November 22, 2002

Prince Caspian, by C.S. Lewis

Just the other night, David and I finished reading Prince Caspian together. It was lovely: Lewis' prose is a joy to read aloud, just flowing off of my tongue effortlessly. For comparison, after even a couple of pages of Redwall I was tired and ready to stop. Part of the difference is that Redwall is written in a cinematic style; it's as though a camera is following the characters around. Lewis, on the other hand, is an old-fashioned story-teller. Where it's appropriate to be terse and just tell us something, he does so without dramatizing it. But that's not the whole difference; Lois McMaster Bujold writes in a cinematic style, and her prose is also lovely to read aloud. I dunno.

I'd never Prince Caspian aloud before, or so slowly (one chapter a night), and so I'd never really noticed what an odd book it is. It's supposedly about Prince Caspian's efforts to regain his throne from his usurping Uncle Miraz with the aid of "Old Narnia" (the Talking Beasts, dwarves, woodnymphs, and of course Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy). And yet the central conflict in the book has nothing to do with Caspian at all. Morally speaking, the book is about Lucy and her willingness to follow Aslan's guidance even if it means angering her siblings, or even leaving them behind. Lewis devotes the better part of three chapters to it, in what is (after all) a very short book. And upon reflection, it becomes clear that Caspian's victory and the salvation of Narnia are both rooted in Lucy's courage in following Aslan in the face of stern opposition. Interesting.

Posted by Will Duquette at November 22, 2002 06:47 PM

a said: