This post is dedicated to E. Jade Lomax, aka ink-splotch on Tumblr, the author of this essay about Susan Pevensie from the Narnia stories. The link is making the rounds of Facebook as it does every so often. It’s one of many, many amazing writings which you should read ASAP)
Anyhow. Hit the link. (Try not to run too far down the click-rabbit hole.) I’ll wait.
So, then. That after-Narnia story leaves me weeping for complicated reasons every time I read it. Thus I make sure I read it again whenever it appears. It’s a wondrous gift of love to a character left unfinished. It’s also more than that.
This is storytelling’s soul laid bare.
I love this spin on Susan’s fate, but I will not condemn C. S. Lewis for telling his story his way, with his heroes making the points he intended and all the rest brushed aside. Narnia was his tale, and admirably told. Lewis’s words will forever remain anchored in a time and framed by a worldview that I cannot embrace, and I appreciate them in different ways now that I am grown, but I still recognize their power.
He tapped so deep into the heart of what makes us human that his creations live on and give birth to new ideas and stories in turn. Think on it: Narnia’s characters came off the page real enough that this essay’s author could give Susan a life far outside what her creator could imagine for her. And that doesn’t merely work, it works brilliantly.
That’s a marvel. Then take it the next level: some of those stories born of stories are themselves so powerful they bring ideas burning to life inside me in turn, ideas I long to give shape and voice myself. Not a bad legacy for a grumpy old Englishman who didn’t approve of vain girls wearing lipstick.
All of us tell the tales we are made of. My biggest fear, when writing my ideas to life, is that I’m not made of strong enough stuff to give them the immortality they deserve.
Time will tell, I suppose.
TRUE CONFESSION: I adore the Chronicles of Narnia in all of their imperfections, not despite those flaws, for to erase them would be to change the whole, but with the heart of an adult who fondly remembers her awkward first love. I felt I’d come home when my nine-year-old fingers first turned those crisp pages and opened up that wardrobe door. I survived adolescence because I hid in Narnia and problematic places like it. I don’t dispute the many, many issues with the text and its lessons. I do believe Narnia’s story magic transcends them.