Susan and Narnia

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

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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 Mull Auna » Jul 16, 2018 4:49 am

a criticism I've seen is that because Lewis chose feminine items to illustrate Susan's materialism, that is sexist. But, why can't an author use female things with a female character?
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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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