With all due respect to the man who gave us the Sally Lockhart series and the first two volumes of His Dark Materials (not a big fan of the third and feel most comparisons to Paradise Lost are a bit overwrought) was it really necessary for Philip Pullman to write a novel about a dual (meaning literally twinned) Jesus?

A really lovely essay on animals in children's literature from Laura Miller's The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia.

I do recommend the Burgess books, which I remember liking at a very early age (though I have not re-read them recently enough to know how offensive they are.) But I was never a big fan of talking animals, not having, I suspect, enough animals in my life to understand them. Narnia was the exception, because, well, they were human.

See also a review of her book:


Here is an excerpt:

Can you talk a bit about Philip Pullman's influence on that final stage of your journey?

Yes. In Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials, he has a character make a very open statement about innocence and experience. Lyra, the young heroine, has been able to read a special instrument without ever really trying, thanks to the grace of being unself-conscious; when she reaches puberty, she becomes self-conscious and loses the unconscious grace she had as a child, and can no longer read this device. This character comes to her and explains what's happened but says that there is another kind of grace you can find through experience. If you devote yourself and your time and energy to learning how to do this, you will again reach a point where you can read it even better than you did before.

When you're writing children's books, or writing about children's books, there is this feeling that the loss of innocence is just a loss. Lots of the great children's books' writers were obsessed with childhood and their desire to go back to childhood. But Pullman's idea is that there's something adolescent about just being disillusioned. Many people, in any situation -- it could be a love relationship, or how you feel about Barack Obama -- get stuck at the stage of disillusionment. But Pullman is saying that you have to persevere, and then put effort into something, and if you do that, you can come to an enlarged understanding, and that is, in its own way, a kind of grace.

I've done a fair amount of writing about Narnia (sometimes I think it will yield its own field of criticism), but I have never given it a tag. I will see if I can remedy that.
Jim Emerson's (editor at Ebert's sight who helps the ailing Ebert) reviewed Prince Caspian and registered the following criticism of the movie:

...character is not destiny in the 'Narnia' pictures... )

I'm guessing I have more thoughts on this subject. What about you? Any thoughts?
The Chronicle of Higher Education takes on the Pullman-Lewis debate.

I have to say all this snark coming from Pullman is making me very sorry. He's a decent writer, even if I'm not a big fan of His Dark Materials, for the same reasons he's not fond of Lewis. (Although Lewis is probably more dangerous, because Lewis at least makes his ideas appealing to young people, whereas Pullman really isn't for children.) Those of you who enjoy Victoriana Detecting might enjoy his Sally Lockhart series. I'm not a fan of either, but I liked them.

I also like Madeleine E. Robins' Sarah Tolerance series. Miss Tolerance is a Fallen woman rejected by her family, who decides to become "an agent of inquiry" instead of a whore. It's in a slightly twisted Regency milieu. (Queen Caroline is regent, and their are Dueling Notices in the paper.) I discovered this author through lj. [personal profile] madrobins was nice enough to recommend some books to me, and when I looked to see who she was, I realized she had been too modest to mention her own.

[profile] sachie you would love both these series. Perhaps I should try the Amelia Peabody series. Which is book #1?



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