• Planet Narnia

  • The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis
  • By: Michael Ward
  • Narrated by: Nigel Patterson
  • Length: 13 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (124 ratings)

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Planet Narnia

By: Michael Ward
Narrated by: Nigel Patterson
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Publisher's Summary

For over half a century, scholars have labored to show that C. S. Lewis' famed but apparently disorganized Chronicles of Narnia have an underlying symbolic coherence, pointing to such possible unifying themes as the seven sacraments, the seven deadly sins, and the seven books of Spenser's Faerie Queene. None of these explanations has won general acceptance, and the structure of Narnia's symbolism has remained a mystery.  

Michael Ward has finally solved the enigma. In Planet Narnia, he demonstrates that medieval cosmology, a subject which fascinated Lewis throughout his life, provides the imaginative key to the seven novels. Drawing on the whole range of Lewis' writings, Ward reveals how the Narnia stories were designed to express the characteristics of the seven medieval planets - Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Luna, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn - planets which Lewis described as "spiritual symbols of permanent value". Using these seven symbols, Lewis secretly constructed the Chronicles so that in each book the plot-line, the ornamental details, and, most important, the portrayal of the Christ-figure of Aslan, all serve to communicate the governing planetary personality.  

Planet Narnia is a groundbreaking study that will provoke a major revaluation not only of the Chronicles, but of Lewis' whole literary and theological outlook.

©2008 Oxford University Press, Inc. (P)2019 Tantor

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Fascinating

For me, as for many people, Lewis has played an important part in forming my reading habits and even my worldview. I have loved the Narnia books since childhood, though my love cooled somewhat on learning about Tolkien’s estimation of them. More recently, I have preferred the Ransom trilogy and especially some of the classic works of apologetics. Perhaps most of all, I have loved The Discarded Image, which has shaped my own professional and academic work in Renaissance music theory.

Michael Ward has completely rekindled my interest in the Narnia books, which fortuitously coincides with my older children’s reading the books for the first time. Literary scholarship is a bit outside of my usual listening habits, which tend to fiction, history, and science, but this book does a terrific job of laying out a bold claim and meticulously drawing connections between the Narnia books, Lewis’s poetry and scholarly writings, and his medieval sources. To a non-expert, the argument seems unanswerable. Viewing the Chronicles through the lens of the discarded worldview of planetary influences provides a whole new dimension to the story.

The reader does an excellent job. I would recommend this book to any admirer of Lewis.

8 people found this helpful

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  • B
  • 10-08-20

Beautiful and Academic

This is a beautifully done examination of Lewis! While this book is noticeably academic, it is performed well, and progressed smoothly between sections. If I had a critique, it would be that I wanted to hear more! I am looking forward to my next reading of the Narnia septet and delving into Lewis further.

3 people found this helpful

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Incredible

This was an exhaustive study of the Lewis corpus.. This author is an incredible scholar; siting examples of Lewis’ other writings, the authors he admired , authors he criticized, Bible references! You may need a dictionary handy to look up the terms he eloquently uses with ease. I wish my education had included the depth and range of the author’s. If you thought CS Lewis was brilliant before reading this book you will be delighted to discover more. I highly recommend this book. The reader was wonderful- pleasant voice and cadence.

3 people found this helpful

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After this, I find myself listening to Narnia and Ransom cycle for the first time

This is a scholarly book of Literary Criticism by a well-credentialed scholar and professor. Though he is also an ordained minister, this is not a book about Lewis’s faith as such, though it does discuss Christological themes. It is a grand introduction to imaginative reading and the medieval world view, so important to Lewis in his scholarship, poetry, and fiction. It has made my enjoyment of Narnia anew, as a child enchanted by it. It also got me interested in his poetry.

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A Detailed and Well-presented Argument

In Planet Narnia, Dr Michael Ward provides a detailed and richly-footnoted argument (although the footnotes aren't included in the audiobook) for C.S. Lewis employing a Ptolemaic cosmology in his beloved series, The Chronicles of Narnia. If you're the kind of person who wants all the arguments considered and they fascinate you, you'll likely enjoy this book. I think Michael Ward is correct in his assertion and I find his argument compelling.

But if you primarily want the gist of his argument without all the detailed references to Lewis's scholarly works, his poetry, and particularly the Ransom trilogy, or Ward's explanation of what other Lewis scholars have thought and why they missed this insight, etc., you might prefer to listen to Dr Ward himself give a series of 12 lectures, each about 20 minutes long, called "C.S. Lewis: Christology and Cosmology," also available here on Audible.

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great commentary on C.S. Lewis's works.

An insightful look into the process of Lewis's writing style, and immensely useful for upcoming writers looking into weaving mythology into their own works.

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Narnian Insights

When I first read C.S. Lewis' fiction and theology I never new about his love for cosmology. This will permanently change they way I read his work from now on.

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Fascinating!!

This was incredibly fascinating! Dr. Ward presents his argument in a very compelling and detailed way. As a HUGE Narnia fan I loved this. The reason I’m only giving this 4 stars is because I got a little lost in all of the academia. I felt like Lewis’ Random Trilogy was referenced more than the Chronicles. It made me wish I had reread the Random Trilogy before starting this one. I want to go back and study the sections of the book that just talk about Narnia.

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By Jove

By Jove I think he's got it. Excellent theory and I think it is spot on. Worth a listen if you enjoy C. S. Lewis' works

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Intriguing and excellently performed

I can't say I'm as completely sold as the author wants me to be; however, the presentation of the argument is flawless and it made me want to read more Lewis, which can hardly be a bad thing.

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  • Mrs L.
  • 01-27-21

There is this weird replay in Mercury BUT..

...otherwise it's an excellent reading of this fine work of scholarship.

However, I would recommend having the book within reach, so that the more complex parts may be listened to with the text. Anyone coming to this having read only the Narnia Chronicles will find they have much more to catch up on!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-27-20

Riveting

An in depth exploration of CS Lewis’ world. I do need to listen again with a dictionary, as the vocabulary is in the doctorate range, but the voyage through Narnia is too gripping to bother with that at the first listen.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-24-22

Excellent and persuasive

I’ve been a Lewis fan for several years and this is the best book I’ve ever read about him or his thought. The central thesis is that Lewis wrote each Narnia book to embody a different planet of the medieval cosmos. Lewis was in love with medieval astronomy and wrote about it extensively in his own academic work. This book is an excellent guide not only to Narnia but also to his Cosmic Trilogy and works of literary criticism, to build up an understanding of Lewis’s thought more broadly. This version is also exceptionally well read.
Would definitely recommend!