On Rereading C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Again)

It’s hard for me to “review” The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I’ve read it so many times at different times of life and had so many different thoughts. To say I was obsessed with Narnia is an understatement. My third grade teacher read this book aloud to the class, and then I was hooked, reading and rereading the series (except The Last Battle, which I’ve read only twice; I struggled with it a lot). I imagined I was in Narnia, watched the movie, went to a local play. I would have said it (the series as a whole, I guess) was one of my favorite books.

So when I reread The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe a couple years ago as an adult, I was horrified to discover I didn’t think it was that good. It’s . . . very short. I couldn’t comprehend how very little happens and how what does happen, happens so quickly! The story seemed so underdeveloped, so sparse! I must have just used my child’s imagination to make everything seem so much bigger. It was a huge letdown, to discover that Narnia are NOT among the children’s books that withstood rereading for me as an adult.

So what did I think this time?

My opinion is more in the middle. The book is still short. It’s kind of shocking to realize that the Pevensies win the final battle, are installed as Kings and Queens of Narnia, live their lives in Narnia, and fall back through the wardrobe into England all in a single chapter. It’s hilarious that a “great battle” is about three paragraphs long. I was confused to see the children reference great hardships and being all dramatic about how much had happened when they’d been in Narnia for literally a day.

But, whatever. I guess I was expecting it this time. It doesn’t really work for me as an adult, but I remember I had absolutely no problem with it as a child reading the books, so I need to give Lewis credit where credit is due.

I did notice this time around, however, that Lewis’s prose is rather repetitive. I mentioned the “always winter, never Christmas” bit to a friend as I was reading, and he said he didn’t remember anything about Christmas in the book. That was surprising to me because, you know, Santa is literally a character in the story, but I realized someone says something about “always winter, never Christmas” five or six times It’s not a one time quote. And Lewis does that often. I remembered the direction not to shut oneself in a wardrobe, of course. I didn’t remember that is ALSO mentioned about five times. And various other bits are repeated.

There’s much to love about Narnia. I suppose Lewis had a talent for writing something short that ends up being very evocative for children. And, of course, many adults continue to see a lot in it academically.

As entertainment, I enjoyed it more this time than I thought I would, judging from the tragedy that was my previous reread. I just need to remember that the book seems rushed and go in expecting that, and then I can still access some of the charm I saw in it as a child.


24 thoughts on “On Rereading C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Again)

  1. reader@work says:

    I remember reading this book and then reading the other six books in the series simply because I found it impressive as a 12 year old, but I think I had similar observations on a recent re-read

    On Wed, Dec 21, 2022 at 10:35 AM Pages Unbound | Book Reviews & Discussions


  2. Rosie Amber says:

    I remember reading this as a child and enjoying the concept of a new world reached through the back of a wardrobe. I’m not sure if I read the whole series, but I’ve seen a televised version which is confusing my recall of the books. I haven’t tried it as an adult.


  3. Life Love Read says:

    I remember reading this as a teen, after seeing the movie. I enjoyed reading it, but I had expected more of the book than I got. I haven’t tried reading it as an adult, but I also don’t remember finishing the series. So I might have a go at it at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ellora @ The Cozy Owlet says:

    I think there’s a sparseness to the world that you can “fill in” when you’re young with a TON of imagination. But for the same reasons you describe I also loved The Horse and his Boy, which really expanded the version of amarnos I most loved. So maybe that’s where some of the feeling of expansiveness is coming from? Those two always felt like a twin set to me.
    I also remember reading it right when the more recent series of movies came out, and the adaptation of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe was pretty darn good in terms of fleshing out the world but staying true to the book.


    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I never liked The Horse and His Boy as much as a kid (I think I might have just wanted more of the Pevensies?), but I might reread it again sometime next year and see what I think! It just is really interesting how much kids can make something short seem so big in their minds.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Kim @ Traveling in Books says:

    I didn’t read the Narnia books when I was a kid, so when I tried to read them as an adult I had no nostalgia to fall back on, and I ended up not liking it. I didn’t make it through the third book, even though they’re all quite short.


  6. Krysta says:

    I see your point, but I can also easily imagine a bunch of children whining about how hard life is after like twenty minutes of having to walk somewhere with no one to pick them up, get them a drink of water, reassure them it’s okay, etc. Lol.


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