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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Philip Pullman's Anti-Narnia

An article in a recent New Yorker contrasts C.S. Lewis fantasy writing with that of Philip Pullman. It contains some delicious quotes:

On the Oxford library where he was a student: "It was intimidating. It's a place of strict rules and arcane ceremonies."

"One of Pullman's beliefs is that your life begins when you are born, but your life story begins when you realize that you were delivered into the wrong family by mistake."

"The 'Lord of the Rings,'" he says, "is fundamentally an infantile work. Tolkien is not interested in the way grownup, adult human beings interact with each other. He's interested in maps and plans and languages and codes."

Pullman finds C.S. Lewis's Narnia series to be "morally loathsome." It contains "misogyny, racism, and a sado-masochistic relish for violence that permeates the whole cycle." The series teaches that "death is better than life, boys are better than girls. . . . and so on There are no shortages of such nauseating drivel in Narnia, if you can face it."

Pullman writes largely fictional books for children (although they are quite popular with adults - great stories dealing with complex issues ) he told a group of British librarians who had given him an award that, "There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children's book. In adult literary fiction, stories are there on sufferance. Other things are felt to be more important: technique, style, literary knowingness. . . .The present-day would be George Eliots take up their stories as if with a pair of tongs."
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