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Re: [mythsoc] Philip Pullman article

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  • Christine Howlett
    I suppose CSL is trying to describe in shorthand people who are condescending and superficial - as well as very unimaginative (worse, he probably couldn t
    Message 1 of 47 , Mar 5, 2001
      I suppose CSL is trying to describe in shorthand people who are
      condescending and superficial - as well as very unimaginative (worse, he
      probably couldn't say!). But I have to agree that his thumbnail sketch is
      most unfortunate; CSL becomes the one who is condescending and superficial.
      Nevertheless, I love the books and have re-read them a dozen times at least.
      If I were going to be measured by the worst that ever came out of my mouth
      or pen, it would be a lot more mean-spirited and stupid than CSL's worst,
      though my best wouldn't come nearly up to his ankle in imaginative power.
      That inspite of the fact that I'd like to take a ruler to his hand sometimes
      for silly sexism and racial insensitivity.

      Even Homer nods.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: David S. Bratman <dbratman@...>
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
      Date: Monday, March 05, 2001 2:33 PM
      Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Philip Pullman article

      >Just to make a contribution to this discussion consisting of something
      >other than tsk'ing over this incomprehensible criticism ...
      >At 06:49 PM 3/3/2001 , Mary S. wrote:
      >>"Take C. S. Lewis's allegories. They are some of the vilest ever written.
      >>They are fascist in style and in method. If you want to see what I mean,
      >>read the first page of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Although I may
      >>to agree with the opinions, Lewis sneers at people. People who behave in
      >>way he describes I _may_ find objectionable. But he says they _are_.
      Also I
      >>think the books are very badly written and morally repugnant." -- Not
      >>Philip Pullman
      >>Of course Lewis never says anything at all about Harold, Alberta and
      >>except to report how they live, and act. The author doesn't "sneer" at
      >>family, but he does report that the Pevensies find all of them unlikable:
      >>that a crime?
      >I would describe Lewis's depiction of Eustace's parents as the textbook
      >example of how to sneer at somebody without saying so in so many words.
      >The art of writing a purportedly neutral description that conveys disdain
      >is a very old art, practiced often by journalists. It can even be
      >accomplished in documentary film: see "Trekkies" if you don't believe it
      >can be done. As for Eustace himself, Lewis says (quote from memory) "he
      >almost deserved" his name. I'd call that a sneer.
      >If you read the whole book, this impression is only confirmed. Eustace, as
      >we first meet him, is portrayed in a strongly negative way, and one can't
      >say, "Well, that's just the Pevensies' opinion of him" (and the Narnians',
      >too). As far as Eustace is concerned, the plot of the book is his
      >redemption. Thus, his initial bad behavior isn't inherent in him: it's how
      >he's been raised. His initial description doesn't focus on his behavior
      >(which we learn of later), but on his parents being vegetarians, etc. How
      >is that relevant if not as an explanation of the kind of person he is? And
      >at the end, his mother disapproves of the new Eustace.
      >>Fascist? Could someone explain to me what "fascist style" is? Whatever
      >>is, it can hardly be Lewis'. Poor man. This, it seems to me, is not
      >>literary criticism but mere name-calling.
      >Only insofar as "fascist" is a dirty word. And it is, to an extent.
      >Not-Pullman should not have said that. Nevertheless, I know what he means.
      > "Fascist style," as I think Mary guessed from her reference to "bullying"
      >below, is a bullying approach to argumentation. Hiding argumentation under
      >the guise of being neutral is a particularly effective form of bullying.
      >>It absolutely beats me, really.
      >>Harold and Alberta's regime is far more like fascism than the Pevensies'
      >>of life. And it is Eustace who "likes bullying."
      >Not-Pullman isn't accusing Lewis's favored characters of bullying, but
      >Lewis himself. And he said nothing about fascism itself, or fascist tastes
      >(did Mussolini promote vegetarianism?), but fascist style.
      >I like VDT, but despite, not because of, these matters. I try to ignore
      >the argumentation, and read the book as an imram - a re-envisaging of a
      >voyage like St. Brendan's. As such, it's effective and wonderfully
      >>And all this is to ignore the fact that Lewis' tales are most emphatically
      >>(he protests) NOT allegories.
      >Aslan is not an allegory of Christ? Could have fooled me.
      >Steve Schaper wrote:
      >>That is not what fascism is. Fascism is the ideology that rejects the idea
      >>of the transcendant-objective signified as a 'Jewish' (or Christian)
      >>rejects the concept of the individual and individual responsibility as a
      >>bourgeois notion, and embraces the group will to power as the greatest
      >This is so general, it could almost describe Communism.
      >David Bratman
      >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
      >Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
    • WendellWag@aol.com
      In a message dated 3/10/01 12:56:32 PM Eastern Standard Time, Stolzi@aol.com writes:
      Message 47 of 47 , Mar 10, 2001
        In a message dated 3/10/01 12:56:32 PM Eastern Standard Time, Stolzi@...

        << Must today's children be protected from Lewis'
        evils? Or should the first chapter be revised to say simply that "Eustace's
        parents were rather disagreeable people" - as DR DOOLITTLE has (in my view
        rightly) been rewritten in certain parts, as PL Travers rewrote a bothersome
        chapter of MARY POPPINS? >>

        It's possible to take a middle position. It's possible to think a writer is
        good and to agree with him on many things and yet to disagree with him on
        others, while not finding it necessary to tell children that they should
        ignore certain points in the book. I give all my nieces and nephews a copy
        of the Chronicles of Narnia. I agree with much of Lewis said, but I think
        that (like anyone else) he was incorrect on a few issues. I don't find it
        necessary to include an "errata" list of wrong ideas in Lewis's books (or
        anyone else's books I give as presents). I think that my nieces and nephews
        are already learning the lesson that they should read a lot of books and
        think for themselves about the issues involved.

        Wendell Wagner
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