The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Literature and Writing Quotes Page 4
How we cite our quotes:
One thing that worried her a good deal was the size of the Book. The Chief Voice had not been able to give her any idea whereabouts in the Book the spell for making things visible came. He even seemed rather surprised at her asking. He expected her to begin at the beginning and go on till she came to it; it obviously wouldn't have occurred to him that there was any other way of finding a place in a book. (10.15)
Although Lucy appreciates books as literature, she also expects to make use of them in an almost technological sense. The narrator implies here that she is familiar with concepts like an index and a table of contents. She expects to be able to search through a book, find what she needs, and retrieve it. If this makes a book sound a bit like the Internet and an index sound a bit like a search engine, well, you get the idea. But the Chief of the Duffers sees a book as a narrative that progresses from beginning to end: you have to dive in at the beginning and let it unfold in front of you, hoping that it will eventually give you what you need.
She went up to the desk and laid her hand on the book; her fingers tingled when she touched it as if it were full of electricity. She tried to open it but couldn't at first; this, however, was only because it was fastened by two leaden clasps, and when she had undone these it opened easily enough. And what a book it was!
It was written, not printed; written in a clear, even hand, with thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes, very large, easier than print, and so beautiful that Lucy stared at it for a whole minute and forgot about reading it. The paper was crisp and smooth and a nice smell came from it; and in the margins, and round the big coloured capital letters at the beginning of each spell, there were pictures. (10.16-17)
The Magic Book that Lucy reads in Coriarkin's study is not only full of powerful spells but is also an art object in its own right. It's handcrafted, has a definite physical presence, and appeals to several of Lucy's senses. Its artistry is so impressive that it momentarily distracts Lucy from its actual content.
On the next page she came to a spell "for the refreshment of the spirit." The pictures were fewer here but very beautiful. And what Lucy found herself reading was more like a story than a spell. It went on for three pages and before she had read to the bottom of the page she had forgotten that she was reading at all. She was living in the story as if it were real, and all the pictures were real too. When she had got to the third page and come to the end, she said, "That is the loveliest story I've ever read or ever shall read in my whole life. Oh, I wish I could have gone on reading it for ten years. At least I'll read it over again."
But here part of the magic of the Book came into play. You couldn't turn back. The right-hand pages, the ones ahead, could be turned; the left hand pages could not. (10.31-32)
In the Magic Book, the reader's ability to be absorbed into a narrative is so complete that story and reality blur together. For the narrator of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, this kind of total-immersion reading experience is the ideal way to interact with a book.