Q: Describe your first experience with the Chronicles of Narnia.
Colin Duriez: I was a young adult when I discovered Lewis and started reading the Chronicles not long after discovering C.S. Lewis’s writings. As soon as I followed Lucy into the snowy woods I was enchanted and quickly read the series. I immediately sensed the deeper meanings below the surface but enjoyed the stories as brilliantly told stories.
Q: What inspired you to write A Field Guide to Narnia?
Colin: In the past I had written several books on Lewis or his friends, especially J.R.R. Tolkien. Increasingly it dawned on me that The Chronicles are perhaps Lewis’s greatest achievements, likely still to be read in 50 or 100 years. Though written for children, they embody perhaps more than any other of his books the whole Lewis—the scholar as well as the storyteller. They are an outstanding example of an imaginative and gripping portrayal of Christian theology, in a league with John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.
Q: The book is broken down into two parts "The Creation of Narnia" and "All About the Chronicles of Narnia." Why is part 1 so important to understanding part 2?
Colin: The Narnian Chronicles can be read on many levels, and I wanted to capture this experience for readers and raise awareness of this fact. Great stories are many-layered and multifaceted, like reality itself. So I offer an approach that puts the Narnian stories in the context of the man behind them and his rich and accessible scholarship. I also put the stories themselves, in their form as fairy stories for children, in the foreground. The parts of my book represent these two perspectives. They are intended to work together to provide a three-dimensional picture of the stories and what they represent, including their deep relevance for the world today.
Q: What is your hope for your readers?
Colin: My hope is that readers who feel empty in our materialist culture may taste the joy and hope that shines through Lewis’s Narnian stories. For those for whom God feels far away or even dead, as he did for Lewis for much of his life, I hope that the fresh images in the stories, particularly those of Aslan, the lion-creator, will show his presence and care in remarkable ways. Though Aslan is a wild and untamed lion, he is also approachable for those who trust and obey him; he is a friend whose loss brings grief and whose absence is almost unbearable. Most of all, I hope my book will confirm what so many people feel when they read the stories: that the Chronicles of Narnia are among the great books of the world, full of values that are essential in making and keeping us human. We live in a dangerous world and, though they are children’s stories, the Chronicles of Narnia are about living in this dangerous world.