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Pullman and the Anxiety of Influence, etc.

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  • David Lenander
    ... I certainly had that impression from one or two articles that I read in which Pullman attacks the Lewis books. I ve never read The Anxiety of Influence
    Message 1 of 11 , Oct 31, 2000
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      >

      I certainly had that impression from one or two articles that I read in which Pullman attacks the Lewis books. I've never read "The Anxiety of Influence" but from
      references I gather that's the phenomenon involved here. On Mythcon panels Paul Edwin Zimmer used to like to mention the early days when Michael Moorcock was a
      major Tolkien fan, before he grew up to repudiate things Tolkien and write his own works in reaction. Somewhere Gene Wolfe was quoted as saying that Tolkien is
      such a giant for subsequent fantasyists that they must either write in his shadow or in reaction to Tolkien. I'd really love to find the original Gene Wolfe
      quotation. It seems overstatement from a writer who is probably most influenced by another giant, J.L. Borges, and certainly shows more influence from Dickens and
      Kipling than Tolkien. So I'd like to see exactly what he said. (Or to know that he was misquoted).

      By the way, I read Caroline Stevermer's new book, _When the King Comes Home_ and greatly enjoyed it.

      >
      > Message: 7
      > Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 21:28:03 EST
      > From: Stolzi@...
      > Subject: Re: Pullman about Lewis
      > [. . . .]
      >
      > But it brings up this thought: Why does Pullman talk about Lewis so much?
      > I mean, are the interviewers persistent on this, is he just responding to
      > them - or =is= he wrestling with some kind of grudge/complex/whatever that he
      > can't seem to give up?
      >
      > Mary S
      >
      > ________________________________________________________________________
      > ________________________________________________________________________
      >
      > Message: 8
      > Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 19:41:49 -0600
      > From: Ted Sherman <tedsherman@...>
      > Subject: Re: Pullman about Lewis
      >
      > Mary,
      >
      > He's got an axe to grind. Read the interviews. And read those that were published
      > in Lion and the Unicorn last year and in Horn Book.
      >
      > Ted

      David Lenander


      e-mail: d-lena@... web-page: http://umn.edu/~d-lena/RIVENDELL.html
    • Stolzi@aol.com
      In a message dated 10/31/00 10:22:44 AM Central Standard Time, ... Home_ ... What s it about, David? Mary S
      Message 2 of 11 , Oct 31, 2000
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        In a message dated 10/31/00 10:22:44 AM Central Standard Time,
        d-lena@... writes:

        > By the way, I read Caroline Stevermer's new book, _When the King Comes
        Home_
        > and greatly enjoyed it.

        What's it about, David?

        Mary S
      • Sophie Masson
        I think Philip(whom I know, though by correspondence rather than in the flesh, yet)is very much against the portrayal of girls in the Narnia series,
        Message 3 of 11 , Oct 31, 2000
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          I think Philip(whom I know, though by correspondence rather than in the
          flesh, yet)is very much against the portrayal of girls in the Narnia series,
          particularly Susan and various other bit players, like 'the girl with fat
          legs' in The Silver Chair etc..His view is that also Lewis is saying that
          experience equals corruption; that innocence only is good; and that this
          world is not a good one, but one to flee from, particularly in death. Also,
          I think he is dismayed by various things such as equating garlic-eating
          people with badness. I mustsay myself that as a child(and an adult), though
          I loved the others in the series, I disliked The Last Battle thoroughly--I
          couldn't have told you why as a child but now I think it was because it
          reminded me of hellfire preachers I had known. It seems to me the least
          childlike and mythical of the series, and I think Philip particularly hates
          that one too.
          Sophie

          Author site:
          http://www.northnet.com.au/~smasson

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: David Lenander <d-lena@...>
          To: <mythsoc@egroups.com>
          Sent: Wednesday, 1 November 2000 3:21
          Subject: [mythsoc] Pullman and the Anxiety of Influence, etc.


          > >
          >
          > I certainly had that impression from one or two articles that I read in
          which Pullman attacks the Lewis books. I've never read "The Anxiety of
          Influence" but from
          > references I gather that's the phenomenon involved here. On Mythcon
          panels Paul Edwin Zimmer used to like to mention the early days when Michael
          Moorcock was a
          > major Tolkien fan, before he grew up to repudiate things Tolkien and write
          his own works in reaction. Somewhere Gene Wolfe was quoted as saying that
          Tolkien is
          > such a giant for subsequent fantasyists that they must either write in his
          shadow or in reaction to Tolkien. I'd really love to find the original Gene
          Wolfe
          > quotation. It seems overstatement from a writer who is probably most
          influenced by another giant, J.L. Borges, and certainly shows more influence
          from Dickens and
          > Kipling than Tolkien. So I'd like to see exactly what he said. (Or to
          know that he was misquoted).
          >
          > By the way, I read Caroline Stevermer's new book, _When the King Comes
          Home_ and greatly enjoyed it.
          >
          > >
          > > Message: 7
          > > Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 21:28:03 EST
          > > From: Stolzi@...
          > > Subject: Re: Pullman about Lewis
          > > [. . . .]
          > >
          > > But it brings up this thought: Why does Pullman talk about Lewis so
          much?
          > > I mean, are the interviewers persistent on this, is he just responding
          to
          > > them - or =is= he wrestling with some kind of grudge/complex/whatever
          that he
          > > can't seem to give up?
          > >
          > > Mary S
          > >
          > > ________________________________________________________________________
          > > ________________________________________________________________________
          > >
          > > Message: 8
          > > Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 19:41:49 -0600
          > > From: Ted Sherman <tedsherman@...>
          > > Subject: Re: Pullman about Lewis
          > >
          > > Mary,
          > >
          > > He's got an axe to grind. Read the interviews. And read those that were
          published
          > > in Lion and the Unicorn last year and in Horn Book.
          > >
          > > Ted
          >
          > David Lenander
          >
          >
          > e-mail: d-lena@... web-page: http://umn.edu/~d-lena/RIVENDELL.html
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
          >
        • ted sherman
          It s quite clear from the interviews that what Pullman objects to is Lewis s using fiction to promote a Christian philosophy. He states that rather
          Message 4 of 11 , Nov 1, 2000
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            It's quite clear from the interviews that what Pullman objects to is Lewis's
            using fiction to promote a Christian philosophy. He states that rather
            emphatically. What he doesn't state, however, is that he is guilty of exactly
            the same offense in His Dark Materials, albeit he uses fiction to promote
            anti-theism (and anti-Christianity in particular).

            He makes no mention, if I remember correctly, of specific problems he has the
            Chronicles (other than the centaur having two stomachs and needing two
            breatkfasts, one human, one horse, but both eaten with a human mouth) other than
            their, in his view, appalling message. He even states that he writes His Dark
            Materials to oppose the Chronicles. Seems to me to be a rather weak foundation
            for writing a lengthy trilogy. At least the Chronicles all began with an image
            and idea--only later did the theology creep into the work.

            Ted

            Sophie Masson wrote:

            > I think Philip(whom I know, though by correspondence rather than in the
            > flesh, yet)is very much against the portrayal of girls in the Narnia series,
            > particularly Susan and various other bit players, like 'the girl with fat
            > legs' in The Silver Chair etc..His view is that also Lewis is saying that
            > experience equals corruption; that innocence only is good; and that this
            > world is not a good one, but one to flee from, particularly in death. Also,
            > I think he is dismayed by various things such as equating garlic-eating
            > people with badness. I mustsay myself that as a child(and an adult), though
            > I loved the others in the series, I disliked The Last Battle thoroughly--I
            > couldn't have told you why as a child but now I think it was because it
            > reminded me of hellfire preachers I had known. It seems to me the least
            > childlike and mythical of the series, and I think Philip particularly hates
            > that one too.
            > Sophie
            >
            > Author site:
            > http://www.northnet.com.au/~smasson
            >
            > ----- Original Message -----
            > From: David Lenander <d-lena@...>
            > To: <mythsoc@egroups.com>
            > Sent: Wednesday, 1 November 2000 3:21
            > Subject: [mythsoc] Pullman and the Anxiety of Influence, etc.
            >
            > > >
            > >
            > > I certainly had that impression from one or two articles that I read in
            > which Pullman attacks the Lewis books. I've never read "The Anxiety of
            > Influence" but from
            > > references I gather that's the phenomenon involved here. On Mythcon
            > panels Paul Edwin Zimmer used to like to mention the early days when Michael
            > Moorcock was a
            > > major Tolkien fan, before he grew up to repudiate things Tolkien and write
            > his own works in reaction. Somewhere Gene Wolfe was quoted as saying that
            > Tolkien is
            > > such a giant for subsequent fantasyists that they must either write in his
            > shadow or in reaction to Tolkien. I'd really love to find the original Gene
            > Wolfe
            > > quotation. It seems overstatement from a writer who is probably most
            > influenced by another giant, J.L. Borges, and certainly shows more influence
            > from Dickens and
            > > Kipling than Tolkien. So I'd like to see exactly what he said. (Or to
            > know that he was misquoted).
            > >
            > > By the way, I read Caroline Stevermer's new book, _When the King Comes
            > Home_ and greatly enjoyed it.
            > >
            > > >
            > > > Message: 7
            > > > Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 21:28:03 EST
            > > > From: Stolzi@...
            > > > Subject: Re: Pullman about Lewis
            > > > [. . . .]
            > > >
            > > > But it brings up this thought: Why does Pullman talk about Lewis so
            > much?
            > > > I mean, are the interviewers persistent on this, is he just responding
            > to
            > > > them - or =is= he wrestling with some kind of grudge/complex/whatever
            > that he
            > > > can't seem to give up?
            > > >
            > > > Mary S
            > > >
            > > > ________________________________________________________________________
            > > > ________________________________________________________________________
            > > >
            > > > Message: 8
            > > > Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 19:41:49 -0600
            > > > From: Ted Sherman <tedsherman@...>
            > > > Subject: Re: Pullman about Lewis
            > > >
            > > > Mary,
            > > >
            > > > He's got an axe to grind. Read the interviews. And read those that were
            > published
            > > > in Lion and the Unicorn last year and in Horn Book.
            > > >
            > > > Ted
            > >
            > > David Lenander
            > >
            > >
            > > e-mail: d-lena@... web-page: http://umn.edu/~d-lena/RIVENDELL.html
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
            > >
            >
            >
            > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org

            --
            Dr. Theodore James Sherman, Editor
            Mythlore: A Journal of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams and
            Mythopoeic Literature
            Box X041, Department of English
            Middle Tennessee State University
            Murfreesboro, TN 37132
            615 898-5836; FAX 615 898-5098
            tsherman@...
            tedsherman@...
          • David S. Bratman
            ... In one of the interviews, the interviewer specifically points this out to Pullman, who admits it. One can object to Lewis having done this thing while
            Message 5 of 11 , Nov 1, 2000
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              On Wed, 1 Nov 2000, ted sherman wrote:

              > It's quite clear from the interviews that what Pullman objects to is Lewis's
              > using fiction to promote a Christian philosophy. He states that rather
              > emphatically. What he doesn't state, however, is that he is guilty of exactly
              > the same offense in His Dark Materials, albeit he uses fiction to promote
              > anti-theism (and anti-Christianity in particular).

              In one of the interviews, the interviewer specifically points this out to
              Pullman, who admits it. One can object to Lewis having done this thing
              while still feeling that he had a right to do it, and that, Lewis having
              done it, one may reply in kind. Apart from the merits of the arguments
              themselves, I see nothing offensive in this. It is certainly possible to
              quote Pullman's fiction to show propaganda, but it's equally possible to
              quote Lewis's fiction to the same effect.

              > He even states that he writes His Dark
              > Materials to oppose the Chronicles. Seems to me to be a rather weak foundation
              > for writing a lengthy trilogy.

              So Lewis implies in "On Three Ways of Writing for Children". However,
              the proof of that pudding has to be in the eating. If Pullman's books
              are successful as literature, it doesn't matter why he wrote them.

              > At least the Chronicles all began with an image
              > and idea--only later did the theology creep into the work.

              The theology didn't just "creep" in. Having had his images, Lewis made a
              deliberate and conscious decision to write theology into his fiction. See
              his "past watchful dragons" comment.

              David Bratman
            • alexeik@aol.com
              In a message dated 11/1/0 3:51:27 AM, Sophie wrote:
              Message 6 of 11 , Nov 1, 2000
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                In a message dated 11/1/0 3:51:27 AM, Sophie wrote:

                <<I think Philip(whom I know, though by correspondence rather than in the
                flesh, yet)is very much against the portrayal of girls in the Narnia series,>>

                Pullman's objections to Lewis (as quoted so far) seem to centre on the Narnia
                books, whereas it is Lewis's *adult* fiction that his own work resembles most
                glaringly in style and imagery. Has he ever mentioned Lewis in relation to
                anything other than Narnia? As a number of people have pointed out, _His Dark
                Materials_ isn't really written in the manner of a children's book, and
                doesn't really strike one as an anti-Christian equivalent of Narnia, to be
                read on the same level.
                Alexei
              • ERATRIANO@aol.com
                In a message dated 10/31/2000 10:51:26 PM Eastern Standard Time, smasson@northnet.com.au writes:
                Message 7 of 11 , Nov 1, 2000
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                  In a message dated 10/31/2000 10:51:26 PM Eastern Standard Time,
                  smasson@... writes:

                  << I disliked The Last Battle thoroughly--I
                  couldn't have told you why as a child but now I think it was because it
                  reminded me of hellfire preachers I had known. It seems to me the least
                  childlike and mythical of the series, and I think Philip particularly hates
                  that one too. >>

                  It's been too long since I last reread the series, but I liked TLB. I took
                  comfort from Aslan's claiming of one of the, what were they? the
                  pseudo-Saracens... Not just the act itself, but its implications as well.

                  Sounds like I should avoid Goldthwaite, and the jury is still out on Pullman.
                  On the other hand, there are constantly more and more Redwall books, and I
                  can't help but wonder if they are enjoyable.

                  I am ploughing through Moon's Deed of Paksennarion (sp) and while it took
                  some getting used to, and I personally miss a romantic element, it is
                  definitely worth reading, at least so far. There is a wealth more of certain
                  details than I can take in, but it still doesn't make it a bad book. Many
                  supposedly mythic books leave a gooey taste in the mind, and Paks, while not
                  as poetic as I might like, is leaving a clean taste... lol

                  Lizzie
                • alexeik@aol.com
                  In a message dated 11/1/0 5:23:38 PM, David Bratman wrote:
                  Message 8 of 11 , Nov 1, 2000
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                    In a message dated 11/1/0 5:23:38 PM, David Bratman wrote:

                    << However,
                    the proof of that pudding has to be in the eating. If Pullman's books
                    are successful as literature, it doesn't matter why he wrote them.>>

                    I agree, and my objection to the trilogy is not a partisan ideological one,
                    but is based on my dissatisfaction with its conclusion, which gave evidence
                    of sloppy thinking and evasion of crucial implications of the plot. In an
                    interview he gave to Amazon.com, he said that his world-view was basically a
                    moral one, that kindness and self-sacrifice were good and cruelty and
                    selfishness were evil, regardless of where they were manifested -- that if a
                    self-proclaimed religious person is selfish and cruel, their religious
                    allegiance doesn't excuse them. This is very easy to accept, and could be the
                    basis of a successful fantasy plot (although having *everybody* in the Church
                    be evil is stretching credibility a bit -- but that's another story), but
                    Pullman then muddies his moral vision. At the beginning, Iorek Byrnison is a
                    really powerful image of goodness, and Mrs.Coulter is as ghastly a figure of
                    self-centered evil as one might wish for. The problem comes with Lord
                    Asriel,whose own cruelty is amply demonstrated at the end of _The Golden
                    Compass_, and whose revolt is motivated primarily by his unwillingness to
                    recognise an authority higher than his own. However, all those who have had
                    reason to resent the Authority flock to his banner and treat him as a heroic
                    liberator, even though there is nothing of the "kindness" and altruism in him
                    that would make him a "good" character according to Pullman's own terms. His
                    "heroism" in his suicidal destruction of the Authority is motivated entirely
                    by hate. The plot was leading me to expect Lyra (who has first-hand knowledge
                    of his cruelty) to expose her father's true motivations and to establish
                    "goodness" on a firmer foundation. But in the end she never even learns of
                    her parents' fate (and her father's indifference to her even gets whitewashed
                    by a pious lie). Mrs. Coulter is so manipulative in her selfishness that I
                    found it impossible to believe in any of her turnarounds, including her
                    crucial last one (and I have no idea whether Pullman expected us to). This in
                    particular robbed the book of its full final impact.
                    Alexei
                  • Mary Kay Kare
                    ... I have to say I thouroughly enjoyed the first half of DoP. But when things started getting religious and mystical it became less enjoyable for me. I
                    Message 9 of 11 , Nov 2, 2000
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                      ERATRIANO@... wrote:
                      >
                      >
                      > I am ploughing through Moon's Deed of Paksennarion (sp) and while it took
                      > some getting used to, and I personally miss a romantic element, it is
                      > definitely worth reading, at least so far. There is a wealth more of certain
                      > details than I can take in, but it still doesn't make it a bad book. Many
                      > supposedly mythic books leave a gooey taste in the mind, and Paks, while not
                      > as poetic as I might like, is leaving a clean taste... lol
                      >
                      I have to say I thouroughly enjoyed the first half of DoP. But when
                      things started getting religious and mystical it became less enjoyable
                      for me. I think, however, this is my peculiarity rather than a flaw
                      in the writing.

                      MKK
                    • ERATRIANO@aol.com
                      Message 10 of 11 , Nov 6, 2000
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                        << Somewhere Gene Wolfe was quoted as saying that Tolkien is such a giant for
                        subsequent fantasyists that they must either write in his shadow or in
                        reaction to Tolkien. I'd really love to find the original Gene Wolfe
                        quotation. It seems overstatement from a writer who is probably most
                        influenced by another giant, J.L. Borges, and certainly shows more influence
                        from Dickens and Kipling than Tolkien. So I'd like to see exactly what he
                        said. (Or to know that he was misquoted). >>

                        It's an understandable generalization. One can either write in the
                        orcs-and-elves sort of tradition, or consciously choose not to use any of it.
                        But I'm not sure how things like poetric prophecy, magic swords, and other
                        things that existed before Tolkien, would be classified. Did the quote ever
                        turn up.

                        << By the way, I read Caroline Stevermer's new book, _When the King Comes
                        Home_ and greatly enjoyed it. >>

                        I've not heard of her. What does she write?

                        Lizzie
                      • Paul F. Labaki
                        ... David Eddings is responsible for the above. It was during an interview that was contained in a Waldenbooks publication that was given to members of some
                        Message 11 of 11 , Nov 7, 2000
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                          David Lenander <d-lena@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > Somewhere Gene Wolfe was quoted as saying that Tolkien
                          > is such a giant for subsequent fantasyists that they must either write in his
                          > shadow or in reaction to Tolkien. I'd really love to find the original Gene
                          > Wolfe quotation.

                          David Eddings is responsible for the above. It was during an interview that
                          was contained in a Waldenbooks publication that was given to members of some
                          sort of sf readers club, if memory serves.

                          Peace,
                          Paul
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