I love that people are still weighing in with comments on my Problem of Susan essay over three years after it was written. Warms the cockles of my heart, it does.

But although the post has generated a great many thoughtful remarks from readers on both sides, it took a quasi-anonymous comment from someone called "Nj_Librarian" today to bring out a point I've never seen made before:

SPOILERS for C.S. Lewis's 'The Last Battle' )

I can't believe this hadn't occurred to me (or, apparently, anyone else on the thread), but I'm very glad it's been pointed out now. Thank you, Nj_Librarian, whoever you are.
Overall I enjoyed it, but I'm not itching to run out and see it again. IMO this movie suffered from two of the same problems that made me dislike the Jackson LotR films:

Spoilers )

On the plus side, however -- and there were quite a few plusses I didn't even expect:

More Spoilers )

I'd say three out of five stars. Would have been much better if the fighting had been cut back and more time given to humor and character development. It's hard to care that much about people you've barely got to know, especially when some of them are behaving like the aforementioned utter prats.

ETA: If you have seen and reviewed this film in your LJ, can you drop me a link in Comments? I know I had to skip at least two or three reviews on my f-list for fear of spoiling or prejudicing myself...


Feb. 18th, 2007 10:11 pm
rj_anderson: (Aslan Lamentations)
“The scratches on your back, tear for tear, throb for throb, blood for blood, were equal to the stripes laid on the back of your stepmother’s slave because of the drugged sleep you cast upon her. You needed to know what it felt like.” (Aslan to Aravis, in C.S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy).

All I can say is that this quote is feeling uncomfortably pertinent right now.
I have to confess that in general, the idea of Narnia fic makes me squirm. LotR fic also lacks any appeal for me, but Narnia in particular will always be my first fantasy love, and the prospect of wading through a host of "edgy, subversive" Narnia stories (however technically well-written) in search of something I could enjoy frankly nauseates me.

However, as with most rules, there is at least one shining exception, and I'm so very glad that I made it when I came across this link in the comments of [livejournal.com profile] kalquessa's LJ. Because the author of this story has faced the problem of Susan head-on, and written a postscript to the series which not only plausibly and (I think) fairly explains how Susan might have come to forget Narnia, but also addresses the question of whether or not she might, as Lewis intimated in one of his letters, yet find her own way to Aslan's Country in the end.

It's simply but beautifully written, it captures the spirit of Lewis without attempting to imitate him, and it did my heart good to read it. I think many of you will enjoy it too.

The Queen's Return by [livejournal.com profile] honorh.


Dec. 23rd, 2005 10:09 pm
rj_anderson: (Tenth Doctor Wonder)
I just found out something about the Narnia film I hadn't realized before:

Ware spoilers )

I can't believe I didn't notice that, but now that [livejournal.com profile] miladygrey has pointed it out, I'm totally blown away. It's just another of those clever but subtle little touches that makes the movie extra-nifty, in my view.

Anyway, I am not likely to be online for the next little while, so in case I don't get to say it before the date, a very merry Christmas to all who are celebrating it.

Narnia Icons!

Dec. 22nd, 2005 10:37 pm
rj_anderson: (King Peter the Magnificent)
Two days before Christmas and this is the best I can do for my friendslist, since I can't seem to get the fic gears turning fast enough.

Four Narnia Icons (Aslan, Peter, White Witch) )

Comment and credit if taking, please -- apart from that, they're free for anybody who wants 'em.

ETA: I've brightened the lettering on #2 somewhat to make it more legible -- [livejournal.com profile] sienamystic, you might want to grab it again.
And although I was skeptical at first, right now I am just overflowing with so. much. love.

They got it right. I hardly dared to hope it could be done, but they really did get it right. At least, all the parts I personally strongly felt they needed to get right, they did. And the bits they added in that weren't in the book, I mostly didn't mind, or even outright liked (like the fox).

The absolute best bit, though, has not been mentioned by anyone in any of the reviews I've read to date: Big Whopping Spoiler )

As for the rest, Tilda Swinton's White Witch was every bit as cold, ruthless, chilling and brilliant as she needed to be -- Another Spoiler ) As for the Pevensies, I've always had a bit of a literary crush on Peter, and I must say this movie did not discourage that at all. Susan was lovely, and I was very interested by the way they emphasized Yet Another Spoiler, for the books as well as the film ).

Also, hee on the movie's revisionist handling of Last Spoiler, Honest ) It's not like I was sentimentally attached to that line or anything, so I didn't mind that particular change in the least. In fact I got a bit of a chuckle out of it.

In short, I loved the movie and would gladly see it again, and when my kids are old enough not to be scared witless by some of the nastier-looking creatures, I'm sure I will. And in the meantime, there's Prince Caspian to look forward to -- at this rate, the sooner the better.

Note to self: badly need at least two Narnia icons.
Roger Ebert's review of the Narnia film has some delicious turns of phrase. I laughed out loud at least twice. Anyway, he really liked it, and although I don't always agree with Ebert, I suspect I'll enjoy the film too.
There's been a lot of Lewis links and commentary on my f-list lately (including a very nice referral to my own essay on Susan in a recommendation of Andrew Rilstone's recent blog post about the same thing, for which I thank you, [livejournal.com profile] kalquessa). Most recently (and thanks to [livejournal.com profile] kalquessa yet again) there's this kinda cool article from The Chronicle addressing Pullman's charges against Lewis's Narnia, including sexism, racism, a pernicious belief in heavenly bliss, and lack of love.*

Which reminds me, the other day I found a quite hilarious book-a-minute-style summary of the Dark Materials trilogy by Abigail Nussbaum. Thanks yet again to [livejournal.com profile] kalquessa for reminding me where it was.

* Given the actual content of both series, the only thing I can imagine Pullman means by the latter is that in Lewis's universe twelve-year-olds do not have sex. I am sorry that we are not all as cool and enlightened as you are, Mr. Pullman. Some of us still think this is a little early.
Just before bedtime tonight, I heard Simon say excitedly to his older brother:

"Let's play [The Lion,] the Witch and the Wardrobe. I'll be the Witch, and you be the Wardrobe."
This essay has been brewing in my mind for a couple of years now, and since I was recently reminded of it during a discussion on [livejournal.com profile] lizbee's journal, I figured I might as well bite the bullet and put it down on paper. Comments are welcomed, but as I'm due to have my third child on (or before, or around) this coming Saturday, I'm sure you'll appreciate that I can't guarantee a timely response.

Anyway, here it is:

* * *


Over the last few years I have heard many indignant complaints about the treatment of Susan in the Narnia books, specifically in The Last Battle. Numerous LiveJournal rants have been written on it, Philip Pullman (author of the His Dark Materials trilogy) has deplored it, Neil Gaiman has written a story about it (with the same title as this essay), and most recently it was brought up by J.K. Rowling in an interview with Time Magazine:

"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," Rowling says. "I have a big problem with that."

Well, I have a problem with it too -- albeit for different reasons. And here they are, at quite some length )

ETA: Please also check out the brief follow-up post to this discussion, which brings up a very significant point raised by a commenter about the attitude of the Friends of Narnia to Susan.

ETA2: As of April 2013 I've been so inundated with spam replies to this entry that I've had to shut down Comments. Sorry to anyone who had further thoughts to add -- perhaps try the follow-up post instead.
So back in 1998, Jo Rowling claims that as a child she would read and re-read the Narnia books and that "even now, if I was in a room with one of the Narnia books I would pick it up like a shot and re-read it." There are numerous other interviews from the early years of HP in which Rowling claims to be a fan of Lewis and makes specific references to things like the Wardrobe and Eustace as having inspired her for ideas in the HP books.

Now, within the space of two days, we have the Time interview and the interview with the cub reporters, both of which claim (and in the latter, it's said as a direct quote from JKR) that she wasn't that taken by Narnia and in fact never even finished the last book (though that apparently doesn't keep her from talking nonsense about it in Time, but I shall reserve my rant about the whole "poor Susan was banished from Narnia because she grew up and discovered sex" rubbish for another opportunity).
Dear Jo: I'm not sure I quite get this concept. Were you lying back in 1998 (and 1999, and 2001) to make antsy readers and critics feel better about your inspirations, or did Philip Pullman just hit you with Obliviate? Yours in bewilderment, RJA.
But to continue on a happier note, in the CBBC Newsround cub reporter interview Jo says this:
Another very good question. [Petunia] overheard a conversation, that is all I am going to say. She overheard conversation. The answer is in the beginning of Phoenix, she said she overheard Lily being told about them basically. ... [but] there is more to it than that. As I think you suspect. Correctly, but I don't want to say what else there is because it relates to book 7.
I KNEW IT!!! "That dreadful boy" Petunia overheard warning Lily about the Dementors etc. wasn't James, it was Snape. Ha ha! *dances*
So I guess this latest answer on JKR's official FAQ to the question of how the Order members communicate (and can anybody explain to me how on earth we would have figured that out from reading GoF, the way Jo thinks we all should have???) would strongly suggest that Snape does, in fact, have a Patronus. (Ironic, since [livejournal.com profile] cesario suggested last night that it was highly possible he couldn't cast one due to a lack of happy memories, and at the time I was inclined to agree with her. I wonder what Snape's happy memory is?)

In the past, JKR has said that she can't tell us what Snape's Boggart or his Patronus are because it would "give too much away". Well, I think I know what his Boggart is -- probable HBP spoiler ). But his Patronus? Something "unique and distinctive" to him, so that nobody could possibly mistake it for anyone else's Patronus? I'm stumped.

Oh, also, I thought of another thing today while doing the dishes. What is it about domestic chores that causes me to think of wacky new HP theories? But anyway: another highly possible spoiler for either HBP or Book Seven, your mileage may vary )

I have read the back jacket copy from the US edition that was posted yesterday, but deliberately avoided reading the first chapter excerpts floating around my f-list, because I know that if I start reading any part of the book I won't be able to resist the temptation to open it as soon as I get it and then I'll be up for the rest of the night finishing the thing off, which is just not feasible when you have two preschoolers. I shall start it as soon as I wake up on Saturday morning, which will probably be early, because my brain is doing the giddy kid-at-Christmas thing already...
I love JKR madly. I really do. Especially for this (which is not a book spoiler, so I feel no guilt about not lj-cutting it):

I have no spare time at all. [Laughter]. When I’m not writing or looking after the children, I read and sleep. To be totally honest with you, at the moment sleeping is probably my very favourite thing in the world to do. I know that is a bit of a depressing answer. I would like to say I was partying with Mick Jagger--well, I wouldn't want to be partying with Mick Jagger, that is a complete lie...
Hee. I am so with you there, Jo. On all counts.

You can read the rest of her new interview here. Lots of good stuff about the books, and plenty of new theory-fodder. Plus, I adored that cut to avoid spoiling too much of the interview for people who haven't read it yet )

Drat, where did all the time I was going to spend editing Knife go? *dashes off to try and salvage the last twenty minutes*
So here's my list of the literary characters I crushed on, roughly in the order I encountered them:
- Peter, Caspian, and Rilian, from the Narnia books
- Will Stanton and Bran Davies, from Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising
- Ged, from Ursula LeGuin's A Wizard of Earthsea
- Mary Stewart's versions of the youthful Merlin and Mordred (and most of the heroes of her suspense novels too, come to think of it)
- Sherlock Holmes
- Johnson Johnson, the portrait-painting, bifocals-wearing spy/sleuth from Dorothy Dunnett's mysteries
- Remus Lupin (but only in canon, not in any fanfics I've yet read)
- Gregor Vorbarra, Duv Galeni and Simon Illyan from Lois McMaster Bujold's SF novels
I just know I'm leaving out somebody important*, but oh well.
*No, not Wimsey -- I like him just fine, but I never crushed on him. And believe it or not, Snape is not one of my crushes either, at least not in the same way as the others listed here...
For those interested in such things there's an ongoing discussion on fictional gender politics, with remarks about LotR and Narnia (among others), in the blog.
Now this is my idea of a cool quiz.

The fifth book written, you're the third book chronologically and take place during The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You tell the story of the humans Shasta and Aravis and the talking horses Bree and Hwin, all trying to escape from unhappy lives in Calormen to go to Narnia.
Find out which Chronicles of Narnia book you are.

And it is one of my fave books in the series, too. Although The Silver Chair is probably my favorite overall.


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