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karen77

Caleb Williams

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Rachel333
6 minutes ago, laPapessaGiovanna said:

Yes, but that's because you have to be religious, otherwise you're lost. No room for agnostics never mind atheists. Being a wonderful person comes second to be a believer in a god, any god. And I have a big problem with that. The underlying idea that religions have a monopoly over ethics is ludicrous, but to be expected from Lewis.

I'm an atheist myself so I absolutely have a problem too with the idea that you have to be religious to be moral. I'm not certain that is what Lewis meant, though. He didn't say that you have to be a member of a religion to go to Heaven, he said that God can save people who have not explicitly accepted Jesus into their lives. I don't know who precisely he thought could be saved, just that he didn't think you have to be Christian. In any case, I'm not saying I agree with Lewis at all (obviously, as an atheist I strongly disagree with him on many issues!), just that a lot of people don't realize that Lewis was not as dogmatic as they think about who can be saved

19 minutes ago, VelociRapture said:

I agree, but I still think it was shitty that Lewis punishes Susan for, basically, growing up. I read once that Lewis had no use for female characters unless they were children, mothers, or grandmothers. I feel like his treatment of Susan falls into that pretty well. 

I will say that there's a difference in how he portrays female characters in the first books vs. in the later ones (written after he had gotten to know his future wife well). Aravis, for example. is much more independent than Lucy and Susan were in the first book. Still, I hate how Susan was treated and The Last Battle was always by far my least favorite of the books.

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nickelodeon

My unpopular(??) Narnia opinion is that while I'll never stop being critical of how Lewis wrote Susan, I kind of dislike the Gaiman and Pullman takes. (Even though those authors are great.) The way that they overlook the potential of Susan to tell an interesting story about losing faith and go straight to "she is punished for her sexy teenaged body" just doesn't work for me!

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Lisafer
38 minutes ago, nickelodeon said:

My unpopular(??) Narnia opinion is that while I'll never stop being critical of how Lewis wrote Susan, I kind of dislike the Gaiman and Pullman takes. (Even though those authors are great.) The way that they overlook the potential of Susan to tell an interesting story about losing faith and go straight to "she is punished for her sexy teenaged body" just doesn't work for me!

I think it's because in The Last Battle, Susan's loss of faith seems almost inextricably linked to her love for nylons, lipstick, and invitations, and her race to "the silliest part of life." I feel like CS Lewis treated her in a really hateful, disdainful way. Still makes me mad. 

That Hideous Strength, one of his adult novels, is infuriatingly patriarchal as well. Jane isn't good enough unless she shuts up, quits trying to attain a career, and becomes her husband's little stay-at-home wife and breeder. 

So I think Gaiman was picking up on the very apparent issue: that Susan really was being punished for failing to conform and for loving the nylons and lipstick (ie, sexuality). 

A loss of faith story would be interesting, though!

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Maggie Mae
10 minutes ago, Lisafer said:

So I think Gaiman was picking up on the very apparent issue: that Susan really was being punished for failing to conform and for loving the nylons and lipstick (ie, sexuality). 

And Lucy had to die as a child while she was still "pure." 

I liked Narnia, but I never could get into A Horse and His Boy. And I remember thinking "The Silver Chair" is really good but I don't remember anything about it at all. 

How weird would it be to grow up, be crowned, and then have to go back to being children that were evacuated to the countryside during WWII? Did we find out if their parents made it through the war? Did they get time with them before the train crash? 

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Rachel333
20 minutes ago, Maggie Mae said:

How weird would it be to grow up, be crowned, and then have to go back to being children that were evacuated to the countryside during WWII? Did we find out if their parents made it through the war? Did they get time with them before the train crash? 

Regarding the last questions, their parents did make it through the war (the parents were on the train that crashed too :pb_confused:) and they are mentioned in other books. Susan was with them in America when Lucy and Edmund were staying with the Scrubbs.

(Whatever else you might think of the books, "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it." is a great opening line!)

Edit: More Susan stuff:

I do think it's worth mentioning that Lewis thought being childlike was important for both men and women. There's the famous quote, "When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." I think Susan is meant to be in that in-between phase where she rejects childish things and wants to be grown up, but that doesn't mean she'll never make it back. 

Lewis also wrote to a young reader asking about telling the rest of Susan's story:

Quote

I could not write that story myself. Not that I have no hope of Susan ever getting into Aslan's country, but because I have a feeling that the story of journey would be longer and more like a grown-up novel than I wanted to write. But I may be mistaken. Why not try it yourself?

Regarding the first question, it made me think of a current series (which I have not read) that deals with exactly that question. The first book is Every Heart a Doorway.

Description:

Quote

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

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 the matter.

No matter the cost.

I also love The Magicians books and tv show  (seasons 2 and 3 have been much better than season 1). It's about a depressed young adult who is still obsessed with the equivalent of the Narnia books, which sounds exactly like me. :pb_lol: Then he goes to what is basically adult Hogwarts and eventually to the Narnia equivalent. There are a lot of Narnia references that you wouldn't get unless you've read more than just The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Edited by Rachel333

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Palimpsest

Where is @SusanAtTheLastBattle in this discussion.  She has strong feelings about Susan. ;)

I loved the Narnia books as a child but can still see the problems.

19 hours ago, AliceInFundyland said:

Although I am aware of all of this, I’m not sure I have read the annotated autobiography. My library doesn’t have it and so I am thinking not. I have read all other things Wilder.

I have Amazon gift credit from Christmas. What an excellent hardback purchase idea. Yippee! 

I own it, and it is a tome.  A valuable tome but a really heavy tome that you cannot read in bed.  I took the Pamela Smith Hill free internet course a while back and was on a waiting list for "Pioneer Girl" for the longest time.

But if we are going to discuss and call out Pa Ingalls for being an irresponsible jerk (he was) then we should also call out Amos Bronson Alcott.  And Louisa M. Alcott's portrayal of him as Father March.  Bronson was no saint either.  Abigail held the family together and provided for them.  

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formergothardite

Confession timed. I've never read Little Women. Not the whole book. I found it painfully tedious. 

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Rachel333

I read Little Woman and its sequels. I neither loved it nor hated it. I read pretty much everything I could get my hands on, though. I was so desperate for reading material that I even read most of the Elsie Dinsmore books! And in the later books parts of it are just sermons for pages. I'm not saying that rhetorically, either; it's literally, "The preacher said," followed by a long sermon.

Not that I was particularly impressed with the books even then, but in retrospect it really strikes me as creepy how Elsie married her father's friend who had known her as a little girl.

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Carm_88

I loved Little Women, but I didn't like the sequels as much. Jo was my favourite character and when it wasn't as much about her as it was every other little rascal at the school, it wasn't as much fun for me. Beth's death never fails to make me cry. 

 

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Imaginary_Wonderland

I also love Little Woman, really enjoyed that one, but the second and third one I found a chore. I really struggled with them. The last time I read it was a few years back when I was very very sick and had been for a long time without a diagnosis and doctors were happy to ignore me. Anyway, I was very ill and in a bad way, and I got really bonded with Beth that time round, and her death was even tougher and made me feel real sorry for myself. I love the Little Women film also. But I didn't like the tv series version on BBC last year, and I usually love when BBC do stuff like that.

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QuiverFullofBooks

Despite having defended Pa upthread, I have no use for Amos Bronson Alcott. His dumbass utopian commune almost starved his family. 

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nickelodeon
26 minutes ago, Rachel333 said:

I read Little Woman and its sequels. I neither loved it nor hated it. I read pretty much everything I could get my hands on, though. I was so desperate for reading material that I even read most of the Elsie Dinsmore books! And in the later books parts of it are just sermons for pages. I'm not saying that rhetorically, either; it's literally, "The preacher said," followed by a long sermon.

Not that I was particularly impressed with the books even then, but in retrospect it really strikes me as creepy how Elsie married her father's friend who had known her as a little girl.

Haha, Elsie Dinsmore makes all the problematic books we're talking about look like flawless progressive manifestos :D

She owns people!!! She's got a really creepy, masochistic, quasi-incestuous relationship with her father!! And she still has time to judge everyone else for shit like playing piano on Sundays!!! No wonder Vision Forum basically made her their mascot!

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Lisafer
36 minutes ago, Rachel333 said:

I read Little Woman and its sequels. I neither loved it nor hated it. I read pretty much everything I could get my hands on, though. I was so desperate for reading material that I even read most of the Elsie Dinsmore books! And in the later books parts of it are just sermons for pages. I'm not saying that rhetorically, either; it's literally, "The preacher said," followed by a long sermon.

Not that I was particularly impressed with the books even then, but in retrospect it really strikes me as creepy how Elsie married her father's friend who had known her as a little girl.

Oh, you are not kidding about the sermons! I think the sermonizing really gets kicked off at about "Grandmother Elsie," and after that it's like Martha Finley was copy-pasting sermons into a manuscript and getting paid by the word! 

And it's beyond creepy how Elsie married Mr. Travilla. Way beyond. In the early books he would kiss her and then say he wished she was ten years older. He waited until she was 21, if I remember right, to ask for her hand. He would have been about 38-40 at the time, and had his eye on her since she was 7 or 8. Ewwwww *brain bleach*. Not to mention all the deep, passionate mouth-kisses Elsie shared with her father. 

I have started working on the Little House books with my child, but Elsie's not on the menu!

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nausicaa
1 hour ago, Lisafer said:

Not to mention all the deep, passionate mouth-kisses Elsie shared with her father. 

I...uh...I'm...struggling to form words to create a question here.

Is this like the LHOP clown rape, and I'm going to regret asking for more details?

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Lisafer
12 minutes ago, nausicaa said:

I...uh...I'm...struggling to form words to create a question here.

Is this like the LHOP clown rape, and I'm going to regret asking for more details?

Here, I'll spoiler quotes from "Elsie's Girlhood" so you don't have to read if you don't want to.

Elsie (about 17) has fallen in love with a con man and her father arrives to rescue her:

Spoiler

"Elsie, have you ever allowed him to touch your lips?" he asked almost sternly.

"No, papa, not even my cheek. I would not while we were not engaged; and that could not be without your consent."

"I am truly thankful for that!" he exclaimed in a tone of relief; "to know that he had—that these sweet lips had been polluted by contact with his—would be worse to me than the loss of half my fortune." And lifting her face as he spoke, he pressed his own to them again and again.

Elsie's friend arranges a surprise visit by said con man, and Elsie's father is furious because she let her lover kiss her cheek. All is forgiven with more smooching:

Spoiler

"Yes, papa; but not half so badly as my heart does," she answered, a tear rolling quickly down her cheek. "I am so sorry for my disobedience. Oh, papa, will you forgive me?" And her eyes sought his with the imploring look he ever found it well-nigh impossible to resist.

"Yes, I will—I do," he said, stooping to press a kiss upon the quivering lips. 

Bonus spoiler: Mr. Travilla admits what a pervert he is!

Spoiler

"My dear child, I did not mean to pain you so; do not weep, it breaks my heart to see it. I was far from intending to blame you, or complain of your treatment," he said in an agitated tone, and bending over her in tender concern. "I only wanted to understand my error in order that I might retrieve it, and be no longer deprived of your dear society. Oh, little Elsie, if you only knew how I love you; how I have loved you, and only you, all these years—as child and as woman—how I have waited and longed, hoping even against hope, that some day I might be able to win the priceless treasure of your young heart."

 

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SusanAtTheLastBattle
3 hours ago, Palimpsest said:

Where is @SusanAtTheLastBattle in this discussion.  She has strong feelings about Susan. ;)

Do I ever 😂

I read the Narnia books as a fantasy-loving Jewish kid who did not pick up on the Jesus subtext at all. The Last Battle was a whole set of surprises for me. It felt like such a category error—how are you going to win a battle without Susan’s arrows, and why would you want to try? What are these books really about anyway?

I can’t believe I didn’t know about Gaiman’s story. Thanks @Lurky for mentioning and others for discussing!

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Lurky
17 hours ago, Rachel333 said:

That message really isn't in the books! I hate the way Susan is treated but she isn't supposed to be doomed forever.

Susan has been abandoned by Aslan.  She is punished such a horrible way, and there's no hint that she could end up seeing them on the other side.  Sure, Lewis may not have Aslan say "Susan is banned from heaven", but it's overtly clear that she won't be following her family.  Unless I'm mis-remembering, and there's something explicitly stated that she can change her ways and still make it to join her family, the clear message I took away from it was that being seen as frivolous/sexual was enough to cast her out forever.

One of my favourite things about His Dark Materials trilogy was how reading the first book, I was thinking "this is good, but it still falls into that trope of male-written children's literature, that the only way women can be true heroines is to stay pre-pubescent.  The female characters fall into the common patterns of other-worldly (& thus something I could never be), comfortable mother figures who are only ever side characters, sexualised evil women and the only good woman is an innocent, pure girl.   I always hated that as a teen, because there was no model for me to imagine myself as, once I was growing up, and of course, one can't stop ageing.  And then the rest of the books took that trope and demolished it!  I also loved the Sally Lockhart books, because she was such a competent heroine, AND she could fall in love and be sexually active without losing her heroine status. 

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formergothardite
9 hours ago, QuiverFullofBooks said:

Despite having defended Pa upthread, I have no use for Amos Bronson Alcott. His dumbass utopian commune almost starved his family. 

 I will have to go read more about him. I don't really know anything about the Alcott family. It sounds like he and Pa were the same type of people! The women who kept these families going are amazing. Just dealing with the stress of having to live in constant fear of your husband doing something ridiculously stupid again and plunging you into another time of starvation must have been awful. 

I remember absolutely hating Pa for not letting Jack ride in the wagon when they crossed the river. 

I have never read Elsie Dinsmore but that is creepy. It really is not wonder Vision Forum just loved her. Inappropriate father daughter relationships seemed to be their thing. 

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