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Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy

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Since Philip Pullman was at school he has kept in touch with one of his teachers Enid Jones. A conversation between the two of them was recently broadcast on BBC Radio 4. I missed it at the time and thought I was too late for BBC Radio's 'Listen Again' service (normally available for a week) but I see that some clips are still available:

In a conversation between one of the world's greatest story-tellers and his former teacher, Philip Pullman reveals why he has kept in touch with Enid Jones since they first met nearly 50 years ago.

The BBC Radio Wales documentary Philip Pullman and Enid Jones lifts the lid on their pupil-teacher relationship that began in the late 1950s at Ysgol Ardudwy, Harlech, and has now ripened into a friendship.

Despite the popularity of Philip Pullman's work spreading around the world, he still finds time to correspond with his former teacher: "Whenever a new book of mine comes out I send Enid a copy. I've always done it and now, for me, the publication process is not complete until I send a copy to Enid.". . .

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Pullman wins 'great book' title

Philip Pullman's Northern Lights [AKA The Golden Compass] has been named the best children's book of the past 70 years. A public vote selected the book from a list of past winners of the Carnegie Medal for Children's Literature.

BBC News, June 21

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Pullman wins 'great book' title

Philip Pullman's Northern Lights [AKA The Golden Compass] has been named the best children's book of the past 70 years. A public vote selected the book from a list of past winners of the Carnegie Medal for Children's Literature.

BBC News, June 21

I was in Hungary yesterday and missed this piece of news. Wow! That's some honour for Pullman.

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New book from Jossey-Bass:

Killing the Imposter God : Philip Pullman's Spiritual Imagination in His Dark Materials

Donna Freitas, Jason King

ISBN: 978-0-7879-8237-9

Paperback

256 pages

September 2007

Killing the Imposter God explores the complex religious and spiritual dimensions of the best-selling fantasy series. Donna Freitas and Jason King -- scholars of religion and popular culture -- reveal how humanity's moral and religious issues play out in Pullman's literary phenomenon, showing that the trilogy -- far from preaching atheism, as many have suggested -- actually presents a vision of a universe permeated with divinity and rich with the Christian tradition Pullman himself so publicly rejects. Weaving together critical theory that spans the disciplines of theology, ethics, feminist studies, and philosophy, the authors examine the questions His Dark Materials raises about destruction and salvation, love and redemption, the abuse of power, and the divine -- making the case that Pullman the self-professed atheist has created a Christian classic of our times.

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The link is not working for me...

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Nothing wrong with the link now.

I discovered the article (well, some of it) over the weekend via Google Books. What a pleasure to read the whole thing. Alan Jacobs rocks, and kudos to First Things for putting it back out there.

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New book from Jossey-Bass:Killing the Imposter God : Philip Pullman's Spiritual Imagination in His Dark Materials

Donna Freitas, Jason King

Isn't Freitas the one who wrote that article in the Boston paper arguing that that Pullman's trilogy wasn't really anti-Christian?

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In regard to all the questions about Pullman's use of Milton and Blake above: Blake said that Milton was in the Devil's party without knowing it. But Blake invented a complex, mythological system to say all sorts of interesting things. He seperates the God of the OT, a removed law giver sitting in clouds on top of a mountain, from the God of the NT, who is incarnate, walks among us, suffers with us, loves us, etc. He calls the OT God Urizen and the NT God Los. Los is associated with Christ, but he's also associated with Satan, because Satan rebeled against the God of the OT. So Blake isn't interpreting the Bible like a fundamentalist. He focuses on how Christ trascends the Law, and how the Law binds people in an unnatural way. And he is completely uninterested in reconciling the OT and the NT into some sort of unified statement.

So really Blake is Pullman's spring board, not Milton, but unfortunately, Pullman really just reduces Blake's mythology to a simplistic anti-Christian message by making all of religion about the Law, punishment and destruction, and never about grace, freedom and creation.

Here's a shamelss plug for an article I wrote about Pullman for The Other Journal.

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I've just finished the trilogy, and overall, like it very much.

Great!

Why is it that there's no mention in this thread (or others like it) of Lyra's learning to reject her own falsehoods - and embracing the choice to tell the truth? She changes profoundly, in good ways.

I think this is crucial to the whole trilogy. Lyra's process of growing up is centred on this issue. She is transformed as a person from a deceiver to a person of integrity.

(and thanks, Nardis, for replying to this thread which pulled me back into A&F - kind of like being dragged back into Narnia by an automatically sent email!)

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Good to see you here again, Nardis.

I admit that I stopped after book 1, so I have nothing more to say after that, but you've brought up some points that I have not seen elsewhere, so I'm now reconsidering finishing the trilogy...perhaps in a few months when I have more time to read.

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nardis wrote:

: Neither The Authority nor Metatron are God; they are more like a Demiurge, as Tony has pointed out elsewhere. Pullman explicitly states that The Authority is a kind of usurping angel who has appropriated a lot of names and titles that have been cited in this and related threads.

"Appropriated"? That implies the names and titles existed elsewhere before "The Authority" used them. But does the trilogy give us any reason to believe that that is the case?

If "The Authority" is not God, then who is? Anybody? (Bueller... Bueller... )

: And I guess I would also like to say that they are novels. Granted, Pullman gets very heavy-handed in the last quarter of The Amber Spyglass, but to focus solely on that is to miss the point (i think).

Agreed that focusing "solely" on the last chapter of any book is to miss the point. But how a story ends -- and where an author chooses to end it -- is no small matter, is it?

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