Read endorsements of Planet Narnia by Lewis scholars and other authors
"I cannot contain my admiration. No other book on Lewis has ever shown such comprehensive knowledge of his works and such depth of insight. This will make Michael Ward's name."
Walter Hooper, Literary Adviser to the Estate of C.S. Lewis, and author of C.S. Lewis, A Companion and Guide
"Michael Ward's Planet Narnia is an example of a very rare species: a work of literary detection which, despite the breathtaking daring of its central thesis, is utterly convincing and compelling. Once you realise - as most of Lewis's enthusiastic readers have not done - the extent to which their hero was soaked in mediaeval cosmology, and saw some of its key elements as pointers to profound aspects of God-given reality, the pieces fall into place with the combined thrill of an aesthetic, intellectual and spiritual satisfaction. Ward anticipates and more than answers every possible objection to his stunning proposal. His detailed scholarship, down to the use of Lewis's underlining of particular passages in his own copies of obscure mediaeval poetry, reinforces the thesis at every point. Reading the Narnia books will, in the best sense, never be the same again - not that anything will be lost, but that an entire new layer of understanding will be present, shedding a quiet but powerful light on each story and on the collection as a whole. It's rather like the moment when Albert Schweitzer explained to his French organ teacher what the Bach chorales were all about, by referring them back to the Lutheran hymns Bach had in mind, a whole world of which French Catholicism had been ignorant. Suddenly the music made a whole new sense, without losing anything of its previous beauty. What's more, Ward's own writing, though academically rigorous in expounding complex and sometimes abstract themes, is not without its own literary beauty, its own webs of allusion and echo, and its own spiritual challenge to the shrunken imagination, cosmology and theology of our own day. Lewis may count himself lucky that the person who would tumble to his long-buried secret was one whose own powers of understanding and expression would be equal to the task, not just of proposing it to a surprised public, but of exploring and explaining the theme in a manner worthy of its subject-matter."
N.T. Wright, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, University of St Andrews, and author of Surprised By Hope
"Noting Michael Ward's claim that he has discovered 'the secret imaginative key' to the Narnia books, the sensible reader responds by erecting a castle of scepticism. My own castle was gradually but utterly demolished as I read this thoughtful, scholarly, and vividly-written book. If Ward is wrong, his wrongness is cogent: it illuminates and delights. But I don't think he is wrong. And in revealing the role of the planets in the Chronicles, Ward also gives us the fullest understanding yet of just how deeply Lewis in his own fiction drew upon those medieval and renaissance writers he so loved."
Alan Jacobs, Professor of English, Wheaton College, and author of The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis
"Michael Ward presents an absorbing, learned analysis of C.S. Lewis's bestselling and beloved series, the Chronicles of Narnia. Readily accessible to the average reader, Ward's book reads so much like a detective story that it's difficult to put down."
Armand M. Nicholi, Jr., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, and author of The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud
"Michael Ward's brilliant monograph . . . A most impressive book . . . makes perfect sense."
Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and Archbishop of Canterbury (2002-2012)
"I find myself recommending over and over . . . Planet Narnia by Michael Ward. Anyone who's a fan of the Narnia books and C.S. Lewis in general . . . has to read this book. It's full of the kind of head-slapping insights that make you appreciate these works in a whole new light."
Guy Consolmagno, S.J., Vatican Astronomer
"All who have enjoyed the Chronicles of Narnia and indeed are interested in any aspect of Lewis's work should read Michael Ward's book. He argues convincingly for a hitherto unrecognised inner structure of the Chronicles, and gives excellent reasons for understanding why Lewis should have worked in such a mysterious way, his wonders to perform.
"Ward has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Lewis's writings and uses it to support his theory that each of the seven volumes of the Chronicles of Narnia is based on the classical, medieval and renaissance mythography of one of the then seven planets.
"Even those critics who dislike the Narnia books in principle because of their implicit Christianity must consider their planetary structure and its significance. Michael Ward has made an outstanding contribution to Lewis studies."
The late Derek Brewer, Emeritus Professor of English in the University of Cambridge, author of Symbolic Stories, and a pupil of C.S. Lewis, 1941-2, 1945-1947, at Magdalen College, Oxford
"Planet Narnia is a simply stellar work of scholarship which has not only impressed but converted me: I will never read the Chronicles the same way again. Ward is not merely being clever: he has a rock-solid case that grows more and more intriguing the further one delves into the details. The chapter on Jupiter alone was some of the best Lewisian scholarship I've ever read."
Sarah Arthur, author of The God-Hungry Imagination: The Art of Storytelling for Postmodern Youth Ministry
"For fifty years scholars have wondered whether the seven [Chronicles of Narnia] represent the seven deadly sins, the seven Catholic sacraments, or even - heaven help us - the seven stages of Anglican commitment, whatever they are. Now we know the answer. Planet Narnia, by Michael Ward, shows how each book embodies a different characteristic of the seven medieval planets which fascinated Lewis. Thus The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is jovial, Prince Caspian is martial, The Horse and His Boy mercurial, and so on. Suddenly the series hangs together as a unified whole instead of a jumbled mish-mash.
"So why didn't the writer reveal this himself? Because Lewis loved the cryptic - the kappa element in literature, as he called it. 'As is proper in romance,' he wrote of another work, 'the inner meaning is carefully hidden.'"
Anne Atkins, broadcaster, columnist, and author of Split Image: Male and Female After God's Likeness
"Planet Narnia offers a brilliant and fresh reading of the Chronicles . . . This is not only the best book on Narnia in ten years, it is one of the four or five best books ever written on Lewis and his rich and diverse body of work."
Louis Markos, author of Pressing Forward: Alfred, Lord Tennyson and the Victorian Age
"A tour de force. . . . I do not see - even if the thought has a downside - how Ward will ever write a better book! I have read Lewis regularly since the 1940s, but what this book reveals - so cogently as to be incontrovertible, surely - was totally unguessed at, even though I read The Discarded Image a few years back. One of the other things that pleases me so is the assumption (and where necessary, defence) of Biblical orthodoxy which pervades the book, and which is marvellously refreshing. . . . Its place as a 'standard work' seems to me assured."
Timothy Dudley-Smith, official biographer of John Stott and author of A House of Praise
"Ward's thesis is controversial in some quarters because it presents a different view of C.S. Lewis's composing process than we are used to hearing about. It really is a ground-breaking scholarship in Lewis studies. What I think Professor Ward sets out to do, and succeeds in marvelously, is demonstrating once and for all that the Narnian stories were not slapdash productions - as his friend Tolkien seemed to think - but carefully planned and structured to reflect his love of the medieval worldview."
Bruce Edwards, author of A Rhetoric of Reading: C.S. Lewis's Defense of Western Literacy
"A tremendous breakthrough in understanding Lewis and his world. . . . [A] brilliant book and a wonderful literary discovery which has deepened our reading of Lewis's work immensely."
Grevel Lindop, author of the forthcoming Charles Williams: The Last Magician. For more information, see: www.grevel.co.uk
"Planet Narnia is stunning: a door to a hidden world of understanding has been opened. Ward puts the study of the Chronicles on a radically new foundation. In a volume that will set the tone and terms of scholarly debate for decades to come, Lewis's depth of learning and imagination in the Narnia series has finally received its due."
Wayne Martindale, Professor of English, Wheaton College, and author of Beyond the Shadowlands: C.S. Lewis on Heaven and Hell
"Hold the phone: this is simply one of the greatest literary discoveries of our time, and it cannot fail to resound for decades and forever alter how Lewis is regarded in the literary world and beyond. That Michael Ward has somehow found this Holy Grail of Lewis scholarship is very hard to believe - until one reads the book. Planet Narnia is a triumph and a cause for great celebration, not least because after fifty years, very few people still held out hope that this so-called 'imaginative key' to Lewis's Narnia books ever existed in the first place. But it does exist, it does exist - and here it is, for all to see. Well done, good and faithful scholar!"
Eric Metaxas, author of Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery
"An exciting and persuasive new interpretation of the Chronicles in terms of planetary symbolism."
Sandra Miesel, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax, numbering Planet Narnia among the best books she read in 2007. More.
"A splendid work. Planet Narnia brings out the Transcendent and the Real and I'm thrilled with it and with Michael Ward's discovery of what Lewis, who was so focused on the heavens, kept secret. I'm leaping up and down. With joy, of course!"
Leanne Payne, author of Real Presence: The Christian Worldview of C.S. Lewis as Incarnational Reality
"I devoured Michael Ward's remarkable new interpretation of the Chronicles. His argument in Planet Narnia is thoroughly convincing. It is also spiritually nourishing."
Philip Graham Ryken, President of Wheaton College, Illinois, and author of Art for God's Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts
"Planet Narnia really is a tour de force."
Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, Professor of Psychology and Philosophy, Eastern University, Pennsylvania, and author of A Sword Between the Sexes: C.S. Lewis and the Gender Debates
"Ward's thesis is taut and compelling, and requires intelligent engagement: this isn't a book to dabble in while half-listening to the cricket. But it is the best book I've read since . . . well, since at least this one [Stalin's Children by Owen Matthews, Hannan's 'Best book of 2009']. First-rate writing is difficult to précis, and a bald summary of Ward's conclusion - that each Narnia book corresponds to one of the seven planets in mediaeval cosmology, and that the chronicles collectively serve to glorify God by making the reader experience the qualities of each heavenly sphere without being consciously aware of the symbolism - doubtless sounds implausible. To which the best reply I can give is read it for yourself. If Ward is wrong, his is the most beautiful mistake in modern literary criticism. But I don't think he is wrong."
Daniel Hannan, Member of the European Parliament for South East England, and author of The New Road to Serfdom
"Great C.S. Lewis scholar . . . really interesting book . . . very creative."
Bishop Robert Barron, presenter of the Catholicism television documentary series and author of Word on Fire: Proclaiming the Power of Christ
"[An] acclaimed, landmark book . . . revolutionizing interest in Lewis and the Narnia series by revealing a profound, but heretofore unknown, literary secret embedded in the books, and a stunning level of intricacy and sophistication by Lewis."
David J. Theroux, President of The Independent Institute and Founder of the C.S. Lewis Society of California
Planet Narnia is the winner of the 2011 award for Scholarship in Inklings Studies, given by the Mythopoeic Society
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