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 Post subject: Susan after Narnia
PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:19 pm 
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of Vinyamar
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This is brilliant.

http://ink-splotch.tumblr.com/post/6947 ... ho-was-the

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“There comes a point where Susan, who was the older girl, is lost to Narnia because she becomes interested in lipstick. She’s become irreligious basically because she found sex. I have a big problem with that.” - JK Rowling

Can we talk about Susan’s fabulous adventures after Narnia? The ones where she wears nylons and elegant blouses when she wants to, and short skirts and bright lipstick when she wants to, and hiking boots and tough jeans and big men’s plaid shirts when she feels like backpacking out into the mountains and remembering what it was to be lost in a world full of terrific beauty— I know her siblings say she stops talking about it, that Susan walks away from the memories of Narnia, but I don’t think she ever really forgot.

I want to read about Susan finishing out boarding school as a grown queen reigning from a teenaged girl’s body. School bullies and peer pressure from children and teachers who treat you like you’re less than sentient wouldn’t have the same impact. C’mon, Susan of the Horn, Susan who bested the DLF at archery, and rode a lion, and won wars, sitting in a school uniform with her eyebrows rising higher and higher as some old goon at the front of the room slams his fist on the lectern.

Susan living through WW2, huddling with her siblings, a young adult (again), a fighting queen and champion marksman kept from the action, until she finally storms out against screaming parents’ wishes and volunteers as a nurse on the front. She keeps a knife or two hidden under her clothes because when it comes down to it, they called her Gentle, but sometimes loving means fighting for what you care for.

She’ll apply to a women’s college on the East Coast, because she fell in love with America when her parents took her there before the war. She goes in majoring in Literature (her ability to decipher High Diction in historical texts is uncanny), but checks out every book she can on history, philosophy, political science. She sneaks into the boys’ school across town and borrows their books too. She was once responsible for a kingdom, roads and taxes and widows and crops and war. She grew from child to woman with that mantle of duty wrapped around her shoulders. Now, tossed here on this mundane land, forever forbidden from her true kingdom, Susan finds that she can give up Narnia but she cannot give up that responsibility. She looks around and thinks I could do this better.

I want Susan sneaking out to drink at pubs with the girls, her friends giggling at the boys checking them out from across the way, until Susan walks over (with her nylons, with her lipstick, with her sovereignty written out in whatever language she damn well pleases) and beats them all at pool. Susan studying for tests and bemoaning Aristotle and trading a boy with freckles all over his nose shooting lessons so that he will teach her calculus. Susan kissing boys and writing home to Lucy and kissing girls and helping smuggle birth control to the ladies in her dorm because Susan Pevensie is a queen and she understands the right of a woman to rule over her own body.

Susan losing them all to a train crash, Edmund and Peter and Lucy, Jill and Eustace, and Lucy and Lucy and Lucy, who Susan’s always felt the most responsible for. Because this is a girl who breathes responsibility, the little mother to her three siblings until a wardrobe whisked them away and she became High Queen to a whole land, ruled it for more than a decade, then came back centuries later as a legend. What it must do to you, to be a legend in the body of a young girl, to have that weight on your shoulders and have a lion tell you that you have to let it go. What it must do to you, to be left alone to decide whether to bury your family in separate ceremonies, or all at once, the same way they died, all at once and without you. What it must do to you, to stand there in black, with your nylons, and your lipstick, and feel responsible for these people who you will never be able to explain yourself to and who you can never save.

Maybe she dreams sometimes they made it back to Narnia after all. Peter is a king again. Lucy walks with Aslan and all the dryads dance. Maybe Susan dreams that she went with them— the train jerks, a bright light, a roar calling you home.

Maybe she doesn’t.

Susan grows older and grows up. Sometimes she hears Lucy’s horrified voice in her head, “Nylons? Lipstick, Susan? Who wants to grow up?” and Susan thinks, “Well you never did, Luce.” Susan finishes her degree, stays in America (England looks too much like Narnia, too much like her siblings, and too little, all at once). She starts writing for the local paper under the pseudonym Frank Tumnus, because she wants to write about politics and social policy and be listened to, because the name would have made Edmund laugh.

She writes as Susan Pevensie, too, about nylons and lipstick, how to give a winning smiles and throw parties, because she knows there is a kind of power there and she respects it. She won wars with war sometimes, in Narnia, but sometimes she stopped them before they began.

Peter had always looked disapprovingly on the care with which Susan applied her makeup back home in England, called it vanity. And even then, Susan would smile at him, say “I use what weapons I have at hand,” and not explain any more than that. The boy ruled at her side for more than a decade. He should know better.

Vain is not the proper word. This is about power. But maybe Peter wouldn’t have liked the word “ambition” any more than “vanity.”

Susan is a young woman in the 50s and 60s. Frank Tumnus has quite the following now. He’s written a few books, controversial, incendiary. Susan gets wrapped up in the civil rights movement, because of course she would. It’s not her first war. All the same, she almost misses the White Witch. Greed is a cleaner villain than senseless hate. She gets on the Freedom Rider bus, mails Mr. Tumnus articles back home whenever there’s a chance, those rare occasions they’re not locked up or immediately threatened. She is older now than she ever was in Narnia. Susan dreams about Telemarines killing fauns.

Time rolls on. Maybe she falls in love with a young activist or an old cynic. Maybe she doesn’t. Maybe Frank Tumnus, controversial in the moment, brilliant in retrospect, gets offered an honorary title from a prestigious university. She declines and publishes an editorial revealing her identity. Her paper fires her. Three others mail her job offers.

When Vietnam rolls around, she protests in the streets. Susan understands the costs of war. She has lived through not just the brutal wars of one life, but two.

Maybe she has children now. Maybe she tells them stories about a magical place and a magical lion, the stories Lucy and Edmund brought home about how if you sail long enough you reach the place where the seas fall off the edge of the world. But maybe she tells them about Cinderella instead, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, except Rapunzel cuts off her own hair and uses it to climb down the tower and escape. The damsel uses what tools she has at hand.

A lion told her to walk away, and she did. He forbade her magic, he forbade her her own kingdom, so she made her own.

Susan Pevensie did not lose faith. She found it.

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 Post subject: Re: Susan after Narnia
PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:28 pm 
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Lán de Grás
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That was great.

Did you ever read Neil Gaiman's short story "The Problem of Susan"?

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 Post subject: Re: Susan after Narnia
PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:55 pm 
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I loved that, Alatar. I always felt sad (and angry) that poor Susan was dismissed from the story like that.

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 Post subject: Re: Susan after Narnia
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2016 4:27 am 
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A really interesting and absorbing exploration of Susan's possibilities. Thanks Al.

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 Post subject: Re: Susan after Narnia
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2016 7:45 am 
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of Vinyamar
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Jude wrote:
That was great.

Did you ever read Neil Gaiman's short story "The Problem of Susan"?


No, is it online?

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 Post subject: Re: Susan after Narnia
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2016 9:16 am 
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Lán de Grás
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I've got it in his collection "Fragile Things". A quick search only found me an inaccurate pirated version in tiny, tiny font that I won't link to. :D

The collection is worth acquiring in any case. Here's an excerpt, on having to identify the bodies of her family:

Quote:
"I remember looking at them and thinking, What if I'm wrong, what if it's not him after all? My younger brother was decapitated, you know. A god who would punish me for liking nylons and parties by making me walk through that school dining room, with the flies, to identify Ed, well... he's enjoying himself a bit too much, isn't he? Like a cat, getting the last ounce of enjoyment out of a mouse."

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 Post subject: Re: Susan after Narnia
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2016 1:40 am 
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Here it is:
http://grotesqueanddecadent.tumblr.com/ ... eil-gaiman


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 Post subject: Re: Susan after Narnia
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:17 am 
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That's the inaccurate pirated version in tiny font I alluded t earlier. Read at your own risk...

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 Post subject: Re: Susan after Narnia
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:45 am 
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of Vinyamar
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I just cut and pasted into Word... in what way is it inaccurate? Powerful stuff btw.

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 Post subject: Re: Susan after Narnia
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2016 10:26 am 
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I just compared the beginning to my printed copy and saw some minor differences but didn't go through the whole thing.

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 Post subject: Re: Susan after Narnia
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2016 10:43 am 
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Huh...I had read the original and I didn't see any major differences here. The tiny font was enlarged easily enough, I thought. Anyway, as Alatar says, it is powerful stuff. Gotta love Neil Gaiman!

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 Post subject: Re: Susan after Narnia
PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2016 2:50 pm 
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Loved that, Al. Wow.

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 Post subject: Re: Susan after Narnia
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 3:37 am 
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Seanan McGuire’s “Every Heart a Doorway” is about a boarding school for children who have stumbled into other worlds, like Susan, but have returned and are having trouble coping with “normal life.” They desperately want to find a way back to whichever world they think of as home, but the door has vanished or they are too old or they have broken some rule.

From the description on the iBooks site:

"Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.

"But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

"Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. The things she's experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West's care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

"But Nancy's arrival marks a change at the Home. There's a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things.

"No matter the cost.”


I recommend it.

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