Tuesday, December 13, 2005

On CS Lewis

Back link to my post: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Splendid essay on Lewis, his religion and, more importantly, his imagination by Adam Gopnik. From the New Yorker. It's
The Narnian books are set fair to be a very lucrative franchise for Disney. They don't even need to be too much in a hurry since the characters change over the 7 books thus obviating the inconveniences of aging actors.
However, there is one characteristic of the books that will require some creative editing. At a certain point Narnia suffers a slip in status, from 'world' to country. And as a country among others, it has enemies. It so happens that these enemies have complexions that are not English country apple, are ruled by a warrior caste presided over by a despot, deploy onion-shaped domes and worship a god called Tash. Some might go so far as to say that they resemble the Ottoman Turks. This is liable to cause a fuss. What will Disney do?
I think the reason that Lewis's baddies took this form is not hard to find. His first, and probably most enduring academic book, The Allegory of Love, showed an unfashionable enthusiasm for, among others, Ariosto and Torquato Tasso, whose books (Orlando Furioso and Gerusalemme liberata, Jerusalem Delivered) sang of heroes and heroic deeds against the Moor and the Saracen. Lewis himself had founght in the war that had finally brought down the Ottoman Empire, long the 'Sick Man of Europe'. At the time of writing the Narnian books, a Saracen-style enemy must have seemed both well-sourced in the collective English imagination but also as belonging to another time, safely in the past. The wheel turns.

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