The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
|The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe|
First edition dustjacket
|Author||C. S. Lewis|
|Series||The Chronicles of Narnia|
|Genre||Children's fantasy novel, Christian literature|
|Publication date||16 October 1950|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
|Pages||172 pp (first edition)|
(Collins, 1998; full colour)
|LC Classification||PZ8.L48 Li|
|Followed by||Prince Caspian|
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a high fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis, published by Geoffrey Bles in 1950. It was the first published of seven novels in The Chronicles of Narnia (1950–1956) and it is the best known; among all the author's books it is the most widely held in libraries. Although it was written as well as published first in the series, it is volume two in recent editions, which are sequenced according to Narnia history (the first being The Magician's Nephew). Like the others it was illustrated by Pauline Baynes and her work has been retained in many later editions.
Most of the novel is set in Narnia, a land of talking animals and mythical creatures that the White Witch has ruled for one hundred years of deep winter. In the frame story, four English children live in a big old country house during their World War II evacuation from London. The youngest visits Narnia three times via the wardrobe in a spare room. All four children are together on her third visit, which validates her stories and comprises the last 12 of 17 chapters except a brief conclusion. In Narnia the siblings seem to fulfill an old prophecy, so they are soon adventuring both to save their lives and to deliver the country. Lewis wrote the book for, and dedicated it to, his god-daughter Lucy Barfield. She was the daughter of Owen Barfield, the friend, teacher, adviser and trustee of Lewis.
Time magazine included the novel in its "All-TIME 100 Novels" (best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005). In 2003, the novel was listed at number 9 on the BBC's survey The Big Read. It has also been published in 47 foreign languages.
In 1940, four siblings – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie – are among many children evacuated from London during World War II to escape the Blitz. They are sent to the countryside to live with professor Digory Kirke.
While the four children explore the house, Lucy climbs into a wardrobe and discovers she is in a magical forest in Narnia. At a lamppost in the midst of the forest she meets Mr.Tumnus the faun. She accepts his offer to have tea in his home. Afterward he confesses that he had planned to betray her to the White Witch, who has ruled Narnia and made it "always Winter, but never Christmas". She has ordered all Narnians to report or capture any Son of Adam or Daughter of Eve. Instead, he escorts Lucy back to the lamppost.
When Lucy returns through the wardrobe, her siblings do not believe her story. She later returns to Narnia during a game of hide-and-seek with her siblings. Her older brother Edmund, who had been particularly spiteful about her story, enters the wardrobe and while searching for Lucy meets a lady who introduces herself as the Queen of Narnia. She enchants him with magical Turkish delight. She encourages him to bring his siblings to her in Narnia, with the promise of more Turkish delight and of being a prince - and eventually the King of Narnia when she dies.
Lucy discovers Edmund by the lamppost, and they return through the wardrobe. In conversation with Lucy, Edmund realizes that the lady was in fact Jadis, the White Witch, but he does not tell anyone that he has met her and lies to Peter and Susan, denying Lucy's claim that he too had entered Narnia.
Soon after, all four children enter Narnia together while hiding in the wardrobe after an encounter with the professor's housekeeper, Mrs Macready. Lucy guides them to Tumnus's cave but finds it ransacked, with a notice from Jadis's police about his arrest for high treason.
They are spotted by Mr. Beaver, who guides them to his house. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver tell them of a prophecy that Jadis's power will fail when two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve fill the four thrones at Cair Paravel. The Beavers tell them of Aslan, who has been absent for many years but is now "on the move again."
Meanwhile, Edmund sneaks away to Jadis's castle, which is filled with statues – enemies she has turned to stone. Jadis is furious with Edmund for coming alone and is angrier still when she hears that Aslan is in Narnia.
The Beavers realize where Edmund has gone and abandon their home, leading the other children to Aslan. Snow begins to melt as Jadis's spell over Narnia starts to break. Winter ends, and Father Christmas appears with presents for the three children and the Beavers.
Aslan welcomes the children and the Beavers to his camp, but Peter is shortly engaged in his first battle, killing Maugrim, chief of Jadis's Secret Police, to rescue Susan. Aslan's forces rescue Edmund just as Jadis is about to kill him.
Jadis approaches in truce to parley with Aslan, insisting that, according to "deep magic from the dawn of time", she has the right to execute Edmund for treason. Aslan speaks with her privately and persuades her to renounce her claim. That evening, Aslan secretly leaves the camp but is followed by Lucy and Susan. Aslan has bargained his own life for Edmund's. Jadis ties Aslan to the Stone Table and kills him with a knife. The next morning the Stone Table is broken and Aslan is restored to life, telling Lucy and Susan that "deeper magic from before the dawn of time" (which Jadis did not know about) will resurrect an innocent killed in place of a traitor.
Aslan allows Lucy and Susan to ride on his back as he hurries to Jadis's castle. There he breathes upon the statues, restoring them to life. Peter and Edmund lead the Narnian army against Jadis's army. Jadis is winning until Aslan arrives with the former statues as reinforcements. The Narnians rout Jadis's army, and Aslan kills Jadis.
The Pevensie children are named kings and queens of Narnia: King Peter the Magnificent, Queen Susan the Gentle, King Edmund the Just, and Queen Lucy the Valiant.
Fifteen years later, the siblings are hunting for a white stag when they find the lamppost in the forest. Beyond it, the branches become coats. They come through the wardrobe in Digory's house and are children again.
- Lucy Pevensie is the youngest Pevensie child. She is the first to discover the land of Narnia when she slips through the magical wardrobe in the professor's house. When Lucy tells her three siblings, they don't believe her: Peter and Susan think she is just playing a game, but Edmund persistently ridicules and teases her about it. After the restoration of Narnia, a Tetrarchy is formed, with Lucy being crowned Queen of Narnia with her sister Susan, and becomes known as Queen Lucy the Valiant.
- Edmund Pevensie is the second-youngest of the Pevensie children. In Narnia he meets the White Witch, who plies him with treats and smooth talk. Tempted by the White Witch's promise of power and an unlimited supply of Turkish delight, Edmund betrays his siblings. He eventually regrets his actions and repents. After he helps Aslan and the good denizens of Narnia defeat the White Witch, he is crowned King of Narnia with his brother and becomes known as King Edmund the Just.
- Susan Pevensie is the second-oldest of Pevensie children. She does not believe in Narnia until she actually goes there. She is crowned Queen of Narnia, and becomes known as Queen Susan the Gentle.
- Peter Pevensie is the eldest of the Pevensie siblings. At first, Peter disbelieves Lucy's stories about Narnia, but changes his mind when he sees it for himself. He is hailed as a hero for his part in the overthrow of the White Witch. He is eventually crowned High King of Narnia, and becomes known as King Peter the Magnificent.
- Aslan, a lion, is the true lord of Narnia. He sacrifices himself to save Edmund, but is resurrected in time to aid the denizens of Narnia and the Pevensie children against the White Witch and her minions.
- The White Witch is the land's self-proclaimed queen. She tyrannizes Narnia through her magically imposed rule. Her spell on Narnia has made it "always winter but never Christmas" for a hundred years. When provoked, she turns creatures to stone with her wand. She fears the fulfillment of a prophecy that "two sons of Adam" and "two daughters of Eve" will come to Narnia and help Aslan overthrow her. Her name Jadis appears in one proclamation in this book, and Lewis's later prequel The Magician's Nephew tells of her origin and how she came to the Narnian world.
- Tumnus, a faun, is the first person Lucy meets in Narnia. Tumnus befriends her, despite the White Witch's standing order to kidnap any human who enters Narnia. After getting to know Lucy, he changes his mind about handing her over to the witch. He is betrayed accidentally by Edmund, who tells the White Witch that Lucy met a faun. The witch arrests Tumnus and turns him to stone. He is later restored to life by Aslan.
- The Professor is a kind gentleman who takes the Pevensie children in when they are evacuated from London. He is the only one who believes that Lucy did indeed visit Narnia and tries to convince the others of her veracity. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe hints that he knows more of Narnia than he wants to tell. He is identified in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as Professor Kirke, and appears as a young boy, Digory Kirke, a main character in the prequel The Magician's Nephew in which he is present at Aslan's creation of Narnia.
- Mr and Mrs Beaver are friends of Tumnus. They hide Peter, Susan, and Lucy and lead them to Aslan.
- The Dwarf is the White Witch's servant. Unnamed in the book, he is called Ginnarbrick in the film, where he has a more significant role.
- Maugrim (Fenris Ulf in some editions), a wolf, is the chief of the White Witch's secret police. She sends him to hunt down the Pevensie children. He tries to kill Susan but is killed by Peter.
- Father Christmas arrives when the Witch's magical hold over Narnia begins to break. He gives gifts to Peter, Susan and Lucy but not to Edmund, who is with the witch. The gifts, which include the sword Peter uses to slay Maugrim, ultimately help the children defeat the White Witch. Mrs Beaver receives a better sewing machine and Mr. Beaver gets his dam completed.
- Mrs. Macready is the housekeeper for the Professor.
- Giant Rumblebuffin is a character who was turned to stone by the White Witch. Aslan restores him to life. He breaks down the gate of the Witch's castle and crushes some of her army.
Lewis described the origin of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in an essay entitled It All Began with a Picture:
"The Lion all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: 'Let's try to make a story about it.'"
Shortly before World War II, many children were evacuated from London to the English countryside to escape bomber attacks on London by Nazi Germany. On 2 September 1939 three school girls: Margaret, Mary and Katherine, came to live at The Kilns in Risinghurst, Lewis's home three miles east of Oxford city centre. Lewis later suggested that the experience gave him a new appreciation of children and in late September he began a children's story on an odd sheet which has survived as part of another manuscript:
"This book is about four children whose names were Ann, Martin, Rose and Peter. But it is most about Peter who was the youngest. They all had to go away from London suddenly because of Air Raids, and because Father, who was in the Army, had gone off to the War and Mother was doing some kind of war work. They were sent to stay with a kind of relation of Mother's who was a very old professor who lived all by himself in the country." 
How much more of the story Lewis then wrote is uncertain. Roger Lancelyn Green thinks that he might even have completed it. In September 1947 C. S. Lewis wrote in a letter about stories for children: "I have tried one myself but it was, by the unanimous verdict of my friends, so bad that I destroyed it."
In August 1948, during the visit of the American writer Chad Walsh, Lewis vaguely talked about completing a children's book which he had begun "in the tradition of E. Nesbit". After this conversation not much happened – until the beginning of the next year. Then everything changed.
In his essay It All Began With a Picture C. S. Lewis continues: "At first I had very little idea how the story would go. But then suddenly Aslan came bounding into it. I think I had been having a good many dreams of lions about that time. Apart from that, I don't know where the Lion came from or why he came. But once he was there, he pulled the whole story together, and soon he pulled the six other Narnian stories in after him.":
The major ideas of the book echo lines Lewis had written fourteen years earlier in his alliterative poem The Planets:
...Of wrath ended
And woes mended, of winter passed
And guilt forgiven, and good fortune
Jove is master; and of jocund revel,
Laughter of ladies. The lion-hearted
...are Jove's children.
On 10 March 1949 Roger Lancelyn Green dined with him at Magdalen College. After the meal, Lewis read two chapters from his new children's story to Green. Lewis asked Green's opinion of the tale, and Green thought it was good. The manuscript of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was complete by the end of March 1949. Lucy Barfield received it by the end of May. When on 16 October 1950 Geoffrey Bles in London published the first edition, three new Chronicles – Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Horse and His Boy – had also been completed.
Lewis’s publisher, Geoffrey Bles, allowed him to choose the illustrator for the novel and the Narnia series. His choice was Pauline Baynes, possibly as a result of J. R. R. Tolkien’s recommendation. Baynes had greatly impressed Tolkien with her illustrations for his Farmer Giles of Ham (1949). However Baynes claimed that Lewis learned about her work after going into a bookshop and asking for a recommendation of an illustrator who was skilled at portraying both humans and animals. In December 1949, Geoffrey Bles showed Lewis the first drawings for the novel and Lewis sent Baynes a note congratulating her, particularly on the level of detail. Lewis’s appreciation of the illustrations is evident in a letter Lewis wrote to Baynes after The Last Battle won the Carnegie Medal for best Children’s book of 1956: "is it not rather 'our' medal? I’m sure the illustrations were taken into account as well as the text".
The British edition of the novel had 43 illustrations. American editions generally had fewer. The popular United States paperback edition published by Collier between 1970 and 1994, which sold many millions, had only 17 illustrations, many of them severely cropped from the originals, giving many readers in that country a very different experience when reading the novel. All the illustrations were restored for the 1994 worldwide HarperCollins edition, although these lacked the clarity of early printings.
Lewis very much enjoyed writing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and embarked on the sequel Prince Caspian soon after finishing the first novel. He completed the sequel in less than a year, by the end of 1949. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had not been widely released until 1950; thus his initial enthusiasm did not stem from favourable reception by the public.
While Lewis is known today on the strength of the Narnia stories as a highly successful children’s writer, the initial critical response was muted. At the time it was fashionable for children’s stories to be realistic: fantasy and fairy tales were seen as indulgent, appropriate only for very young readers, and potentially harmful to older children, even hindering their ability to relate to everyday life. Some reviewers thought the tale overtly moralistic, or the Christian elements over-stated — attempts to indoctrinate children. Others were concerned that the many violent incidents might frighten children.
Lewis’s publisher, Geoffrey Bles, feared that the Narnia tales would not sell and might damage Lewis’s reputation and affect sales of his other books. Nevertheless the novel and its successors were highly popular with young readers, and Lewis’s publisher was soon anxious to release further Narnia stories.
A 2004 study found that it was a common read-aloud book for seventh-graders in schools in San Diego County, California. The novel was #58 on Time's 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923. Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association in the U.S. named the book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children." It was one of the "Top 100 Chapter Books" of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal. A 2012 survey by the University of Worcester determined that it was the second most common book that UK adults had read as children, after Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
The main story is an allegory of Christ's crucifixion: Aslan sacrifices himself for Edmund, a traitor who may deserve death, in the same way that Christians believe Jesus sacrificed himself for sinners. Aslan is killed on the Stone Table, symbolizing Mosaic Law, which breaks when he is resurrected, symbolizing the replacement of the strict justice of Old Testament law with Christ's forgiveness, according to Christian theology. As with the Christian Passion, it is women (Susan and Lucy) who tend Aslan's body after he dies and are the first to see him after his resurrection. The significance of the death contains elements of both the ransom theory of atonement and the satisfaction theory: Aslan suffers Edmund's penalty (satisfaction), and buys him back from the White Witch, who was entitled to him by reason of his treachery (ransom). In Christian tradition, Christ is associated with the Biblical "Lion of Judah," mainly on the strength of Revelation 5:5.
Professor Kirke is based on W.T. Kirkpatrick, who tutored a 16-year-old Lewis. "Kirk," as he was sometimes called, taught the young Lewis much about thinking and communicating clearly, skills that would be invaluable to him later.
Narnia is caught in endless winter that has lasted a century when the children first enter. Norse tradition mythologises a "great winter," known as the Fimbulwinter, said to precede Ragnarök. The trapping of Edmund by the White Witch is reminiscent of the seduction and imprisonment of Kay by The Snow Queen in Hans Christian Andersen's novella of that name.
The freeing of Aslan's body from the stone table by field mice is reminiscent of Aesop's fable of "The Lion and the Mouse." In the fable, a lion catches a mouse, but the mouse persuades the lion to release him, promising that the favor would be rewarded. Later in the story, he gnaws through the lion's bonds after he has been captured by hunters. It is also reminiscent of a scene from Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Pit and the Pendulum," in which a prisoner is freed when rats gnaw through his bonds.
Differences between the British and American editions
First published by Geoffrey Bles in the UK in 1950, prior to the publication of the first American edition of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Macmillan US, Lewis made the following changes:
- In chapter one of the American edition, the animals that Edmund and Susan express interest in are snakes and foxes rather than the foxes and rabbits of the British edition.
- In chapter six of the American edition, the name of the White Witch's chief of police is changed to "Fenris Ulf" from "Maugrim" in the British.
- In chapter thirteen of the American edition, "the trunk of the World Ash Tree" takes the place of "the fire-stones of the Secret Hill".
The story has been adapted three times for television. The first adaptation was a ten-part serial produced by ABC Weekend Television for ITV and broadcast in 1967. In 1979, an animated TV-movie, directed by Peanuts director Bill Meléndez, was broadcast and won the first Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program. A third television adaptation was produced in 1988 by the BBC using a combination of live actors, animatronic puppets and animation. The programme was nominated for an Emmy and won a BAFTA. It was followed by three further Narnia adaptations.
Stage adaptations include a 1984 version staged at London's Westminster Theatre, produced by Vanessa Ford Productions. The play, adapted by Glyn Robbins, was directed by Richard Williams and designed by Marty Flood. The Royal Shakespeare Company did an adaptation in 1998, for which the acting edition has been published. Jules Tasca wrote an adaptation called Narnia: The Musical, which was published in 1986. In 2003, there was an Australian commercial stage production which toured the country by Malcolm C. Cooke Productions, using both life-size puppets and human actors. It was directed by notable film director Nadia Tass, and starred Amanda Muggleton, Dennis Olsen, Meaghan Davies and Yolande Brown.
In 2002, the Philippines' Christian-based "Trumpets Playshop" did a musical rendition that Douglas Gresham, Lewis' stepson (and co-producer of the Walden Media film adaptations), has openly declared that he feels is the closest to Lewis' intent. It starred among others popular young Filipino singer Sam Concepcion as Edmund Pevensie. The book and lyrics were by Jaime del Mundo and Luna Inocian. Music was composed by Lito Villareal.
In 2005, the story was adapted for a theatrical film, co-produced by Walt Disney and Walden Media. It has so far been followed by two films (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), the third one co-produced by Twentieth-Century Fox and Walden Media.
Multiple audio editions have been released. The best-known consists of all the books read aloud by Michael York, Anthony Quayle, Patrick Stewart, Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Alex Jennings, Lynn Redgrave, Ian Richardson, Claire Bloom and Jeremy Northam. However, three audio CDs in the form of "radio plays" with various actors, sound effects, and music have also been released, one by the BBC, one by Radio Theatre, and one by Focus on the Family.
In the 1993 film Shadowlands, based on Lewis' life and his marriage to Joy Gresham, there is a scene where Joy's son Douglas opens the wardrobe in Lewis' home, hoping to find Narnia, and is disappointed to find it an ordinary wardrobe.
1980s UK comedy show The Young Ones spoofed The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe in the episode Flood. Punk rocker Vyvyan (Ade Edmondson) enters Narnia while playing hide-and-seek via a wardrobe and meets the White Queen and her dwarf Shirley (David Rappaport). Like Edmund in the original story, the queen offers Vyvyan Turkish Delight only to be met with "No thanks."
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- She is mentioned by name in the notice left by Maugrim after the arrest of Tumnus in chapter 6, "Into the Forest".
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- "The Alliterative Metre" (1935), in Lewis. C. S., ed. Walter Hooper, 1969, Selected Literary Essays p.25. The connection argued in Ward, Michael, 2008, Planet Narnia.
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-  Amazon page
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- See also blog reprint of local paper article at . Article in English. Blog in Filipino.
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- Lewis, C. S. (1960). "It All Began with a Picture". Radio Times. 15 July 1960. Collected in Lewis, On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, 1982
- Schakel, Peter J. (2002). Imagination and the arts in C. S. Lewis: journeying to Narnia and other worlds. University of Missouri Press. ISBN 0-8262-1407-X.
- Veith, Gene (2008). The Soul of Prince Caspian: Exploring Spiritual Truth in the Land of Narnia. David C. Cook. ISBN 0-7814-4528-0.
- Sammons, Martha C. (1979). A Guide Through Narnia. Wheaton, Illinois: Harold Shaw Publishers. ISBN 0-87788-325-4.
- Downing, David C. (2005). Into the Wardrobe: C. S. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0-7879-7890-6.
- Ryken, Leland; and Mead, Marjorie Lamp (2005). A Reader's Guide Through the Wardrobe: Exploring C. S. Lewis's Classic Story. London: InterVarsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-3289-0.
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