Completion Date: May 12, 2011
Reason for Reading: Non-fiction read for Once Upon a Time.
THE MAGICIAN'S BOOK is the story of one reader's long, tumultuous relationship with C.S. Lewis'The Chronicles of Narnia. As a child, Laura Miller read and re-read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and its sequels countless times, and wanted nothing more that to find her own way to Narnia. In her skeptical teens, a casual reference to the Chronicles's Christian themes left her feeling betrayed and alienated from the stories she had come to know and trust. Years later, convinced that "the first book we fall in love with shapes us every bit as much as the first person we fall in love with," Miller returns to Lewis's classic fantasies to see what mysteries Narnia still holds for adult eyes—and is captured in an entirely new way.I can't decide if I like this book. I finished it. I read it relatively quickly. But, did I like it... It's hard for me to decide. I have never been good at picking sides. People have always told me you either have to like Star Trek or Star Wars, but I always claimed to like both. (Now that I am a bit older, I think I prefer Star Trek, but I will always enjoy Star Wars). This book feels like another example of this choosing sides thing. It comes down to Narnia or Middle Earth? C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien? When I was a child, it was hands down C.S. Lewis. When I was a young adult, it became both. Nowadays, I feel like it is Tolkien.
In her search to uncover the source of these small books' mysterious power, Miller looks to their creator, Clive Staples Lewis. What she discovers is not the familiar, idealized image of the author, but a man who stands in stark contrast to his whimsical creation-scarred by a tragic and troubled childhood, Oxford educated, a staunch Christian, and a social conservative, armed with deep prejudices.
THE MAGICIAN'S BOOK is an intellectual adventure story, in which Miller travels to Lewis's childhood home in Ireland, the possible inspiration for Narnia's landscape; unfolds his intense friendship with J.R.R.Tolkien, a bond that led the two of them to create the greatest myth-worlds of modern times; and explores Lewis's influence on writers like Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Franzen, and Philip Pullman. Finally reclaiming Narnia "for the rest of us," Miller casts the Chronicles as a profoundly literary creation, and the portal to a life-long adventure in books, art, and the imagination. Erudite, wide-ranging, and playful, THE MAGICIAN'S BOOK is for all who live in thrall to the magic of books.
I am sure people are wondering why I prefer Tolkien, but am reading a book about Lewis. Frankly, it's the religious aspects of Lewis' books. When I was a kid, I didn't notice them at all. Nowadays, I can't read the books or watch the movies without thinking about all the religious aspects. I try to get beyond this. When the movies were just in the 'talking about' stage, I tried to reread the series, but I never did make it very far. I grew-up and Lewis can't capture me like he used to do. There are still many aspects of the books that I will always love, but it just makes me sad that I can't read the books the same way anymore. Another author I am having the same problem with is Madeleine L'Engle. I know too much now and can't read her books without over-thinking things either. I still confess that Lewis and L'Engle will always be two of my favourite authors of all time. I just don't read them anymore. I am worried that too many rereads will destroy the books for me entirely.
This book explored a lot of the thoughts that I have running around in my head about the series as a whole. There were some things that I had forgotten about entirely. It made me think about my experiences with the series and trying to remember when I lost interest because of the problems I mentioned above. I still am watching the movies when they come out, so it hasn't been all bad. I just wish that Lewis could have written essentially the same magical world, but left the religion out. I probably would still love it if that was the case. I am glad that I read this book even if I haven't entirely made my mind up on things. It still was interesting and was a new way to experience a beloved series from my childhood.
Since I am not even sure what to say, your turn. Narnia or Middle Earth? If you have lost interest in Lewis, why was that? When did you figure out the religious aspects of the books, and when you did, did it change your experiences with the series?
This book counts for Quest the fourth for the Once Upon a Time challenge.