a chirruping twang

I’ve been exposed to some of Prince Caspian this week. Here Lewis recognizes the powerful little connections between our worlds of memory and the simplest sounds or smells.

Archery and swimming were the things Susan was good at. In a moment she had bent the bow and then she gave one little pluck to the string. It twanged: a chirruping twang that vibrated through the whole room. And that one small noise brought back the old days to the children’s minds more than anything that had happened yet. All the battles and hunts and feasts came rushing into their heads together. (chapter 2)

Another passage made me recall thoughts about the subversiveness of any liberal arts education that is worth its salt. In an enslaved and broken world, any whole and freeing education will be insurrectionary in some sense.

“Hush!” said Doctor Cornelius, laying his head very close to Caspian’s. “Not a word more. Don’t you know your Nurse was sent away for telling you about Old Narnia? The King doesn’t like it. If he found me telling you secrets, you’d be whipped and I should have my head cut off.”

“But why?” asked Caspian.

“It is high time we turned to Grammar now,” said Doctor Cornelius in a loud voice. “Will your Royal Highness be pleased to open Pulverulentus Siccus at the fourth page of his Grammatical garden or the Arbour of Accidence pleasantlie open’d to Tender Wits?” (chapter 3)

And there is also the playful juxtaposition of two different attitudes toward Grammar: the punning Latin name of the fictitious text book author (Dry as Dust) versus the recognition of grammar as an introduction to a lush garden of language.

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