Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oh to be Prince Caspian afloat upon the waves: Signed first edition 'Voyage of the Dawn Treader' at auction. Oct. 16-17

Sept. 10, 2009
Posted by Noah

I am, ever, enamored of C.S. Lewis's fifth chronological and third published book in his Chronicles of Narnia series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. If you know these books, have read them dozens of times throughout the course of your life, then I can only assume you are agreeing with me right now. Am I a fan of the movies? So far? Not so much... They've taken the soul out of them, literally... 'Nuff said.

Since I was a little kid I have read Lewis's masterworks many many times - so many times, in fact, that now I only go for Voyage when I want a Narnia fix. There is nowhere else in the series that Lewis's prose was so poetic and moving, his passion for his characters so inspired and his creativity so on fire. For me to point to a favorite part of this book is impossible because the world and the narrative are so rich. Just thinking about Caspian and the Pevensies getting closer to the end of the world, where the water is crystal clear and sweet, where the sun is impossibly bright and the days never-ending, makes me want to pick up a copy of the book right now and while away the afternoon engaged in this amazingly magical world.

Fortunately for me, though I can nary afford the estimated $10,000-$15,000 price tag, Heritage is offering a truly sublime C.S. Lewis-signed first edition of the book in our Oct. 16-17 Rare Books auction. Amazing, truly. I actually got light-headed when James Gannon, our Director of Rare Books, told me about the lot. There are things that come through here that I would truly and deeply love to have, and would never ever give up as long as I live. I have to say that this is one of the top three or four. Just simply great great stuff.

The Narnia books are, of course, greatly beloved the world over. Children and adults of all stripes and sizes love these books for good reason. Put aside, for the moment, Lewis's wonderful and accessible exploration of his Christian faith in the books, and you have, simply, a superb and epic adventure story. Taking Lewis's faith into account and you have one of the great religious philosophy treatises ever written. It doesn't matter what faith you were raised with, I defy anyone to not be moved by how deeply Lewis examined his own beliefs in the books, and most specifically in Dawn Treader.

In my 20s, during a time of great gnostical turpitude, I undertook a survey of every religion I could read about. I poured over thousands of pages of material in an effort to gain some kind of insight and shed the trappings of existentialism and phenomenology that had given me little but headaches. While recovering from a serious illness I re-read Narnia and was moved very deeply. I quickly made my way to Lewis's Mere Christianity, which didn't implore me to convert - Lewis is not about that - but rather gave me a fresh perspective on the Christian experience. It did, ultimately, allow me to make my own decisions on what faith meant to me; ideas which are with me strongly to this day, but which I am not prepared to talk about in a public forum such as this (if you really want to know where I stand, shoot me an email).

To know that this volume is in-house right now somehow gives me great comfort. It is one or two degrees at most removed from the master's hand. There are many books I have wished I could somehow send myself into to participate in the story, but none have ever intrigued me as much as this one. What I wouldn't give to have just a day with Caspian and Reepicheep, in that fast and beautiful boat, afloat upon the waves...

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-Noah Fleisher

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