A Classic I Loved As a Child but Love Less Now (Classic Remarks)

Classic Remarks

What Is Classic Remarks?

Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.

How Can I Participate?

Leave your link to your post on your own blog in the comments below. And feel free to comment with your thoughts even if you are not officially participating with a full post!

You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(Readers who like past prompts but missed them have also answered them on their blog later and linked back to us at Pages Unbound, so feel free to do that, too!)

This Week’s Prompt:

What is a classic you loved when you were younger, but feel differently about now?

Star Divider

Considering that we celebrate the works of C.S. Lewis frequently here at Pages Unbound, this may be a bit shocking, but I enjoyed The Chronicles of Narnia much more as a child than I did rereading them as an adult.

I first encountered Narnia with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in third grade, and I went on to read and reread the entirety of the series (besides The Last Battle, which I’ve only read twice) over the course of the next two years or so.  I was obsessed.  I loved the stories.  I was disappointed in the existing movies; I was excited when new movies were announced.  I basically wanted to be Lucy Pevensie or to somehow find myself suddenly in Narnia one day.

So I was very surprised when I reread The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as an adult and felt the story was a bit…sparse.  As a child, I felt as though I could open the pages, walk into Narnia, live the story and just live there.  As adult, I felt like nothing was happening and nothing was explained and there was just so much missing that I had apparently just imagined into the story when I was younger.  Sometimes I wonder if this says something sad about me (I’ve moved away from being able to take words and make them come alive with my own imagination to being rigidly fixated on exactly what is or is not written on the page?), but the end result is that I definitely found the story shorter and less detailed than I remembered it.  And it was disappointing.

I still have a lot of respect for C.S. Lewis and for The Chronicles of Narnia.  There is a lot of good scholarship on the series, so clearly adults are finding things that are interesting and complex about the books, enough so to fill their own books with discussion of them. However, the difference between my experience reading the books as an adult and as a child was so stark that I’m not sure I’ll ever fully get over it, and sometimes I wish I still had the ability to read a short chapter book and make it come alive for myself, rather than thinking something is lacking.


17 thoughts on “A Classic I Loved As a Child but Love Less Now (Classic Remarks)

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I really love that you feel differently about it because you love it MORE as an adult! Anne of Green Gables is one of my very favorite books, as well, and I am always so pleased to find upon rereading it that it holds up to my initial love of it and is just so perfect and well-written.

      I also love that you relate to Anne. I always was very fond of her but ultimately had to admit that I probably actually have very little in common with her personality-wise.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Geraldine @ Corralling Books says:

    I think I agree with you?
    I enjoyed it as a child as well, but when I tried rereading it as an adult, I actually couldn’t keep reading – I kept getting bored! I haven’t fully reread it so I can’t say much 😦
    But, at least you’ll have those memories from when you were a child and loved these books! ❤


      • Mina @Stacked says:

        I agree with you completely. I was in my early twenties when I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and couldn’t see what all the fuss is about, it felt way too boring for a children’s fantasy novel. Still, I think I would have liked it better if I’d read it as a child.
        But there is also another thing here – children’s novels are much different today, and I think that someone who grew up with Harry Potter, MCU, and other fast-paced, well-built fantasy worlds (books or movies, whatever) probably wouldn’t enjoy Narnia as much as the previous generations. For example, I’ve noticed that my niece and her friends (she’s 10) also don’t like Narnia.


        • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

          The Narnia books are a bit shorter, so I do think they might be more in the “lower middle grade” category if marketed today, rather than in “upper middle grade” with books like Nevermoor that are longer and have tons of world building.


  2. Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

    I had the same experience with these books. I read them all in grade three and generally enjoyed them (I was perplexed by The Last Battle even then, though…). I reread The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe a few years ago and found it very thin. I think, especially now that I am such a fan of Tolkien and understand a bit more his relationship with Lewis, it is impossible to look at those books the same way I did as a child.


    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      The Last Battle is so weird to me even now. I get the Christian perspective that heaven is beautiful beyond our currently earthly imagination but…the literal end of the world and everyone’s deaths is a pretty rough topic for a middle grade book! I’m vaguely disturbed by it even now.

      I also kind of get Tolkien’s perspective, though I see him get criticized for not being a good friend or being elitist or something for not thinking the Narnia books were particularly good. He was probably thinking he spent DECADES world building and doing things like charting the lunar phases so he could make an accurate passing reference to what the moon looked like in LotR, and Lewis comes along and is like, “Hey, what if Jesus were lion in a different world? And also I just make up random stuff like ‘Always winter and never Christmas’ in said world that…probably shouldn’t even have Christmas because Jesus is a lion and wasn’t actually born in a manger in Bethlehem and all that?” I think Lewis deserves credit for creating a world that many people obviously love, but if Tolkien thought his own books were “better written” or something, he probably wasn’t entirely wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

        Yes! It’s fascinating to me how the influence of their personal religious beliefs played out so wildly differently in their books. From a literary perspective, I think it’s pretty clear who the stronger storyteller was. I once took a uni class on the Inklings. The professor was a Lewis scholar and seemed to think Lewis had a greater impact/more significance than Tolkien… that was very frustrating for me, haha.


  3. Sammie @ The Bookwyrm's Den says:

    Oooh, this is a cute meme, and I think it’s great. Totally on par with the great discussions you both post here! I think this has happened quite a bit for me when reading books I loved as a kid, and sometimes it’s why I haven’t re-read certain series yet. Because what if I don’t like it anymore?

    I remember the Chronicles of Narnia feeling much more vast and epic and, like you said, a world ready to walk into. I was reshelving these books recently at the library and was like … they’re only about 250 pages each? When I read them, I thought they were super epic long. xD


  4. bibliosini says:

    I read this series once as a kid, then I never touched it! I loved the movies and the story just grew and grew in my head. Now I’m too afraid to reread the series because I don’t want to burst my own Narnia bubble in case I’m not as enthralled by it anymore!


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