suppose one could read echoes of the crossing of the Red Sea or something into this.)

Trufflehunter talks about the Dryads and Naiads and we read:
    "What imagination you Animals have!" said Trimpkin, who didn't believe in such things.  "But why stop at Trees and Waters?  Wouldn't it be nice if the stones started throwing themselves at old Miraz?"
Hee!  We (if we are readers with a Christian background, that is) have heard about stones crying out before.  And looking it up, it's from the Triumphal Entry, which makes it even better.
    When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
          "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"[Psalm 118:26]
          "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
    Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"
    "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."
-Luke 19:37-40 (NIV)
The "What Lucy Saw" chapter ... on the one hand, yeah it's a great story, and the whole arc of Aslan's return interestingly echoes the disciples' encounter(s) of the risen Christ... but trusting that someone else sees where Christ is leading when you can't see that at all is not always as easy as, "This is my sister who was totally right the first time we physically entered Christ's kingdom, and this is a world in which we have met Christ in the flesh up close and personal and so it is very much within the probability that she is in fact seeing him."

Throughout the book I was conscious of how much Susan keeps being a downer, like we're being set up for her turning away (which is at least better than her turn away being pastede on in the final book -- though here we see her as pragmatic and skeptical, no indication of the shallowness for which Jill will indict her when she has ceased to be a friend of Narnia in The Last Battle).

I don't mind Lucy being the golden child, but the idea that growing up takes you away from Christ bothers me -- though yes I'm sure Lewis was in part playing on the Gospel theme of being like little children.

At the end of Prince Caspian, Peter says that Aslan told him and Susan they won't be coming back to Narnia, though Lucy and Edmund probably will -- "He says we're getting too old."  Lucy asks, "Can you bear it?" and Peter says, "Well, I think I can.  It's all rather different from what I thought.  You'll understand when it comes to your last time."  I appreciate that he at least tries, albeit in passing, to indicate that growing out of Narnia is not a wholly negative thing -- and honestly, the whole question of Narnia's relation to our world is a complicated one which I'm not certain Lewis could entirely articulate if he tried.  (I also appreciate that Lewis says, albeit extra-textually, of Susan: "perhaps she will get to Aslan's country in the end... in her own way.")

Anyway, moving back to: "Lucy woke out of the deepest sleep you can imagine, with the feeling that the voice she liked best in the world had been calling her name." Even without the chapter being entitled, "The Return of the Lion," I knew of course that was Aslan, and I really love that idea.  Which is of course familiar.
from the hymn "You Are Mine":

I will come to you in the silence,
I will lift you from all your fear.
You will hear my voice,
I claim you as my choice,
Be still and know I am here.

Refrain:
Do not be afraid, I am with you.
I have called you each by name.
Come and follow me
I will bring you home;
I love you and you are mine.
It's strange to me that Lewis includes Bacchus and Silenus and the Maenads in this Romp with Aslan.  Not only do they come from "pagan" mythology, but they're some of the least virtuous of the Greco-Roman pantheon.  Lewis does try to get around that a little with Susan saying, "I wouldn't have felt very safe with Bacchus and all his wild girls if we'd met them without Aslan," and Lucy agreeing, "I should think not."

This is interesting:
    "Who do you mean?" said Caspian at last.
    "I mean a power so much greater than Aslan's that it held Narnia spellbound for years and years, if the stories are true."
    "The White Witch!" cried three voices all at once, and from the noise Peter guessed that three people had leaped to their feet.
    "Yes," said Nikabrik very slowly and distinctly, "I mean the Witch. Sit down again. Don't all take fright at a name as if you were children. We want power: and we want a power that will be on our side. As for power, do not the stories say that the Witch defeated Aslan, and bound him, and killed him on that very stone which is over there, just beyond the light?"
    "But they also say that he came to life again," said the Badger sharply.
    "Yes, they say," answered Nikabrik, "but you'll notice that we hear precious little about anything he did afterwards. He just fades out of the story. How do you explain that, if he really came to life? Isn't it much more likely that he didn't, and that the stories say nothing more about him because there was nothing more to say?"
    "He established the Kings and Queens," said Caspian.
    "A King who has just won a great battle can usually establish himself without the help of a performing lion," said Nikabrik. There was a fierce growl, probably from Trufflehunter.
    "And anyway," Nikabrik continued, "what came of the Kings and their reign? They faded too. But it's very different with the Witch. They say she ruled for a hundred years: a hundred years of winter. There's power, if you like. There's something practical."
Aslan turning boys into pigs, going into the house and healing the dying woman, turning the well water into wine (and dude, the Maenads and all come with Aslan on this trek) ... they very much echo Gospel stories.  CWM is big on "proclaiming release to the captives" and all, and that really did seem to be the theme of this morning trek.  So of course I looked up the exact passage.  It's Jesus in Nazareth (his home, btw).  Luke 4:16-19 (citing Isaiah 61:1-2):
    He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
  "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
      because he has anointed me
      to preach good news to the poor.
  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
      and recovery of sight for the blind,
  to release the oppressed,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Aslan says: "You, Sir Caspian, might have known that you could be no true King of Narnia unless, like the Kings of old, you were a son of Adam and came from the world of Adam's sons."  So Humans are intruders into the land of Narnia but are the best ones to rule Narnia.  An interesting take on Adam and Eve being given dominion over creation.

Aslan tells them about how those who call themselves Telmarines now came from human pirates.
    "Do you mark all this well, King Caspian?"
    "I do indeed, Sir," said Caspian. "I was wishing that I came of a more honorable lineage."
    "You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve," said Aslan.  "And that is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content."
    Caspian bowed.
Tags: books: read, c. s. lewis
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