Saturday, February 24, 2018

a 19th-century painting of Narnia - or as close as we can get

"Narnia is wildness, not wilderness, a humanized vision of nature, drenched in imagination and stories, which is one of the reasons it seems so English. I found more evidence of this while retracing another of Lewis's favorite Oxford walks, the climb over Hinksey Hill, which now lies on the far side of the thundering A34 bypass from the city center. Atop Hinksey in 1922, Lewis felt a brief stab of 'the old joy' while (he wrote in his diary) sitting in 'a patch of wood - all ferns and pines and the very driest sand' on the day before he took his final exams in Greats. Like a lot of the countryside where Lewis once roamed, Hinksey retains only a tiny portion of wood and farmland, hemmed in by new houses, highways, and a golf course that has claimed the summit of the hill. (It seemed that almost every time I tried to follow in Lewis's footsteps, I found myself confronted with a golf course.) William Turner painted a bucolic view of Oxford from the top of Hinksey Hill in the early nineteenth century, and that probably gives a better sense of how it looked to Lewis in the 1920s than does visiting the place today."

- Laura Miller, The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia

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