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Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm - Philip Pullman


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Aaaaaand he's back.

MJ: You recently told a young reader that the person you'd most like to have dinner with is Jesus. What would you ask Jesus?

PP: Yeah, well, he's the most fascinating character in history, really—the character who's made more difference to the world than anyone since him. I daresay that Muslims would say Muhammad was that character, but I think Jesus had a sort of 600-year start on him. [Laughs.] I'd like to hear what kind of Jew he was, for example, how pious he was.

The crucifixion saved Jesus from dealing with the fact "that the kingdom of God wasn't ever going to come."

According to what he says in the Gospels, he was absolutely certain that the end of time was coming, that the kingdom of heaven was coming within his lifetime—if not within his lifetime, then within the lifetime of those who were listening to him.

Like many prophets—and we've seen several in our own times who say, "Come up on the top of the mountain; the flying saucers are coming on Tuesday and then we'll all go and we'll all be taken up to Venus and we'll all live happily every after," and they all go up to the top of the mountain and the flying saucers don't come, so on Wednesday they kind of trudge down rather disconsolately: "Well, we got the timing wrong. It's next October"—Jesus was in that unfortunate position. The crucifixion saved him from that. He never had to deal with the fact that the kingdom of God wasn't ever going to come. His disciples, of course, had to deal with it, and little by little they had to realize that it's a metaphorical thing. Well, that's not what Jesus meant. I'm fairly sure he meant it literally. But he must have been the most fascinating man.

MJ: So would it be fair to say you're a fan of Jesus and an enemy of the church?

PP: Uh, yes. That's pretty much where I am. If we all gave all our goods to the poor, the church would fall apart. If we all hated our father and mother, as Jesus told us to, there'd be an end of the church's emphasis on the family as being the one important thing holding the whole society together. There are all sorts of ways in which the church's teachings contradict directly what Jesus says in the Gospel.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I'm glad we have Philip Pullman around to clear up all the church's misunderstandings about Jesus.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I appreciate, however, that judging from the interview he seems to be taking the right attitude toward the stories. He recalls Chesterton in talking about children's appreciation for justice in stories, and C.S. Lewis in his dislike of Disney's dwarfs in Snow White (as well as his appreciation for Lindsay's Voyage to Arcturus).

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  • 2 months later...

Fairy Tales Licked Clean

The choice in Grimm Tales for Young and Old gives a sense of the Brothers’ range, from tales of tomfoolery and happy-go-lucky absurdity to the brutal romances of family treachery and murder. Pullman is a seasoned and handy craftsman – in “real life”, a calligrapher and a wood-carver – and his concern for shipshapeliness leads him to move elements up and around within a story, and to add others that provide clarity and solidity. Fairy tale plots are frequently rickety, cobbled together and, when it comes to continuity, prone to early onset dementia – characters who loom large at the start disappear and rationales are missing (Coleridge admired the “motiveless malignancy” of the stories). Pullman actively scrubs and caulks, bends the timbers and adds supports. His book is a showpiece of the “neatness and clarity” he is aiming for, with notes on the stories that give odd glimpses into his often vehement reactions: he warms strongly to the couple who loaf about in bed all day, but takes against “The Maid without Hands” (“perhaps a great many people like stories of maiming, cruelty and sentimental piety”).

This strong, sophisticated literary revival of folklore is startling, as fairy tales were so firmly identified with children, pink frills and tinsel, and wishing on a star. It is interwoven with a reinvigorated attraction to allegory among contemporary writers of fiction, a general rise in the value of genre of all sorts (fantasy included), and the historic convergence of dark days with a hunger for revelatory images. Harold Bloom, a connoisseur of such apocalyptic responses, quotes Oscar Wilde saying that “literary metaphor . . . enables fictions to persuade us of beautiful untrue things . . .”, and then adds the illuminating comment, “I tend to define metaphor as a figure of desire rather than a figure of knowledge”. Fairy tales, such as the Grimms collected, keep inventing figures of desire as they confront the utmost misery, embody a healthy desire to escape it, and then frame alternatives, expressions of hope.

Pullman is setting out to render the Grimms limpidly and scrupulously, to respect the originals in a language “as clear as water”. But he is torn. The raw material keeps demanding more. He is not a scholar of German, or a translator. He is not content to “carry across” the stories, but rather from a love of the fairy tale form, he wants to do the best for them, and open up their fullest and most coherent narrative power, approaching translation as (to use Matthew Reynolds’s term) “resurrection”. Music-making provides Pullman with his prime analogy for what he is doing; he invokes a jazz band, with a soloist taking up a tune: “our task is to step from chord to chord, from event to event, with all the lightness and swing we can”. In this collection, he can’t help seizing the melody with improvisatory glee.

"The truth is you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin Ringo, I'm tryin real hard to be the shepherd." Pulp Fiction

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I've yet to read this article in full, so I might have missed something. But I can't help but wonder what Pullman has done with the intentional Christian elements that the brothers Grimm put into their versions of those old folktales. It would be a shame to have those cut out, almost as awful as cutting out the Christian elements from the Narnia series (which I vaguely remember there was some mention of awhile back.)

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  • 1 month later...

More on this in the Telegraph.

Philip Pullman: teach all children fairy tales and Bible verses

All children should be taught Bible verses and fairy tales, the author Philip Pullman has argued, as he said modern families are too distracted by television and the internet to tell their own stories.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Wow. I pretty much agree with him.

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