'But What Does It All Mean?': Religious Reality as a Political Call in the Chronicles of Narnia

Lily Glasner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia are traditionally held to be a Christian fantasy for children, detached from political issues. In this paper I suggest revisiting the series in light of George Orwell's thesis that political purpose is always present in the mind of writers of prose. In order, however, to reveal the political layer of the religious fantasy we must not rely on twentieth-century political language and thought but turn to those of the Middle Ages. In medieval writings, with which Lewis was intimately familiar, political matters were considered through a theological-ethical prism. This is the paradigm which Lewis adopts throughout the Chronicles in order to mold a political call addressed to young readers. I conclude my argument by returning to twenty-first-century thought. Reading the Chronicles in light of the teachings of philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah suggests that through the Chronicles Lewis is re-creating "a shared language of value", which will enable the child-reader to actively respond to the reality outside the text.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-77
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Fantastic in the Arts
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Accession Number: 2015308183. Gloss: In special issue: "Reinhabiting Fantasy." English summary. Peer Reviewed: Y. Publication Type: Journal Article. Document Type: journal article. Language: English. Update Code: 201506.


  • 1900-1999
  • novel
  • fantasy novel
  • politics
  • shared meaning
  • reader response
  • English literature


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