Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Mailvox: the spirit of Reepicheep

The talking mouse always was my favorite character in The Chronicles of Narnia:
I am reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader for the first time and I am reading chapter 12, the Dark Island. It has made me love Reepicheep and he reminds me of you, the dread Ilk, VFM et al.

The scene is set when Caspian is deciding on whether to sail into the darkness and all advice is to the contrary:

But all at once the clear voice of Reepicheep. "And why not?" he said. "Will someone explain to me why not?"

No one was anxious to explain, so Reepicheep continued: "If I were addressing peasants or slaves," he said, "I might suppose that this suggestion proceeded from cowardice. But I hope it will never be told in Narnia that a company of noble and royal persons in the flower of their age turned tail because they were afraid of the dark."

"But what manner of use would it be ploughing through that blackness?" asked Drinian.

"Use?" replied Reepicheep. "Use, Captain? If by use you mean filling our bellies or our purses, I confess it will be no use at all. So far as I know we did not set sail to look for things useful but to seek honour and adventure. And here is as great an adventure as ever I heard of, and here, if we turn back, no little impeachment of all our honours."

But this was the best reminding of your stout defense of friends such as Owen:

There came a cry, either of some inhuman voice or else a voice of one in such extremity of terror that he had almost lost his humanity. Caspian was still trying to speak his mouth was too dry-when the shrill voice of Reepicheep, which sounded louder than usual in that silence, was heard.

"Who calls?" it piped. "If you are a foe we do not fear you, and if you are a friend your enemies shall be taught the fear of us."

Long live the spirit of Reepicheep! May we all aspire to it.
Reepicheep represents the indomitable spirit, the unconquerable spirit, of Man. He kneels only to the king and to Aslan, he fears no evil, and to say that he embraces conflict would be a serious understatement. In my opinion, it is he, not Caspian, Edmund, Lucy, or Eustace, who is the true hero of the tale.

My owns plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, or shot over the edge of the world in some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise and Peepiceek will be head of the talking mice in Narnia.

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Blogger Balkan Yankee February 05, 2020 7:24 AM  

Reepicheep 2024.

Blogger Johnny B February 05, 2020 7:28 AM  

I read this to my daughter recently and was struck by the same passages. If CS Lewis started this sea voyage book to get rid of writer's block, he sure made a success of it by the end.

Blogger Caleb February 05, 2020 7:41 AM  

Nice bit of hump day encouragement. Thanks, Vox!

Blogger wokebb February 05, 2020 8:15 AM  

Yes yes yes. Just what I need to here at a challenging time in life.

Blogger wokebb February 05, 2020 8:17 AM  

Yes yes yes. Just what I need to hear at a challenging time.

Blogger notjoshing February 05, 2020 8:24 AM  

Even the Devil Mouse turned its back on the destruction of character that became the movie version of the story.

Blogger Stilicho February 05, 2020 8:59 AM  

I cannot rest from travel,
I will drink life to the lees
Much have I seen and known
And drunk delight of battle with my peers
How dull it is to pause, to make and end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
That which we are, we are, one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate but strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Blogger buzzardist February 05, 2020 9:08 AM  

I always preferred Puddleglum in The Silver Chair to Reepicheep, but for much the same reason. Reepicheep is the model of knightly valor. Puddleglum is a common man, dull in many respects and often gloomy. Both are fearless and defiant in the darkest places and against the most intimidating foes. That moment when the witch has nearly enchanted everyone to be lost in the Underworld forever, Puddleglum stomps out the enchanting fire and gives my favorite speech in all of the Narnia books:

One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s the funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend the rest of our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.

That ability to embrace truth, even when the lies have made reality so murky that it's virtually impossible to see straight, is Lewis at his best.

Blogger Shane Bradman February 05, 2020 9:36 AM  

Voyage of the Dawn Treader was my favourite of Lewis' novels. The spirit of adventure can speak to all children. I have read no greater stories than those written by Englishmen, and Lewis was at his best in this book. While every one of his books had a clear message, grand adventure speaks to me the most. The Silver Chair was great for other reasons and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is the definition of a must-read, but neither of those struck the same chords as when our heroes sailed the seas to find the seven lost lords, and landed at many strange places along the way. Let us also remember how Reepicheep, at the end of his quest, is allowed to ascend into Aslan's country.

Blogger dc.sunsets February 05, 2020 9:38 AM  

Reepicheep represents the indomitable spirit, the unconquerable spirit, of Man.
Sadly, large numbers of individuals lack such spirit.

Albert J. Nock noted that the Remnant (people who determine for themselves how they should live, and then attempt to live accordingly) are quite rare.

The rest are sock puppets, NPC's, etc., spiraling into the abyss created by a society that exchanged Nature's obvious destructions (War, Famine, Pestilence & Disease) for Man-made seductions-to-self-destruct (traditional vices like prostitution, gambling and alcohol/drug abuse, and a panoply of modern inventions like hetero/homo-hedonism, pornography, and the many-faceted folly of the World Wide Web itself.)

This septic-tank of a society in which we now live offers us a fabulous opportunity to separate the NPCs from the Remnant. You know it's bad when people who refuse to screw their way through their college and early-adult years are regarded as weird ascetics.

Charles Mackay's 1841 chronicle didn't even scratch the surface of the times in which we now live.

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 February 05, 2020 9:49 AM  

Interestingly, it's Reepicheep who is able to teach the Monopods to do something useful with their one large foot. That is, he teaches them how to use it to paddle in the water.

My favorite scene, though, in the Dawn Treader was when Lucy asks Aslan to tell her the story of refreshing because she had forgotten it. Aslan's response is that he will tell it to her for weeks and weeks but not now.

Blogger VD February 05, 2020 10:30 AM  

Sadly, large numbers of individuals lack such spirit.

OK, Boomer.

Historically easy times have bred exceptionally weak men. But the times are already less easy now and they are growing harder fast.

Blogger Freddy Sea February 05, 2020 10:30 AM  

As I learn more and read more and become a more rounded individual I see how the things I was missing can not be articulated nor expressed but only experienced.

Thanks for sharing this thought. It helped me experience/remember something that made me more full/complete today.

Blogger Beau February 05, 2020 10:30 AM  


Blogger RC February 05, 2020 10:46 AM  

Back when Dobson was in charge, Focus on the Family worked with Lewis' step-son to create a Radio Theatre version of many of Lewis' best books including Dawn Treader. They were captivating and our young (at the time) children enjoyed them immensely. Highly recommended.

Blogger Talios Hammerfist February 05, 2020 10:50 AM  

For a moment, I had the same feeling of excitement as I did when I read that book. The Chronicles of Narnia are a masterpiece collection, and I cannot wait to have my children read them.

Blogger Beau February 05, 2020 11:35 AM  

Sadly, large numbers of individuals lack such spirit.

Heavenly Father,

Send the fire. Pour out the Holy Spirit to convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Let us have enough of the comfortable cloying upholstered sewer, fill our hearts with a hunger to be right before you. Fill us with courage to go do your will. I ask this in Jesus' name.

Blogger pdwalker February 05, 2020 11:57 AM  

what an excellent and uplifting email.

i confess that i liked the little knight with the heart of the lion the most.

time to reread all the books again.

Blogger CM February 05, 2020 12:13 PM  

And Reepicheep's reward is the glorious Aslan's Country without ever having tasted the bitterness of death! A noble reward for the noblest of creatures.

Blogger Wraithburn February 05, 2020 12:34 PM  

My wife told me last night she wanted to get the complete Narnia books, as she had not read all of them. This reminds me of what I had forgotten as a child. These books are excellent.

Blogger Curlytop February 05, 2020 12:36 PM  

Be still my heart! I'm preparing class for Friday and it's this book we're studying. I have the immense pleasure of teaching the series and have given extra class time on this book for much of the same reasons as you posted. :-)

Blogger Raker_T February 05, 2020 12:41 PM  

I never took the time to read the books, lots of projects going, and I figure I can get what I need from non fiction. That said, the excerpt that buzzardist shared certainly is a pleasure to read.
Here's an observation from a Boomer, FWIW: perseverance isn't always a steady forward motion. Sometimes the world comes to a stop, -really- bad things happen, and motivation has vaporized. Not even a shiny spot where it spilled on the floor. But you regroup, you address the problems, each one in its own category. Had to stop and fix a leak in the air brakes, but the train is rolling again.
Does anybody want to hire a freelance metaphor writer?

Blogger God Emperor Memes February 05, 2020 1:07 PM  

I read an old book about the history of the SAS and in it a member of that elite group made a comment to the effect that "Young Tommy these days is nowhere near as tough as his father was at the same age. It's not the case that he isn't the man his father was but rather that he simply does not know what he is capable of." This was describing Boomers in comparison to men who'd fought in WW2.

Blogger Newscaper312 February 05, 2020 1:13 PM  

No discussion of Trump's Triumph last night?
Snowball seems to be rapidly bulding for the Trumpslide.

Blogger CM February 05, 2020 1:58 PM  

That ability to embrace truth, even when the lies have made reality so murky that it's virtually impossible to see straight, is Lewis at his best.

I loved The Silver Chair because it's so suitable to our times. Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe seems to be the running theme.

Have faith, trust, cling to Truth and His Divine Instruction, even when it seems all is lost.

Blogger Stilicho February 05, 2020 2:02 PM  

Beau, your response to the lack of spirit observation made me laugh for all the right reasons. Well done!

Blogger furor kek tonicus ( no need to be racist, Ratchets can Karen better than anybody ) February 05, 2020 2:55 PM  

Reepicheep represents the indomitable spirit, the unconquerable spirit, of Man.

in contrast, Mittens Romney has the spirit of an actual mouse.

when he's not being a weasel.

Blogger SirHamster February 05, 2020 3:04 PM  

The noble rodent with the heart of a lion inspires men great and small.

Blogger dc.sunsets February 05, 2020 3:13 PM  

VD wrote:Sadly, large numbers of individuals lack such spirit.

OK, Boomer.

Historically easy times have bred exceptionally weak men. But the times are already less easy now and they are growing harder fast.

A timely reminder that I'm not your audience.

Blogger Carlen February 05, 2020 4:03 PM  

Knowing my old copies are falling apart, I went to look at Amazon to look for replacements. I found that that the series is now numbered in chronological order of events rather than the original order I remember as a child, starting with the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The Mandela effect is real.

Blogger Steve Samson February 05, 2020 4:10 PM  

Thanks for that, that is exactly what I needed to read right now for reasons I won't go into. Thank you, and thank the Lord for guiding you.

Blogger Steve Samson February 05, 2020 4:13 PM  


Blogger Ben Cohen February 05, 2020 5:42 PM  

Is Sam of LOTR the Reepicheep of LOTR?

Blogger Tomato bear February 05, 2020 5:46 PM  

Then GTFO.

Blogger Zaklog the Great February 05, 2020 6:14 PM  

@33 Is Sam of LOTR the Reepicheep of LOTR?

I'd say it's not quite the same. Reepicheep is more flamboyant and glory-seeking (but real, earned glory, not just the shine) whereas Samwise is just quietly and unassumedly determined to do the right thing. There is a commonality there, though. Been too long since I've read either. I need to fix that.

Blogger Cloudbuster February 05, 2020 6:16 PM  

When I was a bit, there were no greater role models for me than Reepicheep and Hazel of Watership Down. Despite being a mouse and a rabbit, they were everything a man should be.

Blogger Gen. Kong February 05, 2020 6:37 PM  

Reepicheep and the others sailing to the edge of the world through the Lily Sea in Dawn Treader was one of my very favorite parts of the entire Narnia series. If Lewis had writer's block when he started writing Dawn Treader it was cured and then some once he got under way.

Blogger Finding Logos February 05, 2020 9:36 PM  

I found Reepicheep to be at times most admirable, and at other times thickheaded with a stubbornly liberal approach to danger. The sailing into the darkness bit, if I were there, would strike me as akin to jumping off a cliff to see what happens when you hit the bottom. However, I realize archetypes contrary to our own are necessary. Who would venture into the unknown if there were no Reepicheeps? On the other hand, who would be there to carry on the torch if the unknown turns out to be deadly?

Blogger OvergrownHobbit February 06, 2020 1:38 AM  

Reepicheep vs Puddleglum is like which is fairer: Galadriel or Arwen.

Blogger VD February 06, 2020 1:01 PM  

Reepicheep vs Puddleglum is like which is fairer: Galadriel or Arwen.

That's easy. Galadriel.

Blogger Terrific February 07, 2020 12:37 AM  

I discovered the Chronicles of Narnia when I was a 17 and a junior in high school (1978) and read them through nonstop. I already carried a Bible with me to class so adding a children's book (which many of my fellow students recognized) was not a challenge. I then proceeded to read the entire series through every year for the next ten years. I didn't plan to do it. I just received so much inspiration from them.

I did something similar with "Perelandra". What sci-fi writer has ever created a world to compare with Lewis' imagining of a habitable Venus? And the Song of the Great Dance in Chapter 17? From the first time I read it I have compared it to God's answer to Job from out of the whirlwind. It answers nearly every agnostic screwworm that even today burrows into the minds of believers, causing them to question their deepest faith in God.

I sometimes thing only St. Paul, because of the incalculable impact of his New Testament writings, will have a greater reward in Heaven than C.S. Lewis.

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