If you ask us, very few novels are written like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, and there’s one thing specific that makes us think this: How the fantasy reaches other levels.
If you haven’t given yourself a chance to read and appreciate this masterpiece, we truly encourage you to do so, and for an introduction, you can pretty much read this article.
However, if you have read it and consider it is a bit underrated, we quite get your point as well. The fact that we like it like many other people doesn’t mean we don’t understand some arguments such as: “It is too similar to others” (though we doubt them).
Keeping in mind that you probably haven’t read it and considering this is the case, you should try the book before even jumping to conclusions and thinking it is not worth your precious time.
If you have your doubts about it, here we are to make sure that a plot and some details about the novel can encourage you to read it or just appreciate it a bit more with what we are going to share.
First, Its Author: Who Was C. S. Lewis?
If you want to get to know a book, you better start with its writer. Thus, we will just honor this.
Clive Staples Lewis, whose parents were Flora August Hamilton Lewis and Albert J. Lewis, was born in Belfast on November 29, 1898.
During his childhood, Clive was a toddler and declared his name Jack in those years. This was the name family members, and friends knew him.
He was close with his older brother Warren, and they spent a lot of time together as children.
Lewis was fascinated by stories of gallantry and fantastic animals from a very young age. As a result, and while playing together, the brothers created Boxen, an imaginary land with a rich history.
The future author lost his mother at the age of 10, which led him to continue his education with a tutor while his pre-college education was assigned to boarding schools in addition to a tutor as well.
Although there isn’t much information about his childhood, his college years start with specific details. After being injured by shrapnel, he was sent home from the British army during World War II.
During this time, he decided to become a surrogate child with Janie Moore, who was the mother of a friend of his who died during the war.
Thanks to his, Lewis was able to attend college and graduated from Oxford University in 1925 with a focus on literature and classic philosophy.
He was then awarded a fellowship teaching job at Magdalen College and also joined The Inklings, an informal group of intellectuals and writers that included Lewis’ brother Warren and J.R.R. Tolkien.
After all this experience during his childhood, pre-college, the war, and his university education, he was able to start in the literature world.
Lewis published “Spirits In Bondage” in 1919 and the humorous “Dymer” by 1926. Lewis wrote other titles, including “The Allegory of Love” (1936), which won him the Hawthornden Prize.
In 1938, he published “Out of the Silent Planet.” This was the first of a trilogy of sci-fi works that dealt sub-textually in space with the concepts of sin, desire.
Writing the Novel: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe
But after all those details about his life and some books he wrote which were quite popular, where are we left with the information about the one we are covering today?
Lewis started writing the seven books that would make up “The Chronicles of Narnia” children’s series. The first book, which is the one we are reviewing today, was published in 1950.
Essentially, the story was about four children or siblings who, during wartime, walk through an armoire to enter the land called Narnia, which is a fantasy land full of magic.
We know this is probably the shortest summary you have seen in a while, but we will dive deeper into the plot later on.
For now, we are more focused on the history behind the book.
According to the author himself, the first book started with the picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella which, although the author around the late 40s finally wrote, he had the picture in mind since he was 16 years old.
Overall, the book is actually inspired by several factors that are not obvious unless you point them out and make sure to quote the author himself.
Based on the timeline, WWII also inspired him to create a book for children and follow the idea once he arrived home from the battlefield.
Although C. S. Lewis mentioned several times the specific inspirations, the details about when he started to write the book are incomplete, and by 1948, he was already in the process.
Unlike previous novels of the author, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was not the favorite for many at the time but remains one of the best fantasy books today.
After the release of this chronology, Lewis started to suffer from nephritis in 1961 and ended up in blood poisoning. Despite the complications, he was fully recovered by 1963.
However, this health didn’t last long since later that year he suffered a heart attack which left him in a coma from which he worked up the following day, ut his health didn’t improve but rather declined.
In the end, Lewis died on November 22, 1963, and was unable to continue working on his stories since the first decline in his health.
Deeper Into the Plot: What Is the Book About?
We have reached the part where we left you in doubt: The novel’s plot.
Considering The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe are the first book of a chronicle, you can expect some “cliffhangers” at the end of the story if you decide to read it.
However, we are confident it kind of offers a good conclusion for those who only want to invest their time in this one.
That being said, this is what you must know about the plot.
The story follows four siblings who, during wartime in the 1940s in London, they escaped the Blitz and are sent to live with someone called Professor Digory Kirke.
This professor lives in a very large house located in the English countryside where the siblings spend their time in the yard but also get bored without much to do.
During the youngest sibling’s exploration in the mansion, she finds a wardrobe that she enters. What she couldn’t have expected was that she would enter Narnia’s magical world.
It is a land filled with mythical creatures, talking animals, and other supernatural creatures where an evil being is conquering it all.
Although the young girl enters the place, she returns to search for her siblings, who don’t believe her story but end up walking into the wardrobe where they discover their younger sibling, Lucy, wasn’t lying.
Inside the wardrobe, the siblings are bound to discover a new world called “Narnia” that seems to have been waiting for them for centuries.
Keep in mind the entire book is about fantasy and how this world seems to be completely different in more than just animals and people, but rather everything.
A variety of Biblical themes are explored throughout the series. One prominent character is Aslan, the lion, and ruler of Narnia, who has been interpreted to be a Jesus Christ figure.
However, the author, C. S. Lewis, claimed the books aren’t a direct allegory and that they are more open for interpretation.
For us, the book is a wild ride into fantasy since you open it, and we are quite sure you will love it if you enjoy the genre.
Success & Earnings: Let’s Talk About Popularity
Where should we start? With the usual numbers or the reception? We are inclined to the latter.
Although Lewis is today well-known for his Narnia books as a successful children’s author, initial criticism was not very positive regarding ANY of them.
The trend at the time was for children’s stories to be realistic and not full of fantasy like Lewis decided to approach during this book.
Fantasy and fairy tales were considered too implausible, inappropriate for young readers, and could even cause harm to older children based on the standards.
Some reviewers found the story too moralistic, while others felt that the Christian elements were overstating attempts to indoctrinate kids. Some were worried that children might be scared by the numerous violent incidents.
All these factors led the book to a tough position.
Geoffrey Bless was Lewis’s publisher. He feared the Narnia tales would not sell and could damage Lewis’s reputation as well as affect his sales of other books.
However, despite the critics from the official parts, people and readers actually liked it overall, not only for children.
In this matter, the novel and its sequels were a huge success with young readers, and Lewis’s publisher was eager to publish more Narnia stories.
What about the earnings? Was the book successful in numbers then?
For the number of copies sold, the series has sold over 100 million since it was published in 1950 and has been translated into 30+ languages.
However, when it comes to the earnings of a book that dates decades ago, it will be almost impossible to track all earnings unless you have a way to know the financial details, which we find quite hard to accomplish.
If we consider the fact that this book costs about $15 today, we can say people have earned about $1.5 billion without the discount of my earnings.
Famous Film: “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”
If you are not that familiar with the book, we are a bit confident you will feel identified with the film.
Since 2005, the film that has the same title as the novel has been quite popular among children and even young boys and girls.
However, the critics didn’t love it that much.
Many considered it differed too much from the original plot or changed many aspects of the book, while others felt it was a fair adaptation.
Where do we stand with this? Well, it is hard to tell.
It is only logical for adaptations to be different, and they usually change so many things that comparing the movie with the book is tough.
In our opinion, it isn’t bad, but we don’t consider it the best either and although some of the actors were and are quite popular today, the film didn’t live up to many people’s expectations.
Despite this, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t popular.
With the book by C. S. Lewis that is considered a classic today, people were quite expecting the adaptation. Besides this one, other sequels followed, including “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.”
We hate letting you know details based on a subjective opinion, but we are confident that with this one, the book will pay more respect to this wonderful story.
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