Author: C.S. Lewis
Illustrator: Pauline Baynes
Publication: Puffin paperback; originally published in 1952
Genre: Children’s fantasy
Setting: NarniaDescription: 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
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 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.
Source: Personal copy
Map copyright to HarperCollins; image of Thomas Howard from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.