C. S. Lewis is perhaps most famous for his Chronicles of Narnia, but Narnia was not his first foray into fantasy. His first imaginative world was called…Boxen.
Not a very imaginative name, perhaps, but Lewis had plenty of excuse–he was only a child when he and his older brother, “Warnie,” made up the imaginary country, a fusion of Lewis’s “Animal-Land” and Warnie’s “India” (which had very little in common with the real India). Boxen had little in common with Narnia except that it was also populated with talking animals. Lewis. writing of Animal-land and Boxen later in his life, said that “Animal-land had nothing to do with Narnia except the anthropomorphic beasts. Animal-land, by its whole quality, excluded the least hint of wonder.”
My own brief forays into fiction as a child were as prosaic as Lewis’s. Maybe it takes a while to really develop a taste for fairy tales. As a child I thought that the reading book excerpt of The Wind in the Willows was boring–boring! Thankfully, I rediscovered the book in college.
I recently found a Christianity Today article that touched on Boxen, which I knew about from reading Surprised by Joy. What I didn’t know–and on which the article enlightened me–that one of Lewis’s friends called that particular book “Surpressed by Jack” because of all the things he left out.