Lit-News / Literary Reimaginings

New letters reveal that The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe originally had Aslan stop what he’s doing to tell the kids that life begins at conception

One for the kids!

Fans of C.S. Lewis and the magical world of Narnia–hold on to your hats. Letters have recently been unearthed that show the first draft of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, everybody’s favourite Narnia book because it’s the only one they know, looked ever so slightly different when he first submitted it to the publisher.

Wow! History  is being written before our very eyes guys!

In a series of letters between Lewis and his publishers we can see his original vision, and how the book that came to be known and loved by millions was slowly wrung out of that process. It’s like seeing candy being made but instead of candy it’s heavy-handed Christian allegory wrapped up as an adventure story. WOW! See below.

Dear Mr. Lewis,
We were glad to receive your purported final draft of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and we have very high expectations for this book. However… there were some passages of which we were not sure. Specifically, the character of Aslan, who seems to… every now and again stop what he is doing to tell the children that life begins at conception. This seems like an odd thing to add into the novel, and diverts away from the story and action. In fact, I am not at all sure why he ever says anything like this. Perhaps you could remove this from the final final draft?
Worshipfully yours,

Lewis, however, responded with confusion:

Dear Publisher Man,
At no point do I have Aslan suggest that life begins at conception. I am not sure where this is coming from.
Sincerely yours,
Jesus’s Little Helper

This denial, however, didn’t seem to be accepted by the publishers:

Well, frankly Mr. Lewis, Aslan does this pretty much every time he appears in the book. Note what he says when he meets Peter.

‘I am 13 years old.’ said Peter.
‘Thirteen and nine months,’ corrected Aslan. ‘Since life begins at conception.’

And this is not the only example. In fact, the publisher listed five thousand examples, of which these are just a few:

  • When Aslan is breathing life back into the statue people, he suddenly stops and says ‘Life begins at conception children. Remember that.’
  • When Aslan turns up at the White Witch’s camp he looks at her womb and says ‘This is mine to say what you do with. And I say baby stays in there.’
  • When Susan says ‘Hello Aslan.’ he says ‘Susan, if you were to have sex you would become pregnant and that pregnancy would possibly mean the end of your life because you are too young to have a baby but you MUST keep it because life begins at conception, maybe even before.’
  • When the children say ‘Help us Aslan.’ he’s like, ‘I’m a magical Jesus lion and my word is law and that law sperm has a soul.’
  • When he’s about to be killed by the White Witch he says ‘I ain’t lion. Life begins at conception.’

C.S Lewis perhaps misunderstood the publishers’ criticism of these scenes, given that his next step was to explain the imagery:

You see, Aslan is lion Jesus. He is like what Jesus would have been like if instead of spreading a gospel of love he tore off bitches’ heads with his lion jaws.

This, however, was not what the publisher was concerned about.

Dear Mr. Lewis
Literally nobody does not understand that Aslan is Jesus or the book is about Christianity. We just do not really understand why Aslan keeps saying this conception thing. It serves no purpose. There is no reason for him ever to mention this. In fact, it is actively inappropriate for a lion, no matter how much of a Jesus he might be, to talk to a young woman about her womb. Human Jesus never did that. He was too busy exorcising demons and then putting them in pigs and then making the pigs drown themselves. He did not have time for womb shenanigans.

But C.S Lewis was adamant.

Hey, if Tolkien can include like ninety pages of a small man singing to a tree because it ate his friend then I can include this!

But the publishers were also adamant.

Mr. Lewis, frankly we do not wish to invest in a book in which a talking lion tells young children what to do with their bodies. We tried that once before and it did not end well. Change the fucking story or we’ll just publish Tolkien’s 900 pages of notes on elves talking about their toes and be done with it. K thanx bye

And the rest, as they say, is history.

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