Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Narnia vs His Dark Materials, Pullman vs. Lewis, Aslan vs. Dust, Religion vs. Science

Prompted by a friend's link to the upcoming movie, The Golden Compass, I decided to venture into the world of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy. The first book in the series, The Golden Compass, introduces us to a parallel universe of our own in which Texas is its own country (had to laugh at that being that I live there) and there is no separation between church and state. Our scientists and physicists are their theologians. Pullman's concept that in this world an individuals soul manifests itself in an animal is what intrigued me the most while looking at the movie website. The book was a good read and the characters were really interesting and well-developed. I don't like to give too much away so I won't say too much more about plot and character specifics except that once I started the second book, The Subtle Knife, I began to think of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
*warning some spoilerish info below*

Often you hear people say that Narnia was written for children but meant to be understood by adults. I believe the same of this trilogy, but Pullman is presenting the other side of the great debate. While Aslan is a metaphor for God and Narnia a metaphor for heaven, dust (which is of prime concern in Pullman's world) is a metaphor for free will, the quest for knowledge, and the thirst for passion simmering inside each human being. The heretic explorer's quest to dethrone the authority and stop the suffering of Pullman's world is very interesting. The heroine's decision to free the ghosts from their disappointing afterlife and the discovery that follows is all in the favor of science. It is a very interesting concept. At first the two series seem so similar with child heroes, animals that talk and protect, and parallel worlds searching to understand the more philosophical questions of where do we come from and what happens when we are no more. However, it doesn't take long to realize that all though both series are wonderfully written and a joy to read they are proposing to very different views on the same coin. I just can't wait until the fantasy series written for children and meant to be understood by adults comes along that can find a way to allow both sides to coexist and make sense together.

When I"m Not Reading.....