1 bad; unfortunate; "my finances were in a deplorable state"; "a lamentable decision"; "her clothes were in sad shape"; "a sorry state of affairs" [syn: distressing, lamentable, pitiful, sad, sorry]
2 of very poor quality or condition; "deplorable housing conditions in the inner city"; "woeful treatment of the accused"; "woeful errors of judgment" [syn: execrable, miserable, woeful, wretched]
3 bringing or deserving severe rebuke or censure; "a criminal waste of talent"; "a deplorable act of violence"; "adultery is as reprehensible for a husband as for a wife" [syn: condemnable, criminal, reprehensible]
Deserving strong condemnation; shockingly bad.
To be felt sorrow for; worth of compassion.
- German: bedauernswert
The Magician's Nephew is a fantasy novel for children written by C. S. Lewis. It was the sixth book published in his The Chronicles of Narnia series, but is the first in the chronology of the Narnia novels' fictional universe. Thus it is an early example of a prequel and includes many references to the previously published books, especially The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In more recent republications, the books have been re-ordered with The Magician's Nephew as book one. See The Chronicles of Narnia entry for more information on the ordering of the books in the series.
This book is dedicated to "the Kilmer family".
Plot summaryThis story begins in London around 1885, when two children, Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer, meet. One day, while exploring the attic shared by all the adjoining houses in their terrace, they take the wrong door and surprise Digory's Uncle Andrew in his study. Uncle Andrew, a bumbling yet malevolent self-taught magician, tricks Polly into touching a magic ring (yellow ring), which causes her to disappear. Andrew then blackmails Digory into following her by using another ring, promising him that he will be able to bring Polly back with a different type of magic ring (green ring). The rings transport the children into a wood with many pools of water. Initially, the pools appear to be just shallow puddles but, in a parallel to the attic common to the houses on their street, the children discover that when the correct ring is worn, jumping into different pools will transport the ring's wearer to different universes. Digory convinces Polly to come and explore through some of the other pools with him, expecting his uncle to confiscate the rings upon their return.
After having marked the pool which leads back to Earth, the children enter another pool, and find that they have arrived in the midst of an enormous crumbling palace in the ruins of the ancient capital city of that world, called Charn. The children discover a hall filled with images of all former rulers of Charn, in chronological order. The first faces are fair and wise, but as they progress down the hall, the faces become prouder and crueler. There are still several empty rows, implying a premature end to the kingdom. There they find a bell, as well as a sign which at once dares one to ring the bell and also warns not to ring it. Digory falls for the taunt and rings the bell, against Polly's wishes. It awakens the last of the statues, that of the evil Queen Jadis.
The Queen tells them how she and her sister had waged the final and ruinous war of that world. After many bloody years her own defeat seemed certain, and in order to prevail she had spoken the Deplorable Word. This curse destroyed all life on Charn but that of Jadis, and even she would sit dormant in the Great Hall until someone came to ring the bell. The children, upon learning of Jadis's evil, try to escape back to the Wood but Jadis is able to travel back with them by grabbing hold of Polly's hair, and from the Wood Between the Worlds, to London. Digory and Polly are finally successful in retrieving Jadis, but they bring along not only Jadis, but also Uncle Andrew, a cab driver named Frank, and his horse, named Strawberry.
Digory draws the whole group into the nearest pool, thinking it leads to Charn. This pool, however, leads to a world which appears to be completely dark and empty. Jadis quickly recognises that it as a world that has yet to be made. Soon, however, they hear singing which seems to cause the stars to begin to shine and the sun to rise. The visitors can now see the singer for what he is, Aslan, the great Lion, and they continue to watch as he breathes life into the world so that animals, plants, and the world itself are created from nothing. Jadis attacks Aslan with an iron bar she had ripped off a lamp post in London, but as this fails to even attract his attention, she flees, while the iron bar grows into a lamp post in the young Narnian soil. Aslan selects some animals to become intelligent talking beasts, giving them authority over the dumb beasts.
Aslan next sends Digory on a journey to get the apple of youth to protect Narnia, and to atone for bringing the evil witch Jadis into the new world of Narnia. Polly, Digory, and the horse from our world (turned by Aslan into a winged horse and renamed Fledge) fly to a far-away mountain to get the apple from a walled garden. Right as Digory takes an apple and prepares to leave, he sees Jadis, who arrived before him. She tempts Digory to either eat the apple and gain eternal youth, or else secretly transport himself back to London and use it to cure his dying mother. Jadis herself has eaten an apple, thus becoming immortal and proving the power of the fruit. Although tormented by the temptation to steal an apple to save his mother's life, Digory believes that his mother herself would tell him not to steal. He keeps his promise to Aslan and travels back to Narnia to give him the apple.
Aslan tells Digory that he has done well and instructs him to plant the apple in the ground. He then holds a ceremony to crown the king and queen of Narnia (Frank the cab driver and his wife, Helen, whom Aslan magically transported to Narnia). Meanwhile, a new tree grows from the apple Digory planted. Aslan explains that this tree will protect Narnia from the Witch: since she stole an apple from the original tree in a selfish way, its fruit is now abhorrent to her, and Narnia will thus enjoy an innocent Eden-like period. Aslan tells Digory that a stolen apple would have cured his mother, but that the day would have come later when she would have rather died in her illness. Aslan then gives Digory an apple from the tree of protection to take to his mother to save her, and sends the children and Uncle Andrew back to the Wood between the Worlds, whence they return to London. Digory gives the apple to his mother, who is healed, and buries the apple core in his back yard. He also buries the magic rings, which Aslan has instructed him to safeguard to prevent future misuse.
The apple core grows into a tree, and years later it is blown down in a storm. Digory can't bear to have the tree cut up into firewood so he has it made into a wardrobe, linking the end of the narrative to the next story chronologically in the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The "old professor" in that story is Digory, where he lives in an old country house which he had inherited from his father, who in turn had inherited it from his great-uncle, just after the retirement from his services in India, as described at the end of the book.
CommentaryReaders familiar with Genesis will recognise the parallels to it in Lewis's work. With respect to Creation, it also has some core similarities with Ainulindalë, the Song of the Ainur, the story of creation in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, due, presumably, both to drawing on the Biblical accounts for some of their material and to the close professional relationship between Tolkien and Lewis, who may have discussed together some themes such as a song of creation seen in both Ainulindalë and The Magician's Nephew but not in the Bible.
The story includes the divine establishment of a royal and aristocratic social system in which an English couple (the cabby and his wife) and their descendants are set in authority over an empire consisting of Narnia and its adjoining countries. The reader is also left in no doubt about the precise social class of each of the English characters, but with no implication that this matters to God; the cabby identifies himself and his wife as "both country folks, really." At the end of the book, Digory's father, who was working in India (then under British rule), inherits money and a large house, and this sudden wealth and country landlord status is stated to be a good thing. We may assume that these aspects owe something to Lewis' own attitude, which tended to be shared by most English people at the time of writing; the standard expectations are skewed a little, however, by having Mr. Kirke suddenly come into his inheritance, not to mention by the fact that King Frank and Queen Helen were of so lowly stature in their own world.
Another of Lewis's own attitudes is that God might have a sense of humour, evident by "The First Joke." Soon after Aslan makes the Talking Animals to speak (in pairs of their species, biblically reminiscent of Noah's creatures on his Ark), a talking jackdaw makes himself the butt of a joke by accident. When he sees that all the other talking animals are laughing at "his joke", he says to Aslan, "Have I made the first joke?". Aslan responds, "No, you have only been the first joke", and they laugh all the harder, even the Jackdaw.
The characters are developed through a series of moral choices, particularly Digory. Polly is more than a mere sidekick but is assigned to a strong supporting role in the drama; she has more practical common sense than Digory and is not deceived by Jadis. Uncle Andrew, initially a very sinister and manipulative presence, collapses into a figure of fun at the end, while Jadis, the White Witch, provides the real portrayal of evil and temptation not at all far from Christian belief in how Satan works.
Of the seven Narnia books, The Magician's Nephew is one of the only two that does not feature the Pevensie children (the other is The Silver Chair). However, Lucy is mentioned twice in this book (though she is unnamed) in connection with her discoveries of the wardrobe and of the lamppost in the forests of Lantern Waste. It is also the only book in the series where a significant amount of the storyline is in our world.
There are also several allusions to the novels of H. Rider Haggard. The character of Jadis is very similar to that of She: a queen who regards herself as the absolute owner of her people and as superior to the demands of morality, and who will do anything to obtain the occult knowledge which brings immortality. The hall of mummified images may owe something to the cave of buried rulers in King Solomon's Mines.
The book explains in accordance to the second novel in the chronological series how the White Witch had come to power, how Narnia was founded, why there was a magical wardrobe in the Professor's (that is, Digory's) mansion—as well as how he came to own a mansion— and why there is a lamppost in the middle of the forest on Narnia's outskirts.
The basic story of The Magician's Nephew was included in the 2005 film version of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Viewers who observe carefully will see the story pictorially represented in the carvings on the face of the wardrobe.
Michael Ward, in his book 'Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis', argues that Lewis constructed the story out of the imagery associated with Venus (Fortuna Minor) as it was understood within pre-Copernican cosmological thought.
Deplorable WordThe Deplorable Word is a magical curse which, when uttered with the "proper ceremonies", ended all life in the world of Charn except that of the one who speaks it. Lewis does not explicitly link the Deplorable Word to nuclear weapons, but he certainly makes allusions to the power of humanity to destroy itself. Writing in 1955 at the height of the Cold War, Lewis has Aslan say to Digory and Polly, who are from the Victorian era:
When Jadis is awakened, she tells Digory and Polly of a world-wide civil war she fought with her sister. All of Jadis' armies were defeated, having been made to fight to the death of the last soldier, and her sister claimed victory. Then Jadis spoke the horrible curse which her sister knew she had discovered but did not think she would use. A moment later, Jadis says, she was "the only living thing beneath the sun".
The children are shocked by this account, but Jadis has no remorse or pity for all the ordinary people whom she killed; in her eyes, they only existed for her to use, and she blames her sister for, in her view, leaving her with no choice but to invoke the curse. The past rulers of her race, who evidently had not always been evil, knew of the Deplorable Word's existence but not the word itself, and had vowed that none of them, nor their descendants, would seek to discover it. Jadis said she had "learned it in a secret place and paid a terrible price to learn it", though she did not say what the price was. Nor does the book say what the word is, or how it was learned, or what the "proper ceremonies" were that must accompany it.
Christian parallelsJust as in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Lewis illustrated the mysteries of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, with themes of betrayal and redemption. The Magician's Nephew illustrates, at a similar level, the themes of creation, primal innocence, original sin, and temptation. A nine-year-old who has heard the Biblical account of Creation should have little difficulty following the story; there are a few obvious parallels with events in Genesis, such as the forbidden fruit represented by an Apple of Life.
Aslan acts in the role of the Creator. There is no reference to the distant "Emperor-Over-the-Sea" who had been paralleled with God the Father previously in the series. It corresponds with the New Testament's teaching that Jesus (God the Son) was the agent of Creation; e.g. "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made," (Gospel of John 1:3 NIV, see also Epistle to the Hebrews 1:10 and Colossians 1:15–16). Aslan's personal selection of many of the wild beasts in Narnia to be made into Talking Animals is also reminiscent of the Genesis story, since both Aslan and Noah chose two of some kinds of animals for their purposes. The flash from the stars when they are given the ability to talk represents the "breath of life" of Genesis chapter 2, as well as (possibly) the scholastic concept of the divine Active Intellect which inspires human beings with rationality.
The beautiful, but wicked and powerful Queen Jadis being pulled out of her comfortable homeworld, being dropped into Narnia, changing colour and shape and becoming immortal after eating the apple, also parallel to Christianity. It is similar to Satan's story, being the most beautiful of immortal angels, who is cast out from Heaven to Earth, which is a much less comfortable place, and is changed into a much less beautiful form. Parallels may also be found in Lewis' other writings. Jadis' continual references to "reasons of State", and her claim to own the people of Charn and be superior to all common moral rules, represent the eclipse of the medieval Christian belief in natural law by the political concept of sovereignty, as embodied first in royal absolutism and then in modern dictatorships. Uncle Andrew represents the Faustian element in the origins of modern science.
Film, television, or theatrical adaptationsWalt Disney Pictures and Walden Media currently retain the option to make The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew in the future.
deplorable in Bulgarian: Племенникът на магьосника
deplorable in Czech: Čarodějův synovec
deplorable in German: Das Wunder von Narnia
deplorable in Spanish: El sobrino del mago
deplorable in French: Le Neveu du magicien
deplorable in Italian: Il Nipote del Mago
deplorable in Hebrew: אחיינו של הקוסם
deplorable in Malay (macrolanguage): The Magician's Nephew
deplorable in Dutch: Het neefje van de tovenaar
deplorable in Japanese: 魔術師のおい
deplorable in Norwegian: Drømmen om Narnia
deplorable in Uzbek: Jodugarning jiyani
deplorable in Portuguese: O Sobrinho do Mago
deplorable in Quechua: Umup kunchan
deplorable in Russian: Племянник чародея
deplorable in Finnish: Taikurin sisarenpoika
deplorable in Swedish: Min morbror trollkarlen
deplorable in Thai: กำเนิดนาร์เนีย
deplorable in Turkish: Büyücünün Yeğeni
deplorable in Chinese: 魔法師的外甥
deplorable in Slovak: Čarodejníkov synovec
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