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A Celebration of Joy: Christian Romanticism in the Chronicles of Narnia, by Mike Bellah
Abstract and Table of Contents
Myth and Imagination
Children's Stories
The Ideal Reader
Fantasy and Realism
Friendships: Love in Narnia
Quest and Adventure
The Eucatastrophe
Romanticism in the Chronicles
The Failure of Romanticism
The Triumph of Chrisitian Romanticism
The Baptized Imagination
Works Cited

"Clive Staples Lewis was not a man," writes Peter Kreeft, "he was a world" (4). In his time, Lewis became both a recognized authority in medieval English literature and possibly the world's most erudite and lucid defender of orthodox Christianity. His writings were prolific:

Before his death in 1963 he found time to produce some sixty first-quality works of literary history, literary criticism, theology, philosophy, autobiography, biblical studies, historical philology, fantasy, science fiction, letters, poems, sermons, formal and informal essays, a historical novel, a spiritual diary, religious allegory, short stories, and children's novels. (Kreeft 4) The children's novels, the Chronicles of Narnia, will constitute the focus of this thesis, for in them Lewis most clearly articulates his unique blend of Christianity and romanticism.

Using the romantic form (romance or fairy story) he presents the romantic vision (romanticism or life as one wishes it could be). His Christian faith directs his choices. The form of romance fits the tales of Narnia just as Lewis believed it fit the Gospel narratives in the Bible. Romance was the best pitcher from which one could pour the refreshing waters of the romantic vision. Romance also provided Lewis with an effective Trojan Horse, a vehicle whereby he could smuggle his theology, as it were, behind enemy lines. 

But where Lewis's Christianity embraced the romantic form, it altered the romantic vision. Pure romanticism, while releasing refreshing streams of human imagination, pleasure, and joy, could quickly become a flood of unrestrained passion. One could drown in his own senses. Thus, Lewis's Christian vision protected his romantic vision from self-destruction. 

At the same time, Lewis's romantic vision saved his Christian one from cold, dry, joyless sermonizing. The Chronicles of Narnia would not be overtly didactic. Romanticism cannot be packaged in medieval morality tales or Bunyan-like religious allegory. Romanticism demands more freedom than that. Like the Narnian Lion-King Aslan, it is not tame. Romanticism helped Lewis discover elements in Christianity which his childhood religion had overlooked, especially a theology of joy itself (Surprised by Joy 76).

In the Chronicles of Narnia one reads tales that are both Christian and romantic, a combination which brings to the reader nothing less than a celebration of joy.

To chapter 2

Respond to my thesis. I'd like to hear from you.