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

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  • 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 1 of 11 , Nov 1, 2000
      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 2 of 11 , Nov 1, 2000
        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 3 of 11 , Nov 1, 2000
          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 4 of 11 , Nov 1, 2000
            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 5 of 11 , Nov 2, 2000
              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 6 of 11 , Nov 6, 2000
                << 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 7 of 11 , Nov 7, 2000
                  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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