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the meaning of Tumnus

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the meaning of Tumnus

Postby the lampost » 17 Aug 2007, 15:59

I heard or read somewhere that Tumnus the faun is a symbol of C. S. Lewis. When Lucy first meets Mr. Tumnus, he is carrying several packages and looks as if he has been Christmas shopping. However, because there is no Christmas in Narnia, he has no one to give his gifts to. C. S. Lewis also had many gifts. He was a very talented individual, but because he was an atheist, he had no one to give his gifts to. When he finally accepted Christ, he had someone to give his gifts to. I can no longer remember where I read this, though. Can someone tell me where this idea comes from? Has anyone else heard this idea also?
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 17 Aug 2007, 17:32

I've never heard of the idea, but it is a nice thought. It reminds me a bit of something I've mentioned here in the past about Lewis' concept of Joy.

The Scriptural concept of Hope, for me, is different from our earthly concept of hope in that our earthly hope seems to have two components -- one, a desire or longing for something, and two, the quality of uncertainty, ie, we "hope" something will happen but we can't be sure it will happen.

It is this second aspect of earthly hope, the feeling of uncertainty, that I think is not really a component of Scriptural Hope (I've had disagreements from others about this -- it is debatable, but not important for my point here). For me, the first quality, the desire or intense longing for God is the key part of Scriptural Hope.

And it struck me at one time that Lewis' concept of Joy is a sort of "pre-conversion" version of Scriptural Hope, since Lewis' definition of "Joy" as he uses it in Surprized by Joy, is an intense longing for "I know not what". Every time he thought (before he was a Christian) he knew what the object of the longing was for, whether a distant hillside or musical strain, or a passage from a book, it turned out that that was not it after all. It was only when he realized that the "longing" was there to guide him to God that the object could be identified.

And it is my contention that this idea of "Joy" is simply what Scriptural Hope "looks like" to us before we are Christians.

Anyway, sidetracking from your question, I realize, but fun to think about.

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…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Postby Mornamoice » 17 Aug 2007, 17:32

I have not heard that idea before, but it sounds to me like an interpretation someone else might have projected onto the Chronicles of Narnia. From what I have read, Lewis would not have inserted himself into his work that way.
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 17 Aug 2007, 18:43

Mornamoice wrote:From what I have read, Lewis would not have inserted himself into his work that way.


Well, I don't know about that particular example (I doubt it too -- it is someone's insightful conjecture I would guess), but Lewis does quite often insert himself into his work. I don't know if it is "that way", but we see him as the author inserting himself in the Bragdon Wood scene in That Hideous Strength. And we see him as an actual character in Perelandra. And we see him as the dreamer in The Great Divorce, and we see him "talking to us" with his opinions as author in several places in the Narnia books. These are all different ways that he inserted himself into his work (I even like to think that he put a bit of "himself" as he might have been had he never converted, in the character traits of Fairy Hardcastle, but that is very debatable of course and only my own wild conjecture:-)

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Postby carol » 20 Aug 2007, 11:03

Tumnus representing something? This is the first I've heard of such an idea, since reading it over 30 years ago.

He's a character, a Greek mythological figure, and something that Lewis had a dream/vision of, but not a symbol.

Nor do I think of him as being a Lewis persona. Why not? well, the Lewis who took up a friendship with an innocent young girl was Lewis Carroll. Plus as the narrator who occasionally makes asides to his readers, he cannot himself be a third-person character as well. And thirdly, I don't like the idea.
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Postby loeee » 20 Aug 2007, 16:58

carol wrote:And thirdly, I don't like the idea.


And that's probably the most telling argument against! :grin:
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Postby the lampost » 21 Aug 2007, 13:44

Oh, but I like it. It probably is someone else's idea, not Lewis'; but I still think it sounds nice. Anyone else agree with me?
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 21 Aug 2007, 14:22

the lampost wrote:Oh, but I like it. It probably is someone else's idea, not Lewis'; but I still think it sounds nice. Anyone else agree with me?


Yes -- as can be seen in my posts above when I said it was a "nice thought" and and "insightful conjecture". It doesn't much matter whether Lewis himself intended the idea (I very much doubt it). The idea itself is very appealing and has a nice ring of truth about it regardless of any intention or lack of intention by Lewis.

And it very much follows Lewis' own writing career. Before he was a Christian he wrote and published some good and lengthy poetry, but it doesn't have the "bite" and joy of his post-conversion writings. He notes this about himself in Surprised by Joy too where he says his priggishness was shed by his conversion, and we can notice it in his collected letters where, both before and after, we can see his incredibly sharp mind at work, but it is only in the post-conversion letters that the love and joy and compassion really begin to shine through with the intensity that we know of Lewis as a Christian writer.

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Postby carol » 21 Aug 2007, 20:02

Didn't the faun image come to Lewis as a dream? I thought he saw the faun, not saw himself as a faun.
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 21 Aug 2007, 20:07

carol wrote:Didn't the faun image come to Lewis as a dream? I thought he saw the faun, not saw himself as a faun.



from the previoius post (with bold emphasis):
Stanley Anderson wrote:It doesn't much matter whether Lewis himself intended the idea (I very much doubt it). The idea itself is very appealing and has a nice ring of truth about it regardless of any intention or lack of intention by Lewis.
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Postby john » 21 Aug 2007, 21:49

Should I move this thread to the Chronicles of Narnia forum? Seems to be turning more into a discussion, rather than a simple Q&A.
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 21 Aug 2007, 22:07

john wrote:Should I move this thread to the Chronicles of Narnia forum? Seems to be turning more into a discussion, rather than a simple Q&A.


Ok with me, though there may not be a lot more to be said (not sure). But I suppose even if the discussion doesn't go any further, it is still a "discussion" (as opposed to a simple Q&A) up to this point so far, and as such might make more sense in the Narnia forum.

And it might even prompt more discussion in being moved, so there is another reason to consider moving it I suppose.

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Postby john » 21 Aug 2007, 22:52

Okay, it's been moved (with apologies to our guests, who must now register in order to reply).
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Postby carol » 22 Aug 2007, 09:26

Sorry, 'the lampost' and others...

My point, Stanley, wasn't the issue of intention. It was the first-person vs third-person identification.

You know how in dreams the protagonist is usually oneself? In the mental image Lewis had of the faun, there had not been any suggestion that Lewis saw himself as or in the faun - neither when first envisioned, nor when he began to write LWW.
That is the reason why I was surprised at the suggestion that the faun 'stands for' Lewis in some way.
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Postby Mr. Tumnus » 22 Aug 2007, 18:18

Okay, I'm "the lampost" renamed. I don't mind you moving this thread; but what I was really wondering was this: Has anyone besides me heard the idea that Jack was similar to Mr. Tumnus as he was when Lucy first met him? If so, where did you hear it? I'm sure I read this somewhere, but I didn't know if it was a popular idea; and I can't remember where I read it. If anyone else has heard this idea, please tell me. If not, it's fine with me for you to go on discussing the idea.
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