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Can you picture Narnia? A photo contest

December 3, 2008 |  1:50 pm

Narniapic

C.S. Lewis makes Narnia so real that many children wish they had their own magic wardrobe. This was true of the young Laura Miller, who has grown up to write "The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia," published today by Little, Brown. The publisher has invited people to post pictures in a Flickr group of places they've been that look something like Narnia, like the photo above; five will receive signed copies of the book.

Next Wednesday, Miller will be interviewed by The Times' book editor, David L. Ulin, at the Central Library's ALOUD public lecture series. Tickets are free, although advance reservations, which can be made online, are recommended.

Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" may be read and adored by children, but the series gets attention from a certain kind of older reader. "Most of the critics and scholars who pay any kind of sustained attention to Lewis’s work are Christians themselves, and their faith is the motivation for that attention," Miller writes. Her book seeks to move past that rubric to explore what was enchanting about the books in the first place, while bringing a critical eye to Lewis and his work.

One scholar has gone in another direction: The Rev. Dr. Michael Ward's "Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis" maintains that medieval astrology was the basis for the seven-book series. The director of an upcoming BBC documentary on this theory says: "Lewis was a great medievalist -- a real expert on the period. He was also interested in astrology. He loved the medieval view of the world. His view of faith was also that if it is to be anything it must be cosmic."

The Chronicles of Narnia became a film series; its third movie, "Voyage of the Dawn Treader," is due out next year.  The release of the first film in 2005 brought renewed attention to the books -- and also the first classic SNL digital short. Go on, watch it after the jump: it's been too long since you've seen "Lazy Sunday -- the Chronic(what)cles of Narnia"

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: "The Magician's Book" via Flickr

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