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The Lion's World - A journey into the heart of Narnia Paperback – Illustrated, 16 Aug 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: SPCK Publishing (16 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 028106895X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0281068951
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Reading Rowan Williams on C. S. Lewis is like watching two old friends in animated discussion of great, powerful themes. It helps that both are (of course) highly literate: Shakespeare, Thomas Merton, Augustine and others flit across the pages. It helps more, particularly for those just discovering Lewis (or indeed Williams) that both write with lucid and engaging clarity. But what really counts is that, as with the two on the Emmaus Road, we constantly sense a third presence, that of the Lion who will not let us rest in our own little self-deceits but who constantly challenges us to discover the larger joys of his new creation. Those who have loved Narnia since childhood will here discover fresh and sometimes disturbing depths of meaning and power. Those who don't know it will be stimulated to read the stories for themselves. Those who have tried to debunk Lewis and his children's books will find Williams more than a match for them, not as an uncritical apologist but as a wise and humane expositor. How fortunate, and appropriate, for Lewis's old Cambridge college to have Williams as its new Master.' --Tom Wright, Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, University of St Andrews

'I have often thought there was more to Lewis than is often noticed by his enthusiastic readers. Now he has Rowan Williams, who helps us see that Lewis, who certainly had his limits, was an extraordinary imaginative mind who was able to 'rinse out what is stale in our thinking about Christianity'. Williams' account of the Narnia Chronicles, therefore, helps us rinse out any too-easy criticisms of their author. And together Lewis and Williams enable us to imagine what it might mean to see God in the everyday. We are in Rowan Williams' debt for this deft reading of C. S. Lewis.' --Stanley Hauerwas, Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School, North Carolina

'Like the Wardrobe, this book opens a door into another world. It takes the reader further up and further in to that world, a world that deepens the imagination and warms the soul. In the company of Rowan Williams, the already rich world of Narnia becomes a theological feast of delight.' --Paula Gooder, Canon Theologian of Birmingham and Guildford Cathedrals

About the Author

Rowan Williams is the Archbishop of Canterbury. His most recent books include A Silent Action: Engagements with Thomas Merton (2011), Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction (2011), Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief (2007), Grace and Necessity: Reflections on Art and Love (2006) and Silence and Honey Cakes: The Wisdom of the Desert (2004).

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ronni Lamont on 4 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
I found this book - dare I confess the first by Rowan Williams that I've managed to finish - profoundly challenging in the gentlest way. His analysis of the Narnia books is deep and serious, not letting Lewis off the hook, but scratching deeper to see the underlying truth that is there. I had to keep stopping and reflecting on what I'd just read, and the truth contained therein for me. This is a book that I shall return to regularly, and I beleive will come away with fresh nuggets every time. Three cheers for the Archbishop- I'm just sorry I missed the talks that the book is based on.The Lion's World: A journey into the heart of Narnia
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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Taylor Carey on 14 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
`I can only confess', writes Rowan Williams, `to being repeatedly humbled and reconverted by Lewis in a way that is true of few other modern Christian writers'. This is a serious statement, not least from an Archbishop who speaks and writes eleven languages, and who is also a world-renowned theologian and accomplished literary critic and poet. As ever, Williams acknowledges his opposition: `Not every reader has been charmed by C.S. Lewis' Narnia stories'. But here, in The Lion's World, is Williams' gallant and supremely eloquent defence of their author, as a believer, a writer and a modern-day literary apostle.

Williams notes that he `came late to Narnia', even with his own `obsessively bookish childhood'. Before he had walked through the Wardrobe or sailed in the Dawn Treader, he had read many of Lewis' apologetic works - Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain and Miracles - alongside his other notable works of fiction. For this, we must be grateful: Williams' narrative is enriched with a majestically broad understanding of Narnia's context within the wider themes that echo across Lewis' work, and which, at their best, convey `a simple intensity of feeling about God'. The Lion's World is not a systemic guide to interpretation - Williams is happy to leave such a task to the likes of Michael Ward, whose excellent book Planet Narnia is reverently referenced - but rather a series of reflections on Lewis' central themes: the exhilaration of an encounter with the Divine `other', the avoidance of self-delusion, and the joy of the surprising discovery of God.

For all the uplifting grand narrative, Williams does not ignore the thorny issues with which readers of Lewis must contend.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By J. DOUGLAS VINE VOICE on 24 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
Clarity and creativity are fused with imagination and interpretation in this sweep of Narnia. Rowan William's insight & writing are majestic. There is freshness and warmth to the underbelly of this beautiful new work. The lightness of touch must not disguise the depth of incision, with a poetic and gracious twist:- "Being told your story doesn't compel your assent!" Themes are movingly gathered and wisely explored here.

In The Lion's World, Aslan is taken as an orthodox read-across from Jesus. The depiction of Aslan the Lion lets us sense afresh "what the experience of God is `like'", shedding delusion & falsehood. "Transcendence is the wildness of joy; and the truth of God becomes a revolution against what we have made of ourselves."

This will certainly become a classic for lives enriched by the power of Narnia. This is brought together attractively in a new format SPCK volume with enhancing artwork brought to us by Monica Capoferri. Probing, provocative & a sheer pleasure!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Michael Lumsden on 16 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cards on the table, I am a big fan of Narnia. I guess I read the stories on an annual basis and recommend them to everyone I can.
So to me the fact that former Archbishop Rowan has written this book is great as it adds weight to my recommendations and validity to my love for the stories.
There was one huge plus points for me. Rowan focuses on Aslan. The title did not alert me to this but the focus is well placed. While there is a section on meeting the criticisms that have been raised Rowan comes back consistently to how Aslan behaves and what he actually does. I have gone back to the stories to re-read all the dialogue involving Aslan - and it is very instructive.
I only give the book 3 stars because I was hoping for much more; I have great respect for the author,and expected him to be able to point out depths that I had not appreciated. However, some reviewers have praised the book for being concise - you cannot have both brevity and great depth.
I would recommend the book on the grounds that reading it will open up a new understanding or affirm an understanding that has already been gained.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By jfa on 12 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book gives great insight into the works of CS Lewis, particularly the tales of Narnia. Rowan Williams highlights Lewis' vision of heaven in a very clear way. It is a very enjoyable and worthwhile, if serious, read. I strongly recommend it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Peter M. on 22 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant meditation (not analysis) on what is, on one level, a rather lightweight series of children's books. As a gifted writer and theologian, Rowan Williams reveals the real ingenuity of Lewis's writing and his spiritual insights. Williams' discussion of the removal of the dragon's skin from Eustace is peerless. He also make some very good non-theological points, such Lewis' borrowings from Edith Nesbit and that his world is Edwardian rather than postwar. However I found Williams' constant apologies for Lewis' non-PC views rather grating to say the least. Having said that, reading some of the comments in the readers' reviews of the Narnia chronicles elsewhere in Amazon I recognise his hand-wringing defence of Lewis may be necessary nowadays. Sometimes I feel he distances himself from Lewis by saying "Lewis says this" and "Lewis says that", but at other times he identifies himself quite closely with Lewis, so perhaps this is just Rowan Williams the former professor elapsing into an academic style of writing. Most of the time, this book is very readable and certainly worth reading. But I can only give it four stars because of the PC aspect.
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