Today, a written interview with Rowan Williams about CS. Lewis and Narnia. Many of you will be aware a small book by Williams on Narnia – The Lion’s World: A Journey into the Heart of Narnia (pub. p/b UK 2012 SPCK while in the USA it was published the same year, but by OUP in a hardcover format). The interview is brief and not in-depth, but it’s a good read and if it encourages people to read Williams’ rich little book it will have served a useful purpose. I still have rich memories of listening to Williams (though sadly not as one of the congregation he was speaking to) delivering the 2011 lectures on which his book is based (though the lectures are extended). In particular the lecture, which featured Eustace and the Dragon, still stands out.
“…What is it about Narnia, which can seem so obviously Christian to many readers, that appeals to non-Christian or secular audiences?
It's not an easy question to answer. I think it's partly that the narratives themselves have a great deal of force. You know, they're very simple stories—I don't mean simple in the sense of crude—but emotions are strong. They're about loyalty and betrayal, victory and defeat. They have that sort of buzz; they just keep going and keep your attention.
They have at their heart something very mysterious, something that comes in alongside your ordinary human interactions and gives them an extra depth, an extra dimension, because Aslan is not a presence who's visibly there all the time. Yet, there's something or other breathing over your shoulder and making you think again, reminding you that you're responsible to something bigger. I think that appeals to almost any intelligent or sensitive reader of any age.
Narnia is something that people do revisit. Some of the images stay with me. And though of course Lewis wrote them as children's books—that's what they are—children's books, as we all know, are quite powerful tools for grown ups' imaginations…”