(And Does It Matter?)

There’s an interesting essay on the reading order of the Chronicles of Narnia here. I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardobe first when I was eight or nine, then I realised there was a whole series so I went back and read them all in chronological order (because, like Mousme, I am mildly OCD about that sort of thing although I am slightly better now that I am a few decades older). But the points the essay makes about the reading experience if the books are read in publication order are interesting. After the first couple of times I read them singly and out of order according to my whim of the moment, although two summers ago I did read the entire series chronologically again. Both experiences are valid, simply different, as the author points out.

2 thoughts on “(And Does It Matter?)

  1. Paze

    [Warning: plot spoilers ahead!]
    We read the books to Devon starting with The Magician’s Nephew because we thought it was a good way in for a four year old—there is such a lovely simplicity to it, at least on the surface in terms of plot. However, I personally prefer to leave TMN until right before The Last Battle (in other words the publishing sequence), because the two books complement each other in such beautiful and poignant ways. In one, Narnia is sung into creation, and through his unselfish acts a young boy—the first human in Narnia—is able to return to his own world and save his dying mother; then with TLB we see an end to the human relationship with Narnia, the death of these humans and their subsequent ‘rebirth’ into Aslan’s kingdom (heaven, or what you will). Read one after the other, these two books nuance each other in unforgettable ways.

    I also am touched by the fact that Lewis attempted to write TMN after TLWW, but abandoned it until right before the last book. TMN was spiritually and psychologically the closest to him, since his own mother succumned to cancer (what we are suposed to assume Digory’s mother is dying of) when he was only ten, and her death haunted him all his life; tragically, all the women he loved—his mother, his surrogate mother as an adult, Mrs. Moore, and later his wife, Joy—died of cancer. It was a difficult book for him to write, and certainly fed into a childhood wish of his to save his own mother; his religious conversion as an adult must surely have come (partly) out of a desire for immortality and to be reunited with his mother again.

  2. Kino Kid

    I am a slow reader, but as a child, I had time on my side.

    I read the books initially in the order of publication, then read them later in the order of the timeline in the story.

    Both were great experiences as the books were fantastic.

    I was thinking of rereading them soon. I have been deliberating over the order in which to read them now, as it will take me longer. I believe it will likely be the story’s timeline.


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