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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Guests: "Strange Animals"

From: CS Lewis' The Silver Chair (The Chronicles of Narnia)

The quote: Here [in Underland] they passed dozens of strange animals lying on the turf, either dead or asleep, Jill could not tell which. These were mostly of a dragonish or bat-like sort; Puddleglum did not know what any of them were.

Jurassic Park: These undescribed critters clearly hint at 'vintage' dinosaurs as they were pictured in the early 20th century. See also Giovani Pascoli's 1904 science-fictional poem Il poeta degli iloti: " . . .  e in terra e in aria rettili deformi, / nottole enormi . . . ," "and in the air and on earth, misshapen reptiles, giant bats . . ." The dinosaurian nature of Lewis' "strange animals" will more clearly emerge in the final episode of the Narnia saga, The Last Battle. Lewis even used to humorously call himself "a dinosaur," though he didn't 'believe' in Evolutionism as a 'dogma,' see his essay The Funeral of a Great Myth in the posthumous collection Christian Reflections. He explained his intriguing alternative theory of evolution - mixing science, religion, fantasy, and science fiction - in Mere Christianity and in the novel Perelandra.

Puddleglum's doubts about "what any of them were" are understandable: in the origins of the 'Narniaverse' that Lewis has revealed / will reveal to us in The Magician's Nephew, no place for Underland and dinosaurs can be found. They are undeniably there, but where do they come from? Anyway, since today is Easter, don't worry: they are not dead, they are simply asleep, and they will rise again.