"A biblical profundity that was unlike anything else" Lizzi Hawkins on the Narnia series

Posted 5 Nov 2018 by Writing Squad in Writing Squad Reviews

We think we know Narnia. Lots of talking animals and something to do with a sailing ship with a cool name. But that's the Hollywood version. The original series is way darker and meaningful than that, even for an atheist. Here, Lizzi Hawkins from The Writing Squad, explains why ...

Aslan"Of all the questions surrounding reading and writing, one that I find most difficult to answer is when I’m asked what my favourite book is – there are too many good books, and it seems almost impossible to settle on one. So perhaps it’s fair that instead of choosing one book for this piece, I’ve managed, purely accidentally, to choose seven. We’ve all probably seen, or maybe read, ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe’, but there’s so much more to the Narnia series than that single story, excellent as it is. Last summer, I reread the entire series, made up of seven short books, of which ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe’ is, in fact, the second, and was reminded how formative these stories had been for me. Sometimes myths, sometimes more like fairy tales, often just excellent adventures, these stories are a beautiful exercise in world-building.

Magicians Nephew CS Lewis NarniaMy favourites (at the moment at least) are ‘The Magician’s Nephew’, the very first story, where we see the creation of Narnia, and learn how the magical wardrobe came to be, and ‘The Silver Chair’, where we re-enter Narnia at a much darker time in its future to rescue a lost prince. These two, along with ‘The Horse and his Boy’, one of the more frightening books, set in the desert south of Narnia, and ‘The Last Battle’, the final story, are the ones that inevitably never make it to the big screen, but which remain really special to me, for their captivating storylines, and their moving, often unexpected morals. They are the heavier books of the series, carrying a biblical profundity that was unlike anything else I read as a child.

Silver Chair Narnia LewisReading them again as an older person, the religious connotations are much more clear to me – I understand now that C.S. Lewis wrote the collection of stories with the intention of introducing children to Christianity in a more appealing format. Despite being an atheist though, I relish the presence of these biblical undertones – they open the door for Lewis to mine some of the most ancient and powerful tropes in storytelling: death and resurrection, sacrifice, pilgrimage, return from the wilderness, the battle between good and evil, sometimes for an individual, sometimes for the whole of his magical world. I’d recommend these tales to anyone, not just children, and not just Christians, because you can find everything in them – a fleshed out fantasy universe to rival the best science-fiction, powerful stories of love and revelation, delicate explanations of faith, and most importantly storylines that refuse to let you go. I challenge anyone not to be captivated by them."

Lizzi HawkinsLizzi Hawkins is a poet from West Yorkshire.  She shares her time between her hometown of Leeds, and the University of Cambridge, where she is studying for a degree in Engineering. She has performed in venues across the north, most recently with Carol Ann Duffy and Imtiaz Dharker at Ilkley Literature Festival.

Lizzi Hawking Osteology Book CoverLizzi’s poems are published or upcoming in The Rialto, The North, The Cadaverine, The Compass Magazine and several anthologies. She is a winner of the 2017 Poetry Business New Poets Prize and has been Commended in the Foyle Young Poets’ Award. Her pamphlet Osteology is available from Smith Doorstop.

North West Libraries

Librarians in the North West have pioneered partnership working to encourage new readers into libraries. Time To Read is a partnership of librarians engaged in reader development activity in public library authorities in the North West Region. 22 public library authorities in the region currently support Time To Read.

Keep up to date

Follow Us

  • flickr
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • twitter

We use cookies to help us provide you with a better service, but do not track anything that can be used to personally identify you.

If you prefer us not to set these cookies, please visit our Cookie Settings page or continue browsing our site to accept them.