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ursulav

Elegant and Fine

And having just said all of that about Susan, upon having given the matter far too much thought, the real Problem of Susan, to my mind, had nothing to do with her family dying. It sucks a lot, but it happens and people can die without God Specifically Being Out To Get You. People cope with that and move on all the time, and we feel for them, but they do not get recorded as one of the Great Literary Injustices.

No, what I started thinking was that I’m thirty-five. I love my life. I have work I care about and a man I am quite desperately in love with. And if I suddenly fell through a wardrobe and was eleven years old again, I would go so batshit insane that they would have to make up new words for how insane I had gone.

I expect I might have a hard time playing nice with the god responsible.

So, y’know. (I realize that half my short stories turn up as “Point of view of the woman in this otherwise well-known story” and beg forgiveness in advance.) This one may even qualify as fan-fic! I make you a gift of it, although if my plane goes down in the Atlantic, please remember me for Digger and the Little Red Riding Hood thing instead.

“Elegant and Fine”

The real problem with Susan, in the end, was not that she was no longer Narnia’s friend. It was that she had already been its lover.


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I love this, it's powerful and also deeply honest in a way that I often found the Narnia books not to be.

Btw, have you read Lev Grossman's The Magicians and The Magician King, he's playing with ideas from Narnia (and from Harry Potter) in a host of fascinating and powerful (if sometimes problematic) ways.

I hated The Magicians so much. Dreadful hipsterish faux-ironic stuff. And making The Problem of Susan analogue be about a boy. Ugh.

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Aw dang. This is just amazing!

I had never thought about this from Susan's point of view before. Heartbreaking.

Close to tears. Poor Susan. :( :( :(

Not so much 'the problem of Susan' (I never liked the implications of that title) but 'The Anguish of Susan'. Thank you for an imaginative piece of metafic that gives a much maligned character back her humanity.

(And I love the scene with her and Edmund).

Thank you.

I could never reread Narnia after the extend of the allegory really sank in. Parts of it just made me so angry, and I suspect that's because of what you mentioned - that what we're shown and what we're told often doesn't feel right together. And Susan, oh my heart breaks for her. Yay for fanfic :-)

I read the original one in my (Catholic) grade school as an assignment. That should have been my first clue, eh?
I didn't really fall in love with the books like lots of others did. I read a Horse and His Boy as a kiddo, because horses, but that's about it. And I remember that one being really problematic but I can't remember why. Racist? I'm not sure. It was a long time ago.

Now, I'm just grumpy about Narnia in general since I've evolved from a non-religious-person-who-is-Atheist-but-doesn't-realize to a full blown Angry Atheist Rantasaurus. Ugh.

That said, THIS post by Ursula was far, far, far better than I remember Narnia ever being. Take THAT C.S. Lewis.
Honestly, Ursula, you are amazing and I'm absolutely certain you're going to be Gaiman famous in short order.

Thank you so much. Even as a child, and still completely in love with Narnia and Aslan, I could never be happy with what Lewis did to Susan. As an adult, even less so.

Yes. This.

Thank you, Ursula. Thank you for giving Susan a genuine voice, and for pointing out the colossal unfairness of the novels' treatment of her.

<3<3<3

Oh, brutal. Poor Susan. You always make me think, Ursula.

This is beautiful. You made me weep.

I've been trying and trying to think of something to say about this story, and I can't come up with anything more coherent than Yes. This.

I realize that half my short stories turn up as "Point of view of the woman in this otherwise well-known story" and beg forgiveness in advance.

There's no need to ask forgiveness for this. Giving otherwise-ignored characters a voice is one of the modes of valid literary criticism. The fact that you tend to do it in stories rather than essays is IMO a feature, not a bug. And I would very much like to see a collection of these eventually.

Not only that- the love of Lewis's life, Joy Davidson, would very likely have nodded thoughtfully and agreed with these sentiments. By all accounts she was quite a woman, and had no truck with casual sexism.

Very nice!

And more prosaically: forget love and being a queen and all that, if I had to go through being thirteen *twice* in a lifetime, I would murder things. Probably a lot of things. Even if I only had to go through eighth grade once, Narnia probably not having that.