At the moment, I’m reading Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis, by Michael Ward. To summarise from the blurb on the back of the book: Dr Ward believes that “medieval cosmology […] is the key to the seven [Chronicles of Narnia] novels…Ward reveals that the Narnia stories were designed to express the characteristics of the seven medieval planets – Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Luna, Mercury, Venus and Saturn.” I’m only on page 44, but it’s taken me a few days to get that far, because, although it sounds like a Da Vinci Code knock off (even more so in its new, simplified edition called The Narnia Code) it is actually a rather scholarly book and I’ve been finding it quite hard going. I’ve had to start writing down all the words I need to look up, of which there are thirteen so far!
Despite its denseness, I’m quite enjoying Planet Narnia and I’m quite pleasantly surprised by the amount of scholarly research that seems to have gone into it. I’m learning quite a lot about medieval cosmology and medieval thought in general, which is interesting enough on its own, even without the added interest of learning more about Lewis and his work. The title is actually a bit misleading – the book does not just talk about Lewis’s Narnia books, but also about his science fiction writing, his non-fiction works and his poetry.
I’m still a bit sceptical about Dr Ward’s premise, but, whether he convinces me in the end or not (I still have about 200 pages to go!), I think Planet Narnia will be worth reading.