Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Lamp-post, and the Wardrobe

In Narnia the Beasts lived in great peace and joy and neither the Witch nor any other enemy came to trouble that pleasant land for many hundred years. King Frank and Queen Helen and their children lived happily in Narnia and their second son became King of Archenland. The boys married nymphs and the girls married woodgods and river-gods. The lamp-post which the Witch had planted (without knowing it) shone day and night in the Narnian forest, so that the place where it grew came to be called Lantern Waste; and when, many years later, another child from our world got into Narnia, on a snowy night, she found the light still burning. And that adventure was, in a way, connected with the ones I have just been telling you. It was like this.

The tree which sprang from the Apple that Digory planted in the back garden, lived and grew into a fine tree. Growing in the soil of our world, far out of the sound of Aslan's voice and far from the young air of Narnia, it did not bear apples that would revive a dying woman as Digory's Mother had been revived, though it did bear apples more beautiful than any others in England, and they were extremely good for you, though not fully magical. But inside itself, in the very sap of it, the tree (so to speak) never forgot that other tree in Narnia to which it belonged. Sometimes it would move mysteriously when there was no wind blowing: I think that when this happened there were high winds in Narnia and the English tree quivered because, at that moment, the Narnia tree was rocking and swaying in a strong south-western gale. However, that might be, it was proved later that there was still magic in its wood. For when Digory was quite middle-aged (and he was a famous learned man, a Professor, and a great traveller by that time) and the Ketterleys' old house belonged to him, there was a great storm all over the south of England which blew the tree down. He couldn't bear to have it simply chopped up for firewood, so he had part of the timber made into a wardrobe, which he put in his big house in the country. And though he himself did not discover the magic properties of that wardrobe, someone else did. That was the beginning of all the comings and goings between Narnia and our world, which you can read of in other books.
~C. S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew (1955)

5 Comment(s):

At Wed Mar 30, 06:28:00 PM EST, Blogger MrKimi said...

We are back to those apples again...
I remember reading this as a child and being hugely impressed at how it all tied together so well with the tree and the wardrobe and all, and even the explanation of how come there was a lamp post in the wood at all. I'm still impressed.

At Wed Mar 30, 06:38:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Actually, I was looking at the comment about intermarriage between the nymphs and humans and river-gods, etc. and thinking of the Reading Room discussion this week on about Tom Bombadil and his wife Goldberry! Can humans and gods intermarry, and if so, what would their children be?

I'm impressed too by the wardrobe and the lamp-post. Even though he wrote it after the fact, it was a really inventive way to explain all those loose ends.

If I am getting repetitious with the quotes (re: apples or whatever) let me know if there's any other text you'd like me to explore. I'm flexible!

At Thu Mar 31, 12:35:00 AM EST, Blogger Bob said...

I'd answer a qualified yes. It's one of the more confusing and obscure references in the Bible, but the "Nephilim" are described as the offspring of the "sons of God" and the "daughters of men" in Genesis 6:4. (They get another mention in Numbers 13:33, but not in relation to their origin.) Though, if we were relating this to Tolkien, it sounds to me more like an intermarriage between elves and men. I think I saw this on TORn somewhere recently.

At Thu Mar 31, 10:02:00 PM EST, Anonymous Kimi said...

I think they must have had children, and those children must have counted as human - at least human enough to reign as true kings/queens of Narnia. King Gale was "ninth in descent from Frank", so their line endured for generations.

Unless, of course, Aslan arranged human wives from our world for at least the ruling line. I think I prefer the first explanation, though :-)

In Narnia, Stars (or at least part-stars) can marry humans and bear children. Though Caspian's unnamed wife certainly took a long time to conceive. I wonder how long she would have lived had her life not been cut short.

At Thu Mar 31, 10:58:00 PM EST, Blogger MrKimi said...

My comment about the apples was just a cross reference to the earlier post where it got me thinking about my grandmother. More apples are just fine!

The intermarriage thing is reminiscent of Tolkien. I suspect it doesn't bear too much scrutiny, though. Like are there any nymphs with human ancestors? And did anyone have a wild night with a centaur??


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