Wednesday, December 4, 2013

C. Lewis And Liberals

C. Lewis was apparently not a big fan of liberals. In one of his Narnia books, The Silver Chair, he mocks modern "progressive" education, describing a co-ed school where children instead of being punished for wrongdoings, are sent into counselling. In the end of the book, Aslan sets things right by having Eustace give a sound thrashing  to boys while Jill does the same to girls. The Head, who is a woman, escapes all the consequences though, and in the end is sent to Parliament because she is not capable of any productive activity.

The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, which I finished re-reading yesterday, is even funnier as it shows what happens when a liberal comes in contact with a traditional world. In Chapter 1, C. Lewis describes the parents of the unfortunate Eustace, who sound exactly like the present day progressives, even though the book was written in the 1950s. Their son calls them by the first name instead of "Father" and "Mother", and we are informed that they are vegetarians and teetotallers, and they never read fairy tales to their only child.

When Eustace first comes to Narnia (or, rather, on board a Narnian ship), he whines all the time and wants to write an official complaint to the British Consul. He is also a feminist, which he learned from his mother, a coward and all around a nuisance. (Lewis apparently didn't believe in democracy so he made Eustace a Republican as well:).

One of the funniest moments is when slavetraders who captured him together with his cousins and King Caspian are trying to sell him at the slave market but nobody wants to buy him. Of course, later Eustace changes for the better, as we all know, but not after some very unpleasant things happen to him.

The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader was written as the third book of Narnia series, but I find it deeper than other books and it gives more food for thought, so to say. Take, for instance, the story of the Dufflepuds. It violates all the modern principles of general equality and personal liberty. Dufflepuds are shown as unequal. They are not intelligent enough to be left to their own devices. They need a firm hand, and less liberty than more advanced creatures, as they are not only stupid but also lazy, and won't work even to feed themselves unless forced by their master, the magician.

It's quite offensive to moden sensibilities, and the story doesn't end there, as the magician arbitrarily turns them into monopods, for punishment, but also for his own entertainment; and Lucy, who is, so to say, the most positive character in the whole series, fully agrees with him and begs him not to change them back. I will admit, I still have trouble understanding the author's meaning in this episode.

Another positive character is Reepicheep, the heroical Mouse. He is an ideal Knight and in the end gets rewarded by getting straight into Aslan's country, presumably without dying first, as an Old Testament prophet. Yet, he is devoid of any humanism. He is the one who first gets into open confrontation with Eustace before the latter's conversion, as Eustace, despite his proclaimed pacifism, is perfectly capable of passive-aggressive attitudes.

In the episode with the pirate ship in the beginning of the book, the Mouse states they: "...ought to have...boarded her and hanged every mother's son of them." (p. 22, Fontana Lions, 1980). Of course, this is a very unpopular point of view nowadays, especially among (some) modern Christian, who apparently believe that the more disgusting acts a person commits, the more he is in need of our love and sympathy, and not of correction. May be they should read more old books like Narnia, instead of consuming modern entertainment.

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