Tuesday, 10 March 2009

My Bedtime Reading

I've been reading a lot over the last few weeks, far more than I have for a very long time. Yes, I used to read all my study material but as I have said a couple of times just recently I haven't been reading for pleasure and relaxation. Having dropped my studying for a few months I now have the opportunity to do just that and I have now finished all three of the books that I had recently bought for enjoyment.

Yesterday I finished reading Bill Bryson's Shakespeare and I have to say that it was another book that I enjoyed, not just because it was for relaxation but because Bryson writes brilliantly and he covered the subject well. I hadn't realized just how little was really known about Shakespeare and his life, but Bryson tells it as it is. Shakespeare is, and will probably remain forever, a somewhat shady character, not because of what he did but because so little can be proved about his life. We are so used to there being so much documentary evidence about significant people in this country's past that it comes as a real surprise to find that most of Shakespeare's life as portrayed in the majority of the books about him is nothing more than conjecture.

Having finished the book yesterday afternoon, I was left with the quandary of what to read in bed last night. I have got back into the habit of reading for half an hour or so before I lie down to go to sleep and although I have the complete novels of Jane Austen sitting waiting to be dipped in to when I am in the mood, it really wasn't what I had in mind as bedtime reading.

As I headed to bed last night I had a look to see what I had in my library that could bear reading again. And then I found it. The Complete Chronicles of Narnia; an edition that was published to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The beauty of this book is that it includes the illustrations that were drawn for the original editions of the seven novels, but this time in colour. And the books are arranged in the order of the story rather than the order that they were written. Last night I began reading The Magician's Nephew, the story that tells of the creation of Narnia and how the animals were made to talk.

It is unfashionable to write 'nice' stories for children these days, and there can be no doubt that these are 'nice' stories. C S Lewis was a man well known for his religious beliefs and the Narnian Chronicles are undoubtedly religious in nature with Aslan being an allegory for God. So The Magician's Nephew is the story of the Creation, and the last of the books, The Last Battle, tells of the end of time. Although religion is something that seems to be out of favour at the moment, the morality of the stories is something that we can do well to take on board.

So for the next few weeks I am going to work my way through the seven novels, remembering the circumstances of how I first came to enjoy the stories and enjoying seven beautifully written children's books. Yes, it is escapism, but isn't that what books are for. It doesn't matter that they are somewhat dated now, the morals contained within them are as important to take on board today as they were when the books were written all those years ago.


Nurse To Doc said...

Thank you for crossing your fingers for me - it is much apprieciated.

I have not read the Narnia books because I heard the Lion dies and get too upset when the animals kick the bucket in these books!

madsadgirl said...

Well, he does and he doesn't! As I said, he is an allegorical figure and although I said he was an allegory for God, he could just as easily been seen as Jesus, so he lives again. In fact, he is there in all the books and is there in The Last Battle and oversees the end of time. The books are well worth reading.

Catatonic Kid said...

Yes, wonderfully pure escapism, isn't it? :)

I'd forgotten just how cool I thought the Narnia books were growing up. I still want a magic wardrobe!