Monday, December 6, 2010

Another Chronicle of Narnia begins

Eustace Clarence Scrubbs There was once a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. He didn't call his Father and Mother "Father" and "Mother", but Harold and Alberta. They [his family] were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and tee-totallers, and wore a special kind of underclothes. In their house there was very little furniture and very few clothes on beds and the windows were always open.
    Eustace Clarence liked animals, especially beetles, if they were dead and pinned on  a card. He liked books if they were books of information and had pictures of grain elevators or of fat foreign children doing exercises in model schools.
    Eustace Clarence disliked his cousins the four Pevensies, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. But he was quite glad when he heard that Edmund and Lucy were coming to stay. For deep down inside him he like bossing and bullying; and, though he was a puny little person who couldn’t have stood up even to Lucy, let alone Edmund, in a fight, he knew that there are dozens of ways to give people a bad time if you are in your own home and they are only visitors.

C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952; this edition: HarperCollins, 1994) 3-4.


  1. I love this introduction! This is Lewis at his satirical best, poking good-natured fun at a certain kind of "sophistication" that has only grown by leaps and bounds since he wrote the book. I was considering re-posting this on my Facebook page, as I sometimes do with this blog, but it occurs to me that WAY too many of my FB friends would recognize themselves in Eustance's parents. Then again... maybe they wouldn't... but I sure do :-) In this intro, I see the Scrubbs as people who rely purely on science and reason, believe in the perfectibility of mankind in this life, and have very little sense of wonder or imagination. It's interesting that Lewis says of Eustace that he likes to "boss and bully." It's also interesting that he is said to be "in his own home," while the Pevensies are "only visitors." I may be reading too much into that, but I think it's more than just a literal statement. Lewis seems to be pointing out the difference between "worldly" people and citizens of Narnia.

  2. Margaret,

    You definitely have me re-thinking it. Suddenly I feel like I read that first page more like Eustace and less like Lucy. From previous posts where I've quoted Lewis on "second meanings," I doubt that you are reading too much into it. I've just received a documentary to review on the Chronicles of Narnia which purports to argue for another level of meaning in the novels whereby each of the 7 novels develops the classics theme for one of the 7 primary planetary bodies. More to come on that...

    Thanks so much for the posts on Facebook :) That helps in such a huge way. Likes are good too.