Tales Before Narnia

From Tolkien Gateway
Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction
Publication Information
EditorDouglas A. Anderson
PublisherDel Rey
Released25 March 2008

Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction is a collection of stories, poems, and folktales that provided source material and influenced the writings of C.S. Lewis. Included is the original version of J.R.R. Tolkien's poem "The Dragon's Visit".[1]

From the publisher

In his acclaimed collection Tales Before Tolkien, Douglas A. Anderson illuminated the sources, inspirations, and influences that fired J.R.R. Tolkien’s genius. Now Anderson turns his attention to Tolkien’s colleague and friend C. S. Lewis, whose influence on modern fantasy, through his beloved Narnia books, is second only to Tolkien’s own.In many ways, Lewis’s influence has been even wider than Tolkien’s. For in addition to the Narnia series, Lewis wrote groundbreaking works of science fiction, urban fantasy, and religious allegory, and he came to be regarded as among the most important Christian writers of the twentieth century. It will come as no surprise, then, that such a wide-ranging talent drew inspiration from a variety of sources. Here are twenty of the tributaries that fed Lewis’s unique talent, among them: “The Wood That Time Forgot: The Enchanted Wood,” taken from a never-before-published fantasy by Lewis’s biographer and friend, Roger Lancelyn Green, that directly inspired The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; E. Nesbit’s charming “The Aunt and Amabel,” in which a young girl enters another world by means of a wardrobe; “The Snow Queen,” by Hans Christian Andersen, featuring the abduction of a young boy by a woman as cruel as she is beautiful; and many more, including works by Charles Dickens, Kenneth Grahame, G. K. Chesterton, and George MacDonald, of whom Lewis would write, “I have never concealed the fact that I regarded him as my master.” Full of fascinating insights into Lewis’s life and fiction, Tales Before Narnia is the kind of book that will be treasured by children and adults alike and passed down lovingly from generation to generation.

Critical reception

In his positive review of Tales Before Narnia, John D. Rateliff praises Anderson for his "hallmark ability to say a lot, in highly readable style, in very little space". Concerning the inclusion of Tolkien's "The Dragon's Visit", Rateliff notes that the poem here appears "in a font size larger than could be squeezed into the margins of The Annotated Hobbit (revised edition)".[2]