On The Chronicles of Narnia
Reading the Right Books
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
By Ned Vizzini
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was always my favorite Narnia book, and the wonder of being a kid is that you don’t have to question why things are your favorites. That’s for psychoanalysis later on. If you had come along and asked me why Dawn Treader beat out The Silver Chair, which has some really creepy parts, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which I always got annoyed by because, in terms of the chronological events of the book, it should have been called The Wardrobe, the Witch and the Lion), I would have said that it was because it had cool monsters and lots of amazing islands and various killer enchantments that were really awesome.
But when you grow up you start to understand why you liked these things, and it can be quite sobering. In some cases the only explanation is that you were retarded (see Duck Tales, Barney and Friends); sometimes you realize with dark horror that the thing played a part in your sexual development (for me, Ghost Busters). Sometimes, though, like with Dawn Treader, you have a clear and vindicating insight that lets you enjoy the tale as two readers at once–the kid who’s wrapped up in it and the adult who sees why they got so wrapped up in it in the first place–and it’s this sort of rediscovery and enthusiasm that I heard in my parents’ and grand-mother’s voices when they read Narnia to me.
(I should say my mother’s and grandmother’s …