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!
(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?
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.