Re: [mythsoc] Pullman and the Anxiety of Influence, etc.
- On Wed, 1 Nov 2000, ted sherman wrote:
> It's quite clear from the interviews that what Pullman objects to is Lewis'sIn one of the interviews, the interviewer specifically points this out to
> 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).
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 DarkSo Lewis implies in "On Three Ways of Writing for Children". However,
> Materials to oppose the Chronicles. Seems to me to be a rather weak foundation
> for writing a lengthy trilogy.
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 imageThe theology didn't just "creep" in. Having had his images, Lewis made a
> and idea--only later did the theology creep into the work.
deliberate and conscious decision to write theology into his fiction. See
his "past watchful dragons" comment.
- 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.
- In a message dated 10/31/2000 10:51:26 PM Eastern Standard Time,
<< 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
- In a message dated 11/1/0 5:23:38 PM, David Bratman wrote:
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.
- ERATRIANO@... wrote:
>I have to say I thouroughly enjoyed the first half of DoP. But when
> 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
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.
- << 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
<< 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?
- David Lenander <d-lena@...> wrote:
>David Eddings is responsible for the above. It was during an interview that
> 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.
was contained in a Waldenbooks publication that was given to members of some
sort of sf readers club, if memory serves.