Susan and Narnia

C. S. Lewis, his worlds, and his faith.

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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Apr 10, 2012 5:08 am

hansgeorg wrote:
waggawerewolf27 wrote:She didn't enter Aslan's Country, because, unlike Mr & Mrs Pevensie, she wasn't on the train to Bristol.


Where does it say Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie were?

Presuming the Last Judgement of Narnia to coincide with the Last Judgement of every other world, the last scene is not temporally related to being on the train or not.

Will have to look up. Was the train headed for Bristol? !


Mr & Mrs Pevensie were travelling to Bristol. Peter only found it out that morning when he and Edmund went to London for the rings. Edmund said they would have had to catch the same train that Lucy, Jill, Eustace, Polly and the Professor were catching to meet up with Edmund and Peter.

The book reference not only says that Mr & Mrs Pevensie were travelling to Bristol, but also that it had nothing to do with Narnia.

Check out Last Battle p.130: Peter is telling Jill and Eustace as well as telling Tirian what happened in the train accident, because he and Edmund were on the station platform. Peter says his people, that is to say, Mr & Mrs Pevensie, his, Edmund's and Lucy's parents, were on the same train, although Lucy didn't know about it. Jill asks if they knew about Narnia, and Peter says:

“Oh no, it had nothing to do with Narnia. They were on their way to Bristol. I’d only heard that they were going that morning. But Edmund said they’d be bound to be going on that train.”

This is in the second page of Chapter 13, "How the dwarves refused to be taken in". I notice he never mentions Susan again, as if he is avoiding that subject.

Also there is the reference on the last page of Last Battle to Lucy seeing her parents across from Narnia in England heaven, where they would have gone like others who had died on the train. But I think you know about that reference, since you have drawn my attention to it.

And no, the Last Judgement of Narnia does not co-incide with the Last Judgement here on Earth, since, according to the Nicene Creed, at that time both the quick and the dead will be judged. Narnia as a fictitional world only lasted 49 years from 1900 to 1949, according to Paul F. Foster's timeline. I thought it was 1950, but 49 is 7 squared.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Apr 11, 2012 6:00 pm

Tell that to the marines. Or the pirates. :D There were pirates and slave traders in the South Seas up until 1904, until the practice was outlawed by the newly formed nation of Australia. The piracy and the slaving continued for much longer elsewhere in the rest of the South Pacific Islands.

The uninhabited islands in the South Seas to which the Telmarines were sent by Aslan were inspired by any of a number of remote islands that are in either the South Atlantic or the South Pacific. They include:

Tristan da Cuhna Everyone is descended from a group of seven females & 8 males who formed the first settlement.

Easter Island which has been depopulated several times.

Pitcairn Islands Famous for being inhabited by the descendants of the Bounty mutineers, and their Tahitian wives. At one point, the entire population was resettled on Norfolk Island, after the former penal colony was dismantled. Norfolk Island is under Australian jurisdiction. Pitcairners are descended from seventeen people who returned there twenty years after the migration to Norfolk Islands.

Juan Fernandez Islands This is the group of islands where Alexander Selkirk, the original Robinson Crusoe, was marooned - the only inhabited island is named after him. This group of islands belongs to Chile, a Spanish-speaking nation.

There are also the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.

There are other possible candidates, including Australia, itself, which was declared Terra Nullius due to the original inhabitants being nomadic hunters, and not farmers. We are still trying to right the destruction wrought on them, much as Caspian had to find a way to integrate the Old and New Narnians.

I note that in PC, Susan doesn't seem to believe in Aslan who said she had been t listening to fears. I think she probably was afraid of being thought of as insane.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Lady Arwen » Apr 11, 2012 7:54 pm

Another reminder for ya'll to stay on topic. ;) I don't think the islands that the Telmarines might have ended up on has much of a connection with Susan's fate in Narnia. ;)
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Silly Girl » Jul 26, 2016 12:07 pm

Resurrecting quite an old thread...but this question doesn't fit anywhere else:

I read J.K.Rowling's comment about Susan a long time ago, about how Susan didn't return to Narnia because she found sex, which is quite a stupid comment according to me. How does dressing up or wearing lipstick or even growing up equate to having sex? It might mean a hell lot of different things as well..like becoming materialistic. C.S. Lewis says in "Mere Christianity" that he finds sins of flesh to be some of the least of sins, and he despises materialism more than anything. In the case of Susan, I think it was getting caught up with the material world as well as losing faith in Narnia.
But hey ho, there are a lot of people who think Susan didn't make it to Narnia because she found her sexuality because of really poorly thought out remark by Rowling.

Any thoughts on this?
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Aug 07, 2016 12:36 pm

I've always been baffled by that interview snippet as well, Silly Girl.

If I recall, that article even said that JKR hadn't read all of the books, so I don't know why she felt so comfortable making such claims. Perhaps she just jumped to conclusions about Susan's fall from Narnia because of preconceived notions about Christianity and Christian culture. Sometimes I think people make assumptions because CoN is closely associated with Christianity, so they link it with their (perhaps flawed and/or narrow) understanding of the faith, rather than realizing that Lewis was his own man with his own insights, opinions, and interpretations about Christianity.

It's frustrating, because imprudent statements like that color a lot of people's perceptions about the book series and it's so unnecessary. I have a lot of respect for J.K. Rowling as a storyteller and a humanitarian, but I was really disappointed when I saw that quote. I feel like famous people have a responsibility to be more careful with their words, and it was needless to make such a serious accusation about a fellow author.

Further, in that interview, JKR says that Susan "is lost to Narnia" because she becomes interested in lipstick. We can't know that Susan is lost forever; all we can know is that it was not appropriate for her to enter Aslan's Country at that time because she had become completely consumed with material and superficial things. I feel like that's pretty obvious from a basic reading of the text, so indeed, the whole situation is rather facepalm-inducing.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Silly Girl » Dec 08, 2016 7:49 pm

Hey Rose-Tree Dryad!
I'm sorry for the late reply; I was having a busy time xD

I agree with you regarding famous people being more careful with their comments as a lot of people, for better or worse, look up to them, and some even take their word for gospel. Anyway, JK has this habit of dissing some of the authors. She even said something about Tolkien which wasn't quite nice. I guess she feels threatened that they are obviously quite superior to her. I see myself losing respect for her with each passing day.

Anyway, I think Lewis took a great risk with the Susan issue. Everyone doesn't end up with a happily ever after in Narnia, unlike so many other stories.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby coracle » Dec 09, 2016 6:04 pm

Anyone who tells the truth, whether in fiction or non fiction, will have opponents commenting unfavourably.
Did you know that Lewis missed out on being a professor at Oxford for many years because of his Christian writings? He was too out there with his faith, which he shared on the radio, in lectures, and in his books.

(Thanks for carefully wording your post)
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Silly Girl » Dec 09, 2016 9:39 pm

I didn't know about it. But it's sad, isn't it? Someone missing out on something because of who they are, irrespective of their credentials. I'm glad he stayed true to himself though.

P.S. I wonder why political correctness never applies to Christians.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Princess Frances » Jan 10, 2017 11:19 pm

Feminist critics of Lewis have said that using girl-ied up things as symbols of Susan's materialism is sexist. Using feminine markers for a female character isn't sexist. Nor is a girl saying she likes pretty dresses... yet that sort of statement is being removed in reprints of many old children's books.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Feb 18, 2017 6:08 pm

Rose-Tree Dryad wrote:It's frustrating, because imprudent statements like that color a lot of people's perceptions about the book series and it's so unnecessary. I have a lot of respect for J.K. Rowling as a storyteller and a humanitarian, but I was really disappointed when I saw that quote. I feel like famous people have a responsibility to be more careful with their words, and it was needless to make such a serious accusation about a fellow author.


Actually I find it curious that JK Rowling's comments about Susan and Narnia are aired more nowadays, whilst the highly similar comments made by JK Rowlings' then more famous and established literary colleagues in UK have fallen by the wayside, in particular, those of Philip Pullman, C.S.Lewis' chief critic, at the time riding high in Fantasy literature. Neil Gaiman, in 2004, even wrote a short story called The problem of Susan, based on Susan Pevensie, those infamous remarks in LB, and the literary perspective of them.

I can see why JK Rowling said what she did, and what could have led to it. Her own series, resumed after a hiatus, in 2003, was under attack in Georgia, where someone or other with a particularly fundamentalist point of view, wanted to ban them. And whilst the films of her first two books had enjoyed phenomenal success, there was no guarantee at that time that the whole series would be able to sustain such momentum. During that time she participated in many interviews, that particular one being the only one in which she said anything negative about the Narnia books. Besides, she'd been sued by a somewhat less famous author who said JKR had plagiarised a term, Muggle, the other author had used in writing.

JK Rowling, in some of her writings, had obviously been influenced to an extent, by reading C.S.Lewis as a child, along with other children's books, including Enid Blyton. She had read VDT to her then 5 year old eldest daughter, or so she admitted in one interview. She had also compared a library to MN's Wood between the worlds in a library week address. It is odd that these remarks remain unrepeated and un-bandied about.

However, her blanket criticism of past British authors, especially Enid Blyton, was that they tended to ignore adolescence, its physical changes and teenaged metamorphosis into adulthood, via tribulations at school, or anywhere else, of "romance", competition, success and failure. My guess is that in that particular interview, mentioning specifically Susan, and the Last Battle, JK Rowling was caught "on the hop" in a situation where the media would have criticized her no matter what she said or did. She could not afford to be too glowing about C.S.Lewis, and it is probably true she didn't even finish The last battle, if she did read it at all, being put off, perhaps, because of the rather catastrophic atmosphere of the book up to that point. Like JKR, herself, in her last book of the Harry Potter series, CS Lewis also "went for the jugular" (JKR's term) in LB. Maybe JKR only remembered that passage because of the warped opinions of her colleagues, who included the likes of Philip Pullman. And authors are expected to be consistent with their own literary viewpoints when writing, when addressing the public, and in interviews.

I was reminded again about this situation quite recently, whilst reading some commentary evaluating The last battle as a book. It is only this year, that I've realised just how misjudged both Susan and C.S.Lewis have been because of this basically anti-Christian attitude to the book. Some of the commentary seems to have been just as "taken in" by the lionskin-wearing donkey, impersonating an angry deity called "Tashlan" as some of the unfortunate attendees at the midnight stable bonfire meetings. But Aslan was never prudish, grasping, unreasonably angry and destructive, unlike how Shift and friends portrayed "Tashlan", nor should our understanding of God and Jesus Christ suggest that He would at all welcome evil, angry and rapacious deeds done in His name.

Susan, herself, probably was just the sort of vain and silly teenaged everygirl, who seems more obsessed with the more mundane delights of growing up, rather than how else she planned to live the rest of her life, and if that sort of life, separate from her childhood family as she knows them, really is going to be sustainable beyond fitting in with her wider society as a whole. Having narrowly avoided being marooned in Tashbaan, where she would have been without her family, if she had chosen to marry Rabadash, she then found herself, again having to live without her entire family and friends, after a particularly nasty train smash, which killed passengers and would-be passengers alike, and whether they knew anything of Narnia or not.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Glumpuddle » Feb 23, 2017 9:12 am

Desperate for a more concrete answer about Susan, I think many fans end up straying too far from the context of The Last Battle. Lewis was, first and foremost, writing a story.

The end of the book is all about finding the real Narnia, and how things in the other Narnia were just shadows that reminded them of the real thing. The copy vs. the original: The copy is nice while it lasts, but a true happy ending can only be found in the original. In the case of Narnia, the copy was temporary (we saw it perish), while the original will last "for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."

Where does Susan fit into this? Well, here's what Polly says: "Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one's life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can." The problem with lipstick and invitations is that they are temporary pleasures. They don't last, and therefore can't bring lasting satisfaction.

And that's what the end of the book is all about. "The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."

People talk about Susan's absence like it's a totally random detail thrown in at the end. Maybe it could have been setup better, but it does bring more depth to a key idea in The Last Battle.

Has anyone else read Lewis' short story "The Shoddy Lands"? Some similar themes, I think.

220chrisTian wrote:So, why does Susan not enter Aslan's Country?


Because she's not dead at the end of LB.

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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Mar 29, 2017 12:32 am

Glumpuddle wrote:The problem with lipstick and invitations is that they are temporary pleasures. They don't last, and therefore can't bring lasting satisfaction.


No, lipstick, at any rate, is not any sort of pleasure, unless it tastes nice, doesn't poison one's system and soothes sore, cracked lips. Lipstick is one of those conventions that our society places on women to either enhance or disguise their looks to be visibly and socially acceptable to their communities. After all, one must put the best face on a situation and in UK, especially, "Keeping up appearances" in public is important. Lipstick is just a means to an end, and when as a child, reading LB for the first time, where Jill made that comment about nylons, lipstick and invitations, I asked myself, "What was Susan 'up to'? Fishing for invitations, obviously, but what sort of invitations? And was it the invitations that got Peter's 'knickers in a knot'? To coin an Aussie expression. Well maybe it could have, at least according to me and maybe also according to Neil Gaiman's short story, The Problem with Susan, published in 2004.

Glumpuddle wrote:Lewis was, first and foremost, writing a story.


Of course he was, and as we know, Susan, as well as Narnia, itself, is C.S.Lewis' intellectual property, or that of his estate. To quote myself in my own fan-fiction, If Susan was a real person, then Narnia would also have to be real, So would Calormen, Archenland and all the other little countries, as well as Tash, Tashlan and all the rest. Not only all the other characters associated with either Narnia or Susan but Aslan, himself, would be real, and so would the bargain between Aslan and the White Witch over Edmund's fate.

And it leaves us with several dilemmas. If Susan was real, being safely in our world and not dead at all, then her story, or what becomes of her, is part of her biography which may be a story, but which isn't a fictional story. C.S.Lewis, who was inspired by evacuated children boarding at his home, would have questions to answer, there would be publishing scandals all over the place, and his critics would have a field day. (Aussie English I'm afraid. :ymblushing: ) And if I were in Susan's shoes, I'd be suing, "big time", if any sort of author or journalist wrote stuff about my life without asking me first. Especially if I had to put up with journalists banging on my front door to get the story on the "real" Susan Pevensie. Or whatever her latest name might be. ;) What did Aslan say about Reepicheep going along with the Pevensies back to UK?

You see, there are all sorts of legalities about published books and stories. One of them is that a fictional story is supposed to be recognised as a fictional story, not a non-fiction biography of someone real. That includes autobiographies ghostwritten by someone else, such as one in the 1990's, dictated by a real princess that she wasn't supposed to have written. And fictions passed off as biographical stories of people allegedly involved in all too real-life situations such honour killings or controversial WW2 crimes can end up being considered frauds. Or vice versa. We have had two of these cases in Australia.

It is one thing for us fans on NarniaWeb to write fan fics for our own use to discuss what happened to Susan, or even what we would do if we were in her place. I wouldn't have written that fanfic, let alone let any of you see it, if I had thought it was illegal in any way.

But it is quite another thing for a professional writer, doing the same thing as I did as part of his own creativity. When one writes a story and publishes it, it usually means business, money and lawyers, over things like copyright, intellectual property, consent of original author or at least acknowledgements, film rights, if it is good enough, moratoriums etc. I'm still wondering how Neil Gaiman got away with writing and publishing his version of "What happened to Susan", called The problem with Susan. Is it really quite 'kosher' to nab other writers' characters to use in another commercially produced work without permission? Or is there enough acknowledgement in his story and publication to rule out plagiarism?

But I think The problem with Susan is still a good yarn, though it is basically for adults. Having read C.S.Lewis' Susan's story in the Narnia books, would a reader agree that she could have become a professor of Children's literature as in Neil Gaiman's story? And if so, just how? That short story may still be available in PDF form on Internet, but I don't have a copy just yet, and need to find out what was the name of the Children's literature work she allegedly wrote and about which Greta the journalist was interviewing her. Or should have been interviewing her.

Isn't it possible that the reason our Narnian Susan Pevensie was fussing about "nylons, lipstick and invitations" might be because of some affair she had at the time? Or would you agree that she had other reasons for her behaviour? Maybe someone else might enjoy coming up with a rather better idea of what she could have been doing? And how is Greta's garbled idea of Jill, Eustace and Polly's comments and those of C.S.Lewis, himself, as well as JKR's own comments any valid a description of her misdeeds than the idea of poor Susan being seduced by some old married grub of a literary sort, part of a group of "highbrows"?

The things I liked about the story included Professor Susan Hastings' replies to Greta, and Neil Gaiman's explanation for writing the story, plus the way he uses dreams to underline Susan's dilemmas and final passing. As he points out in the preamble, if you leave out that agreement Aslan made with the Witch and don't take into account the Deeper Magic before the dawn of time, the whole series falls to pieces. Aslan didn't die for Edmund, there was no redemption and forgiveness, the Lion and the Witch were in cahoots, and the story is only about some sleazy goings on in the Wardrobe. Incidentally, even Susan's alleged affair would be forgivable since Aslan's death was repealed. After all, Jesus forgave the woman taken in adultery. And, as Gaiman, himself, points out, redemption and forgiveness are uniquely hallmarks of Christianity, core beliefs in fact.

Edit: @ Glumpuddle. Yes, I did get to watch and listen to your You Tube clip in your last post. Some domestic difficulties make that a bit difficult for me. But though Philip Pullman might have said "[Susan] grew up", it sounds too much like he is saying "I rest my case M'lud", given what he has already said in the past and judging by his own fantasy series, His Dark Materials. And when Aslan advised Professor Kirke and Aunt Polly that there was a right way and a wrong way for everything, what can we make of Susan "growing up"? And who was Susan Pevensie inspired by, anyway?
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Valiant_Nymph » May 04, 2018 4:32 pm

The only thing I would have liked to see regarding Susan was an 'on stage' scene where she refuses to believe in Narnia. I felt the fact that she didn't believe in Narnia anymore was dropped too randomly at the end. I wonder if that is why so many people are off put by this fact.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Narnian78 » May 22, 2019 1:12 pm

I think Lewis intended something positive for Susan with her title "Susan the Gentle". She got caught up in trivial things, but her gentleness was an admirable quality. Would that make her more receptive to Aslan? I think it would have been something that the Lion could have used to bring her back. We aren't told about her future as it happened after The Last Battle, but she might have given up up her childish ways after that book. I think that Lewis referred to that being a possibilty in his letters. We don't know for sure, but that is Susan's own story (and Aslan's) not ours. I would rather have her gentleness continue if she ever arrived in Aslan's country. To have a gentle person (her female chivalry) lost would be seem to be something that Lewis wouldn' t want. :)
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Col Klink » May 23, 2019 9:03 am

Have you ever heard someone argue that Susan's gentleness was supposed to be a bad thing, Narnian78? I always it was agreed that Lewis meant that as one of Susan's good qualities. (I say "Lewis intended" because it sounds like you're talking about authorial intent, not because I myself think its a bad thing.) It sounds like you're rebutting the argument that gentleness was Susan's downfall. I've never heard anyone make that argument. Interesting.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Narnian78 » May 23, 2019 3:50 pm

Col. Klink, I'm glad you thought that that her gentleness was one of her strengths. I have thought about this quality for years but never actually expressed that opinion on any forum. How could Susan the Gentle be lost? She could make some mistakes and be silly, but would that keep her permanently out of Aslan's country? I don't think it would. Once a gentle queen of Narnia, always a gentle queen. I'm changing Lewis' words a bit from what he actually said (of course it's my interpretation of his ideas and not an an exact quote from him). But I don't think he would have disagreed with the statement. :)
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