Clive Staples Lewis was a celebrated Anglo-Irish novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, lay theologian and Christian apologist whose impact and influence lives on.

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Forward to the Past: The Real Prince Caspian

April 23rd, 2010 | Skip to comments

Prince Caspian Podcast (9.2MB)

This podcast tells the tale of the “Real” Prince Caspian and its important themes and focus.

I have never met any dedicated reader of the Chronicles of Narnia who told me that Prince Caspian was her favorite volume.

I think I know the reasons why this might be so, and in due course, I will eventually get around to addressing this question. But let’s start here: sequels get no respect!

That said, let me unabashedly point out what every avid reader of C S Lewis knows: that Jack is as capable of creating a memorable theme or voicing a quotable line in Prince Caspian as he is in any of his works. And has, indeed, done so.

The trouble is that there are so many of them in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe! Nearly any follow up tale would have been, forgive the pun, dwarfed by its rich body of resonant dialogues and spectacular events. In a word, Prince Caspian is literally anti-climactic. But look at what it is up against:

  • First, in LWW, there is Professor Kirke’s wonderfully mysterious house with the magic wardrobe that Lucy the youngest finds first, and his eloquent rebuke of Peter and Susan for missing the clues that would have spared them worry over Lucy’s behavior: “Logic! . . . . Why don’t they teach logic at these schools!”
  • Next, there is Mr. Beaver’s subtle but firm declaration of Aslan’s true character when Susan asks, “Then he isn’t safe?” And Mr. Beaver intones, “Safe? . . . Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
  • Then there is the plaintive scene at the Stone Table, where Susan and Lucy keep their solemn vigil and the mice patiently nibble and gnaw to release Aslan from his bonds.
  • Finally there is the coronation scene at the end, when the risen Aslan, triumphant over the White Witch through the deeper magic from before the dawn of time, slips away, and Mr. Beaver, ever the spokesbeaver for sober reality, explains, “He’ll be coming and going. . . . One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down. . . . He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”

So this we can agree upon: Prince Caspian, the book (as well as the movie released May 16, 2008) had no easy act to follow! Yet, It must be underscored that Lewis embued the tale with its own suspenseful plot devices, a grand share of memorable conversations all nestled within more than enough swashbuckling, court intrigue, species-bigotry and species-envy, not to mention fratricide, conniving advisors, and a new set of talking animal and mythological characters of the kinds that he dearly loved!

The trouble is, at the end of the day, it’s still a sequel, and, in this case, a double sequel, the follow-up to a beloved book, and now, (presuambly) a beloved movie—but Prince Caspian is a planned sequel in the Narnian series by both publication date and story line. And Lewis signaled this by giving it the Narnian tales’ only subtitle, “the Return to Narnia.”

The key to enjoying and appreciating Prince Caspian is recognizing that its magic lies in returning to Narnia not a moment too soon. We all want to return to Narnia, but what if when we get there, Mr. Tumnus is gone, the Beavers have gone on to their reward, Cair Paravel is in ruins, and Aslan is missing. Missing? Ah, the plot thickens. “Nothing ever happens the same way twice.”

We learn that Timing is everything, Aslan’s Timing! Here is a story within a story, a tale of not only how one gets back to Narnia, but how one may have to leave it for good; and while the Pevensie children must relearn some hard won lessons about friendship and courage, Aslan also must “return” to teach and recover for all Narnians the precious gifts of freedom, honor, and loyalty.


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