Worldbuilding Wednesday 9/15/21: National Parks

On first glance, it’s pretty hard to tell which poster is of a real place, and which poster is fictional, yes?

Brightly colored travel posters that look like silkscreens began in the 1930s, as part of a Works Administration Project (WPA) funded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, designed to give employment to otherwise unemployed artists. The Great Depression was still going strong, but many of these artworks created a post-Art Deco, pre-Populux aesthetic,a simple yet noble monumental grandeur. Today these posters of the National Parks are recognized for their artistic value and exist in many reproductions.

What’s the difference between a National Park and a National Monument? Parks are natural areas and encompass biospheres; monuments most often (but not always) preserve social or archaeological sites. In 2021 there were 63 National Parks and 129 National Monuments.

New parks are being added all the time. The latest is New River Gorge National Park, in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, which was declared in 2020. Parks can also be downgraded, redesignated, or divided. Ever hear of Sullys Hill National Park? I haven’t either; in the 1930s it changed agencies and now operates as a federal game preserve.

Here’s a list of National Parks and Monuments that may be coming in the future.

 

National Parks yet to be declared

Dinosaur Mounds National Monument

Buzzard Back

Wolverine Spoon

Soda Shores

Little Porcupine Wilderness

Pronghorn Prairie

Lizard Throat Wilderness

Plume Island

Big Hoof Island

Mourning Woman Wilderness

Bearded River

Grand Oxbow

Agate Peak

Short Cap Fossil Beds

Sequoia-Razor

White Tail Slough

Atompunk Reading

Starfire, by Robert Buckner

In the Atompunk Age, manly men read books like this one, accompanied by a dry martini.

Worldbuilding Wednesday 9/8/21: Models of the 1960s

Fashion models of the 1960s were a special breed. They may not have been conventionally pretty, but they stood out as individuals in a way the models of the 1950s never did. Donyale Luna (left) and Benedetta Barzini (right) certainly did with their sculptural poise and elegance. Unfortunately Luna met a sad end in the late 1970s, while Barzini went on to a second career as a university lecturer.

Where did David Bowie get his pre-Ziggy Stardust inspiration from? It could have been the mimelike poses of model Peggy Moffitt, above, or the impish cupie-doll / silent movie look of Cathee Dahmen, below. (Dahmen, who may have been the first Native American supermodel, has a backstory worthy of a Hollywood biopic.)

Many models of the era adopted one-word monikers, like Twiggy (Leslie Hornby) and German model Uschi (Ursula Obermaier) while others altered the spelling of their birth names to stand out from the crowd. Others were just as happy to use the names they were born with. Sixties models were also the first truly international group and their names reflect this.

Need a model? Look below.

 

Fashion Models of the 1960s

Colette Jazz

Peggy Chad

Lois Job

Raven Iverley

Quincy Cloudletter

Patricia Strong

Leslie Heinrik

Paula Salt

Stringy

Jill Cathcart

Peachy

Cecilia Spear

Spya Epet

Elke Yor

Maria Crisp

Christina Stagberg

Erika Knorr

Adelaida

Anna Quick

Cara Bluff

Lass Jyski

Bernadette Papp

Sandy Wiss

Cindi Chen

Lamb Ulrich

Amber Othley

Rachel Woolsilk

Ashly Ivis

Cathy Strappel

Macy Pizetti

Hijacked!

In addition to the Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis wrote the philosophical Planet trilogy (also known as the Cosmic Trilogy):  Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. These were for adult readers and in the science fiction genre (well, science fantasy, with more than a touch of the Victorian adventure novel) but the overall ethos of Christian philosophy remained the same.

A few years ago I read the book pictured above, about the planet Malacandra (Mars) but for the life of me I can’t remember why this black, human-faced otter has commandeered this poor guy’s boat. There were many strange creatures in it, all described wonderfully, and the main character swooned a lot, as he looks about to do above; that’s all I recall of the plot. Obviously I need to re-read them.

 

Jadis Redux

The second Summer of Narnia is drawing to a close, so I’d like to share some more images of my fave magic-using evil Queen, Jadis. First is a B&W rendition by comic artist Sebastian Ericson. Long black hair, grasping, claw-like hands, evil sneer, spiky crown… yum.

Jadis, by Sebastien Ericson

A section of a video art project about The Magician’s Nephew showing Jadis seated on her throne in the Hall of Images. She looks very Whore of Babylon-y here with her wild black hair and dark red gown with its motif of stars and crescent moon. Her flamelike gold crown is inspired… and note she’s also “crowned with sun” as in Revelations, except it’s Charn’s giant red one.

Jadis Awaits, by theboo

The same subject gets a different treatment here: on finding Jadis, Digory and Polly are frightened to the point of tears. This version of Jadis is thin, almost skeletal save for her giant breasts, and she sits hunched with a sneer underneath her pert yet severely pointed nose. The artist references her later White Witch persona in the use of icicles and ice crown; she also seems to be floating, alone, on a small snow-covered planetoid.

Spot-on (and looking very Aubrey Beardsley) is this design for Jadis’s gown, cloak, and headpiece.

Two costumes depicting Jadis in her role as Queen of Charn. The one on the left is from a Canadian stage production of The Magician’s Nephew. It’s eye-catching, but feels too much like the costumer designer ran over their budget and so improvised the skirt from some rich-looking fabric scraps left over from other productions.

The right one is based on Pauline Baynes’ pen and ink drawings from the original edition of the book. The crown comes across well but I really doubt the real Jadis would have chosen to wear so sweet a shade of pink.

Jadis experiences weakness and disorientation in the Wood Between the Worlds. Her magic powers did not carry over to this realm, and neither did her urge for dominance. Stripped of these, she’s no longer herself and wants to die.

Jadis and Aslan confer, each carefully keeping their distance. Aslan is open and sincere, but the witch keeps her hand on her knife. The artist is very skilled but the purple of the gown looks out of place, as does her  bustle and her pointed red cloth boot.

Edmund meets Jadis in her castle, Maugrim the wolf and the statue of Tumnus attending. The artist sticks to the text and also to Baynes’ original depiction, but adds a nice touch with all the leering gargoyle faces which foreshadow the evil creatures who attend Aslan’s sacrifice.

This Jadis goes with the blonde hair of the movie version, but she’s more angry and devious than Tilda Swinton’s depiction… you can almost hear her gnashing her teeth.

Jadis in her sleigh. Her face looks innocuous, but note that long arm and giant hand!

Worldbuilding Wednesday 9/1/21: Charnian Names xxxx(Narnia XXIX)

 

Jadis Before Winter, a pencil drawing by Firiel. A wonderful character study.

What was the language of Charn like? We know it wasn’t English, because when Digory scans the description on the bell in the Hall of Images, the letters re-arrange themselves into something he can read. (Somehow, Jadis has no trouble speaking English!)

So, I made up a language for Charn, a little Assyrian, a little Latin, a little what-the-hell. Female names end mostly with -is, -a, -ara, and -alas; male names with -eus, -eul, -en, and -et. It’s a harsh-sounding language, with lots of snakelike S’s, and pn-, kn-and mn- combinations like ancient Egyptian.

 

Charnian Names

Female

Anletta

Chauda

Dancha

Fambris

Hamidara

Jedara

Jinalas

Jissa

Juniffa

Kabris

Karlis

Lanis

Miyinsa

Mnabis

Rhadonis

Rhinais

Sadlora

Saifris

Sindma

Yosilda

Male

Aureus

Barjed

Daijor

Daneus

Dolnet

Hakeul

Jallenchen

Jaraisor

Mneken

Mnerus

Paland

Raket

Rhadeul

Riyet

Sabent

Sabhamet

Sardeus

Sotaddeus

Srimsar

Tabren

Stone to Flesh

Here’s a scene that is not depicted too often by artists illustrating The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe — Aslan turning the petrified creatures in the witch’s courtyard back into flesh with his breath.

All Things Charn (Part V)

 

Engraving by Gustave Dore, showing a hero on a hippogriff flying over a dizzyingly large fantasy city, the lower parts of which lie under clouds. The scale of the place is illustrated by the tiny human figures on the terrace at the lower left. For my money it’s the closest parallel I’ve seen to my own imagination of the place. Click larger to see.

Now that we’ve examined and dissected both Charn and Jadis, I’d like to backtrack a bit.

[ You can read previous parts of this essay here:
Part I,   Part II,   Part III,   Part IV ]

In this post, I speculated, as some Lewis scholars did, that Charn’s name is derived from the word charnel, as in charnel house, a place for butchery, which makes sense considering the bloody war that ended it. I’ve since discovered there may have been other influences. One is the Yiddish female name Charna, meaning “dark” which certainly describes Charn. Another inspiration may be Charnwood, a part of England renowned for its pre-Cambrian fossil discoveries which sits in line with Charn’s ancient history. Lastly, the name Charn is too similar to Narn(ia) to be coincidence, making it easy to think of Charn as the anti-Narnia, so to speak.

It remains up in the air, though, whether Charn was the whole world or just a part of it. I still lean towards the Empire-that-covers-the-world theory, because when Lewis was young, the British Empire would have seemed to encompass the whole world, or a major part of it (as in “The sun never sets on the British Empire.”) In those times Britain may have meant the British isles, or the whole British Empire, depending on the context. The same is also true for Rome in its heyday; Rome may have meant the city, the seat of the Empire, or the Empire itself.

But I also believe that the Empire of Charn was an ecumenopolis, a titanic city that actually did cover its world, as Trantor did in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy. Like Charn, Trantor’s decay was a cautionary tale.

A View from the Luxor Hotel, Trantor, by SF artist Angus McKie, showing Trantor in its glory.
Trantor’s modern counterpart is Coruscant in the Star Wars universe. You MUST click this to see in all its detail.

I can imagine the original city-state of Charn swallowing up its rivals, growing outwards and upwards as it tacked on territories or destroyed them and built over. Any land set aside for farming would be surrounded by city, forming islands of greenery, and any wild land left would be maintained as playgrounds or hunting preserves for the elites.

Now I’d like to talk about the Hall of Images, the place where Polly and Digory find Jadis on her throne and awake her with the bell. It recalls a mausoleum, a museum, Madam Tussaud’s Waxworks, and a church all at once. Lewis never says the statues are alive, or were once alive; they serve as effigies, the same way the sleeping stone figures did on top of medieval tombs, the kind one might see in Westminster Abbey. Yet, they are more than mere simulacra. The entire hall must have been under heavy enchantment for it not to have decayed with the millennia. Lewis may have been inspired by the life-sized, spooky statues of saints on display in older Catholic churches, particularly those in Spain and Latin America, that seem conscious in the dim and quiet shadows.

Or, since his youth was a time when great archeological discoveries were being made, the Hall was possibly  inspired by rows of seated Egyptian statues facing each other in long colonnades. The way it’s written is striking, yet vague. The Hall might be of any ancient culture.

In addition to being a showcase for Jadis’s awakening, the statues serve as an illustration of Charn’s decay.

Figures from the Hall of Images, by Pauline Baynes

All the faces they could see were certainly nice. Both the men and women looked kind and wise, and they seemed to come of a handsome race. But after the children had gone a few steps down the room they came to faces that looked a little different. These were very solemn faces. You felt you would have to mind your P’s and Q’s, if you ever met living people who looked like that. When they had gone a little further, they found themselves among faces they didn’t like: this was about the middle of the room. The faces here looked very strong and proud and happy, but they looked cruel. A little further on they looked crueller. Further on again, they were still cruel but they no longer looked happy. They were even despairing faces: as if the people they belonged to had done dreadful things and also suffered dreadful things.

— from The Magician’s Nephew

Perhaps the statue of each monarch was added at their death, a sort of full-body death mask, and arrayed in the splendid clothing they wore in life. I can also see the monarch being sculpted during their reign for that eventual moment, sitting for an artist as if for a portrait.

The whole setting may have served as a plot device on the part of Lewis, but it’s a very powerful one.

Lewis does mention explicitly the hall was made to contain many more statues ( “there were plenty of empty chairs beyond her, as if the room had been intended for a much larger collection of images.” ) Yet the Royal line stops at Jadis, implying that Charn-the-world, in spite of its excesses and decadence, had some life left in it still, but for the Deplorable Word.

But this may be a case of Lewis having his cake and eating it too, as Eric Idle, in the role of the death cart driver, tells a plague victim “Don’t worry you’ll be dead in a minute” in one of the funnier parts of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This makes me believe hundreds of thousands, not just hundreds or thousands, of years have passed since the Deplorable Word, giving time for Charn’s stars as well as its sun to age and die, the planet itself having died long before then.

This begs the question: Since Charn-the-world is so old by its big red sun, was there another empire when the sun was younger and brighter? And if so, what happened to it?

(Note: Since Charn is not only its own world but exists in its own universe, perhaps things age faster there. After all, Narnia lasted a mere 2500 years. Charn might be even younger, burning brightly and then flaming out.)

The ancient city / lost empire setting, ruled over by an alluring Queen, is, of course, a SFF trope dating back to the Victorian Age, ranging from H. Rider Haggard’s She (1899) and C. J. Cutliffe Hyne’s The Lost Continent (1899) to the earlier The Goddess of Atvatabar by William R. Bradshaw and A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder by James De Mille. The latter two had been published earlier than She (1892 and 1888, respectively) but had not received with the same level of fanfare as Haggard’s book. In The Goddess of Atvatabar the goddess of the title is the immortal Lady Lyone, who falls in love with the explorer who discovers her kingdom within a hollow earth, a trope also employed by Edgar Rice Burroughs in his Pellucidar novels.

Illustrations from The Goddess of Atvatabar, showing some of the capitol city, very much like how I imagine Charn to be.

The Bradshaw book, which employs a geothermally heated Antarctica as its Lost World, doesn’t have a queen, but there is a love triangle between the hero and two sexually forward native women. In addition, it’s a satire, but the biting wit appropriate to the Victorian Age has long been blunted.

Illustration from A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder, showing the hero and his love interest escaping on a pterodactyl.

All these works likely influenced Burroughs who took the trope(s) and ran with it, and after him, Robert E. Howard, who cemented them more firmly within the realm of fantasy. (It’s a future project of mine to read all these Lewis influences and tally them up.)

The trope is still showing up today, notably in modern movie remakes, but also in Michael Moorcock’s depiction of Imrryr, the Dreaming City in the Elric novels, and even in Saturday Morning TV with The Lost City of the Sleestak in the sleekly written The Land of the Lost (1974) which paid it homage.

What was Charn’s society like? Well, we really don’t know. But it’s clear that if Lewis’s Calormen was Arabic-Ottoman-Indian, Charn was Sumerian or Babylonian.

There were magic-using elites, as Jadis says, and slaves, chariots, gongs, sacrifices, and temples. Later, flying carpets are mentioned, a reference to Jadis’s identification with the Jinn, and dragons, of which Sumeria had its kur and Babylon mushussu. By how Jadis describes Charn’s activity, the commotion was continual, which implies a warrior class, a priest class, and a slave class.  What was left over was everyone else – farmers, tradesmen, artisans, merchants. Perhaps Jadis didn’t think them worth mentioning; they were the innocents of Charn, the common people and animals, as Polly says. But then, as with Puzzle the Ape in The Last Battle, Jadis would, as a tyrant, describe the subjects and instruments of subjugation. The slaves may have been a hereditary class, tributes of the Throne, or Charn’s disenfranchised – criminals, the poor, and minorities.

Charn’s sheer size and the groaning slaves also imply many massive building projects. As with Egypt, they were likely for the glory of its rulers.

Fanfic writers, whose creations I have reviewed here, have attempted to fill in these broad outlines. I particularly like ZachValkyrie’s idea that subjugated states send Charn tributes of slaves for sacrifice, and  TheophilusG’s that the Royal family were living Gods and treated as such.

Now I’d like to return again to the theme of Jadis and her sister and their rivalry for the throne. It resonates, I feel, because of of its similarity to Susan’s and Lucy’s rivalries; but also, to the rivalries of the series’ children as a whole. The Pevensies are constantly trying to one-up each other; this a theme through the first three books, after which is it is carried on, in male-female form, in Shasta and Aravis, Polly and Digory. Mostly, one child is trying to appear more intelligent, sensible, or mature than the other; it’s a constant jockeying for status. That’s part of what makes these books still appealing. These kids are real, and like all children, insecure about themselves and their position in the world.

In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Susan is the first offender, but Edmund takes up the flag, bullying Lucy and plotting his revenge on Peter after he meets the White Witch. In Prince Caspian, things get worse, with all the kids, with the exception of Lucy, sniping at each other and trying to show their superiority; even Peter even gets into it with Caspian, pointing out that he is the senior king. Cousin Eustace takes this trope to the max in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but it’s Edmund pulls rank and butts heads with Caspian over Deathwater Island; after this episode, the petty sibling rivalries subside. But they do leave an echo that is picked up in Charn.

Though not siblings, the male-female one-upmanships of The Horse and His Boy and The Magician’s Nephew are even stronger, taking center stage now and even driving the plot: Aravis’s pride vs. Shasta’s stubborness and insecurity in the former, and Digory and Polly’s more natural and childlike testing of each other in the latter. Their bickering contrasts well with Jadis’s feud with her sister, showing the reader how both the low and the high are prone to this particular sin, with the results inevitably disastrous.

And so, such was Charn, that great city.

It’s been quite a trip, hasn’t it? From antiquity to the pulpiest of pulp fiction, to human psychology and modern allegories. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.

And oh… please turn off that big red sun when you leave.

Worldbuilding Wednesday 8/25/21: The Sister of Jadis
xxxx(Narnia XXVIII)

The sister of Jadis might have been a righteous, golden warrior for good (top) or a despotic tyrant who would have been even worse than Jadis (below). Jadis subscribed to the latter, but can we believe her?

Jadis’s sister and her rival for the throne of Charn was never given a name by Lewis. Some fanfic writers have given her one: Jerza, Jade, Cynara, Emeralas, Katilu. In the same spirit, here are are some randomgenned ones, sticking mostly to the Js, and those reminiscent of gems like Emeralas and Jade are.

 

Names for Jadis’ Sister

Jensa

Obsidia

Rabza

Julis

Rubion

Amberyl

Jalia

Opalica

Periamber

Silruby

Jadza

Shyna

Tyromis

Jadella

Jeeva

Jubreth

Chryseen

Malachris

Jasamber

Rhodis

Spheris

Tanzis

Zirca

Opaline

Chrysoberis

Laphis

All Things Charn (Part IV)

” She flashed her horrible, wicked eyes upon me and said, ‘Victory.’ “
— From The Magician’s Nephew

Now we get to what is, for me, one of the most compelling features about Jadis and Charn: The war with her sister.

[ You can read previous parts of this essay here:    Part I,   Part II,   Part III ]

Lewis doesn’t say if the sister is older or younger, a twin, a half-sister or stepsister; he doesn’t say how the war started, or why. We know that one sister eventually holed up in the city of Charn (Jadis) while the other attacked it (the nameless sister) because, at the end, Jadis is on the stairs of the palace as her sister walks up, triumphant, to gloat her victory. But beyond that, we don’t know much and that’s just as well. The scenes in Charn, vivid as they are, are only a small part of a small book. But they’re the most memorable ones, for the fierce battle, the dying world, the titanic city, and the Deplorable Word, uttered by Jadis, that extinguishes all life from it forever.

Jadis utters the Deplorable Word

The sparseness means there’s a lot of room there for imagination to room, as in these Charn fanfics. 

We don’t know who was in the right, who was in the wrong in the conflict. Jadis tells us (through the story she tells to Digory and Polly) that it was her sister’s fault, for using magic when the two had promised not to… forcing Jadis to use magic in turn, and employing the Deplorable Word at the end when her defeat was clear. Yet, we can’t really believe Jadis is telling the truth, because of the self-serving nature of her tone, how she justifies her choices to serve her narrative of being the wronged, reasonable one. She might be fighting to save Charn from a more wicked ruler than herself, or fighting to keep Charn from a more judicious and enlightened one. We don’t know and we don’t have to know for the purpose of the story, which is to point out the futility of all wars.

(My take was always the rulers were twins, one dark haired, Jadis, one blonde and fair (sister) with their personalities matching their hair, as they did in old fairy tales. Sis wanted a less harsh and more humane rule, Jadis wanted to keep her boot down, so Sis ran away and raised an army, believing she was in the right. She had actually won, but for… )

It’s really a masterful turn by Lewis.

The peculiar thing about this tale of warring sisters is that it resonates so powerfully with the reader, more so than if Jadis were fighting her brother, one of her parents, or another relative such as a cousin. I thought it was due to historical precedent. But in my research I found there were, over the centuries, very few rivalries between female siblings for the throne.

One was Boran, who took the throne of the Sasanian Empire from her sister Azarmidokht (that’s a tongue-twister) during a period of civil war between the Persians and Parthians, with each faction supporting one sister over the other. The other female rivalry was between Cleopatra and her half-sister Arsinoe IV for the throne of Egypt, Cleo eventually aligning with Julius Caesar. Yet no one outside of Persian historians has heard of Boran, and Arsinoe isn’t even mentioned in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, the go-to guide for Egyptian political maneuvering in 16th and 17th century England. So where do the feuding sisters come from again?

The answer is right before us in the cradle of the English-speaking world: Elizabeth I and Mary I (more commonly known as Bloody Mary) who were half-sisters, and, after she became Queen, Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, who were cousins. All three women were ferocious combatants for power in the Tudor age, the core of their power struggles centering around religion – Protestant Elizabeth, who was to found the Church of England, vs. Catholic Mary I and Mary Queen of Scots. To the irreligious, it’s all rather silly; but very real for Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots, who endured periods of imprisonment and threat of death. Their story is one C. S. Lewis would have known well, as all English schoolchildren would. In the end, Elizabeth solved the problem by beheading her cousin, and not as coldly as one would think.

Cordelia's Portion, by Ford Madox Brown, another pre-Raphaelite.

Cordelia’s Portion, by Ford Madox Brown, another pre-Raphaelite.
Goneril and Regan are glaring at each other over Lear’s right shoulder while Cordelia, dressed in light green to the right, gestures prettily.

The popular Shakespeare play King Lear also presents female rulers vying for power. The King, having divided his kingdom between his three daughters, sees two of them go to war over it while the third stays faithful to him, dying later after she and her father are captured. It’s a tragedy, and like a lot of Shakespeare very robust and adaptable – I have seen a version set in Shogun Japan, and another during WWI. Most college-educated Englishmen would be familiar with the play as well as the tale of Elizabeth and the Marys.

There are also many depictions of female rivalry from the fairy tales of Europe which Lewis praised so much, and if they were not warring Queens, they were warring rivals. Such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and their stepmothers, and the Snow Queen and Gerda, to name a few. There were also likely many fantasy tales of powerful female rivals in early pulp magazines now crumbling to pieces; She by H. Rider Haggard, has been cited by Lewis scholars as an influence on the creation of Jadis, as Ayesha, the She of the title, vies with a native girl for a handsome explorer’s attentions.

Wraparound cover for the 1974 Ballantine paperback edition of The Lost Continent by Charles John Cutcliffe Wright Hyne

Wraparound cover for the 1974 Ballantine paperback edition of The Lost Continent by Charles John Cutcliffe Wright Hyne

The similar pulp novel The Lost Continent contains a love triangle too, Empress Phorenice seeking to destroy her rival Nais for the love of the hunky Deucalion, former viceroy of Yucatan. It’s an upcoming project of mine to read the latter, and I can comment further on its influence on Lewis when I’m done. Both stories form the basis of a collective cultural memory that stretches from Victorian England up to Heavy Metal magazine, and beyond, to video games, manga, and anime, of women at war with each other.

And yet, there’s still something else that makes the Jadis-sister war resonate so strongly in the Chronicles, and it’s this: the sibling rivalry between Susan and Lucy. The rivalry was touched on in the first two books, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, and made clear in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by Lucy’s temptation over the beauty spell in the spellbook of Coriakin the magician.  Not only that, there’s yet another female rivalry in the books, stated by the Beavers in LWW: that of Eve and Lilith, Adam’s first wife, who is said to be the ancestress of Jadis. The Jadis who infatuates Digory (at first, let’s note he wises up quickly) and causes Polly to deride her (” ‘Beast!’ muttered Polly. “)

These unspoken rivalries may be par for the era, in which girls and women were expected to compete for the best male possible to marry and procreate with, having few other choices in middle-class England among citizens of the “proper” class. But I also think it’s deeper than that. It’s an acknowledgement of the power of attractive, magnetic women with their own plans have over men, and the fear disguised as disdain they inspire in commonplace women who cannot or will not act the same way.

I will also note that traditionally in Lewis’s time countries were referred to as female – Britannia, Mother Russia, etc. – or shes, as boats and cars were. He must have absorbed that way of speaking and thinking as well.

At any rate, in Charn, Jadis had the last word.