Session 22: Feb. 24th, 2010 – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Ch. 2

Domenico di Michelino, La Divina Commedia di D...
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Dear Readers,

Thanks for attending the Feb. 24th session. How did you find the pace? Was it too slow? Too fast? As always, I will be glad to receive your comments.

In this session, we touched on a number of topics:

  1. CS Lewis’ philosophy (his Christianity, his idea of “reality” and heaven and hell – a big thanks to Yoko for her report on The Great Divorce),
  2. the Scandinavian mythology, properly called Norse mythology (or in Japanese 北欧神話here)
  3. fauns and
  4. dryads
  5. and nyads (or naiads)
  6. Silenus (Silenus appears as a character in a later Narnia story, Prince Caspian)
  7. and Bacchus or Dionysus
  8. allegory; famous allegorical stories in Western literature are
    1. Dante’s Divine Comedy,
    2. John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress,
    3. and a modern one for children (fun and easy to read, and I warmly recommend it) called The Phantom Tollbooth (and on Amazon Japan here [www_amazon_co_jp] )

The next session will be Wednesday, March 10th, 3-5 pm. Your homework is to finish reading Chapter 2, and read chapters 3-5. In the next session, we will not read all the text, but only read some excerpts. I will ask you to give short summaries of the chapters.

If you find some interesting or useful articles or books in Japanese about CS Lewis, either general ones, or ones about the Narnia or other stories, please pass them on to me.

Also, I encourage you to try and read some other works by C.S. Lewis. If his adult fiction sounds too difficult, then how about trying another Narnia story? Although the one we are now reading is the most well known, I think some of the other Narnia stories are even better and more satisfying.

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How to get more enjoyment out of reading

Do you enjoy reading English? Are you enjoying the story we are reading at the moment? Did you know that you can get some benefit from reading a book even if you do not really like the story?

Some of you have told me you are happy to read CS Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch nd the Wadrobe”. However, perhaps there are some of you who are not so happy, or who do not enjoy this story so much.  I hope so! People who do not like the story can be of great help to us. Why? Because of dialectics 弁証法

Dialectics is a vital part of Western thinking. One example is the justice system: in court, the judge (or jury) hears not just one side of the story but both sides. The purpose is not necessarily to find the truth, but to decide which story is more probable. Justic cannot be done from hearing only one side. (This system is also called the adversarial system.)

What has this got to do with reading an English children’s story?  Is it a good story? Is it well-written? Does it have interesting dialogue? Are the characters believable? If you like the story, you can learn more about why it is a good story if you first

  1. hear someone else criticize the story, then
  2. defend the book (and your opinion) against this criticism.

We will discuss the merits (and weaknesses) of this story more after we have finished reading it. In the meantime, if you do not like this story, or if you find yourself losing interest, I encourage you to come forward and express yourself! Your thoughts are very welcome, in fact very useful and important.

Until our next session.

Session 21 Follow-up 2

Plaque on a park-bench in Bangor, County Down
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Thanks to one of our members (thank you, Yoko), below is a list of links to Japanese websites related to CS Lewis. Perhaps one (or more) of you will have enough time and interest to read something else by C.S. Lewis in Japanese and tell us about it at one of our future sessions.

  1. A brief biography of C.S. Lewis in easy-to-read table format
  2. A list of Japanese translations of works by Lewis
  3. A list of Japanese translations of works by Lewis by the Japanese bookstore Junku-do

Tezukayama University library has a number of books, by C.S. Lewis, as well as books about Lewis, in both English and Japanese (actually more books in Japanese than in English). You can search the library online by clicking here.

C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters has been translated into Japanese, and is titled 悪魔の手紙

One of the links below is to a dramatization of Lewis’ allegory, The Great Divorce (Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis), now playing in Seattle. (The Japanese translation is called 天国と地獄の離婚―ひとつの夢)

And here, a young mother blogs about reading Lewis’ Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold (in Japanese, 顔を持つまで 王女プシケーと姉オリュアルの愛の神話). It’s nice and short, and gives you an idea of what it’s about, and whether you would like to read it or not.

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Session 21 Follow-up

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1979)
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In Session 21, we read chapter 1 of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and discussed it. Some of the matters we discussed were:

  • the evacuation of London during World War II
  • the delight of exploring new places
  • the attraction of large buildings with lots of rooms (perhaps it reminded Lewis of the image in the Bible (New Testament): “In my Father’s house are many rooms” John 14:1-4)
  • what we learn about the four children from what they say in chapter 1
  • the possible significance of the children’s names (Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy all the names have a long history, but only two of the names are Biblical (Peter and Susan)
  • big books (especially the Bible – some – photos – here)
  • how some words have changed in meaning and use since 1950 when the book was first published (especially chap, wireless and queer)
  • badgers – a well-known and well-loved wild animal in Britain.
  • the meaning of “bluebottle“: is it a fly or a flower?

(to be continued…)

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