So I’ve finished re-reading the Magician’s Nephew.I’d wondered how I would find this book, as I know I enjoyed it as a child, but I don’t think I felt as emotionally attached to it as other books, such as PC or VDT.
Usually, when I’ve completed a book, I discuss the negative and positive responses I’ve had during the re-read. To be fair, there wasn’t much I didn’t enjoy about MN. I suppose that if I had to choose something, the increasingly obvious links to religion in ‘our world’ weren’t a huge favourite of mine. (Although I don’t suppose anything in MN is quite as obvious as the lamb at the end of VDT.) Aside from that, the only other thing I wasn’t hugely keen on was the use, as elsewhere in the Chronicles, of ‘cockney’ speech.
There were, however, a number of highlights in this book for me. One was Polly. I think I may have slightly overlooked Polly in my youth in favour of Jill and Lucy. Returning to her as an adult, I really liked what I found. She’s adventurous and imaginative (why else would you create a smuggler’s cove in your attic?) but not reckless or thoughtless. She is the voice of reason when Digory is tempted to do things he really shouldn’t – although he doesn’t always listen to her. She has her weaknesses, sometimes being a little short-tempered for example, but this only adds to the feeling that she is an authentic girl, rather than a plot device. She’s certainly not afraid to speak her mind. I always appreciate that in female characters in particular.
The humour in this book makes it an enjoyable, quite light-hearted read. Many of the comic touches, particularly those relating to Uncle Andrew and the brand new animals of Narnia really amused me. In comparison with books such as SC, LB and PC, the book itself felt ‘lighter’. (This links in with Michael Ward’s ‘Planet Narnia’, where he states that this book is linked to the medieval associations of the planet Venus. (Laughter is one of these.)
Another association of Venus is beauty. I really do think that some of the passages in this book could be described as beautiful, particularly the re-imagined creation of a world. (Vitality and creativity are also Venusian traits.) The wood between the worlds, the silent, mystical garden, and the flight to reach it, crossing the lands of Narnia are also gorgeously – and memorably – written about.
The tenderness between Digory and his mother, and Aslan’s understanding of Digory’s pain are, to my mind, quite moving.I think this is especially the case now that I am aware of the parallels with the author’s own life. You really do wish that Lewis, and all the people you have known in similar situations, could have access to a magical apple.
Finally, the Magician’s Nephew is delightful in its foreshadowing. We nod sagely as the lamppost is planted. As Digory moves to the special house in the country. As the tree is turned into a wardrobe. The land we’ve already grown to love makes a little more sense to us now. We love being in on the secrets.