Title: His Dark Materials
Description: Philip Pullman gets the TP treatment
frida_wolf - November 24, 2004 10:54 PM (GMT)
Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th' Anonian Mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhime..."
from Paradise Lost, Book I, by John Milton.
Time to start off the discussion about these great but not flawless books.
Or more accurately, to try to convince Irish J, Godric, and Aramantha to continue over here their arguments about the appropriateness of child genital mutilation as a subject for juvenile literature, or whether the level of continuity in scope and tone throughout the three books is satisfactory.
TBH, It's probably more than can fit in one thread. I will add my own question nevertheless.
Personally I loved all three books in the trilogy.
(I loved them so much the that while I was still speeding through The Amber Spyglass, I foisted the first two books upon my younger brother. The plan was for him to bring me the first two book when he wanted to read the last one, which should have happened sooner, rather than later. Dave, however, went and bought his own copy of the third book, and is yet to give me back the Golden Compass and the Subtle Knife. Bastard.)
The book's most interesting aspect for me is the moral ambiguity that surrounds the central characters. Are we supposed to forgive Lord Ariel for his heartless treatment of Roger because he's on a mission to save all of the worlds? I somehow never managed to do that. Where did Lyra's rage at her father go, after the end of the first book?
aramantha - November 24, 2004 11:46 PM (GMT)
Us shall distill and copy the relevant comments over here in a bit.
There are so many things to comment on, with regard to your last questions.
Pullman has created a child heroine at the tail end of what some call latency -- later childhood, edging on puberty but not there yet -- and carried her across three books into the next stage, where her identity and what she stands for (and puts up with) are the big issues. "Coming of age" and all that, but the moral ambiguity of Asriel and especially Mrs. Coulter both complicate that picture tremendously, I think. This isn't just an uncomplicated kid growing up and taking on dimension in the process. She has a rich combination of traits from both of them before the story even starts, and the original and defiant use she makes both of their dastardliness and their strength, on her own terms, is such a handful I wonder that he brought it off at all, never mind went on to create her counterpart in Will. The strength of the characters is what carries the moral ambiguities (and outrages) so convincingly. Their badness and their brilliance (Asriel and Marisa -- is that Mom's name?) are both so big and dramatic that you get the idea they are driven toward an outcome that's beyond worrying about that.
I don't know why Lyra forgives her father, or maybe accepts his judgements and actions -- I see him in her as the part that is more worthy and more lasting (it is him that she takes on at the very end, and also in her moment of purest, most furious righteous indignation: when she wants to know who took the dried fish away from the dead severed child, her daemon takes the shape of her father's daemon, and she isn't even aware of it). Maybe that's why -- he's terribly piratical, but he has a cause at the core that seems to be able to carry all the implications of it, and at core she is like him or comes to be like him. Principled, in a completely idiosyncratic way. In the end, the whole book is about individuals that go down before the "cause" -- Roger does, and you find it cruel and Asriel evil for it -- but then in the end so do Lyra and Will. So does Lee Scoresby, so does Will's father. So does Asriel himself.
Lyra's mother in her, however, is what keeps saving her life and forwarding her story. She's every bit the amoral liar and self-centered own-butt-saver her mother is, and more, if and when she needs to be -- but she's not bound by it the way Marisa is. The combination of both their traits in her, plus things that come from the enviromnent they dumped her into and are really all her own, make a character that is almost too intense to bear.
I'll tell you this -- she has the same narrative condition Harry Potter has -- very special parents, no idea what they really are until arrival at this edge-of-puberty, crucial stage of identity formation, and removal into magical and frightening conditions, to begin to work that all out. But she strikes me as more real, even as she is bigger than any kid would be, because of her temperament right at the get-go. Harry doesn't begin to take on what a child raised under those conditions would have as issues until at least book 3, and it really blooms in book 5. Lyra is working her origins from the first page.
That's a jumble of first impressions.
Irish J - November 25, 2004 03:13 PM (GMT)
Golden Compass? I guess book 1 is named differently for you guys. It's called "The Northern Lights" over the pond.
I've only read the books through twice, and intend to do so again starting tomorrow night :D so bear with me :D
frida_wolf - November 25, 2004 06:57 PM (GMT)
Here's what Lord Asriel of http://www.hisdarkmaterials.org had to say about the first book's title:
|I've had quite a few questions about why I call the book 'Northern Lights' 'The Golden Compass' on my site. This is because the first book in the 'HDM' trilogy is called 'The Golden Compass' except in the UK, where it is called 'Northern Lights'.|
Why the different titles? The story's that when Philip Pullman had finished the first book in the trilogy, he first went to an American publisher with his book, calling it 'The Golden Compass'. He waited for a reply, when he didn't get one he went to a publisher in the UK, who decided to publish it. Because of some reason the book was called 'Northern Lights' instead of the earlier used 'The Golden Compass'.
However, Philip Pullman then got a response from the American publisher, who was very enthousiastic about the book. Mr Pullman then told the publisher that the book's title had changed from 'The Golden Compass' to 'Northern Lights'. Sadly that wasn't possible anymore, because the publisher had already started publishing and marketing the book. Hence the 2 different titles.
His site is a good source for information about the books and the upcoming movies.
P.S. - sorry, can't find the link tag on this format :blink:
Godric - April 4, 2005 07:26 PM (GMT)
Lads, can anyone give me a link to or name a book dedicated to, a negative review of HDM, because the author has been offended by the perceived anti-religious aspect of the books. Or a site or book, or anything which discusses the controversy raised by this aspect of the book? Preferably one with a shred of intelligence, the only ones I can find seem to be written by people who haven't read the books.
Any help would be sound!
frida_wolf - April 4, 2005 11:38 PM (GMT)
you can always sift through the customer reviews at amazon.com
aramantha - April 5, 2005 02:24 AM (GMT)
Odhran -- I sent you an e-mail with some halfway serious-looking pertinent references. Not just eedjits -- pompous ass eedjits, the best kind.
I'll put the links here for everyone later when I'm at my own computer. I'm in the library, and it's not letting me post links.
For these, I googled on "Pullman dark materials religion". http://www.crisismagazine.com/october2001/feature4.htm http://www.amywelborn.com/reviews/pullman.html http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml...17/bodark17.xml
The tone of the last of these is kind of cool -- it's an interview between Pullman himself and the Archbishop of Canterbury, about the theological issues.
And these I found by substituting "heresy" for "religion" in the above formula: http://www.christian-teachers.org.uk/news/...ndBlasphemy.htm http://home.swipnet.se/corbie/English/pull.html
You could also try googling "Pullman dark materials theology"
Mrs. Figg - April 5, 2005 05:09 PM (GMT)
Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy: A Reader's Guide (Continum Contemporaries) by Claire Squires
"The third chapter is, as the title suggests, solely about the novels' reception, and the author describes and quotes the reactions to the novels by different parties, commendable here is the fact that Mrs. Squires notes the positive reception as well as the negative reception of the books, which makes for a very informative read." http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...g=UTF8&v=glance
Navigating the Golden Compass : Religion, Science and Daemonology in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials (Smart Pop series) by Glenn Yeffeth
This is not a review but an interview with Pullman.http://www.thirdway.org.uk/past/showpage.asp?page=3949
Godric - April 5, 2005 05:53 PM (GMT)
Yet again ye've proved to be far more resourceful surfers than I!