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"'The natural speech of the soul'",
This review is from: Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis (Paperback)
Learned critics have already called Michael Ward "the foremost living Lewis scholar...a brilliant writer", described this book as "a compelling case...painstaking scholarship", and declared that "no other book on Lewis has ever shown such comprehensive knowledge of his works and such depth of insight" (i). These things having been established, this review lifts up several additional salient points.
Ward says that the Chronicles "have found such a large readership because they communicate seven ancient [planetary] archetypes in a manner which is artistically and theologically suggestive" (4). Comparing the Chronicles to the Harry Potter stories of magic on Earth, and Tolkien's "Rings" imaginary Middle-earth, Ward identifies these two primary appealing aspects - art and theology - of Lewis' Chronicles dealing with the relationship of the Earth to the Heavens.
Archetypes, we know from the depth psychology of C. G. Jung and the mythology of Joseph Campbell, are universal symbols in the collective psyche to which everyone intrinsically relates. Just as Jung painted psychic imagery and phenomena in his Red Book, Lewis painted his characters and stories in the Chronicles and has said, "'symbols are the natural speech of the soul'" (230). In art and theology we consider (watch, as you read this book, for Ward's redefinition of this term) the eternal and divine aspects of humanity, and Lewis helps us do so in the Chronicles.
Ward describes his method in this book as "a 'reading between' the Chronicles and the rest of Lewis' writings", and discernment (5). One of the great values of this book is that Ward reads between Lewis and us, and helps us to discern Lewis' enormous contribution to us spiritually, theologically, and artistically, as well as literary. Ward accomplishes the astounding, long awaited, and desperately needed task of bridging chasms between religion, theology, cosmology, astronomy, and astrology, and redirecting us from reductionist to reintegrated view of the world, our existence in it, and reestablishing our relationship to the Heavens.
He has a great sense and expression of astrological character of the seven inner planets, Sun through Saturn. The outer forces, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, are considered by astrologers to be transpersonal, from which we may imply that Lewis is attempting to reach us personally. Lewis has said the Chronicles are "about Christ" (11), so it is fair to think that Lewis was painting for us possibilities of our relationship to the Divine while we are on Earth. Because Christ taught in allegory and story, it is reasonable to think that Lewis taught that way too.
The planets are archetypal, mythological, and cosmological stepping-stones of progressive consciousness between Earth and Heaven, and even physically are stones between us and the universe. Ward, in today's patois,"goes there", and as we read this amazing, not to be missed book, he takes us along.