Much of my January writing meme has been less than perfectly coherent. To some degree I'm just trying to give a picture of things that interest me, as a way of revealing more about my interests than I would just saying "hm" in the background. But I feel like I'm spending so much time dredging up old memories, or just describing things in an awkward and cursory fashion, that I'm not writing much analysis, nor much interesting, nor much that coheres as a whole essay.

In yesterday's post about C. S. ("Jack") Lewis I forgot something critical I have recently realized and really wanted to say:

Jack had a tendency to write his works with a fair bit of Throw It In, and sometimes I suspect He Just Didn't Care. More precisely, a lot of his fantastical work seems driven by coming up with a novel scene, image, relationship, or other concept, and using it, whether or not it was consistent with the rest of the larger work.

This can be a good thing. Narnia's world is hugely diverse, because Jack kept throwing new creatures in. It can be annoying, as when ideas that fit into an End of the World story led to The Last Battle, so we can have images like Stars falling from the sky. Never mind that he's closing the book on further stories, he has a cool image!

The first Narnia book treats Narnia as a land of Talking Animals who know not Men, contrasted to England as a land of Men who know not Talking Animals. The later books take this concept and show lands of Men who know not Talking Animals outside Narnia but in the same world (The Horse and His Boy) or within Narnia itself (Prince Caspian), thus making Narnia oddly curious in its own world. But that was what he wanted to do there. The Caspian-era books almost make Narnia a human kingdom in a fantastic world. And the timeline of Dawn Treader's backstory still seems confused to me. But it's Throw It In.

Similarly, the line in Perelandra which bugged me so much. Jack thought of that bit of "logic," so he put it in a character's mouth, because it occurred to him, never mind philosophical consistency.

It's different from a writer who worries and worries at things to make them more consistent. It does however mean that those following on, fans and ficcers, get stuck with what one threw in.
OK, let's talk about Jack.

I've been calling C. S. Lewis "Jack"--not "Lewis," not "Prof. Lewis," but "Jack," as if I knew him or something--for years. I used to call him "Jack Lewis" until I realized there are over a dozen writers who've actually written as "Jack Lewis" while he wrote under his initials. It's not nice, I suppose; I'm obviously not an intimate. Why do I do this? Oh, a sort of semi-dismissive familiarity, probably. Or maybe it's from a goofy way of speaking about famous people I picked up from my father. Or maybe it's mainly that that's what he called himself, and it seems correct to me.

Anyway, like a lot of people, I got to know C. S. Lewis's work through The Chronicles of Narnia. Read more... )

Edited to add: continued Sunday
philippos42: Paul Rudd (manly)
I have been reading a lot of Narnia fic this week.

I want to praise in particular two crossover fics; the first short and sweet, the second a sprawling novel in progress: Moriwen's What Is This, A Joke?--not a Narnia fic but an Aslan fic--in which William the Bloody meets Aslan; and The Peridan Chronicles by marmota_b, which tries to be as true to canon as possible while retconning Lord Peridan, which I take to be an utterly incidental supporting character I have forgotten from The Horse and His Boy, to be, well, Methos.

I've been going through the Susan Pevensie tag at AoOO, mostly, typically skipping stuff that is marked as smutty and weirdly deviant, or seems like it will be overlong. (I may have seen and closed unread two different fics that threatened to play on King Miraz raping one the Pevensie boys, ew.) I did read some of the grim "deconstructions" (really re-imaginings with terribly unsympathetic Aslan and Lucy), and they were moderately clever.

One thing that all this brings to mind is that C. S. Lewis didn't leave a terribly coherent continuity or built world to work with. He liked to throw things in, even to the point of radically re-imagining the setting as he went on, and not be super-consistent with himself; and that's good, really. On the other hand, he "threw in" a lot of stuff in the last book which was annoying (at least to me).

Another thing is that some of us (like me) have reacted to Lucy's characterization of Susan in The Last Battle a little too strongly.

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