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Narnia and the Fields of Arbol: The Environmental Vision of C. S. Lewis
     

Narnia and the Fields of Arbol: The Environmental Vision of C. S. Lewis

by Matthew T. Dickerson, David O'Hara
 

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The remarkable breadth of C. S. Lewis's (1898—1963) work is nearly as legendary as the fantastical tales he so inventively crafted. A variety of themes emerge in his literary output, which spans the genres of nonfiction, fantasy, science fiction, and children's literature, but much of the scholarship examining his work focuses on religion or philosophy.

Overview

The remarkable breadth of C. S. Lewis's (1898—1963) work is nearly as legendary as the fantastical tales he so inventively crafted. A variety of themes emerge in his literary output, which spans the genres of nonfiction, fantasy, science fiction, and children's literature, but much of the scholarship examining his work focuses on religion or philosophy. Overshadowed are Lewis's views on nature and his concern for environmental stewardship, which are present in most of his work. In Narnia and the Fields of Arbol: The Environmental Vision of C. S. Lewis, authors Matthew Dickerson and David O'Hara illuminate this important yet overlooked aspect of the author's visionary work. Dickerson and O'Hara go beyond traditional theological discussions of Lewis's writing to investigate themes of sustainability, stewardship of natural resources, and humanity's relationship to wilderness. The authors examine the environmental and ecological underpinnings of Lewis's work by exploring his best-known works of fantasy, including the seven books of the Chronicles of Narnia and the three novels collectively referred to as the Space Trilogy. Taken together, these works reveal Lewis's enduring environmental concerns, and Dickerson and O'Hara offer a new understanding of his pioneering style of fiction. An avid outdoorsman, Lewis deftly combined an active imagination with a deep appreciation for the natural world. Narnia and the Fields of Arbol, the first book-length work on the subject, explores the marriage of Lewis's environmental passion with his skill as a novelist and finds the author's legacy to have as much in common with the agrarian environmentalism of Wendell Berry as it does with the fantasy of J. R. R. Tolkien. In an era of increasing concern about deforestation, climate change, and other environmental issues, Lewis's work remains as pertinent as ever. The widespread adaption of his work in film lends credence to the author's staying power as an influential voice in both fantastical fiction and environmental literature. With Narnia and the Fields of Arbol, Dickerson and O'Hara have written a timely work of scholarship that offers a fresh perspective on one of the most celebrated authors in literary history.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Shows the horror, environmental and moral, or separating the human from nature." —Choice" —

"The book defends "a certain Christian view of ecology." This defense is for ecologically disengaged Christians fond of Lewis and for non-Christians who care about ecology but blame Christianity for our environmental problems." —The Review of Politics" —

Library Journal

Dickerson (environmental studies & computer science, Middlebury Coll.) and O'Hara (philosophy & classical Greek, Augustana Coll.), coauthors of From Homer to Harry Potter: A Handbook on Myth and Fantasy, here convincingly argue that the Christian fantasist C.S. Lewis draws up a compelling and consistent environmental ethic in his Chronicles of Narnia and other novels. Although part of the publisher's series "devoted to the exploration and articulation of a new agrarianism that considers the health of habitats and human communities together," this is not written in stiff academic prose. Dickerson and O'Hara's style is rather a utilitarian one meant to illuminate how the noted Christian apologist bridged the traditional gap between antimaterial Christian ethics and belief in the basic goodness of our material world. Dickerson and O'Hara demonstrate how one man, well before the fad, established his own code of ethics "in which nature is enchanted by something that transcends nature and provides a transcendent morality, in which exploiting the earth, the water, or our fellow creatures is not merely inconvenient but morally wrong." Recommended for all libraries.
—Charles C. Nash

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813125220
Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
Publication date:
12/19/2008
Series:
Culture of the Land
Edition description:
1
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Matthew T. Dickerson is professor of environmental studies and computer science at Middlebury College, author of Ents, Elves, and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J. R. R. Tolkien,Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victory in The Lord of the Rings and The Finnsburg Encounter, and coeditor of From Homer to Harry Potter: A Handbook on Myth and Fantasy. David O'Hara is assistant professor of philosophy and instructor in classical Greek at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He is coeditor of From Homer to Harry Potter: A Handbook on Myth and Fantasy.

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