Like the characters in the C.S. Lewis books he writes about, Bruce Edwards has entered a different world from the quiet, academic one he usually inhabits. Following the recent publication of his two new books on Lewis, Edwards has become somewhat of a media celebrity, appearing on television news shows, giving book signings and speaking on the radio around the country.
Since college, Edwards, acting dean of Continuing and Extended Education with a joint appointment in English, has studied the work of the Anglo-Irish Lewis, a renowned literary scholar, Christian apologist and author of the popular Chronicles of Narnia. He had already published two books and many articles on Lewis and his work and maintains a Web site on the author.
The seven-book Narnia series tells the story of four London children who are sent to a professor's country home for their safety during World War II. There, they find a wardrobe that is the portal to the magical land of Narnia, which is ruled by a cruel witch. The children join forces with Aslan, the lion king of Narnia, to defeat the witch.
“Narnia is an adventure tale with spiritual dimensions that resonate with biblical and other mythological tales,” Edwards explained.
Now that Disney is releasing the movie "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" in December, Edwards is being asked to share his knowledge with readers and audiences around the country. He was chosen by Borders Books to be a featured speaker at its Narnia on Tour events.
One perk of being a Lewis expert was being invited to an October preview of the film in Chicago. Though he initially felt some trepidation about how the book might be translated into film, he said he was quite pleased with the results.
"There were some battle scenes inserted that weren't in the book, but I guess they felt they had to be to meet expectations raised by the 'Lord of the Rings' series," Edwards said, adding that the scenes were not very graphic and didn't detract from the story.
Some of Edwards' recent interviews and activities include:
• An appearance on Toledo's WTOL "Live at Five" news broadcast Oct. 28 prior to his book signing that evening at Borders in Westfield Shoppingtown Franklin Park.
• An interview by reporter Sarah Price Brown of Religion News Service for a syndicated story on Lewis and his legacy that appeared Oct. 13.
• Interviews by The (Toledo) Blade and Jenise Fouts of the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune, for stories that will appear close to the release date of the movie.
• An Oct. 13 telephone interview by CCM, a popular entertainment magazine out of Nashville.
Edwards was interviewed by Cleveland television stations WKYC and WEWS, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, prior to his appearance at a Cleveland-area Borders Oct. 27. He has also been interviewed by the Denver Post, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and the Columbus Dispatch in recent days.
In a more academic vein, he was a plenary speaker at a national C.S. Lewis conference Nov. 4-5 at Belmont University in Nashville, and will conduct an all-day seminar at Winebrenner Seminary in Findlay later this month.
One of Edwards' two new books, Further Up and Further In: Understanding "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," published in October by Broadman and Holman, is designed as a guide to readers or movie-goers unfamiliar with Lewis' work. The book helps unlock the many symbols and meanings behind the first story in the series, laying out the themes and messages in an easy-to-read style. It can also serve as a companion for discussion groups.
The second volume, Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual World of Narnia is a study of the chronicles' mythological and biblical themes as seen through the interactions of the ruler Aslan and the other main characters. Published in September by Tyndale House Publishers, Not a Tame Lion provides a spiritual map to the world of Narnia for new readers. It also includes a list of small-group study questions and a section of selected readings.
In 2004, the C.S. Lewis Foundation, which promotes the study and appreciation of Lewis' work in the United States and abroad, appointed Edwards a C.S. Lewis Fellow. He spent the summer of that year living and teaching in Lewis' former home in Oxford, England, and visiting places where the author and his friend and fellow author J.R.R. Tolkien spent time.