Where is Narnia on the Map? The fantasy writing of C. S. Lewis
Encourages students to consider how what they read and watch affects their view of the world (SEAL theme: Self-awareness).
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage students to consider how what they read and watch affects their view of the world (SEAL theme: Self-awareness).
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and one or two readers.
- You may wish to show a favourite clip from one of the Chronicles of Narnia TV or film adaptations. If so, make sure you have the means to show it so everyone can see it.
- Download ‘Take me away’ by Globus (use the Song of Narnia version on YouTube if possible) to play at the end of the assembly and have the means to play it.
- Leader Fifty years ago this month, Clive Staples Lewis, who was better known to his friends as Jack, died in the city of Oxford. His full name probably doesn’t mean much to you. You’ll be far more familiar with his initials: C. S. Lewis.
- Reader C. S. Lewis was a very clever man. He was such a talented student that he was invited to become a tutor – known as a ‘Fellow’ – at Magdalen College, Oxford. He specialized in Medieval and Renaissance English literature, writing one of the most important books on the period. He was also a theologian, writing and debating about his belief in God. He felt it was very important to help other people believe. Mere Christianity, The Four Loves and A Grief Observed are examples of his theological books.
Leader Hold on a moment! I’m sure that’s all correct, but I can’t see many of us attempting to read obscure books like that. They sound far too deep for the likes of me.
Reader Maybe you’re right, but I was just saving the best until last. In fact, Lewis is best known to generations of adults and children as the author of the Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Voyage of the Dawntreader and Prince Caspian are probably the most well known of the seven novels in the series.
Show the clip from one of the stories at this point, if using.
- Leader That’s much more to my liking. They’re exciting stories, full of fantasy, a world that seems unreal, yet somehow relates to the world in which we live now. It’s as if I’m thinking through the opportunities and dilemmas I face every day in the story, yet always wanting to turn over the page to find out what’s happening next.
Reader That’s not all. Did you realize that he also wrote a series of science-fiction novels. He called it his Space Trilogy. Finally, there’s a really unusual book with the title The Screwtape Letters. It’s written as a set of letters from the Devil to one of his assistants down on Earth. It’s fascinating because it gets beneath the skin of ordinary people like you and me, showing how easily we’re tempted to do what we know is wrong.
Leader So what C. S. Lewis is doing is taking the ideas that are so important to him and putting them into stories rather than simply talking about abstract concepts. I rather like that idea. It’s not so different from when I read in Lord of the Rings about the battle between good and evil and the constant temptation to betray and be selfish.
Reader So you won’t be surprised if I tell you that C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien were great friends. They regularly went out for a pint together so they could have a good discussion. Lewis really was a remarkable writer.
Time for reflection
Leader What do you like reading or watching? Do you think it changes you in any way?
C. S. Lewis certainly hoped so. There was a purpose behind his novels as well as his non-fiction works. He wanted to get you and me to think about God and Jesus, because they were important to him. He didn’t actually use their names in his novels, but the Christian faith’s there for us to see if we look closely enough. Maybe you fancy having another read of one of the books to try and puzzle it out. Don’t worry – you’re bound to enjoy the story for its own sake as well anyway!
Thank you for writers such as C. S. Lewis, who set out to make us think.
May we be aware of the way everything we read has an effect on us.
May we choose wisely.
‘Take me away’ by Globus