What C S Lewis never told us about Narnia.
Short Story Review Neil Gaiman The Problem Of Susan 2006 Harper Perennial
A reflective piece hat serves as an un-canonical sequel to the Chronicles Of Narnia by C S Lewis.
An aged lady Professor has a strange dream about Narnia, in which the Lion (Aslan) and the Witch are in alliance and between them, they have slaughtered the various nymphs, centaurs, and humans around them.
The Professor wakes to find herself visited by a young journalism student who is studying the changes made in various fairy stories to make them suitable for children. The Victorian prudery for censorship to protect the younger reader strips Sleeping Beauty of its cannibalistic incestuous edges, for example.
The Professor has lost much of her family in a tragic accident, which the student, Greta, sees as comparable to the train crash at the close of the seventh Narnia book, The Last Battle. Inn that book, the characters all die and go to Narnia, which is clearly God’s heavenly paradise. The only one left alive in our world is Susan – hence the title of Gaiman’s story / essay.
Lewis, in keeping Susan alive and apart, prevents his story seeming too much of a rounded happy ending. Susan’s materialism separates her from the fate of her family. She may be doomed to a kind of immortality and Greta begins to wonder if the Professor is actually Susan.
As the story concludes, Greta is having strange dreams of a violent, sexual Narnia that seem remarkably similar to those experienced by the Professor.
A great tribute by one great writer of fantasy to another.