The meaning of “shadowlands”

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Shadowlands is the title of a book and the movie made from the book, about C. S. Lewis‘ marriage. In the movie, C.S. Lewis mentions the word “shadowlands”: he explains that it was the title of a story he wrote. “Shadowlands” referred to a place in shadow – the sun shone somewhere else, but not here.

An alert reader pointed out that the same word, “shadowlands”, appears in the last Narnian story, “The Last Battle” and helpfully found the quotation for me on the Internet:

‘There was a real railway accident,’ said Aslan softly. ‘Your father and mother and all of you are – as you used to call it in the Shadowlands – dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is over: this is the morning.’

After reading this, I wrote,

That suggests that this reality, this planet Earth, is the “Shadowland”, i.e. a preparation for the reality which comes in another world. That fits with the idea in “The Great Divorce”, where Heaven is the real reality: what was experienced before Heaven was only half real. Hell, or purgatory, is a kind of “shadowland”: everything is grey and cloudy and dull. Not exactly night, but not exactly bright day either.

The conversation continues here, if you are interested.

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6 thoughts on “The meaning of “shadowlands””

  1. Yea though I walk through the valley of the the SHADOW of death.. also see Matthew 5 referring to this earth as the shadow land.. CS read his Bible and applied it to his writing.. simple.
    We live on earth ..the Shadow Land .. stained by sin and ever in darkness..

  2. Our small Anglican church has scheduled a weekly course through this summer on “The Great Divorce.” Looking forward to it!

  3. This diminution of creation — the only world there is — is a rather problematic tradition of deviation within Christianity.

    Lewis would have been thinking in Germanic and Nordic languages and symbolism — Das Abendlands, literally means “the evening lands.”

    Als Abendland (auch das christliche Abendland) oder Okzident (auch der Westen) wurde ursprünglich der westliche Teil Europas bezeichnet, besonders Deutschland, England, Frankreich, Italien und die Iberische Halbinsel.

    The West (also the Christian Occident ) or Occident (also the West ) was originally the western part of Europe , especially Germany , England , France , Italy and the Iberian Peninsula.

    Since the Romantic era , especially in German-speaking countries, a special tradition has developed around the concept of the West, which found its final culmination in a real Occidental ideology of the 1950s.

    According to the historian Wolfgang Benz , the term Occidental was used in Latin Christianity as a “term of struggle or exclusion” against external enemies such as Byzantium or Islam . But a unified Christian Occident never existed, but the power of the state played a greater role than faith. The term has recently become less important until the protest movement ” Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident ” recaptured it. [15]

    (German Wikipedia)

    1. Thank you for your knowledgeable comment. another Brit who’s fallen under the spell of the Norse gods is Neil Gaiman, about whose “American Gods” I blogged recently here.

  4. I enjoyed the above especially linking thoughts with The Great Divorce. Wondered if you knew the words, ‘as you used to call it in the shadowlands’, comes in the final chapter of The Last Battle: ‘Farewell to Shadowlands’.

    Keep on the sunny side.


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