I have not yet purchased “Planet Narnia”, @Laura, and so may be treading on territory that Ward has likely well-traversed there. But I feel like I’m on a “pre-discovery” adventure of my own with my ‘fortuitous’ reading of Lewis’ “Discarded Image” which was his last completed work, published posthumously in 1964. So it should be (was, I’m sure) fertile ground for Ward’s Thesis. Indeed, as hard a slog as it is for me to read, I’m still seeing definite themes emerging. Look over the extended quote below …don’t let obscure (to me) architectural details slow you down … just look for the theme - and especially the last paragraph.
The planets look down from the capitals in the Doge’s palace, each surrounded by his ‘children’, by the mortals who exhibit his influence. At Florence they meet us again, strangely disguised by the influence of Saracenic iconography, in Santa Maria del Fiore; and again in Santa Maria Novella, paired off, after the manner of the Convivio, with the Seven Liberal Arts. The Salone (Palazzo della Ragione) at Padua is, in a different art, a close parallel to Spenser’s Mutability cantos. We have the planets, their children, the Zodiacal signs, the Apostles, and the labours of men all arranged under their appropriate months. And just as the planets are not merely present in the Testament of Cresseid but woven into the plot, so in the buildings the cosmological material is sometimes woven into what we may call the plot of a building. One might at first suppose that the constellations depicted on the cupola above the altar in the old sacristy of San Lorenzo at Florence were mere decoration; but they are in the right positions for 9 July 1422 when the altar was consecrated. In the Farnesina Palace they are arranged to suit the birth-day of Chigi for whom the work was done. And the Salone at Padua is apparently designed so that at each sunrise the beams will fall on the Sign in which Sol would then ride.
The lost art of Pageant loved to re-state similar themes. And it has lately been shown that many Renaissance pictures which were once thought purely fanciful are loaded, and almost overloaded, with philosophy.
Lewis, C. S… The Discarded Image (pp. 149-150). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.
Lewis is here admiring among medieval works, what he himself apparently did with his own published Narnian Chronicles - loaded his apparently ‘fanciful’ stories with philosophical themes - even (and especially) to the point of following the cosmological model!
Lewis goes on to write in that chapter (Ch. 8), about how the medieval author was not trying to “be original” in the sense that modern authors strive to be. To them, the highest striving of an author was not to produce a story of one’s own (why would one be so desperate to resort to one’s own paltry offerings when reality itself has such grand themes on offer that are so much higher and better!) - no they were in the mindset of rehearsing the great cosmic model of reality already on display.
Lewis at one point states that they aspired to do this in ways that none of their successors ever would for a long time after. I’m wondering if Lewis, penning those words, was not himself one of those so aspiring.