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Controversy over The Chronicles of Narnia (England).

London--A lengthy column by Heather Sokoloff in the National Post on June 4, was headed, "No room for Christ in new books from Narnia." C.S. Lewis's series of seven novels, beginning with The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, is a children's classic; it has sold over 65 million copies in more than thirty languages. Now the publisher, HarperCollins, has revealed plans to create a new series of Narnia books, after the success of the Harry Potter series created an appetite in young readers for similar books.

Lloyd Kelly, vice-president of sales for HarperCollins Canada, said that the C.S. Lewis estate and the publisher are going to repackage the novels so that they reach a broader audience; but he quarrels with the idea that this will mean a watering down of their Christian themes. In a leaked memo, however, a San Francisco executive of HarperCollins wrote, "We'll need to be able to give emphatic assurances that no attempt will be made to correlate the stories to Christian imagery/theology."

Lewis fans seized on this as an indication that the publisher was in fact going to take the Christianity out of the stories when it is undoubtedly there; Lewis himself wrote in a 1954 letter that the Narnia chronicles were based on his idea of what might happen if the Son of God became a lion in an imaginary land.

One critic of the recent proposal had nothing but ridicule for it: "They're turning Narnia into a British version of Mickey Mouse." Carol Dean Hatcher, producer of a television documentary on Lewis, encountered mounting pressure from the publisher and the Lewis estate to eliminate references to Christian imagery in the Narnia series. She was astounded at these attempts to minimize Lewis's Christianity--it's like doing a video biography of Hank Aaron and refusing to acknowledge he was a baseball player."

If these hollowed-out Narnia stories are published, the Post said editorially on June 5, "Our advice to everyone would be not to buy them." Instead go to the originals, "which acknowledge that humans are spiritual beings who, at their best, seek the possibility of higher truths and deeper meanings in the world around them."
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Title Annotation:possible changes to children's book series by C.S. Lewis
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Previous Article:China and human rights (China).
Next Article:Cardinal Thomas J. Winning (1925-2001) (Scotland).

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