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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6 thoughts on “Session 22: Feb. 24th, 2010 – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Ch. 2”

  1. In an episode of the Japanese manga “Detective Conan”, a cat is called “Aslan”! It is large, of a type called “Himalayan” in Japanese, but otherwise has no special powers. This is an example of intertextuality, although in this case, it is just a kind of “name-dropping“: knowing that “Aslan” is the name created by C.S. Lewis for the recurring character of the lion in his Narnia stories, does not help you understand the Konan story any better. It is just a piece of literary trivia (useless information).

    And here’s another piece of useless information: the Japanese manga series “Detective Conan” is known as “Case Closed”in English-speaking countries (thanks to Wikipedia).

  2. In the last class we learned many elements which form part of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”; especially about the characters (should I say gods and goddess of pantheism?) from Greek and Scandinavian myths which have much influence on the story.
    The phrase “And the tune he played made Lucy want to cry and laugh and dance and go to sleep all the same time.” sounds like a melting pot of feeling and seems to have no direction about it at first sight. But perhaps it is related to one of Lewis’ ideas about for ” free choice” (as was mentioned in connection with “The Great Divorce”), and “determination”, important matter for growth, as we learned.

    1. “And the tune he played made Lucy want to cry and laugh and dance and go to sleep all the same time.”
      This has more to do with Lewis’ ideas about art and its effects on human beings. Have you never heard music like this? Perhaps paintings or some poems have this effect on you? Although Lewis was a professor of literature, and student of ancient and medieval literature, he seemed to keep, unlike other professors, a strong, childlike freshness in his reaction to literature and poetry. Instead of getting lost in boring details about history and philosophy, he experienced intensely the feelings of pleasure that literature and poetry (and art and music and dance) made on him. Here is Lewis writing about his feelings on reading a few sentences by the psychologist Karl Jung:

      “Isn’t this grand?… I am with Schliemann digging up what he believed to be the very bones of Agamemnon, king of kings: I am with Collingwood discovering behind the Arthurian stories some far-off echo of real happenings in the thick darkness of British history: with Asia in the fourth act of Prometheus following her dream down, down into the cave of Demogorgon: with Wordsworth, sinking deep and ascending into regions ‘to which the heaven of heavens is but a veil‘: with Alice [in Wonderland], finding … the little door which she could not pass, which led to the delectable garden: with my own past self, hoping, as a child, for that forgotten, that undiscovered room. I am… with Renaissance magicians and seekers for the sources of the Nile. In a word, I am enjoying myself immensely.” (“Psycho-analysis and literary criticism”, in Selected Literary Essays, 1942.)

      1. Even more than Lewis’ immense knowledge, it is amazing that he kept his spirit young, so that when he read his favorite pieces of literature he reacted spontaneously. Such reaction tends to be left behind.

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