The Lion’s world

The lion’s world: a journey into the heart of Narnia

Rowan Williams
SPCK, 2012, £8.99, Pbk., 152p., ISBN 978-0281068951

This short volume of reflections on the theological meaning of C.S. Lewis’ well known series of children’s stories has already attracted the attention of reviewers from the national press. The author’s musings on Lewis have also been parodied in the pages of Private Eye. The book is based on a series of talks that Dr. Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, gave in Canterbury Cathedral during the Holy Week of 2011.

Dr. Williams discovered the Narnian chronicles as a teenager after reading some of Lewis’ works of Christian apologetics. As an adult reader of Lewis, and as a skilled theologian who is also well acquainted with our literary heritage, he is well qualified to bring out the theological themes that lie beneath the surface of this popular series of children’s fantasies.

Dr. Williams responds to some of the criticisms of Lewis that have been expressed by Philip Pullman and other writers. While acknowledging that Lewis wrote as a man of his times, and that he is not above criticism, the Archbishop provides a thoughtful response to charges that Lewis was a misogynist and that he used racial stereotypes in his portrayal of the race of the Calormenes.

As the fiftieth anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis approaches, there is likely to be increased interest in his life and works. The Lion’s World provides an excellent guide to the Christian insights that inspired so much of his writing, not least his children’s stories.

Contributed by: Graham Hedges, Hon. FCLIP, MCLIP, CLIS Secretary who until retirement worked for the public library service in the London Borough of Wandsworth.