Tuesday, March 1, 2022

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

Title: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Author: C.S. Lewis
Illustrator: Pauline Baynes
Publication: Puffin paperback; originally published in 1952
Genre: Children’s fantasy
Setting: Narnia
Description: When Edmund and Lucy Pevensie are forced to spend the summer holidays with their dreaded cousin, Eustace Scrubb, they try to avoid him by hiding out in Lucy’s room and talking about Narnia, the country they have visited twice. Eustace barges in to be annoying, and as they argue over a picture of a ship on the wall they are transported through it to Narnia – or at least to the sea west of Narnia. The children are rescued from the water by their old friend King Caspian, who is sailing to the Eastern Seas in search of seven noblemen banished long ago by the usurper Miraz for their support of Caspian’s father. Caspian welcomes all three aboard the Dawn Treader and they travel east, along with Reepicheep, the valiant mouse warrior, having many adventures: captured by slavers on one island, narrowly missing being enchanted by a lake that turns everything to gold on another and, in my favorite chapter, Lucy is tested when she has to find a spell in a magician’s book. However, the most important episode is when Eustace turns into a dragon and has to face his own shortcomings. The voyage continues to the very end of the world until the quest is fulfilled.
My Impression: I suppose that Dawn Treader and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are my two favorite Narnia books, which accounts for the tattered condition of those two paperbacks. I always liked Lucy best of the Pevensies and I liked Caspian too, although I was surprised to read he was “a golden-headed boy some years older than herself” – I must have retained the image of Ben Barnes who played Caspian in the movie. The voyage itself is exciting and the adventures on the different islands were intriguing, although I find the chapters about Eustace’s redemption painful to read.
Ben Barnes as Caspian, 2008
Here are the Narniathon questions from Chris at Calmgrove:

Assuming you would like to enter a picture, what subject would you choose or even, if you have one in mind, what specific image would you opt for? There is a Rubens at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston I have always liked of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, in full armor, dated about 1629-30. It captures your attention from across the room and you would want him on your side in a battle.
What character (or characters) made the strongest impression on you in this book, and why?  Caspian is deferential to Peter and the others in Prince Caspian but in this book he has matured and is a king, leading a quest and, at the end, ready for marriage.  Did anyone else want him to marry Lucy?

What do you think is the significance, if any, of this sea voyage towards the rising sun?  I learned in CCD, which was the Catholic version of Sunday School in the US, that churches face east because that is the direction Christ is expected to come from when He returns. However, it also seems more hopeful for a quest to head toward the dawn than in any other direction.
By the way, in answer to last month's question, I think I have mellowed toward Reepicheep over the years, although I am not a fan of mice in fiction or real life, and now admire his gallantry.  I didn't realize a movie was made of this book with Ben Barnes reprising his role as Caspian.  I hope they kept Reepicheep dignified and not cartoon-like.  Is it worth seeing?

Source: Personal copy

Map copyright to HarperCollins; image of Thomas Howard from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.


Barbara Anne said...

These 7 Narnia books are life-long favorites of mine and I had missed news of the 2008 movie. I'll have to look for it!

The Earl does look like he'd be good to have at your side if on a quest.

I'd have to have a think about which painting I'd like to enter.

Wishing you well!

Lark said...

I always loved this one...mostly because of Reepicheep! :D

Lory said...

I am kind of surprised at all the love for Reepicheep. I always focused more on the human characters as the center of the story. Reep was a bit intimidating (for a mouse) with his relentless chivalry, though fine as a representative of a certain sort of idealism.

Nice choice of a painting. I could not think of one but now that you mention the Gardner there is an Annunciation there that struck me with its perspective view zooming off into the distance, with a door into a garden between the Angel and Mary. I'd like to see that garden.

Jeanne said...

I remember enjoying the film. Reepicheep wasn't too cartoonish.

Cath said...

I reread a couple of the Narnia books some years ago and liked them but did not reread this, which I recall being my favourite from when I was teenager. To be honest, I can't even remember Reepicheep, so it's high time I reread this book I think.

Katrina said...

I'd like to be in Breugel's Hunters in the Snow, maybe one of the ice skaters.

Mallika@ LiteraryPotpourri said...

The significance of the East in terms of the direction Christ is expected to come from was something I didn't know so glad you pointed that out.

I agree with you on Lucy being my favourite of the siblings, though by this book, my opinion of Edmund has improved a fair bit so I don't mind him either.

CLM said...

Reepicheep seems to be quite polarizing! Having had a mouse in my kitchen several years ago, I am really grossed out by mice even in books. But I really do enjoy Dawn Treader. We'll see how the Silver Chair holds up at the end of March!

Katrina, that reminds me that on my way-too-short 40 hours in Edinburgh, I went to the Scottish National Gallery and before I left I mentioned to one of the staff that I hadn't found the Skating Minister. I think they they told me it had just left New York and was on its way back home!

Katrina said...

Isn't that just typical!

Deniz Bevan said...

Ooh, it's been a while since I reread the Narnia books! I always loved this one, and wished I could be on that voyage. Pauline Baynes' drawing of the boat informed all my knowledge and mental imagery of boats for years after I first read it, and still does!