A Faun’s Invisible Library December 21, 2011Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary , trackback
Beachcombing used to think that there was nothing more terrible than being ill: fever, soar throat, all that mucus… However, in the last twenty four hours he’s discovered there is a worse condition and that’s being the only well person in a house when everyone else is ill. Yesterday’s dying by laughter is inviting by comparison.
In one of the rare moments when all the ill in the family are sleeping Beach thought that he would offer a short Invisible Library post (it’s been a while): books that have only ever existed in the imagination. He came across this one while watching a 1979 cartoon of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with his younger daughter yesterday.
Beach has a great affection for the L the W and the W because it was the first book that he ever read: beavers, Pauline Bayne’s illustrations, wartime setting, a grumpy professor who thinks Platonically, ‘a deeper magic still’, the crude but strangely powerful Christian symbolism… However, he had quite forgotten, until watching the cartoon – made interestingly by the man who brought Charlie Brown to the cinema screens – that Lucy sees in the faun, Mr Tumnus’ house a bookshelf with titles; in short a Lewisian Invisible Library. He now quotes from his British edition.
In one corner there was a door which Lucy thought must lead to Mr Tumnus’s bedroom, and on one wall was a shelf full of books. Lucy looked at these while he was setting out the tea things. They had titles like The Life and Letters of Silenus or Nymphs and Their Ways or Men, Monks and Gamekeepers; a Study in Popular Legend or Is Man a Myth?
Silenus is sometimes billed as the king of the satyrs – his actual role was more complicated – and was presumably an authority figure for Tumnus. Men, Monks and Gamekeepers is sheer genius: a faun equivalent of a human Ghosts, Fairies and Mermaids. Then Is Man a Myth? sounds suspiciously like some of C.S. Lewis’ Christian apologetics. Was CSL actually making fun of himself? Unlikely.
From somewhere upstairs a scream has issued: Beachcombing will get back to trying vainly to put himself in touch with his inner nurse. As he prepares to dash though he should note once more that he is always interested in Invisible Libraries: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com
27/12/11: PcCB: ‘Surely, The Life and Letters of Silenus reminded you of The Screwtape Letters? Of course, Lewis was making fun of himself. Tumnus’s fear of the WW is not so very different from Wormwood’s fear of Screwtape and Co., is it?’ Spot on PcCB, Thanks!