Planet Narnia  -     By: Michael Ward
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Planet Narnia

Oxford University Press / Hardcover

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Product Description

What is the glue that holds C. S. Lewis's writings, and most specifically his famed Chronicles of Naria together? Many conjectures have been made, but none fully accepted by the academic community. In this work, Michael Ward proposes that the organization of The Chronicles is based on medieval cosmology. The seven planets of the medieval world were of great interest to Lewis all of his life, and Ward proposes that these seven planets and their characteristics are played out in the seven books of the Narnia series.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 336
Vendor: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0195313879
ISBN-13: 9780195313871
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

For over half a century, scholars have laboured to show that C. S. Lewis's famed but apparently disorganised Chronicles of Narnia have an underlying symbolic coherence, pointing to such possible unifying themes as the seven sacraments, the seven deadly sins, and the seven books of Spenser's Faerie Queene. None of these explanations has won general acceptance and the structure of Narnia's symbolism has remained a mystery.

Michael Ward has finally solved the enigma. In Planet Narnia he demonstrates that medieval cosmology, a subject which fascinated Lewis throughout his life, provides the imaginative key to the seven novels. Drawing on the whole range of Lewis's writings (including previously unpublished drafts of the Chronicles), Ward reveals how the Narnia stories were designed to express the characteristics of the seven medieval planets - - Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Luna, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn - - planets which Lewis described as "spiritual symbols of permanent value" and "especially worthwhile in our own generation". Using these seven symbols, Lewis secretly constructed the Chronicles so that in each book the plot-line, the ornamental details, and, most important, the portrayal of the Christ-figure of Aslan, all serve to communicate the governing planetary personality. The cosmological theme of each Chronicle is what Lewis called 'the kappa element in romance', the atmospheric essence of a story, everywhere present but nowhere explicit. The reader inhabits this atmosphere and thus imaginatively gains connaître knowledge of the spiritual character which the tale was created to embody.

Planet Narnia is a ground-breaking study that will provoke a major revaluation not only of the Chronicles, but of Lewis's whole literary and theological outlook. Ward uncovers a much subtler writer and thinker than has previously been recognized, whose central interests were hiddenness, immanence, and knowledge by acquaintance.

Author Bio


Michael Ward is a minister in the Church of England. He is the co-editor of Heresies and How to Avoid Them and of the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis. His website is www.planetnarnia.com.

Product Reviews

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  1. vstefans
    Little Rock, AR
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    WOW. I've never read a book length dissertation...
    March 21, 2011
    vstefans
    Little Rock, AR
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    ...and enjoyed it so much! And I found myself convniced that the author is correct in his thesis. Granted, its on one of my favorite subjects, but it is also thoroughly well written and serves as an entre' to much other literature with which I was less familiar. The shorter version, The Narnia Code, is also an excellent abridgement written in a less scholarly style but with much of the same material, and I would recommend either or both to anyone who appreciates the Narnia series and its author.
  2. Doug Robinson
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    May 24, 2010
    Doug Robinson
    I recent spent 2 1/2 days visiting with Dr. Michael Ward, listening to him lecture, and having read two of his books, I commend this book as the best book on the thinking of C.S. Lewis in print. If you are ready for a deeper appreciation and understanding of Lewis' writing across the board, then read Planet Narnia--it's scope is far beyond The Narnia series.
  3. Sorina Higgins
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    January 16, 2008
    Sorina Higgins
    I heard Dr. Ward speak back in the summer of 2006, and I was instantly both a fan and a skeptic. His theory about the reason for seven Chronicles of Narnia is fascinating, beautiful, andso I thoughtimplausible. But since Dr. Ward was a very compelling speaker (and hes coming to speak at the school where I teach; see his tour schedule at www.planetnarnia.com ), I bought the book and am in chapter four at the moment. Wow! Im more a fan than ever, and barely a skeptic. Ive come to the conclusion (like Jim Como) that if Dr. Ward is wrong, it doesnt even matter, because his reading is completely lovely, plausible, useful, scholarly, thorough, and everything else a critics reading can be. But its more, too. It seems that he is inside of C. S. Lewiss head, thinking CSLs thoughts after him (if thats not sacrilegious!), quoting from all CSLs works as glibly and facilely as if he wrote them (or more; CSL was notoriously forgetful of his own writings, though of nobody elses), tying together disparate elements with ease and grace. His memory is prodigious, his scholarship impeccible, his writing clear and organized, his case lively and delightful. If Narnia needed any boost in popularity or any raising in the academic mind, here it is!
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