CC 1: The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

Classics Challenge Post 1

As part of the Classics Challenge I was required to read one title considered a children's/young adult fiction classic. I'm generally not a young adult fiction fan. Yes, I read all the Harry Potter novels; however, I was in middle school when they were published and was considered a young adult at the time.  It worked.

Then again, I did choose a The Book Thief to fulfill my 21st classic novel requirement, another title that is considered young adult.

I don't believe I'll get into the habit of reading more young adult, per se, but perhaps these attempts will encourage me to look at the genre in a new light. 

I finished The Magician's Nephew as quickly as expected. A slim novel, coming in at a mere 192 pages, is the first in a seven book series called The Chronicles of Narnia, which has recently been made even more popular due to film adaptation.  I chose the title because I vaguely remember reading them as a child, and had further vague feelings of warmth and enjoyment. 

The novel follows the adventure of Polly and Digory, two children, who, in an attempt to explore an abandoned home via tunnel, end up in the study of Digory's magical, and seriously creepy, Uncle Andrew.  By force, essentially, the children are sent to several other worlds, unleashing a wrathful witch, and witnessing the creation of Narnia along the way. 

This is all fine and well.  It offers children adventure and encourages them to use their imagination.  However, I was utterly dismayed by the similarities between the novel and the creation story in the Bible.  Before reading, I knew of C.S. Lewis's religious background and fervor, but I was overwhelmed by the biblical allusions. 

I was especially annoyed with the woman-as-root-of-all-evil concept that was once again utilized.

All in all, it was a light read, and I could see the appeal of the series.  I don't see myself rereading any of the other novels in the collection.


  1. The biblical allusions get worse as the series go on - I reread them all a few summers ago and felt it was very blatant. I must have overlooked them as a child though, because I didn't remember them!

    And don't even get me started on the women stuff - in the final book Susan is practically denied entry to heaven for the hideous crime of wearing lipstick and looking at boys!

  2. I feel like I need to do more research about the correlations. Thanks for letting me know that I'm not missing anything by opting out of reading the rest! Honestly, the whole woman-witch thing angered me. It was ridiculous.

  3. You know, I've never read this series and I've never felt particularly bad about that.

    As for the Age of Innocence - I think part of the reason I wasn't thrilled with it was timing... I was dealing with many distractions at the time of reading, and I think it may have taken away from the experience for me. I hope you enjoy it!

  4. I have always been a little uncomfortable with the heavy handed religious symbolism in these texts but nevertheless read them with my daughter when she was very young. They were handy for getting her to think about symbolism and meaning in text and have perhaps contributed to her ability as a critical reader. The language is quite archaic, as is the content and yet the books are still surprisingly popular but I wonder if that is just because adults continue to give them to children believing they are classics and therefore worthy reads without really giving much thought to their content.

  5. I agree with you completely. Many individuals that I spoken with about the series stated that they had completely overlooked the symbolism as children. It's perfect material to use a tool for that type of activity. I haven't seen the movies, but wonder if they, too, are similarly religious.

  6. I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 6th grade and then read the entire series in college (I read the series in publication order, not chronological order). As a kid, I was oblivious to the religious symbolism and even as an adult I was unaware of C.S. Lewis' religious fervor. It wasn't until I read the last book (The Last Battle) that it all clicked.

    I've since read the first few books again (chronological order) and wasn't able to finish the series. The preachiness was suddenly very clear and it loses some of it's charm when your just slammed into Narnia instead of slowly introduced. (I would never recommend that someone read in chronological order - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the best book to start with.)

    Just my two cents...

  7. I've never read the whole series; I've only read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. But I would like to tackle it someday so I appreciate's advice!


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