70 Years Ago: The Chronicles of Narnia

Today in 1950, C.S. Lewis published "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"

It seems... older?

That was my first thought upon learning that the first volume of The Chronicles of Narnia was published today in the United Kingdom in 1950.

This is an unusual response to learning the age of a cultural touchstone. Usually when presented with the release year, we gasp at its antiquity. This idea has even become a TikTok meme: Zoomers mocking Millennials who learn that SNL’s “Lazy Sunday” is 89,000 years old. (LOL, the song — about taking in a matinee of the movie adaptation of Narnia — will actually turn 15 years old in December. You’re old!)

C.S. Lewis's novel seems out of historical joint, but come to think of it, doesn’t most fantasy literature seem older than it is? Would you blink if I said The Hobbit dropped in the 19th century? (It was published in 1937.)

This historical fuzziness reminded of an old Reddit thread that asked, What two events took place at the same time but don’t seem like they would have? Answers included:

  • When pilgrims were landing on Plymouth Rock, you could already visit what is now Santa Fe, New Mexico, to stay at a hotel, eat at a restaurant and buy Native American silver.

  • The Mongols fought the Crusaders and the Samurais at the same time.

  • The last inmate to die by firing squad in the US did so the day Toy Story 3 came out.

  • Spain was still a fascist dictatorship when Microsoft was founded.

Things don’t happen when they are supposed to happen.

Did you know? Oxford professors J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis were close friends who often quarreled about trivial topics like God. It’s a mystery how no one has made a bad movie about their relationship yet.

  • 25 Years Ago Today: The Million Man March (1995), controversially convened by Louis Farrakhan, brought together somewhere between 400K and 1.5M black men to Washington, DC. It would inspire Spike Lee’s Get on the Bus, about a group of men on a cross-country bus trip to the event.