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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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If I was near you, I'd give you a giant hug.

Thank you!

*bows VERY deeply*

I just... wow. That's all I've got. Wow.

Amazing writing.

Thankyou for this. I've been so angry at Lewis for so many years because of what he did to Susan, and now this has given me some sort of closure.
Thankyou very much.

It's been a long time since I read those books. You're making me think that it's time to read them again.

Once I clear the tears from my eyes.

The line that struck me the hardest, though, was "...he wrote his love for her in forged metal, with hammerblows and flying sparks, with the touch of his fingers against her skin." Not because of its beauty or applicability - although both are true - but because it's an eerie echo of something I wrote in my own LJ a few months after my husband's death:

"His instruments were his hands, and his melody the growl of the saw and the whine of the sander. He sang his love in the graceful shaping of a quilt frame and in his prized Turkish rug under it to warm my feet. He sang it in the setting of concrete to frame herb gardens and a plum tree. He sang it in an Italian gown and a sturdy cloak, in drywall and paint, in exhaust pipes and water pipes and Bondo and leather." (October 2007)

Love and glory and heartbreak...inextricably entwined, whether fictional or real.

Beautiful. No one has ever sung to me like that before, but my father did to my mother. Words are simple and easy in comparison.

You made my heart absolutely ache for Susan, here. This is beautifully wrought, a delicate silver filigree that glares harsh in the sun and has edges sharp enough to open careless fingers.

Also, I want so much to know more about the forgotten dwarf and his history. Given half a chance, I would read fanfic of fanfic of this fanfic. Turtles all the way down!

Sent here often by friends ... always enjoy reading. So first time commenter, etc.

This is at its heart the problem and question I always had with these books. They were children with full lives up into adulthood then stuffed back into children's lives and bodies... Then all over again. I never, ever was comfortable with that, even as a child. It seemed so unfair and cruel. As a child all I wanted was to be an adult, taken seriously and know what an adult knows. The idea of having that and then having it taken away? Ugh.

And I always felt bad for Susan. It seemed so random and odd, that she was the one picked. It seemed without reason, within the story. So she liked boys... and?

Edited at 2012-09-14 07:00 pm (UTC)

Their being returned to childhood never struck me, when I was a kid, because their adulthood had never been real to me. But Susan disappearing, and it being because she was into clothes and boys and wasn't that AWFUL of her ... yeah, I noticed the bad faith in that. And later on I figured out what kind of faith it was and why it felt bad, and my relationship to Narnia has also never been the same since.

Thank you.

This is brilliant. I hated what CSL did to his Susan.

Having just found out what happened to MY Susan; Alan Garner has finished what he started in The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and Moon of Gomrath, words fail me about how happy I am at the moment, after 30+ years of waiting.

But this feels remarkably appropriate too.

Thank you.


I came here for the Susan piece, which was amazing; stumbling onto your comment and learning about a third Alderley book is just icing on the cake. I had no idea and am so excited!!

Thank you for giving a voice to the disagreement I always had with those books. To grow to adulthood, to live a life of wise power and responsibility, and then to have it stripped away and be forced to go through the hell of your teens all over again? Piss on that. Bravo. You've made me rage, cheer, and tear up all in one go.

The part that hit me like a punch to the solar plexus was "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."


Age 11.

I'll be 35 next spring. I fought HARD to get a life away from abuse and some semblence of agency and self-sustainment. 11 is nowhere and no one I ever want to be again.

yeah. I'm 52. I would be delighted to be in my 30s again, no longer feeling my aches and pains (I have chronic pain, so I hurt more than most 50 year olds) and to have my vitality and spark so high again, but an adolescent again? No. I felt I was 13 going on thirty the first time through as I had more common sense than many adults, but to have to go through it with all the knowledge and things I had done packed into my head? I nearly went crazy the first time through.

Though I might be able to avoid the abusive first husband in a second pass, it just isn't worth it. Part of what I am stems from that, as well.

D: God this... :C I always thought something must have been going on with Susan, because no clever girl so invested in Narnia could just... give up on it like that.

I just want to go in there and find some way of getting them back together! Gah! No being ineffable on my watch. *stews* Maybe the dwarf managed to make something like those worldwalking rings and is searching through worlds for her... yeah...

On the same note, one of the few things the Prince Caspian movie did well was show the Pevensies not exactly handling being kids again all that well. AIR, Peter was getting in a fist-fight with someone for treating him like a kid, and Edmund had to drag him off the other.

(also, mad props for her love being a dwarf! coming from the Lord of the Rings fandom, I can assure you that dwarves, despite being awesome, are highly underrepresented as loves and lovers)

I guess I always figured that just as their memories of where they originally came from had faded, their memories of being kings and queens quickly faded too, as an effect of the magic. Sort of reversing the process, to where it didn't seem like it really happened.

I can't believe I never made the connection between Susan wanting to be grown up, and Susan already having grown up.

Yes, this. Amazing. Thank you Ursula for making a connection I didn't even know was there and how quickly we forgot that having grown into adulthood in Narnia, they went through adult experiences and it wasn't just a quick passage of years that happened in the space of the few minutes they were in Narnia. Many memorable lines and despite it's unconventionality, still an excellent, thought-provoking story I'd be happy to remember you by.