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Re: [mythsoc] Pullman and the Anxiety of Influence, etc.

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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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