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The Horse & His Boy: Chapter 4 - moonspinner
moonspinner
moonspinner
The Horse & His Boy: Chapter 4
The title of does give away the whole chapter, doesn’t it? Odd that this is only just occurring to me.

C. S. Lewis’s gift for setting the scene is remarkable. The journey across the many-arched bridge and the landscape of Tashbaan is vivid. The hill city reminds me a lot of Belgium landscape with its cliffs and levels of roads. It goes to show how remarkably fit the horses and children are that there’s no mention of exhaustion.

It’s telling that Calormen’s beauty exists side by side with its smells and rottenness – as opposed (I’m sure) to the utopia of Narnia where even the best-fitting clothes are the most comfortable ones. The elite of Calormen ride on rickshaws and build sound-proof walls to shield themselves from the chaos without. Still, something has to be said from a society where everyone has a place (and has the potential of rising above that place e.g. Ahosta Tarkaan). Calormen is still standing at the end of the world while Narnia, despite its utopia, falls. Or perhaps it’s because of Narnia’s utopia that it falls because if the Narnians had been more sceptical, the chain of events that led to calamity in the Last Battle would have happened differently.

“Shasta cried very little. He was used to hard knocks.”


Statements like this make it hard to feel sorry for old Arsheesh, don’t they? I haven’t read many books where a male character cries because of physical pain without this inferring cowardice. A lot of writers draw the line on manpain tears at emotional and spiritual. Kudos to Lewis for breaking that frankly ridiculous cliché.

LOL @ the description of the Narnian party wearing ‘gay’ yellow. Ah for the days of innocence. :P

Am I the only one who wonders how you speak in parentheses?

Susan/Corin ship alert!!!

LOL! Seriously though, I think it’s awesome that Corin is so obviously Susan’s best friend and came along with the Narnias to Tashbaan at her request. It’s my personal fanon that she wanted him to have a good time in a new place (since he’s clearly a handful) and she also wanted him to judge Rabadash in his den. Corin is so clearly not a mama’s boy that this just makes this gender-bending even better.

As I’ve mentioned before I read this book before The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Although the ending of that book is spoilt (with the Pevensie children clearly crowned as Kings and Queens), nothing else in that story, not even the mention of the White Witch, is given away. We meet Narnia and Calormen in media res, so to speak and there’s no long, boring exposition to catch up on what happened in the former book(s) neither is there any sense that we’re missing something. It’s a fine balancing act between eons of exposition and leaving new readers feel like if they’re missing something. Very few books in any series can stand alone as well as this one does. I’ll be looking out for this while I review the other books.

King Edmund is Teh Hotness. But more on that in the next chapter! :D

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Comments
foodsthatcan From: foodsthatcan Date: August 25th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lewis's economy of words is something I will never stop admiring. He is able to bring to life these amazing visions and emotions with only a fraction of the amount of words most other authors would use. (If only J.K. Rowling had that ability...)
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 25th, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Precisely! It's always such a shock to me how slim the Narnia books really are. I remember them as so much thicker. I know I feel that so much more happens within the stories than the actual word count leads one to believe. That's a true gift there. :D
fpb From: fpb Date: August 25th, 2008 10:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
That is drivel. Tell me, have you ever tried to transcribe and paraphrase JKR's prose? I have. Try it sometime. It is educational.
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foodsthatcan From: foodsthatcan Date: August 26th, 2008 12:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry, I will never be convinced that J.K. Rowling is a master of prose. She has a wonderful imagination, but I would never consider her a writer of great technical skill.
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fpb From: fpb Date: August 26th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC) (Link)
IN other words, you do not want to be convinced. All right, don't try. So those of us who actually made the experiment know one thing, and those who start with a certainty they do not challenge will believe another. I have met enough of this kind of attitude today, and frankly it does not improve with repetition.
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foodsthatcan From: foodsthatcan Date: August 26th, 2008 01:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I think you are overreacting a bit. It's just my opinion after having read the entire Harry Potter series - a series that began with great promise but ultimately didn't live up to the potential (an opinion shared by the owner of this LJ, in fact!). I'm not sure what transcribing/paraphrasing someone's work has to do with proving a writer's skill; it ought to be obvious to a reader while reading whether or not an author is demonstrating any writing ability.

By the way, your insistence that my opinion is wrong does not improve with repetition, either.
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fpb From: fpb Date: August 26th, 2008 04:15 am (UTC) (Link)
For the purposes of a fanfic, I copied out several chapters of HBP, and went through them sentence by sentence, intending to rewrite a lot of it to accommodate different developments, and to recast the rest in my own style as much as it made sense. It was a revelation; and I tell you that until you have compied out, parsed and paraphrased long passages of her work - a useful skill in any case, and one that I am told is no longer taught in schools - you simply have no idea what has made her work so compelling to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Her genius hides itself, and you will not find it in the sort of places where literary prizes are won and cheap reputations established. There are no flights of fancy, no purple passages of the sort Philip Pullman throws out so easily, no displays of clever writing. There is however an astonishingly dense production of information, made with effortless ease and resulting in a world of astonishing solidity. I do not regard myself as a bad writer - and a number of people agree with me - but I could not, on the best day of my life, manage a page half as dense and half as unpretentious as she turns out any time. Now if you think that the purpose of writing is to impress the critics, I dare say this does not matter; but if it is, as I believe, to present views and arguments with convincing depth and breadth, then JK Rowling has practically any living writer and any writer since Kipling beaten all hollow. I am a great fan of CS Lewis, but it has rightly been remarked that, as compared for instance with Tolkien or Eddison's worlds, his Narnia feels a bit stagey and hollow, with little depth of information, hardly any history, and not much by way of history; now that is even more the case with Harry Potter's world - JK Rowling has more to say about her world's past and present in two pages than Lewis in a book. That is what makes her work so satisfying a field for fanfic. That the information is also consistent, staging a fascinating background for characters of depth and passion and consistency, goes without saying. But since you do not want to to be told, I have just wasted my breath. I have done so because I was and remain furious at the charge that I insist without arguing. But this is the end of it.
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moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 26th, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am a great fan of CS Lewis, but it has rightly been remarked that, as compared for instance with Tolkien or Eddison's worlds, his Narnia feels a bit stagey and hollow, with little depth of information, hardly any history, and not much by way of history;

Comparing Tolkien and Lewis is comparing apples and grapes. Tolkien invented a whole language for his stories. There are a lot of people who will consider that over-kill. The more I re-read the Narnia books, the more I realize just how rich with imagination and potential the world is, and I think the fact that Lewis does not answer every single question about his world actually makes it more authentic than Middle Earth. One truly gets the sense that Narnia was - had been - a real place with bits and pieces of its history passed along to us, the way true history is really written.

As for the Potterverse. I agree that Rowling has more to say about her world's past and present in two pages than Lewis in a book. But what she has to say is inconsistent and self-contradictory and it describes a world founded on hypocrisy and prejudice as a utopia. Comparing Lewis to Rowling is not a question of comparing apples and grapes, but comparing apples and rotten tomatoes.


That the information is also consistent, staging a fascinating background for characters of depth and passion and consistency, goes without saying. But since you do not want to to be told, I have just wasted my breath. I have done so because I was and remain furious at the charge that I insist without arguing. But this is the end of it.

I'm freezing this thread because I think you made your point a long time ago and took offence at the fact that foodsthatcan did not agree with it and as much as I like reading/seeing discussion, the tone of this one has definitely turned sour. If you want to comment on the actual meta, please feel free to do so. I would be interested in comparing apples, grapes and all kinds of figurative fruits as long as the discussion is done with the boundaries of courtesy and mutual respect.
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moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 26th, 2008 12:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm really sorry that things got so out of hand here. Regardless of whether I agree with you or not, you're entitled to your opinion and no one has any right whatsoever to describe it as "drivel". Thanks so much for putting up with this so civilly. It won't happen a second time.
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dreamflower02 From: dreamflower02 Date: October 23rd, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm...while it's clear that we get to see both sides of Calormen in depth in this book, in a way in which we do not with Narnia--perhaps because Lewis himself was exploring a new place--I don't think Narnia is ever presented as a utopia.

It *is* presented as "more enlightened" than Calormen--after all, they have direct communication with Aslan there, but Narnia was never a perfect land and was never presented as such. Of course, you are starting with *this* book rather than the others, and in comparison to Calormen, Narnia, and even Archenland, have a utopia-like feel to those who are trying to escape from Calormen.

It's rather the way nineteenth century immigrants felt about America--they heard all the stories of equality and opportunity and free land, and compared to the poverty or oppression of their homelands, they *thought* of America as a utopia. But as any student of history knows, it never was, and probably never will be.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: October 24th, 2008 09:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I’m not sure I can completely agree that Narnia isn’t supposed to be a utopia. Its creation in “The Magician’s Nephew” parallels it a lot with The Garden of Eden. Also, a lot of the evil in Narnia is usually portrayed as coming from outside Narnia: the Witch and the Winter, the Telmarines, the Giants and Witches from the North, the Calormen, etc. The Battle is the only Narnia book that has Narnia being invaded from ‘within’.

Maybe utopia is not the best word. But there is a sense of Narnia being an ‘ideal’ country.

It's rather the way nineteenth century immigrants felt about America--they heard all the stories of equality and opportunity and free land, and compared to the poverty or oppression of their homelands, they *thought* of America as a utopia. But as any student of history knows, it never was, and probably never will be.

Which is probably what happened after Aravis’s and Shasta’s arrival in Archenland, especially since it wasn’t long after the Pevensies left Narnia and the Golden Age ended. I think Lewis just wanted to end the story on a high note so he doesn’t dwell on that. But that is a good point. I hope you don’t mind if I use it when I’m recapping/metaing the last chapter.
dreamflower02 From: dreamflower02 Date: October 24th, 2008 10:13 am (UTC) (Link)
But in The Magician's Nephew, even as he is creating Narnia, Aslan is aware that it already contains the evil of Jadis and Uncle Andrew, and the all-too-human Digory, Polly and Andrew. And he leaves his country in the charge of King Frank and Queen Helen, who, while good people, *are* human--a Son of Adam and a Daughter of Eve, with all the flaws that implies.

I do think that Narnia was a Garden of Eden, in the same way that Perelandra was. But I believe that Lewis was playing with a post-Incarnation world in both situations. Oue world had already experienced one form of redemption. In Narnia, he experimented with a world peopled with those who were already fallen, while on Perelandra, he experimented with a world that passes the test.

And of course I don't mind if you use that idea! I love swapping ideas with people, and you've given me a few as well! It's giving me a lot of enjoyment to "re-read" THaHB vicariously through you!
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: October 24th, 2008 01:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was surprised myself by how quickly I re-read Out of the Silent Planet a few weeks ago. I especially remember thinking that the section on the flight to Malacandra was a much longer passage than it really was! And I also thought that there were more details of Ransom's time among the various Malacandran peoples.

Weren’t they? LOL! Thinking back on it, I certainly feel like if that flight was a never-ending journey. And I know he stayed even longer with the Hoss (spelling?) and then later on with the tall, austere tribe (I can’t recall what they were called). I certainly ‘remember’ it that way.

But Lewis did have a great knack for characters as well. It's something he and JRRT had in common--to be able to bring even minor characters to life very vividly, even if they were not destined to fill a larger role.

I think this had to do with both of them believing very strongly in the worth of individuals *as* individuals. To them, no person, even fictional ones, were merely "disposable".


Oh well said. There’s something to be said about the writer being the Maker in his own story and the dignity he needs to afford to each of his creations. I can certainly see how the instinct to respect every person can translate to that universal respect one pays to one’s fictional characters. It certainly shows when a writer doesn’t have that instinct.
dreamflower02 From: dreamflower02 Date: October 24th, 2008 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
He did spend a lot of time with the Hrossa, and yet on re-reading, I realized how much Lewis condensed the time, so that what seemed to me in memory to take chapters, was actually only a few pages. And he wasn't with the Sorns very long either--but again it had seemed longer.

I know that one of the things I love about LotR is how vividly some of the very minor characters come to life: Rory Brandybuck, who only has a few lines in the party scene is clearly fond of his family, shrewd, good-humored, and enjoys life. Eothain, who only has a few lines when Eomer meets the three hunters on the plains of Rohan comes across as brash, youthful, loyal and belligerent, and the unnamed Master of the Herbs in the Houses of Healing is pompous, loves to hear himself talk, and is somewhat geeky on the subject of herbs.

And Lewis has that skill as well. Especially in Voyage of the Dawn Treader we are constantly meeting characters that we'll never see again, and yet they sear themselves into your memory: Gumpas, corrupt governor of the Lone Islands? And what about the Dufflepuds? They aren't just a generic collection of silly little people, but they come across with real personalities. Or the star's daughter who won Caspian's heart?
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: October 27th, 2008 06:54 am (UTC) (Link)
And Lewis has that skill as well. Especially in Voyage of the Dawn Treader we are constantly meeting characters that we'll never see again, and yet they sear themselves into your memory: Gumpas, corrupt governor of the Lone Islands? And what about the Dufflepuds? They aren't just a generic collection of silly little people, but they come across with real personalities. Or the star's daughter who won Caspian's heart?

So much word with that. I've read some complaints about the star's daughter not having a name and how anti-feminist that is. But I think she still has more personality than a lot of so-called feminist icons *cough*Ginny Weasley*cough* who don't strike me so much as "people" but as a patch-work of what the author/creator thought were "cool" features. So while the nameless Star's daughter comes across as someone you would recognize if you met her on the street, other more feminist-friendly characters come across like a list of adjectives describing what an Ideal Girl™ should be.
jump2narnia From: jump2narnia Date: February 28th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Statements like this make it hard to feel sorry for old Arsheesh, don’t they? I haven’t read many books where a male character cries because of physical pain without this inferring cowardice. A lot of writers draw the line on manpain tears at emotional and spiritual. Kudos to Lewis for breaking that frankly ridiculous cliché.

Oh how I love sensitive males. :D

LOL @ the description of the Narnian party wearing ‘gay’ yellow. Ah for the days of innocence. :P

It's a Narnia gay pride parade! 8D -shot-

Seriously though, I think it’s awesome that Corin is so obviously Susan’s best friend and came along with the Narnias to Tashbaan at her request.

Lulz...I always found it hilarious that a fiesty little boy is Susan's BFF. =P She probably forces him to go clothes shopping and try on make-up and go waltzing and oodles of other oh-so-very-uber-hyper-feminine things! ^.^

Very few books in any series can stand alone as well as this one does.

Oh, I agree. What I love about the Narnia books is that it really doesn't matter in what order you read the books (although I'm strongly for publication order myself). I was first introduced to the Narnia books through the very-awful, yet somehow charming BBC version of LWW and then I read all the books in chronological order when I was in middle school, so The Magician's Nephew wasn't boring for me because I already recognized the significance of the wardrobe and the lamppost and was truly fascinated with their origin stories. ^^

King Edmund is Teh Hotness.

Edmund pwns all! >:O


moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 28th, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's a Narnia gay pride parade! 8D -shot-

ROTFLMAO!


Lulz...I always found it hilarious that a fiesty little boy is Susan's BFF. =P She probably forces him to go clothes shopping and try on make-up and go waltzing and oodles of other oh-so-very-uber-hyper-feminine things! ^.^

I can just see it now. That is so adorable. :D


I was first introduced to the Narnia books through the very-awful, yet somehow charming BBC version of LWW

*g* I remember those versions. LOL! They were charming, weren't they? But somehow, I don't think they'll hold up to an adult viewing now.

jump2narnia From: jump2narnia Date: March 1st, 2009 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)
*g* I remember those versions. LOL! They were charming, weren't they? But somehow, I don't think they'll hold up to an adult viewing now.

Yeah, I mean those Narnia specials may have had bad effects and mostly bad actors, but thanks to BBC, I now have that iconic LWW image of a lamppost in a dark, snowy wood...that's one thing I wish the Disney version could've done better. It would've been so much more creepy and mysterious if Lucy entered Narnia at nighttime. =/ Georgie Henley is love, btw! >:3 OH, and the White Witch was pretty good, too. And I liked Aslan's voice even though the puppet didn't convince me. =(
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: March 1st, 2009 11:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I now have that iconic LWW image of a lamppost in a dark, snowy wood...that's one thing I wish the Disney version could've done better.

That's the image I have to. I'm looking forward to the re-read to know whether it's correct or not.

Disney could have done a lot of other things better!
jump2narnia From: jump2narnia Date: March 1st, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Disney could have done a lot of other things better!

Indeed. But they did their best and maybe (just maybe) Fox will make up for it when Dawn Treader is made. =P
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: March 3rd, 2009 08:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Indeed. But they did their best
We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. ;)


and maybe (just maybe) Fox will make up for it when Dawn Treader is made. =P

Well I’m such a pessimistic that I can’t help regard Fox taking over as a case of ‘better the Devil you know…’!!!
jump2narnia From: jump2narnia Date: March 4th, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
LOL You're even more pessimistic than GPuddle. ;D

http://www.youtube.com/user/GPuddle

Have you seen his videos, btw? =O He was actually invited to go to the set of Prince Caspian and he even interviewed William and Skandar. His videos tracked the entire production of Prince Caspian and they're rather enjoyable to watch.
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