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Monday, December 26, 2005

Philip Pullman in The New Yorker

This week's New Yorker has a great article about Philip Pullman, including his opinion about Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, and the themes behind His Dark Materials. The entire article is worth reading, and Pullman makes great points about Tolkein & Lewis' works.

His books have been likened to those of J. R. R. Tolkien, another alumnus, but he scoffs at the notion of any resemblance. “ ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is fundamentally an infantile work,” he said. “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.” When it comes to “The Chronicles of Narnia,” by C. S. Lewis, Pullman’s antipathy is even more pronounced. Although he likes Lewis’s criticism and quotes it surprisingly often, he considers the fantasy series “morally loathsome.”

In Pullman’s view, the “Chronicles,” which end with the rest of the family’s ascension to a neo-Platonic version of Narnia after they die in a railway accident, teach that “death is better than life; boys are better than girls . . . and so on. There is no shortage of such nauseating drivel in Narnia, if you can face it.”

Sexual love, regarded with apprehension in Lewis’s fiction and largely ignored in Tolkien’s, saves the world in “His Dark Materials,” when Lyra’s coming of age and falling in love mystically bring about the mending of a perilous cosmological rift. “The idea of keeping childhood alive forever and ever and regretting the passage into adulthood—whether it’s a gentle, rose-tinged regret or a passionate, full-blooded hatred, as it is in Lewis—is simply wrong,” Pullman told me.

1 comment:

Scarlet said...

I don't think it's infantile to be concerned with maps and languages, and I think that the theme of self-sacrifice for the common good is a big part of being adult.

Narnia, though, doesn't have much to recommend it to adults. But I liked the series as a kid.