Chad E. Iwertz
The Sigma Tau Delta Review 5, pp. 35–41
Publication year: 2008

C. S. Lewis’s debt to Dante Alghieri in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ extends beyond the rich spiritual narrative that characterizes both authors’ masterworks. Dante’s classic incorporation of the medieval model for the structure and scientific understanding of the universe, though outdated and untrue, inspired Lewis to comment in his final book, ‘The Discarded Image’, that “[f]ew constructions of the imagination seem […] to have combined splendour, sobriety, and coherence in the same degree [as the old Model]” (216). As a renowned scholar of medieval and renaissance literature, Lewis echoes his passion for the “old Model” through a menagerie of images and structural patterns in The Chronicles of Narnia. Among these many stylistic elements which tie Lewis to Dante’s model, two essential examples surface: the parallelism of a geocentric astrology divided into three parts and the implement of a personal, compassionate guide throughout each narrative. Through the composition and reshaping of these, among other, medieval elements, Lewis encapsulates the beautiful form of medieval poets like Dante but also resurrects and modernizes the otherwise antiquated, disproved medieval expression of the cosmos. In essence, Lewis births a new medievalism—a second medievalism—that blends the poetic expression and scientific religiosity of the ancient Middle Ages with a contemporary understanding of the universe and “very ordinary” Christianity itself (Mere Christianity viii).