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N. D. Wilson

The Taste of Different Fears

When I was two, I was inclined to certain misbehaviors in my bath. If memory serves, I believe standing up and fiddling with the knobs was involved. And splashing. During one particular bathing experience my mother had to leave the room briefly. So, she relied on my older sister, who was not yet five, to occupy me.

"Tell him a story," my mother said. And my sister did.

"Once," my sister said, "there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids."

She was reciting, and she recited from the beginning of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to somewhere around Lucy's second passage through the fur coats. The rendition was abridged, but she hadn't done the abridging. Our cassette tape had. Ian Richardson, narrator, had read an abridged version to us so many times that my sister had a sizeable chunk of it word for word.

The film … well, the film isn't just abridged, and it isn't read by Ian Richardson.

Sitting in a Hollywood screening room, waiting for my advance glimpse of the Disney/Walden rendition of talking beavers and a forest-infested wardrobe, I have a lot of time to think about my relationship with Narnia. I wonder if I am capable of liking any film adaptation. Will I simply spend the entire time noticing small changes, unable to see the film apart from its inspiration? Probably.

Two was a good year for me. I sat through my first readings of Narnia, both abridged and unabridged. I sat in my highchair after dinner and listened to my father read to us as his father had read to him. That year I was introduced to both Lewis and Tolkien. My mother questioned my comprehension, but my father, ever optimistic, pointed out my red and sweaty cheeks, which made their appearance during scenes of battle.

I was marinated in Narnia, and I've been on a slow-roast ...

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