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If they changed the order BACK...

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Postby Esther » 10 May 2007, 00:45

Ticket2theMoon wrote:I know Lewis said chronological is best, but he didn't write them that way. The ones that are "prequels" are written as prequels--they reveal things in a way that's supposed to make you say, "Ohhhhhh! I get it now!"


Exactly. I remember the thrill I had as a child making the connections between events and characters in The Magician's Nephew and the books I had already read, and I'm sorry for all the people who will (and have already) miss out on that experience.

glumPuddle wrote:This is not a question of "which order is best?" The question is "should the order have been changed?" Lewis apparently thought that chronological was better, but he apparently didn't think the order should be changed.


I fully agree with you. Interestingly, in that interview I mentioned, Gresham said that the British copies were never numbered - it was only in America that they were numbered in the first place. ... which again makes me wonder why he would be so adamant about the chronological numbering. Why not just take the numbers off and be done with the whole problem? Certainly readers have the right to understand how the books were written, and the current system confuses that issue from the very beginning.
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Postby carol » 11 May 2007, 05:57

Is there a suggestion here that Americans need or prefer to be told what order to read a book series? I have often been looking for a list of books in the order of publication, (sometimes they are not printed in the inside or on the back of the book, so I have had to look in card or computer catalogues in a library, or online these days!) and it IS helpful to know if there was a chronological element that varies from the publication dates. [eg Anne McCaffrey's Dragonrider series spawned all sorts of stories that were set in a variety of times]
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Postby Leslie » 11 May 2007, 17:17

Often, when a book is published, it isn't known that there will be more in a series (this is less true today, though, than it would have been in Lewis' day). And we know that he did not intend to write a series; each subsequent book was written as he got new ideas about Narnian stories.

Thus, it is often only in later editions that books in a series get numbered, and it may just be that it happened to be an American edition that was first numbered. And, as Carol has implied, numbering doesn't always happen. Some publishers (probably in the past more than now) would expect that readers would consult the original publication dates if they wanted to read books in publication order.

Even if the books themselves in Britain have no numbers on the spine, there is still the question of how they are arranged in a boxed set. I'm betting that even in Britain, MN comes first in the box.
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Postby Guest » 11 May 2007, 17:25

Leslie wrote:Often, when a book is published, it isn't known that there will be more in a series (this is less true today, though, than it would have been in Lewis' day). And we know that he did not intend to write a series; each subsequent book was written as he got new ideas about Narnian stories.


Although Lewis had finished at least PC by the time LWW was published and had finished all 7 within 4 years of LWW's publishing. After LWW he thought it might be a trilogy. Then they just kept popping out.

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Postby Leslie » 11 May 2007, 17:42

Dan65802 wrote:
Leslie wrote:Often, when a book is published, it isn't known that there will be more in a series (this is less true today, though, than it would have been in Lewis' day). And we know that he did not intend to write a series; each subsequent book was written as he got new ideas about Narnian stories.


Although Lewis had finished at least PC by the time LWW was published and had finished all 7 within 4 years of LWW's publishing. After LWW he thought it might be a trilogy. Then they just kept popping out.

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True -- I should have been a little more precise. When he began LWW, he did not envision the whole series.
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Postby Piemaster » 25 May 2007, 08:53

I don't see any value at all in reading the books other than in chronological order (MN first). I think there is more than a little literary snobbery in suggesting that the books should be read in order of publication.
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Postby Larry W. » 25 May 2007, 10:29

I think it's a good idea to try reading them both ways, and then decide what your preference is. As long as it is merely a preference and not a requirement there isn't any snobbery involved. I don't think any publisher would be willing to spend the money to print the set in two separate editions. It will probably be years before any other publisher gets the rights to their own set of the books. It's not like the very old classics such as Treasure Island or Great Expectations, where you have many editions of the book to choose from and no one has exclusive rights to it. Fortunately, the Harper Collins paperbacks are of much better quality than those Macmillan editions during the 1970's They are virtually the same on the inside as the hardcover. I think both of those sets would satisfy most Narnia lovers, who can still read them in the order that they wish. So now we have better paper and Pauline Baynes complete in paperback (and in color if you own that set), which we didn't have back then unless you purchased the more expensive hardcover. And the price isn't too bad either-- at under ten dollars a book.

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Postby Guest » 25 May 2007, 12:57

Piemaster is new here, and thusfar unaware that jumping in new and accusing people of being snobs in your first post might be considered a bit rude.

Piemaster, those of us who prefer the original published order do not do so because we look down on you or others who prefer the chronological order. So there is no snobbery involved. We simply consider the original published order to be better in the overall arc of the Narnian chronicles.

To be honest, the most important thing is that LLW be read first. It is the best book at establishing the character of Aslan, the nature of Narnia, and the relationship between Narnia and "our world". My own opinion is that since Lewis believed the ideas from these books were given to him by the Holy Spirit, then it's best to let the first book the Spirit inspired be the first book read.

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Postby Piemaster » 25 May 2007, 15:12

Dan65802 wrote:Piemaster is new here, and thusfar unaware that jumping in new and accusing people of being snobs in your first post might be considered a bit rude.

Piemaster, those of us who prefer the original published order do not do so because we look down on you or others who prefer the chronological order. So there is no snobbery involved. We simply consider the original published order to be better in the overall arc of the Narnian chronicles.


You are overhyping and twisting what I said. I'm sure you know as well as I do that the word snobbery has many contexts, especially in the area of literary/artistic/culture and doesn't necessarily mean that anybody who partakes in that opinion/activity is a snob or looks down on anybody.

However, you're right that I am new here, so you'll have to fill me in. Are you the forum drama queen?


To be honest, the most important thing is that LLW be read first. It is the best book at establishing the character of Aslan, the nature of Narnia, and the relationship between Narnia and "our world".


I think you could argue it both ways. I actually think MN does a far better job of explaining the true link between Narnia and our world, because Lewis has clearly had a chance to think of a better rounded (almost) consistent story. I guess some of the mystery of Aslan in LWW is spoiled if you have already read MN, but then again there are many parts of MN that are spoiled if you've read LWW too.

My own opinion is that since Lewis believed the ideas from these books were given to him by the Holy Spirit, then it's best to let the first book the Spirit inspired be the first book read.


I can understand that might make sense for a Christian. But from the point of view of an atheist that argument obviously doesn't hold much water.
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Postby Guest » 25 May 2007, 15:40

Welcome to the community piemaster.
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 25 May 2007, 15:58

Piemaster wrote:I'm sure you know as well as I do that the word snobbery has many contexts, especially in the area of literary/artistic/culture and doesn't necessarily mean that anybody who partakes in that opinion/activity is a snob or looks down on anybody.


I'm not sure what you or Dan knows, but I certainly am unaware of those "many contexts" that you refer to. As far as I know "snobbery", "snob", "snobbish" and any other variation of the word pretty much have the same context of, well, being a snob and looking down on others. Does the phrase "drama queen" have other contexts too?

However, you're right that I am new here, so you'll have to fill me in. Are you the forum drama queen?


From my extensive familiarity with Dan's posts, I can say that there are few people less suited to such a thing than Dan (see if you don't agree after you've been here a while). But from your few comments here so far, it sounds like you could be a good candidate for the post (sorry, as you can probably tell, I've already taken on the job of Irony Identification Post on these forums -- check the "other resources" section of the Wardrobe for a list of official forum job classifications. I think the drama queen slot is currently open)

There now. I've gotten off to a bad start in greeting a newcomer, but better to set things in order to begin with. Apart from the (perhaps unintended?) initial bristly-sounding tone of your posts, you have some interesting comments and arguments about a very popular topic (Narnia book reading order) on these forums and I look forward to hearing more from you on other topics if they are as well-reasoned and stated as your initial arguments have been so far. Welcome.

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Postby Stanley Anderson » 25 May 2007, 17:00

Piemaster wrote:I think you could argue it both ways. I actually think MN does a far better job of explaining the true link between Narnia and our world,


As it is intended to do. But is that a reason it should be read first? In fact, isn't it true that most "beginnings" or introductions for these sorts of literary things are more directed at immersing the reader into a curious or unknown setting and letting them explore a bit before "explanations" and "connections" begin to emerge. Starting off with an explicit description of "true links" and such might tend to sound more text book oriented than story oriented.

...because Lewis has clearly had a chance to think of a better rounded (almost) consistent story.


The writing style in MN is also more, well, not sure of the word I want here -- directed, or "mature" (? still not the right word) than in LWW. This aspect, though probably not intended from the beginning seems to have a vague progression throughout the books (eg, LB is certainly more "intense" than LWW). And if this is true, whether Lewis intended it or not, has, I think, a nice effect in the "maturing" of the characters and the reader as one goes along in the published order. The children in LWW deal with issues in a "younger child" sort of way while in the later books, "older child" issues and outlooks are more prevalent.

To me, it is akin to the manner and style that The Hobbit is written in comparison to the style that LotR is written in. It just seems natural that one would want to read the more "fanciful" style of The Hobbit first, followed by the more intense style of LotR (and notice that even in The Hobbit by itself, the change of style from more lighthearted to serious tone in the progression of chapters is very distinct -- and properly ordered). This further applies to the more "distant" style of The Silmarillion which, because of that, should, in my opinion, be read after LotR, even though chronologically it falls before The Hobbit. And this acts as another example for our comments above about "true links" where, even though The Silmarillion also more fully establishes links and beginnings, this does not, for me weigh in as a factor for reading it first -- in fact, like MN for me, fits better as a "later" reading (followed, in progression, to round out the example, by the even more intense and connection-oriented "History of Middle Earth" books that Christopher Tolkien has edited. Would anyone choose to, or recommend to others that they read these first?)

I guess some of the mystery of Aslan in LWW is spoiled if you have already read MN, but then again there are many parts of MN that are spoiled if you've read LWW too.


I would suggest that the sorts of things in MN that you describe as "spoiled" by reading LWW first are more of the "aha -- so that's where the lamppost came from" sort of revelation, and enjoyable as such for that reason, whereas the freshness of, say, wondering who and what Aslan is along with the children in LWW would be spoiled if the reader already knows from reading MN first. The two types of "spoilage" are very much like events in the Star Wars movies. It would be true spoiling to know about Luke's father before the revelation in Empire, but it is quite enjoyable as a surprise to find out about it AFTER getting to know Luke and Darth in (the now) episode IV, along with the "freshness" of seeing and finding out about The Force along with Luke without knowing anything about it beforehand.

My own opinion is that since Lewis believed the ideas from these books were given to him by the Holy Spirit, then it's best to let the first book the Spirit inspired be the first book read.


I can understand that might make sense for a Christian. But from the point of view of an atheist that argument obviously doesn't hold much water.


I'm not sure if I agree with Dan here (I'd have to think about it more -- are the first things the Holy Spirit revealed to the Apostles the best order to evangelize with? Not sure), but if it were true, that would, almost by definition, be the order a Christian would recommend to anyone, Christian or not -- perhaps even moreso to the non-Christian. And even from an atheist's point of view, unless he were not interested in finding out what other points of view were like, wouldn't it be beneficial to see what sort of progression the Christian author went through simply from an interesting experiential aspect -- ie, to try to see what something looks like from another person's point of view as an awareness expanding process?

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Postby Larry W. » 25 May 2007, 23:04

The wardrobe seems to be the best introduction to Narnia, and you can follow Lewis development of his concepts much if you begin with LWW. So while Magician's Nephew is a creation story in which one might think is where the beginning should be, it was actually written in reflection of the other books which preceded it. I think the Narnian historical order is secondary, while the development of Lewis Christian ideology seems more important as revealed in the publication order. So while the books can be read beneficially in both ways it is perhaps best to read them in publication order the first time.

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Postby Piemaster » 26 May 2007, 09:55

Stanley Anderson wrote:
Piemaster wrote:I'm sure you know as well as I do that the word snobbery has many contexts, especially in the area of literary/artistic/culture and doesn't necessarily mean that anybody who partakes in that opinion/activity is a snob or looks down on anybody.


I'm not sure what you or Dan knows, but I certainly am unaware of those "many contexts" that you refer to. As far as I know "snobbery", "snob", "snobbish" and any other variation of the word pretty much have the same context of, well, being a snob and looking down on others.


Okay, let's take an unrelated example. Following traditional cullinary rules and avoiding perceived faux pas is often referred to as food snobbery. However, that doesn't mean that anybody who knows what wine to serve with what dish and what sauce goes with what meat is a snob and looks down on others. Some might be, but it doesn't necessarily follow.

It's the same with art snobbery, tradition snobbery, retail snobbery and yes literary snobbery.

However, I don't think I'll stick around here. I just got a PM from a moderator (at least I assume it was a moderator) demanding that I adjust my tone a cease casual insults. I'm really not willing to be part of a community where the moderators are so condesending, especially after I took the time to explain that what I said wasn't even intended as an insult.

I am forced to come to the conclusion that this comminuty are kind of clique and don't really welcome newcomers unless they completely conform a certain stereotype that I can't really identify (religeous, deferent, childlike?) Some of you seem to be different, but I am not here to start a flame war or upset the apple cart. I'll just leave you to it I guess. It's a shame because there are many interesting discussions to be had.

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Postby jo » 26 May 2007, 09:59

Wow - do you get tired dragging that chip around all day?

If you can't see that you came in here and were rude, snotty and arrogant then that does make me wonder about you. And to call Sven 'condescending' for asking you politely to adjust your tone is way out of line. Lack of self-awareness, much?

I just love it when people join a forum, get on everyone's wrong side with their attitude problem and then flounce off. In my very long experience of message boards, accusing the forum of being 'cliquey' in your stomp-off post is the last refuge of the desperate.

You made a bad start here. You can either gracefully admit that and stay - noone here holds grudges - or you can do your huffy walkout and tell yourself, quite wrongly, that we're all a bunch of meanies and you're better off without us. I think deep down you must have a nagging feeling that calling someone a 'drama queen' before you've made half a dozen posts somewhere puts you squarely in the wrong.
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