Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Chronology of Narnia

No, the title of this post is not a spelling mistake.  For some time now I've been working on a defense of reading C.S Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia in the order they were published rather than in the order that Harper Collins has reissued the books in.  I know the reason behind why Harper Collins has reissued them in the so-called chronological order (although even that chronology can't be totally accurate as the actions of A Horse and His Boy happen near the end of but not after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe).  However, I believe it is a mistake to read the stories in this new order and I believe it is pretty clear that this is not really what Lewis wanted at all, despite the case that the publisher makes based on one of Lewis's letters responding to a child's question (of course an old-school English gentleman is going to agree with a young child who says that he believes that reading the books in their chronological order is the best way).  I also believe that to read them in the "chronological" order rather than in the published order will greatly diminish the experience for readers and may even turn off younger readers altogether in much the same way that reading The Silmarillion, the events of which happen long before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, would deter most readers from ever attempting The Hobbit and LOTR, especially young ones.  I have been working on my case for a while now, but I find that Trevin Wax has already done it in a convincing manner by compiling the reasons some others have put forward.  While the arguments he has pulled together don't say all there is to say in favour of reading Narnia in order of publication - there are more reasons and literary proofs he could have given - in themselves they already make a convincing argument for publication order.  I heartily commend his compendium of arguments for why you should read Narnia in publication order.

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