This is a redated post on the Chronicles of Narnia. I would particularly recommend, toward the end of Jason's second comment, the letter from Lewis to a child named Martin.
Hugh Chander writes: I'm not sure I understand Professor Downing's response to Pullman. Is he saying that Pullman is wrong in thinking that the children are 'killed off" in the Last Battle? Is he claiming that, in fact, they all (except Susan) go to Heaven (or whatever) - so they aren't really 'killed off'?
Even if this is so, it neglects the other part of Pullman's accusation, namely that Susan is prevented from going to Heaven because she is getting interested in sex, wearing lip-stick, silk stockings, and so on. In short, she is trying to be 'grown up.'
Pullman says: "Maybe one day she'll grow past the invitations and the lipstick and the nylons. But my point is that it's an inevitable, important, valuable and cherishable stage that we go through. This what I'm getting at in my story. To welcome and celebrate this passage, rather than to turn from it in fear and loathing."
Pullman apparently feels that Lewis is in some way against growing up, against interest in sex, and even, perhaps, against ordinary adult life in this world. Is he totally wrong about this?
VR: Two points: One is that it is pretty evident, in spite of the way many people read Narnia, that Susan is hardly considered hopeless or damned because she isn't on the train at the time of the the train wreck, and I think there are quotations from C. S. Lewis that reject this interpretation (if I can find them or someone can find them for me). The children are told that they have to find Aslan in their own world, and of course we all know Who that is. Lots of people who are fixated on adolescent stuff during adolescence know Christ or come to know Christ. Second, one can take adolescence seriously without pooh-poohing childhood; so it is far from clear that the other three children had no interest in attracting the opposite sex.
There is no question that Lewis was not a happy adolescent, nor is he going to treat adolescence as fondly as he treats childhood. I think to say that Lewis was opposed to growing up is a patent falsehood. He did, however, oppose a certain kind of appeal to "grown-up-ness" which he felt was not legitimate. I remember a colleague of Hugh's at UIUC who used to respond to religious world-views by saying "We've grown up, for heaven's sake" (though, to give him credit, he admitted it was not really a good argument).
Here's an interesting Lewis quote:
C. S. Lewis, on the freedom of reaching maturity:When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that am 50, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things—including the fear of childishness and the desire to be grown-up.
Of Other World, Edited by Walter Hooper