Thursday, October 7, 2010

Narnia: A Timeless Land

Christopher McCune                                                                                                 October 7, 2010

EN 384D.01: Travel Literature                                                     The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Narnia: A Timeless Land

            Set in the fantastical, magical world of Narnia, C.S. Lewis' novel The Voyage of the Dawn Treader truly embodies the concept of travel literature. Travel literature has the unique power of transporting the reader to a faraway place, and making the reader feel as if he or she is actually there. As Lewis takes us on a journey through the uncharted seas of Narnia, the reader accompanies the children and crew members to such strange lands as Deathwater Island, the Island Where Dreams Come True, and the home of the Dufflepuds.

Taken along for this wild adventure aboard the Dawn Treader, the reader can choose to view Lewis' tale in one of two very different ways.  We can choose to view this adventure through the innocent, childish eyes of Lucy, the youngest crew member, who chooses to believe, unequivocally, in Narnia and to trust in Aslan. Or, we can take the narrow-minded view that Eustace embodies early in the novel, and, instead, trudge through the book cocooned in a state of disbelief, self-absorption, and doubt. Latching onto the real world, it would be easy, if one so desired, to remove oneself from Narnia, and dismiss this novel as a ridiculous, child-like fantasy. But, as even Eustace quickly learns, why would any reader, young or old, elect to commit such folly?

Lewis paints such a beautiful picture of Narnia that nobody, including Eustace, can resist its charming magic for long. Although all travel literature transports the reader to a new place, Lewis actually transports the reader back in time as well, prompting us to see Narnia through the innocent, awed, undoubting eyes of these children, who are so open to the magic all around them. At the end of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Aslan, the great lion, tells Lucy, "Dearest, you and your brother will never come back to Narnia…You are too old, children, and you must begin to come close to your own world now" (269). Fortunately, however, Alsan places no such age limit on the reader, leaving Narnia open to us, stuck in the real world, as yet another of the innumerable destinations that travel literature provides us with.

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