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The Magic Pudding and Philip Pullman

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  • WendellWag@aol.com
    I presently reading an Australian children s fantasy novel called _The Magic Pudding_ written and illustrated by Norman Lindsay. It was first published in
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 24, 2005
      I presently reading an Australian children's fantasy novel called _The Magic
      Pudding_ written and illustrated by Norman Lindsay. It was first published
      in 1918 and is now back in print in the U.S. from The New York Review
      Children's Collection. This edition has an introduction by Philip Pullman in which
      he calls it "the funniest children's book ever written." Perhaps it's not
      quite as great as Pullman claims it to be, although it's very good. It's a
      little bit reminiscent of the Alice books, as the (reasonably polite) main
      character meets a bunch of characters who are constantly bickering with each other
      over nothing. Maybe it's also a bit like _The Adventures of Huckleberry
      Finn_, in which a younger character is accompanied on his travels by a couple of
      older con-man characters. Indeed, in some sense it's a picaresque novel,
      being about the travels of rogues.

      The reason why I mention this book is something that Pullman says in the
      introduction. He says that Lindsay "had a great cause, which was to persecute
      his mortal enemy, the wowser" (where "wowser" is the Australian slang term for
      a "prim, narrow-minded, pompous, Puritanical, humorless, spoilsport"
      person). In a way though, this misreads Lindsay's intentions. It's not a book in
      which the rogues are entirely treated as the heroes. This would be like
      claiming that the Mad Hatter or the Cheshire Cat are the heroes of the Alice
      books. And it's this sort of overemphasizing the rule-breaking aspects of this
      novel that shows me why Pullman dislikes Narnia so much. He can't accept that
      a great novel might not be about kicking down the walls of the establishment.

      This is why I don't want to read only novels that are recommended by a
      single person. Heck, I don't even want my own literary opinions to rule. I want
      books to express lots of different opinions, tastes, and personalities. It's
      possible to like both the Narnia books and _The Magic Pudding_.

      Wendell Wagner


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Mike Foster
      Well said, Wendell.
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 24, 2005
        Well said, Wendell.

        WendellWag@... wrote:

        >I presently reading an Australian children's fantasy novel called _The Magic
        >Pudding_ written and illustrated by Norman Lindsay. It was first published
        >in 1918 and is now back in print in the U.S. from The New York Review
        >Children's Collection. This edition has an introduction by Philip Pullman in which
        >he calls it "the funniest children's book ever written." Perhaps it's not
        >quite as great as Pullman claims it to be, although it's very good. It's a
        >little bit reminiscent of the Alice books, as the (reasonably polite) main
        >character meets a bunch of characters who are constantly bickering with each other
        >over nothing. Maybe it's also a bit like _The Adventures of Huckleberry
        >Finn_, in which a younger character is accompanied on his travels by a couple of
        >older con-man characters. Indeed, in some sense it's a picaresque novel,
        >being about the travels of rogues.
        >
        >The reason why I mention this book is something that Pullman says in the
        >introduction. He says that Lindsay "had a great cause, which was to persecute
        >his mortal enemy, the wowser" (where "wowser" is the Australian slang term for
        >a "prim, narrow-minded, pompous, Puritanical, humorless, spoilsport"
        >person). In a way though, this misreads Lindsay's intentions. It's not a book in
        >which the rogues are entirely treated as the heroes. This would be like
        >claiming that the Mad Hatter or the Cheshire Cat are the heroes of the Alice
        >books. And it's this sort of overemphasizing the rule-breaking aspects of this
        >novel that shows me why Pullman dislikes Narnia so much. He can't accept that
        >a great novel might not be about kicking down the walls of the establishment.
        >
        >This is why I don't want to read only novels that are recommended by a
        >single person. Heck, I don't even want my own literary opinions to rule. I want
        >books to express lots of different opinions, tastes, and personalities. It's
        >possible to like both the Narnia books and _The Magic Pudding_.
        >
        >Wendell Wagner
        >
        >
        >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
        >Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • David Bratman
        ... I wonder if Pullman thinks that Lewis was a wowser. In fact Lewis was nothing of the sort, and even made a religious case for the homely pleasures that
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 25, 2005
          At 01:51 PM 11/24/2005 -0500, WendellWag@... wrote:

          >The reason why I mention this book is something that Pullman says in the
          >introduction. He says that Lindsay "had a great cause, which was to
          >persecute
          >his mortal enemy, the wowser" (where "wowser" is the Australian slang term
          >for a "prim, narrow-minded, pompous, Puritanical, humorless, spoilsport"
          >person).

          I wonder if Pullman thinks that Lewis was a wowser. In fact Lewis was
          nothing of the sort, and even made a religious case for the homely
          pleasures that wowsers denigrate. The people that Lewis most caricatures
          and denigrates tend to be secular wowsers.

          DB
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