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The Narnia Code Paperback – 12 Nov 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Paternoster (12 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842277227
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842277225
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.2 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 330,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Michael Ward has established himself not only as the foremost living Lewis scholar, but also as a brilliant writer.--Times Literary Supplement --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Unlock the secret to Narnia that has mystified readers for over half a century . . .
Millions of people have been captivated by C. S. Lewis's classic Chronicles of Narnia--but some questions have never been successfully answered. Why are there seven books? Why are only three of them obvious biblical allegories? Does the series lack coherence, as Lewis's critics (and even some of his friends) claimed? Many have attempted to discover the organizing key-- the "secret code"--of the series, but the structure of Narnia's symbolism has remained a mystery.
Until now.
In The Narnia Code, Michael Ward presents an astonishing literary discovery. Drawing on the whole range of Lewis's writings, Ward reveals the single subject that provides the link between all seven novels. He explains how Lewis structured the series, why he kept the code secret, and what it shows about his understanding of the universe and the Christian faith.
Originally published as the groundbreaking scholarly work Planet Narnia, this accessible adaptation holds the key to reading the Chronicles and understanding Lewis in a whole new way. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Michael Ward wrote the more substantial Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis to set forth the concept that the Narnia books each echo the characters of the seven mediaeval planets. It is an excellent book: however, it is a challenging read - unsurprising, as it is fundamentally a PhD thesis. He was invited to write a book defending this thesis at a more accessible level, and "The Narnia Code" is the outcome.

More than being a stripped down version of the other book, there is new material here - there's value in having both books. Ward has continued to explore the thesis, and the evidence in support of it is very strong, on the level of motive, opportunity and means.

A book about books always runs the risk of taking away the magic. In my opinion, as with Arthur Ransome and Captain Flint's Trunk, this book doesn't do this at all - it adds to the magic, once you can see how cleverly Lewis has used imagery to create the work. I would strongly recommend this book for anybody who has enjoyed the Narnia books enough to read more than one of them.
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Every child who ever loved Narnia knew instinctively that CSLewis was a genius but now Michael Ward has given every sceptic the proof that our instincts were right. Ward shows that each chronicle was structured from within so exquisitely finely that like all great creations they appeared deceptively simple but like Narnia itself have layers within layers within layers and the deeper you go in the bigger the place becomes.

I am lost for words as I contemplate the way every aspect of each of the mediaeval planets is so cleverly woven into the individual stories . For example Suddenly the horse and his boy shimmers in new and unrealised ways. Comments or observations that seem randomly chosen now have a much deeper meaning..

If you want to know why Lewis tells us Prince Cor was a boxer, why in the voyage of the dawn treader Eustace is turned into a dragon, why Bacchus appears in Prince Caspian, why the Queen of the underworld wears green, and why the apple tree is in the far west beyond NArnia and is guarded by a mysterious bird read on. These and hundreds of other unspoken questions will be answered. Why does Father Christmas appear in the lion the witch and the wardrobe, what is the significance of the very last sentence of Prince Caspian?, and above all why does Aslan behave in such different ways in each story.

Ward's analysis reveals utterly convincingly that Nothing , not one single line or word in the Narnia Chronicles has been chosen randomly or carelessly. Every single word, sentence and paragraph has been purposefully designed.
And when you see the design you just become more and more in awe of the whole.
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Michael Ward's thesis is that each of CS Lewis' Narnia stories relates to one of the seven "planets" (the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) in the cosmology of the medieval and ancient world. Undoubtedly there is a great deal of material in the Narnia books that reflects the characteristics of the seven planets. However, Ward has not produced a single shred of actual evidence that CS Lewis planned the series so that each book is based on the characteristics of one of the planets. If Lewis planned it that way, he did not tell his brother, his lifelong friend and correspondent Arthur Greeves, his literary friends the Inklings, his publisher, or Pauline Baynes the original illustrator of the books.

Ward therefore has to fall back on the claim that Lewis was secretive and could sometimes tell falsehoods. What Ward calls secretiveness was actually confidentiality. One would not call a doctor secretive because he or she refused to divulge medical information about a patient. The reasons why Lewis married Joy Davidman (p 12) were surely also good reasons for keeping the marriage confidential (secret - if you prefer). Ward's example of falsehood is an occasion when Lewis saved a fox by misdirecting the hunt. This is laughable. Surely any of us would have felt sympathy for the fox and been tempted to do what Lewis did.

Ward likens his "discovery" of the "Narnia Code" to Archimedes discovering the principle of displacement in his bath (p 15) and to John Adams' prediction of the existence of another planet beyond Uranus (p 10). In fact there is no comparison. These two events could both be confirmed by experiment and observation. The only way to check Ward's thesis would be by finding a document in which Lewis confirms it.
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Format: Paperback
This is not another 'Dan Brown' thriller but is far deeper and more satisfying. It gives a beautiful insight into the mystery of divine creation and makes a compelling case for the value of early scientific models of the Universe which we so readily dismiss in the light of modern discoveries. This delightful book opens a window on the beautiful mind of C S Lewis and made me want to re-read all the Narnia books again. I thoroughly recommend this book to any enquirer after truth.
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Amazon should pay their full share of tax in the UK!

This is a more accessible book covering similar ground to Michael Ward's more academic tome "Planet Narnia" - in fact, it sets itself up as a warm-up activity to that book. You can then go on to Planet Narnia to go deeper (and I probably will).

Ward is very good at setting up why some have found the Narnia books to have something missing - an apparently absent third meaning beyond the Fairy Tale front and the Christian subtext beneath. He recounts how he stumbled across this third meaning, when it occurred to him that the seven Narnia books each represent one of the seven planets in the pre-Copernican perception of the universe. Where each planet - in its own level - was also defined by certain characteristics. These characteristics become themes within each of the Narnia books. So, for example. "The Silver Chair" is associated with the moon, or Luna, which itself is associated with lunacy, instability and mind games.

I've only read "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" as an adult, and probably had various others read to me when I was very young. But I found this book to be fascinating even without being overly familiar with the Narnia series.

My only gripe is that sometimes Ward gets a little too colloquial - but that's just a matter of style and taste.

This is a compelling book to anyone interested in CS Lewis. I highly recommend it.
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