Na na na nar nia

Zoe Williams rightly told people to lay off Narnia, if they were attacking it purely on the basis of its Christian subtext. That’s reasonable, but I would add the rider that one oughtn’t to attack it because it has a Christian subtext; rather, as I argued a couple of years ago, the fact that the religious subtext twists a decent story into something only fully comprehensible if one already knows the details of the subtext.

On that theme, rgl has directed me to an excellent in-depth New Yorker article about C S Lewis. It explains a great deal about the man commonly known as a “Christian apologist”—enough, maybe, for even the most ardent anti-religionist to become a Lewis apologist—and why Americans and British are, as usual, talking different languages when they try and discuss him. Along with the slightly obsessed religious fruitcake, we should remember that there was a good writer in Lewis, wrestling all the time for the controls:

“The best of the books are the ones… where the allegory is at a minimum and the images just flow.”

Interestingly, as far as I can remember, there is no religion in Lord of the Rings. Certainly, as that article says, “dead is dead.” I can’t help feel, even though I’m more or less atheist myself, that this leaves a hole at the centre of the saga. Wasn’t Tolkien trying to somehow rediscover the great Briton myth that oral culture had lost for us? What, and they didn’t worship anything before Christianity?

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