Saturday, January 07, 2006

The struggle for Narnian freedom

I've finished one of the books I got for Christmas. It is "Prince Caspian", by C.S. Lewis. Oddly, it seems to be an allegorical commentary on the Palestinian situation. Narnia is under occupation, and its indigenous folk have been pushed to the margins by the settlers. That Lewis sees the liberation of Narnia coming from a scion of their oppressors' royal family is interesting. Maybe the time will yet come when Omri Sharon leads Palestine to freedom.

You do have to wonder about Narnia. For a magical place, it seems to be a bit lacking in solid governmental institutions. In both of Lewis' first two books, the country's government has been overthrown by invaders. I wonder is Lewis' message that the Narnians would have been better off spending less time partying in the woods and more organizing a well-trained militia equipped with the latest weaponry?

Much has been said about the way Lewis works his religious propaganda into the Narnia books. This one is no exception. Not merely does a pagan river god show up, but well-known Graeco-Roman deity Bacchus makes an appearance, together with his retinue of Maenads and some old geezer on a donkey. At one point they show up in a convent school, chase away the nuns, and then one of the schoolgirls is helped out of her overwear so that she can join the wild girls who follow Bacchus. This marks out C.S. Lewis as the originator of the video for 'Prime Mover' by Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction.

Sticking with Bacchus for a second, I was reading how well-known theatre director Conall Morrison is looking to do a new production of Euripides' "The Bacchae" for the Abbey Theatre. He is going to set it in the Green Zone of today's Iraq, and make it all about the occupation and stuff. This could be very bizarre, as it is hard to see how a story about the introduction of the cult of Dionysis to Thebes can be shoehorned into saying anything meaningful about current events in that country.


nlgbbbblth said...

Hey Ian

It's great to see the OLD SKOOL Narnia covers back in print!

Last time I saw one of those it had something like 'To Rita, Xmas 1974' written inside the flap.

ian said...

It is not clear to me why anyone would want to buy the Narnia books on the back of lamer photos of lions and stupid children.