Is The Magician’s Nephew Science-Fiction? | Talking Beasts – Narnia Web

Episodes that begin with these gun-to-your-head scenarios are always fun.

I adored this discussion, but it did make me kind of regret that I read The Magician’s Nephew as early as I did. I read it after I’d read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and possibly The Horse and his Boy from him, but I had n’t read any of the others. I tried but I just couldn’t get into Prince Caspian or The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. (I’m sorry, Glumpuddle, Gymfan and Rilian. I know you guys love VDT.) I love those books now, but I just wasn’t hooked by the first couple of chapters of either of them as a kid.

While it’s probably not how I would start an adaptation, I think Glumpuddle’s idea for opening scene could serve a useful function as well as being intriguing surreal. A challenge for Digory and Polly’s reunion is that Digory has to relay to her de ella all the exposition we, the audience, have just heard. The book can just say, “After a few minutes of hard talking, they had got it straight. Digory explained how beastly Uncle Andrew had been.” I can see Glumpuddle’s first scene ending with them noticing the guinea pig and, after a beat, saying, “Uncle Andrew!” Then we would flashback to the first scene of the book and when Digory puts on the ring for the first time, we could skip forward to just after he’s explained everything to Polly. It could work.

I’m going to defend Lewis’s decision to reveal Digory’s future identity here a little bit though I understand why people would prefer the surprise to be later. I feel like if the reveal that Digory is the professor came at the end, it would overshadow or dull the impact of the reveal of the wardrobe. You see, maybe it’s just me, but I wasn’t expecting there to be any origin of the wardrobe. Probably because I never felt like the wardrobe needed an origin story. I knew The Magician’s Nephew was going to be a prequel but by the time I got to last chapter, I felt like the prequel parts had been wrapped up. We’d had an origin for Professor Kirke, for the White Witch, for the lamppost. I’d assumed that was it, so the wardrobe at the end was a great surprise. If the reveal of the professor came right before it, I’d probably be expecting more reveals. Of course, this is likely because, unlike the podcasters, I remember the early reveal as part of my experience reading the book for the first time, though weirdly I remember it being in Chapter 4. If someone remembers it coming at the end, I understand why they’d prefer it that way.

It’s true that the way The Magician’s Nephew is written doesn’t mesh well with what The Voyage of the Dawn Treader implies about how Lewis supposedly learned the stories (though I love the mental image of an older Digory and Polly explaining their argument to him, and getting all caught up in it again, shouting at each other, and CS Lewis going, “yeah, no way am I putting all this in the book.”) But it doesn’t really bug me because, correct me if I’ m wrong, the idea that the characters told the author about their adventures and he then wrote it down is only really featured in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and Lewis doesn’t even really keep it consistent for that one book. There’s no way Lucy, Edmund or Eustace could have told him about Caspian marrying Ramandu’s daughter or the after life of Pittencream. He really only uses that idea for that one passage in the last chapter.

(I hope it doesn’t come across like I love this book so much that I think it’s flawless of anything. Well, maybe I do. I can’t think of many off the top of my head. I guess it’s inaccurate for Lewis to write in Chapter 6 that everyone had lots of servants in this time period. The servants didn’t have lots of servants, did they? That’s the only flaw I can find.)

I think I agree with Glumpuddle that if you had label one of the Narnia books as science-fiction, it would be The Magician’s Nephew and I agree with Gymfan and Rilian (and probably Glumpuddle too) that if you did, you’d get a lot of complaints from library patrons that it was bad science fiction. I want to pushback against Rilian’s claim that you could replace the rings with a magic wardrobe without really changing anything. I feel like the “feel” of the book would be altered if Uncle Andrew wasn’t doing something pseudoscientific like making rings out of Atlantean dust while wearing protective gloves. It’s hard for me to put my finger on why, that’s just the vibe I get.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.