Lewis wants his readers to re-examine our presumptions about everything from modern education and science to ‘the West’ and contraception. Recognizing this can help us understand why the novel has so divided readers.
Judging by the 1942 film, the story of Bambi is a relatively simple and childish tale. True, it famously deals with Bambi’s loss of his mother, but in general the movie leaves viewers with the banal, sentimental, fuzzy feelings that has made Disney an entertainment juggernaut. But these are not the feelings Salten’s original novel produces, nor is the novel particularly intended for children. How, then, did Disney’s image of Bambi become the predominant one? And how does this story and its reception shed light on our current Western culture?
Norse mythology, unlike the Sacred Scriptures, does not present readers with loving and merciful divinities. The Norse gods are violent boozers, many of whom seem to spend most of their time playing practical jokes and fighting giants. And yet there is a great power to the tales.
How do localism and nationalism fit together? How do each of these philosophical approaches to place use and abuse the innate noble feeling of patriotism? Over the course of Chesterton’s story, we are challenged to confront these questions and answer how we ought to live.
The novel is compelling (even spellbinding at times)—and if it is called antiquated, it is only because we have forgotten that the oldest human battle is the worthiest one: the battle to achieve and maintain virtue in a fallen world.