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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday Guest: Queen Jadis

From: CS Lewis' The Magician's Nephew (The Chronicles of Narnia)

The quote: The Queen . . .  drew herself up to her full height and stood rigid. Then she said something which they couldn't understand  (but it sounded horrid) and made an action as if she were throwing something towards the doors. And those high and heavy doors trembled for a second as if they were made of silk and then crumbled away till there was nothing left but a heap of dust on the threshold.

Who's that girl: Nominally, the Queen Jadis of The Magician's Nephew (the first episode in the Narnia saga, but the sixth Lewis wrote) is the same personage as the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (second episode, but the first written). On closer inspection, however, the two have many more differences than similarities. The White Witch is called, or rather, signs herself "Jadis" only once in the whole novel. All in all, she is a Disneyan character like Maleficent. Queen Jadis, on the other hand, is a more fascinating and disturbing entity, a witch as well as a queen coming from a lost universe, and even a super-heroine or super-villain with exceptional physical strength. The blend between witchery and science fiction reminds us of Lovecraft, though Lewis adds a further element, that is humor. Moreover, Jadis also implies sexual impulses that were / will be lacking in the White Witch. Last but not least, here's a link and a distinction, at the same time: the White Witch is only theoretically identified with Lilith, while Jadis does actually play that role.

SF trends: After inventing the "good aliens," even New-Age-like ones, back in the 1930s (cf. much later, movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Cameron's Avatar, etc.), against the then prevailing HG-Wells warlike trend, here Lewis goes back to creating an "evil alien" who wants to conquer the Earth. Cf. also the alien invaders in the cartoons and comic books by Go Nagai, whose heyday was in the 1970s.

Lost in Translation: The Italian version of The Magician's Nephew (Il nipote del mago, by C. B., "updated" by G. L.) unfortunately is of uneven quality, sometimes accurate and lively, sometimes quite bad, i.e. either with mistakes or trivializing the text so that its deepest meanings are lost.