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The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia Paperback – December 2, 2009
100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
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Top Customer Reviews
Miller is at her best when distilling the various types of literary forms (allegory, metaphor, etc.), and in her exploration of Lewis's literary influences (Arthurian legends, Norse mythology, Celtic folktales, the "wildness" of faery lore, etc.). She explores many story archetypes, helps the reader identify them in other (non-Narnian) contexts, and does so in way that doesn't sacrifice any meaning or enjoyment in their reading.
She deconstructs the world views of Lewis's time and of the previous eras that shaped his ideas, but never in a way that cuts Lewis any slack.Read more ›
Miller's intentions are not entirely benign; she takes the Christian themes of Narnia very personally, and is frankly put off by them. As a self-described "skeptic," she drifted away from the religion of her youth and settled on an idea of Christianity that leaves little to be desired. And yet, The Chronicles of Narnia remain the most important books of her lifetime. How can she settle the apparent discrepancy between her unbelief and her love of books so seemingly full of belief?
Miller constructs this book in three parts, which seem to mirror the progression of her own relationship with Narnia. In the first part, she articulates all the reasons to love Narnia. It's a magical place, full of talking animals, with the appeal of a secret, private garden. Children especially identify with the world of Narnia because there, children are tested and challenged, and what they do matters. There is a satisfying weight to their thoughts and actions, and in a real world typically condescending to kids, young people find Narnia liberating.
The second section of Miller's book details her discovery of the blatant Christian themes in Narnia. This was a betrayal to her, the idea of an agenda being injected into an otherwise pure reading experience. Now that C.S. Lewis the author is revealed in Narnia, she begins to realize there are other reasons not to blindly trust in the epic.Read more ›
Savoring this splendid conceit for the title, I settled down to enjoy Miller's collection of essays on Narnia and its creator, C. S. Lewis. Within a few pages I was starting to feel uneasy. There were some decent discussions on what it means to be a "bookish child" and why Lewis' Talking Animals are so popular with young readers (it is because children are "immigrants" from the realm of non-language). But after that, the essays steadily declined in quality. Miller's arrogant tone was hard to enjoy; at one point she claims that the Chronicles taught her nothing as a child; she merely recognized "her better self" in them (page 172*). In the section where Miller is discussing herself as a "bookish child," the air of self-congratulation is very off-putting.
The book's subtitle -- "A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia" -- is rather misleading. The bulk of the essays in this book start with one idea from the Chronicles as a launching point for a discussion of Lewis rather than of Narnia itself. Miller's offhand assumption that A. N. Wilson is Lewis' "most distinguished biographer" is highly suspect; that claim isn't established in the least (page 39*).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Typical journalist: seeking a sensationalist approach to a topic in order to make press, and embarrassing herself in the bargain by being shocked to find out later that books she... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
An abundant source of information on the life of CS Lewis, of medieval English literature, of Tolkien, and the author's own life. Read morePublished 5 months ago by catullus
This book far exceeded my expectations. I rarely read literary criticism, but I follow Laura Miller on Salon.com an shave enjoyed her writing there. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Sharon Hogan
Laura Millier is a fine writer and thinker, and her Magician's Book is a terrific project. I spent my miserable childhood lost in imaginary worlds, and while reading this she... Read morePublished 8 months ago by John
A sceptic as far as Christianity goes but the author writes a compelling tale of her on again off again relationship with CS Lewis' writings-especially The Chronicles of Narnia. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Mondo
I couldn't get past the intro, where she repeatedly mentioned that adults -- especially members of the intelligentsia like her -- are always ashamed of loving children's fantasy. Read morePublished 12 months ago by N. W. McClure
As a bookish Jewish child, I enjoyed the Narnia books very much as a youngster and re-read them often until I was perhaps 10 or 11. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Andrew in Denver
I'm a huge Narnia fan and this book really came alive on the page for me - it was like she was reading my thoughts in passages. Mr. Tumnus is my favorite character as well. Read morePublished 19 months ago by I. Sondel
The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventure in Narnia, by Laura Miller
Despite the subtitle, this book is not just for readers of C.S. Lewis. Read more