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A Reader’s Guide Through the Wardrobe: Exploring C. S. Lewis’s Classic Story

July 14, 2011

Justin Taylor:

Several years ago I read Leland Ryken and Marjorie Lamp Mead’s A Reader’s Guide Through the Wardrobe: Exploring C. S. Lewis’s Classic Story. It was not only a helpful introduction to and analysis of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as literature, but a very helpful compendium in its own right of how to read fiction in general.

Here’s an outline of an article by Leland Ryken on bad ways—and good ways—to read the book:

Bad:

  • Use The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe instead of receiving it.
  • Value The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe primarily as a collection of ideas.
  • Assume that when Lewis composed The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, he started with a set of ideas and then created fictional details to embody them.

Good:

  • Read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first as an escape from the real world to an imagined world.
  • Enter into the particulars of the imagined world that a writer creates.
    View the far-flung fantasies of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a window to reality and truth.
  • Value the artistry and technique of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a self-rewarding aesthetic experience.
  • Recognize and value the religious and moral viewpoints embodied in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Read the whole thing.

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