The Magician’s Nephew is a high fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis, published by Bodley Head in 1955. It is the sixth published of seven novels in The Chronicles of Narnia (1950–1956); it is volume one of the series in recent editions, which sequence the books according to Narnia history. Like the others, it was illustrated by Pauline Baynes whose work has been retained in many later editions. The Bodley Head was a new publisher for The Chronicles, a change from Geoffrey Bles.
The Magician’s Nephew is a prequel to the series. The middle third of the novel features creation of the Narnia world by Aslan the lion, centred on a section of a lamp-post brought by accidental observers from London in 1900. The visitors then participate in the beginning of Narnia history, 1000 years before The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which inaugurated the series in 1950).
The frame story is set in England and features two children ensnared in experimental travel via “the wood between the worlds”. Thus, the novel shows Narnia and our middle-age world to be only two of many in a multiverse, which changes as some worlds begin and others end. It also explains the origin of foreign elements in Narnia, not only the lamp-post but also the White Witch and a human king and queen.
Lewis began The Magician’s Nephew soon after completing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, spurred by a friend’s question about the lamp-post in the middle of nowhere, but he needed more than five years to complete it. The story includes several autobiographical elements and explores a number of themes with general moral and Christian implications, including atonement, original sin, temptation and the order of nature.
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