Author Topic: Narnian/Rowlingian realities  (Read 877 times)

Tusky

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Narnian/Rowlingian realities
« on: July 09, 2020, 12:30:21 PM »
Narnia is real or the wizarding world from Harry Potter is real?

Mod note: early posts in this thread are copied or moved from the "would you rather?" thread.
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Jubal

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Re: Narnian/Rowlingian realities
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2020, 12:30:48 PM »
Ooh, that's actually really difficult, both being interesting but also icnredibly flawed additional-world constructions. I think it depends on the question of whether just Narnia is real, or whether the full cosmology around Narnia is real. If the latter, I arguably shouldn't want Narnia to be real because in the wider Narnian cosmology, atheists are inherently unicorn murdering mouldy turnip eaters who are condemned eternally to that state after death which doesn't sound ideal. If the former, Narnia is the obvious choice, because Narnians generally don't come over and murder us over here (whereas dark wizards absolutely 100% do murder muggles).

I'll opt for Narnia being real, I think. I actually do like Narnia more as a setting.
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dubsartur

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Re: Narnian/Rowlingian realities
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2020, 12:31:24 PM »
I always wondered what was out west of the map, and what everyday history in Narnia looks like.  When there were feasts and tournaments at Cair Paravel, what did that look like?

The Wizarding World is odd because JKR can see so much about her Britain, but her stories don't ask whether those things should be changed, they take a more pessimistic view that as it was, so shall it ever be (with some fiddling at the edges like liberating a house elf or creating scholarships for poor students).  Her rigid, incompetent bureaucrats promoted by the Old Boys' Network look very timely.  I hear that the new films play up the imperialism and apartheid which are implicit in the setting, and someone I respect does not think they ask the right questions (JKR's's wizards don't think erasing a Muggle's memory or keeping magical healing for themselves is a big deal, but JKR is pretty clear that slavery is bad and tossing muggles around the sky for fun or murdering them to practice your curses is bad).

Jubal

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Re: Narnian/Rowlingian realities
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2020, 04:11:57 PM »
I think I see Harry Potter as being a badly off person's fantasy about suddenly occupying a higher place in the traditional British class heirarchy. Which is an age old genre, in some ways (see also, Great Expectations, or Perceval's discovery of the world of knighthood). And most texts in that genre don't take on a socially critical role: the hero, being heroic, is rewarded (or pre-empted and enabled) with a higher palce in the structure, which is just a backdrop. It's not even so much pessimism as a lack of consideration. Though it's perhaps stranger in Rowling's works because their villains are pretty explicitly fascist and relatively neatly categorised and uncomplicated with one or two exceptions.


In the case of Narnia, I have also thought about what was west (and indeed south) of the map: my Narnia mod for Rome: Total War has some exploration of that, mostly including some human and semi-human realms around Calormen and a wasteland beyond which a rather early-medieval Old Telmar still scrapes by. :)
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Ierne

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Re: Narnian/Rowlingian realities
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2020, 12:42:45 AM »
I mentally de-canonize most of the last battle, because it is so very very wierd, and in some respects out of character with the rest of the  (much more light-hearted and hopeful) series. That very odd book aside, Narnia is a lovely setting, I definitely found it more magical - in the sense of otherworldly and wonder-filled - than Harry Potter's world. I'd definitely rather it was real, in fact I'd quite like to go.

However, I've never felt inspired to write Narnia-based fanfiction. I feel like the story is very complete, in the sense of conflict being resolved, and a peaceful and beautiful world sustained. Which is lovely when I want a nice relaxing fantasy read, but not what sparks my imagination.

Harry Potter's world is more engaging to write in - partially because it does have problems that aren't fully adressed by the first seven books - that means there are a lot of potential stories left to tell. Could magic ever become known to muggles? How? what would the consequences be?  What other scenarios are there that would challenge the hierachy and prejudice inherent in wizarding society? How would they play out? This is all stuff I've written fanfiction about over the years, and had heck of a lot of fun doing it.

dubsartur

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Re: Narnian/Rowlingian realities
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2020, 09:20:15 AM »
I mentally de-canonize most of the last battle, because it is so very very wierd, and in some respects out of character with the rest of the  (much more light-hearted and hopeful) series. That very odd book aside, Narnia is a lovely setting, I definitely found it more magical - in the sense of otherworldly and wonder-filled - than Harry Potter's world. I'd definitely rather it was real, in fact I'd quite like to go.
yes, thank you!  The Last Battle is like when a writer decides to write a novel where parodies of all the people and groups he dislikes (the ones I have read are all by hes) show how stinky they are then die horrible deaths (and the reveal at the end that everyone died as teenagers in the real world and Narnia heaven is heaven is sickening to this materialist, just like Herodotus got weirded out that the Thracians believed in a personal afterlife - that must be why they fight so hard, he said!)

Maybe the nostalgic / retro feel of the Wizarding World makes it hard for it to be too otherworldly?  She has the wonderful monsters and names but the social structure has to be vaguely early to mid 20th century British (including Britain and Europe being REALLY IMPORTANT).  So the baddies are fascists and aristocrats, not elves that will make you dance until your feet fall off or vampires that are incredibly powerful but get confused by bends in corridors.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2020, 09:52:39 AM by dubsartur »

Jubal

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Re: Narnian/Rowlingian realities
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2020, 01:57:05 PM »
Yes, I agree that the focus of HP on class structures stops it being too otherworldly.

And I do, likewise, avoid acknowledging The Last Battle. I have problems with a lot of bits of Narnia but TLB really overblows all of them and then some.

All that said, I actually did once start on a Narnia fanfic, but it was more a "here's a plot twist with a sort of attached socratic dialogue" than a story per se. I might do some more on it sometime.
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Ierne

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Re: Narnian/Rowlingian realities
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2020, 12:22:40 AM »
If you ever do finish it, I'd love to discover what the narnian version of a socratic dialogue is!

I agree that both the class structure and cultural nostalgia - log fires, boarding schools, gothic architecture, cozy pubs - root Harry Potter more in this world than a magical realm. But I think the cultural nostalgia is part of the appeal for some people (it certainly is for me) - Harry Potter is where some of us graduated to after Enid Blyton and it feels familiar. Wheras Narnia's charm is in the unfamiliar.