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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Currently Rereading... Narnia!

I was sorting my shelves a while ago and found my one volume Chronicles Of Narnia. It’s in chronological order rather than order of publication, so that you can read the stories from The Magician’s Nephew to The Last Battle. I’ve decided to read it that way. I’m currently rereading Prince Caspian and thinking what it might be like to be a Pevensie child who remembers what it was like to be an adult - and then, by the way, have the Lion tell you that you’re too old now to return to Narnia.

The author does have some mercy on the kids, by suggesting that it’s only when they return to Narnia  that they remember properly and can do all that amazing stuff, such as when Edmund and Susan show their skills to Trumpkin the Dwarf, who has had trouble believing he is going to get any help from a bunch of children. But while they’re in Narnia, they can remember a whole life spent there, the battles they fought and won, the life at Cair Paravel. Heck, in The Horse And His Boy Susan was even considering getting married! Fortunately for her and the series, she didn’t. It might have been interesting, though, if she had married while in Narnia - would it have resulted in its own “problem of Susan”? (This is the discussion people are having about the author’s unfairness to Susan in The Last Battle. He was already being unfair to her in Prince Caspian, mind you. I don’t think. he liked her much)

But what would it be like to know what it is to be an adult and suddenly be a child again? A child going to school, with only one adult who respects and believes you, because he was there himself?

I probably should wait till I’ve reread the lot before going into detail in a separate post.

But that question bugs me.

What do you think?


A latte beckons said...

That is a really intriguing situation which I skimmed over when reading (and loving) the Narnia books as a child. I would love to read a book written from Susan's point of view -- maybe a YA book? -- which takes this double memory into account. Having lived as an adult woman, and considering marriage, no wonder she was "too interested" in nylons and lipstick (ie adult femininity) later on. You are giving me ideas, Sue!

Sue Bursztynski said...

I’ll look forward to reading your novel about it, Kate! Meanwhile, have a read of Neil Gaiman’s short story “The Problem Of Susan” which is free online. An interesting piece!

miki said...

that's remind me i still need to read it^^;; but interesting question for sure i will love your opinion on it after you reread it all^^

Sue Bursztynski said...

Ah, of course, not everyone has read it! I hope this post wasn’t too confusing - do read it and see what you think.

UrbanDragon said...

I agree that it's a problem Lewis has with women. In the Perelandra series contraception is considered evil, mainly because it might stop,the birth of the Chosen one. Poor Susan s judged harshly(Aslan is suddenly judgemental) in what seems an odd way to me. On the one hand, it might be that she is too interested in material things, instead of spiritual, which is presumably what Aslan is all about. Or it might be the sin(?) of vanity. But the particular items mentioned are just pArt of growing up. At one time a woman wasn't dressed without them. Wikipedia tells me that in the 1930s adults saw the wearing of lipstick as an act of rebellion. The women themselves saw it as growing up. It's like Lewis, through Aslan, doesn't want women to grow up. They should just hug their cuddly toys and then die before they mature eg, Lucy. So it's all very odd because it then seems that Aslan's preaching doesn't sustain humanity at all but only a very fixed version of childhood. What does this say for the whole world, never mind Susan.

Now you've got me thinking of variations on the theme of the lost child eg the Star Trek episode "Miri's World", where to grow up is to die, as opposed to stories where the child moves on and it's only the childhood that is lost. Hmmm.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks, Terry, a very thoughtful comment! Lewis does some strange things. He lets the children grow up in Narnia, then sends them back to be children again, then, as you say, kills them - all but Susan - in that train crash before they can grow up in the real world. And in between, you have to be a child to go back to Narnia.

It’s been a while since I read the science fiction trilogy, but what you say doesn’t surprise me. The one thing about it I do remember is from the first one, Out Of The Silent Planet, where the villain is keen on space travel because it means escaping from Earth’s problems - and is asked whether he’s thinking we can just keep going from planet to planet as we wear them out. It’s something a lot of climate change deniers in this era could well be asked!

AJ Blythe said...

I haven't read the Narnia books since I was a kid. My eldest Barbarian has the one book anthology of the Narnia series. He struggled with it and I'm not sure if he finished all the books or not. I must go back and reread to see how I find them as an adult.

Sue Bursztynski said...

I’ll be interested to see what you think. I didn’t read it till I was well and truly grown up.