“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”
To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of CS Lewis, on 22nd November 1963, Belfast City Council has funded the first festival in his name, celebrating his life and work. (The news of his death 50 years ago was somewhat overshadowed by the death of President John F Kennedy, assassinated on 22.11.63, so it’s nice to see now that both men are receiving news coverage 50 years on). Lewis was born and schooled in east Belfast, and the festival will feature readings, a trail of landmarks connected to his life, and showcase the lamp thought to be the inspiration for the lamp post where Lucy first met My Tumnus in Narnia.
Lewis is one of my favourite children’s authors, and my old copies of the Chronicles of Narnia are some of my most cherished and often read books. As I grew older I began to find out more about his life and where he got his inspiration, and know now of course that he also wrote several academic and theological books, including an account of his own spiritual journey and his views on Christianity. His religious beliefs and changing relationship with God and his faith are clear to see in the Narnia stories, once you know where to look.
I haven’t read any of Lewis’s other works, though I think I would like to. It would give me a whole new perspective on the man, and on the Narnia stories no doubt. Part of me worries, though, that it would diminish my enjoyment of the books I love so much. But perhaps it wouldn’t – perhaps understanding the author better might simply lead to an enhanced appreciation of his novels.
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”