Bacchae, Beowulf, books, conversations, CS Lewis, Dionysus, dragons, Euripides, Fafnir, fauns, JRR Tolkien, King Arthur, mental furniture, myth, opera, pastoral poetry, Poetic Edda, Prose Edda, rape, reading, satyrs, Siegfried, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of The Rings, The Nibelungenlied
Jester and I talked about books today. He was shocked that I hadn’t really enjoyed The Chronicles of Narnia, and also that I haven’t read any of C.S. Lewis’ scifi novels.
I was kind of surprised at his assertion that the Narnia books are “the same thing” as the LOTR universe. No…not so. Certainly not.
Different styles entirely. And audiences? Yes, okay. They wrote for “children”. But imo, Lewis’s stories are far more suitable for children…the only thing in them that disturbed me any was the voice of the werewolf. But I think that is because it was described to perfection as the voice of a leopard seal that had been gliding around the waters in our sub-conscious, and saying sly, threatening things that upset even my Wolf.
Normal kids would not be bothered by that specific thing, methinks.
And if I am honest (sometimes I am), I cannot think of a single thing that scared me in the LOTR, but those books made me unbearably sad. For a fourth grader.
And there you have it as well as I can explain: I was ruined at a young age by the terrible sadness of the LOTR, and by all of those gruesome holocaust/WWII books that so attracted and repelled me and led me to the conclusion that I enjoy upsetting things for some ineffable reason.
I don’t know. I just can’t think of them as being the same things. Probably because…despite the fact that there are some very moving and beautiful scenes in it, I have not been particularly taken by anything about Narnia. My brain stores those scenes like they are paintings, but not even necessarily ones of a series. Just pretty things, disconnected from everything else.
But with LOTR…there is so much apart from the initial stories…so much information and so much myth and backstory to the already long novels…
Without the LOTR, my mental furniture would be much diminished. I would have known about Beowulf, because they at least mentioned that story in school, but I think that without Bilbo and Smaug, it would not have caught my interest. And then I would have neither known nor been interested in the reading that led me to the story of Glaurung and Túrin, and I certainly would not have been motivated enough to read the Norse Eddas to know about Fafnir and Sigurd…and then to have gone on from there and read the Nibelungenlied, only to be disappointed that Siegfried (the name is different in that version) is a much shadier character in those versions of the stories…though…as legendary kings go, I still prefer him to King Arthur, seeing as there is a version of his stories where he isn’t a fuckup. No suck luck for our friend from Camelot.
I definitely wouldn’t’ve gone to see the opera about this particular myth–I watched it at my theatre, but I only made it through about half of the performance because I had to work that day…I never got to see the dragon! 😥
Still…it was enjoyable.
I can’t say Narnia has fostered any particular interests in me to learn more about any of its threads. What? Shall I read pastoral poetry for the fauns? No. Partly because I want to slit the throats of some of those poets who wrote neverending pastorals (they are SO TEDIOUS to read and stay awake when you are in college and it’s not your thing but they just keep assigning them and you want to incinerate all the fields and butterflies and send your Wolf in a fury upon those stupid, bleating sheep), and also because they tend to not be fauns and to be satyrs instead, and I want to kill them more than I want to incinerate butterflies because the mere presence of a satyr means someone is probably getting raped
or unwillingly seduced, and as a female reader, I am disgusted by the fact that these supposedly idyllic places in pastoral poems are ruined by man-creatures who can’t keep it to themselves.
For these reasons, I have had a tough time thinking that Mr. Tumnus is an alright faun. And also in believing Lewis’ G-rated Dionysus. Because for reals, how can I view Dionysus as anything other than a terror after reading Euripides’ Bacchae?
That is a disturbing play on several levels. It would be a fine, gory movie, I’m sure (there was a 2002 film version…not sure if it is any good though).
I think Lewis was not being very honest about some of his characters or mythical creatures. Although he does get bonus points because I seem to recall Jewel the unicorn stabbing people, which is what I have thought for a while that unicorns ought to be doing.
I think Tolkien was honest about dragons. And backed it up with examples from myths.
I don’t know. I mean, yes. Okay. On a simplistic level, the stories are the same thing. Fiction. Fantasy.
But I am far more indebted to Tolkien’s writing as an influence on my knowledge, tastes, and even in aspects of my personality. And I have only briefly detailed one line of inquiry that arose from my reading those books.
I think the purpose of posting this is mostly just because I am not good at collecting my thoughts in conversations, but I thought he would probably see this post eventually. I like to think so. And maybe see then that I have a reason for saying that I disagreed with him.
Not that it matters.
I just like him to know that I am still thinking about a thing we talked about.
And that I think at all.