The Chronicles of Narnia

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The Chronicles of Narnia are a series of best-selling children’s books by C.S. Lewis. The original illustrations were by Pauline Baynes. The books concern the adventures of children from our world in Narnia, a mythical, magical kingdom (except for The Horse and his Boy, whose heroes are from the Narnian world. However, it takes place during the reign of earth children, and all the four original heroes are mentioned in the narrative, three appear briefly in the story). The novels are highly allegorical ( a literary field in which Lewis was an expert) and the young heroes, although far from perfect, are well-mannered and well behaved. The few who are not learn better behaviour and ethics as a result of their Narnian experiences. Lewis said that The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was at least partially written to teach children standards of good conduct. They were not planned as a series; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was, according to its dedication, a gift for Lewis’s goddaughter, Lucy Barfield (Lucy is the name of its main heroine).

Although undeniably children’s fantasy, the Narnia books remain popular with adults as well, and have been routinely analysed. They have been in continually in print since 1954. They are often cited as worthy teaching tools by religious institutions, particularly Christian educators, because of their lessons in ethics and morality. But both Lewis and his stepson Douglas Gresham have pointed out that the books are not particularly or exclusively Christian; Lewis drew from many sources of mythology to create the Narnian world.

Recently, interest has been renewed because of the acclaimed Disney film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the planned production of other titles in the series.

Praise for the books is not completely universal. Some Christian groups condemn Lewis’s use of mythology and magic mixed with Christian allegory. Lewis has sometimes been accused of sexism and racism in his work, and a few contemporary writers including J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame have suggested that Lewis has a problem with sex and punishes his characters for it; all of these criticisms are hotly debated..

The estate of C.S. Lewis has protected the works and characters and defended their copyright. However, it has recently been suggested that new stories by selected authors may eventually be allowed into the canon.


In order of publication

It is sometimes suggested that the books should be read in chronological order of Narnian time, in which case the reading order would be:

  • The Magician’s Nephew
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • Prince Caspian
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • The Silver Chair
  • The Last Battle

However, most fans argue for reading the works in the order in which they were published, though Lewis himself later said that he couldn’t be certain that all the books were originally written in publication order.