The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia

The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia

4.8 6
by Laura Miller
     
 

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THE MAGICIAN'S BOOK is the story of one reader's long, tumultuous relationship with C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia. Enchanted by its fantastic world as a child, prominent critic Laura Miller returns to the series as an adult to uncover the source of these small books' mysterious power by looking at their creator, Clive Staples Lewis. What she discovers isSee more details below

Overview

THE MAGICIAN'S BOOK is the story of one reader's long, tumultuous relationship with C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia. Enchanted by its fantastic world as a child, prominent critic Laura Miller returns to the series as an adult to uncover the source of these small books' mysterious power by looking at their creator, Clive Staples Lewis. What she discovers is not the familiar, idealized image of the author, but a more interesting and ambiguous truth: Lewis's tragic and troubled childhood, his unconventional love life, and his intense but ultimately doomed friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien.


Finally reclaiming Narnia "for the rest of us," Miller casts the Chronicles as a profoundly literary creation, and the portal to a life-long adventure in books, art, and the imagination.

Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Ward
…[a] hard-to-categorize, absorbing book. Think of it as an extended literary appreciation shot through with illuminating shafts of memoir, scholarship, biography and conversational interviews. Reading it is like sitting down for the afternoon with a fellow Narnia nut who is much more erudite than you are but genial and amusing enough never to intimidate or bore.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Jam-packed with critical insights and historical context, this discussion of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia from Miller's double perspectives-as the wide-eyed child who first read the books and an agnostic adult who revisits them-is intellectually inspiring but not always cohesive. Finding her distrust of Christianity undermined by her love of Lewis's indisputably Christian-themed world, Salon.com cofounder and staff writer Miller seeks to "recapture [Narnia's] old enchantment." She replaces lost innocence with understanding, visiting Lewis's home in England, reading his letters and books (which she quotes extensively) and interviewing readers and writers. Lengthy musings on Freudian analysis of sadomasochism, J.R.R. Tolkien's Anglo-Saxon nationalism and taxonomies of genre share space with incisive and unapologetic criticism of Lewis's treatment of race, gender and class. The heart of the book is in the first-person passages where Miller recalls longing to both be and befriend Lucy Pevensie and extols Narnia's "shining wonders." Her reluctant reconciliation with Lewis's and Narnia's imperfections never quite manages to be convincing, but anyone who has endured exile from Narnia will recognize and appreciate many aspects of her journey. (Dec. 3)

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Michael Cart
An agreeable and insightful book...her sometimes affectionate, sometimes analytical book will delight both skeptics and true believers.
Booklist
author of The Father of All Things Tom Bissell
"This book is both a wonderful antechamber to Lewis's wardrobe portal and a convincing attempt to rescue Aslan from the Christian imagination and embed him where he has always belonged--the human imagination."
author of The Jane Austin Book Club Karen Joy Fowler
"A thorough and thoroughly engrossing look at one reader's lifetime love affair with Narnia... Smart, meticulous, and altogether delightful."
Jonathan Lethem
"Conversational, embracing, and casually erudite... a subtle reader's memoir, and manifesto."
author of Grace (Eventually) Anne Lamott
"Amagical weave of rich soulful criticism, at once a distinctive and insightful biography of C.S. Lewis, and a memoir of the author....I couldn't put it down."
author of The Lecturer's Tale and Kings of Infini James Hynes
"...Reading [Miller's] thrilling new book about C. S. Lewis and his Narnia series is like sitting down with the smartest and least tendentious person you know and dishing your favorite books. I came away from this book feeling thoroughly informed, entertained, and inspired."
Michael Cart - Booklist
"An agreeable and insightful book...her sometimes affectionate, sometimes analytical book will delight both skeptics and true believers."
author of 100 Best Books for Children Anita Silvey
"...Anyone who believes in the power of literature will want to savor The Magician's Book. In the end you feel as if you have had a stimulating literary conversation with a group of very smart and savvy friends."
From the Publisher
"Empathetic, rigorous,
erudite, funny, generous, and surprising....THE MAGICIAN'S BOOK abounds with a rare quality that most literary criticism lacks, the quality of hopeful longing that helped lead C. S. Lewis to imagine Narnia, the quality that he prized above almost all others: joy."—Los Angeles Times"

Weaving together her own life as a reader and C. S. Lewis's life as, among other things, a reader, a writer, a Christian, a veteran of World War I, and a friend to J.R.R. Tolkien,
Miller illuminates not only the Chronicles of Narnia, but the nature of reading itself."—Time"

There are two great pleasures to be found in THE MAGICIAN'S BOOK. One is being reminded of exactly how blissful it felt to be a child in the thrall of a book. The other is watching
Miller find her way back to Narnia as an adult-where she discovers that a wiser reader is not necessarily a sadder one."—Christian Science Monitor"

Conversational, embracing, and casually erudite... a subtle reader's memoir, and manifesto."—Jonathan Lethem"

Amagical weave of rich soulful criticism, at once a distinctive and insightful biography of C.S. Lewis, and a memoir of the author....I couldn't put it down."—Anne Lamott, author of Grace (Eventually)"

This book is both a wonderful antechamber to Lewis's wardrobe portal and a convincing attempt to rescue Aslan from the Christian imagination and embed him where he has always belonged—the human imagination."—Tom Bissell, author of The Father of All Things"

A thorough and thoroughly engrossing look at one reader's lifetime love affair with Narnia... Smart, meticulous, and altogether delightful."—Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austin Book Club"

An agreeable and insightful book...her sometimes affectionate, sometimes analytical book will delight both skeptics and true believers."—Michael Cart, Booklist"

...Anyone who believes in the power of literature will want to savor The Magician's Book. In the end you feel as if you have had a stimulating literary conversation with a group of very smart and savvy friends."—Anita Silvey, author of 100 Best Books for Children"

A rewarding study by a first-rate arts writer."—Kirkus"

Jam-packed with critical insights and historical context, this discussion of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia...is intellectually inspiring."—Publishers Weekly"

...Reading [Miller's] thrilling new book about C. S. Lewis and his Narnia series is like sitting down with the smartest and least tendentious person you know and dishing your favorite books. I came away from this book feeling thoroughly informed, entertained, and inspired."—James Hynes, author of The Lecturer's Tale and Kings of Infinite Space

Los Angeles Times
"Empathetic, rigorous,
erudite, funny, generous, and surprising....THE MAGICIAN'S BOOK abounds with a rare quality that most literary criticism lacks, the quality of hopeful longing that helped lead C. S. Lewis to imagine Narnia, the quality that he prized above almost all others: joy."
Time
"Weaving together her own life as a reader and C. S. Lewis's life as, among other things, a reader, a writer, a Christian, a veteran of World War I, and a friend to J.R.R. Tolkien,
Miller illuminates not only the Chronicles of Narnia, but the nature of reading itself."
Christian Science Monitor
"There are two great pleasures to be found in THE MAGICIAN'S BOOK. One is being reminded of exactly how blissful it felt to be a child in the thrall of a book. The other is watching
Miller find her way back to Narnia as an adult-where she discovers that a wiser reader is not necessarily a sadder one."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316040266
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
12/03/2008
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
745,420
File size:
0 MB

What People are saying about this

Jonathan Lethem
Conversational, embracing, and casually erudite... a subtle reader's memoir, and manifesto.
Tom Bissell
To those who have found C. S. Lewis's Narnia books altogether too druidic and allegorical, Laura Miller brings some interesting news: this is true, but it is only true. Along with her fascinating insights into the world of Narnia and the mind that conjured it, Miller provides one of the best explanations I have ever read about why so-called children's literature is so inimitably affecting. This book is both a wonderful antechamber to Lewis's wardrobe portal and a convincing attempt to rescue Aslan from the Christian imagination and embed him where he has always belonged -- the human imagination. -- (Tom Bissell, author of The Father of All Things)
Anita Silvey
In a braided narrative Miller weaves together details about the life of C. S. Lewis, her personal journey with his books, and astute observations about how children and adults read....Anyone who believes in the power of literature will want to savor The Magician’s Book. In the end you feel as if you have had a stimulating literary conversation with a group of very smart and savvy friends. -- (Anita Silvey, author of 100 Best Books for Children)
Karen Joy Fowler
A thorough and thoroughly engrossing look at one reader's lifetime love affair with Narnia. You need not be a Lewis fan nor aficionado to enjoy Miller's book, though a few of your own affairs with imaginary places and people probably help. Smart, meticulous, and altogether delightful. -- (Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austin Book Club)
Anne Lamott
This is a magical weave of rich soulful criticism, at once a distinctive and insightful biography of C. S. Lewis, and a memoir of the author, who fell in love with Narnia as a wide-eyed young girl, and revisits it as a grown-up. Entering Narnia again, at once apathetic and anxious about its Christian allegory, Miller creates an amazing literary work: in uncovering the vulnerability and limitations of C. S. Lewis, she finds within his pages a limitless and lasting work of imagination and human meaning, for all readers, of all ages and inclinations. I couldn't put it down, even as I felt tremendous anticipation of picking up The Chronicles of Narnia again, forty-five years after I first fell in love with it, too. -- (Anne Lamott, author of Grace (Eventually))

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