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I haven’t read the last three books of The Chronicles of Narnia story yet.

But how is it possible that between the first two books there is a time shift of several thousands of years and between the second and third book just a few years? It is not stated explicitly in the books (or I missed it) but the time shifts between the books seems to be approximately the same amount of time in our earth.

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    Are you talking the original series order (Wardrobe,Caspian,Treader,Chair,Horse,Nephew,Battle) or the new order (Nephew,Wardrobe,Horse,Caspian,Treader,Chair,Battle)? Feb 28, 2011 at 16:25
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    I think there's a bit of in-book explanation about this, possibly in Magician's Nephew, but I don't have the book here to check.
    – Martha
    Feb 28, 2011 at 17:31
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    It doesn't say so anywhere in the books, but they do get to Narnia in different ways in each book (except Horse, where there is no travel), so you could justify it that way.
    – Tony Meyer
    Mar 1, 2011 at 1:15
  • @Satanicpuppy : I was talking about the original order.
    – Dave
    Mar 1, 2011 at 7:52
  • "The Dark Tower", an unfinished work that was to tie the Space Trilogy together with Narnia, gives some insight to Lewis' view on time - namely that parallel timelines progressed at rates and directions independent of each other in multiple dimensions
    – pojo-guy
    Nov 24, 2017 at 7:54

3 Answers 3

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From the horse's mouth, as they say:

Narnian time flows differently from ours. If you spent a hundred years in Narnia, you would still come back to our world at the very same hour of the very same day on which you left. And then, if you went back to Narnia after spending a week here, you might find that a thousand Narnian years had passed, or only a day, or no time at all. You never know till you get there.

The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" Chapter 1 (Collier Books/Macmillan Publishing Company 1970 edition p. 10)

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From what I understand the time lines are not connected. The time that passes in the 'real' world isn't dependent on the time passage in Narnia. So 1000 years can pass in Narnia, or 1 year can pass, and still the kids get what seems like about the same amount of 'time off' in between.

At least that's what it seems like to me, I didn't read all the books, and I read the ones I did as a kid.

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    I reread them not too long ago, and agree with that summary.
    – Saiboogu
    Feb 28, 2011 at 14:52
  • Sounds reasonable. I had maybe hoped the Ice Queen had something to do with it :-).
    – Dave
    Feb 28, 2011 at 14:56
  • +1: No rational given, or needed. Sure isn't it "magic"
    – user296
    Feb 28, 2011 at 19:07
  • Entirely corrrect, but it might be worth noting that the relative time between them can't run backwards. I.E if someone left Earth at 1999 and got to Narnia at 3040, then when someone leaves Earth at 2000, they cannot travel to any time in Narnia before 3040. At least, I don't think there's ever an example of that in the series. (Note, I made the dates up entirely). Mar 2, 2011 at 11:57
  • I don't agree with the notion that the relative timelines can't run in the opposite direction to each other. Whilst it's not made clear, I feel strongly that the pirates who became the ancestors of the Telmarines were not intended to be 20th Century pirates, as they would have to be to come after Digory and Polly. Think of how early astronomers (in the real world) got themselves all tied up in knots trying to explain the strange orbits of the planets, sometimes appearing to reverse direction, because they assumed that they were all orbiting around the Earth. When it was established...
    – Wallnut
    Nov 1, 2016 at 9:43
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The time that transpires in Narnia is always more than the time in this world. Based on the "new order" (@Satanicpuppy comment), Lucy ages slightly and is still a girl between Wardrobe and Caspian, but Cair Paravel has gone from being her lived-in kingdom to ruins; hundreds of years have passed. Within one book, Wardrobe, Lucy discovers Narnia and is there for what she considers a long time (Narnian hours, at least), but when she returns only English minutes have passed. Her siblings reproach her that she needs to take more time if she wants them to notice that she is missing.

Digory / Professor Digory / Lord Digory is a boy in Nephew, a professor with white hair in Wardrobe, and older still (but still alive) in Battle. In Narnian time, his life crosses thousands of years, from the beginning of time (Nephew/Genesis in the Bible) to Christ's death and resurrection (Wardrobe/Gospel of Luke) to the end of time (Battle/Revelation).

When people return from Narnia to England, their chronological ages seem to revert back to that of their departure from England. For example, Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter spend years in Narnia and Lucy matures to being a young woman; however, on her return to England she is restored to her younger age, as a girl.

I can't remember any instance of time in England going more quickly than time in Narnia (but I could be wrong).

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  • Don't forget "The Horse and his Boy" which gives a glimpse of all the Pevense children as grown kings and queens. So time is clearly out of whack, in that, during the course of the time covered by Wardrobe they got old, then young again. Feb 28, 2011 at 18:56
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    I would say more "a different scale" than "out of whack." The Sons of Adam age linearly in England and linearly in Narnia; it is only on return to England that their chronological age jumps backwards.
    – rajah9
    Feb 28, 2011 at 19:37
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    It is as if England is the eyepiece of a telescope and Narnia is the much bigger heavens. If you read The Great Divorce by Lewis you will see a similar notion of the gray town (hell or purgatory) having a much smaller scale, with a bus from hell emerging out of a small crack in the ground when it arrives at heaven. Divorce has a similar scaling, but of dimension rather than time (in Narnia).
    – rajah9
    Feb 28, 2011 at 19:47
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    There is an example of English time going more quickly than Narnian time in The Last Battle: Jill says to Tirian, "It was you we saw, more than a week ago," and Tirian replies, "A week, fair maid? My dream led me into your world scarce ten minutes since."
    – Wallnut
    Nov 1, 2016 at 9:38

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