Wood between the Worlds

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The Wood between the Worlds is a pond-filled forest in The Magician's Nephew (1955), the sixth book in The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. Each pond is a portal that provides instant transportation to a different world, such as earth, Narnia or Charn.

Background[edit]

The wood derives its name from The Wood Beyond the World, a fantasy novel by William Morris, an author who Lewis greatly admired.[1][2][3][4] However, the location's function stems from another Morris novel, The Well at the World's End. Some scholars have suggested Dante's Divine Comedy or Algnernon Blackwood's "The Education of Uncle Paul", both of which Lewis was known to have enjoyed, as possible secondary influences.[3][4]

Description[edit]

The Wood between the Worlds is so named by Polly Plummer, who is transported there when Digory Kirke's Uncle Andrew tricks her into picking up a magic yellow ring. She soon falls asleep, and when Digory arrives later the children are both disoriented; they aren't sure how long they have been there or even who they are. The state of lassitude is explained by the Wood being a place where nothing ever happens, unlike the different worlds that it connects. Later, Empress Jadis of Charn is brought to the Wood and appears to fall ill because of it, weakening so much that the children are stronger than she. Jadis soon recovers after leaving the Wood, but she never mentions it subsequently. Digory speculates that her mind is unable to hold memories of the Wood.

Geography[edit]

The Wood is described as having a warm temperature and containing a large number of leafy trees with canopy foliage so thick that the sky (assuming there is one) cannot be seen from the ground. Despite the thick foliage, a strong light does penetrate to the woodland floor, clearly illuminating objects. The salient feature of the wood, other than the trees, is the presence of many pools of water. Initially, the pools appear to be just shallow puddles. However, when someone jumps into one of the pools while wearing another magic ring, the pool of water transports the wearer to a different world. When a world is destroyed by having all life removed (as happened to Charn in The Magician's Nephew), the pool dries up.

Nature of the wood[edit]

The wood is implied to be a place linking all worlds, including Narnia, Charn, and Earth. A sense of slothfulness grips all visitors, including Jadis. However, it affects Jadis negatively: she shrieks in despair that the wood is "killing" her, and she is sickly and pale; when Polly and Digory arrive in the wood, their experience is pleasant and relaxing. It could be considered a multiverse of sorts, existing outside the normal physical realities. In Paul F. Ford's Pocket Companion to Narnia, a diagram shows the Wood Between the Worlds to be located in Aslan's Country, sitting on top of all worlds

References in other works[edit]

Lev Grossman's novels The Magicians and The Magician King feature a place called the Neitherlands, which similarly links various worlds through pools of water. Grossman has acknowledged his debt to Lewis and Morris, stating that the Neitherlands are inspired by the Wood Between the Worlds, and that he wanted to directly use the location in his books, but his publishing company's lawyers would not allow it.[5][6]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ford, Paul F. (2005). Companion to Narnia, Revised Edition. San Francisco: Harper. p. 458. ISBN 978-0-06-079127-8. A name inspired by William Morris' novel, The Wood Beyond the World. For an indication of Lewis' esteem for Morris see... 
  2. ^ Edwards, Bruce L. (2005). Not a Tame Lion. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House. p. 458. ISBN 978-1-4143--0381-9. ...is taken from the title of a fantasy novel, The Wood Beyond the World, by nineteenth century novelist, William Morris, a writer Lewis loved. 
  3. ^ a b Downing, David C. (2005). Into the Wardrobe. Wheaton, Illinois: Jossey-Bass. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-7879-7890-7. 
  4. ^ a b Christopher, Joe R. (2001). "Mount Purgatory Arises Near Narnia". Mythlore. 23 (2): 65–90. 
  5. ^ Grossman, Lev (2011-08-11). "A Brief Guide to the Allusions in The Magicians". Tor.com. Macmillan. Retrieved 2017-05-19.  
  6. ^ Heller, Jason (2014-08-04). "Lev Grossman lists his 5 favorite portals in fantasy fiction". The A.V. Club. Univision Communications. Retrieved 2017-05-19.