"Michael Ward's Planet Narnia is an example of a very rare species: a work of literary detection which, despite the breathtaking daring of its central thesis, is utterly convincing and compelling. Once you realise -- as most of Lewis's enthusiastic readers have not done -- the extent to which their hero was soaked in mediaeval cosmology, and saw some of its key elements as pointers to profound aspects of God-given reality, the pieces fall into place with the combined thrill of an aesthetic, intellectual and spiritual satisfaction. Ward anticipates and more than answers every possible objection to his stunning proposal. His detailed scholarship, down to the use of Lewis's underlining of particular passages in his own copies of obscure mediaeval poetry, reinforces the thesis at every point. Reading the Narnia books will, in the best sense, never be the same again -- not that anything will be lost, but that an entire new layer of understanding will be present, shedding a quiet but powerful light on each story and on the collection as a whole. It's rather like the moment when Albert Schweitzer explained to his French organ teacher what the Bach chorales were all about, by referring them back to the Lutheran hymns Bach had in mind, a whole world of which French Catholicism had been ignorant. Suddenly the music made a whole new sense, without losing anything of its previous beauty. What's more, Ward's own writing, though academically rigorous in expounding complex and sometimes abstract themes, is not without its own literary beauty, its own webs of allusion and echo, and its own spiritual challenge to the shrunken imagination, cosmology and theology of our own day. Lewis may count himself lucky that the person who would tumble to his long-buried secret was one whose own powers of understanding and expression would be equal to the task, not just of proposing it to a surprised public, but of exploring and explaining the theme in a manner worthy of its subject-matter."
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Our last meeting of the Society for the '08-'09 season was this past Friday, 7:00-8:00 P.M. at Rock Point Books - 4th & Broad. The topic for our meeting was Lewis' book Reflections on the Psalms. D.V., we'll start back up in September. We should have our autumn, '09, agenda posted here by summer's end.