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.

8 comments:

Oberon said...
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Sam said...

I'm a Dallas girl too! :)

And Denise, how wonderful to hear you talk about the similarities between the two series since they were the two favorite fantasy series of my childhood!

TrueMirage said...

This is probably heresy, but I thought the first Pullman book was so much better than any of the Narnia books as a novel. fun to hear someone else's thoughts about the two sets.

Marysusan Noll said...

I just finished the entire Dark Materials trillogy and spent the last 200 pages crying my eyes out and wiping snot from my face at 2 in the morning. The idea of the triumph of free will and the desire to do and create in THIS life as opposed to relying on some archaic idea of a chance to get it right in the next one is spot on. The Narnia series will always be close and dear to my heart, but this one grabbed at the intellectual in me.

Ellen said...

i've read neither series and y'all have me wanting to!

gerrijo said...

I lurve the HDM trilogy - the in laws introduced it to me and I have read them over again twice!

Hadi Inja said...

hey, im an IB (International Bacchalaureate) student, and im supposed to write an Extended Essay on the subject and topic of my choice. So, being a lover of fantasy books, i decided to write my essay on the His Dark Materials trilogy, OR about the Narnia series and its relation to the bible or something, i dunno...

so anyway, can u sortof, help me in deciding what to write about? its a 4000 word essay :P
Thx a bunch :)

by the way, my blog is:

www.thegreatestblogevercreated.blogspot.com

it's for my english class, i kinda have to do assignments on them and stuff, but id really love a reply, seeing as i stumbled onto ur blog while researching my topic and found it very useful :)

P.S.: I've read all the narnia series, but only the first of His Dark Materials, so please dont spoil anything for me :P I'd just like some advice on what to write about, and if its worth writing about.
THX SO MUCH!! :D

Anonymous said...

His Dark Materials is definately written with better quality and substance than the two. Narnia has mainly one dimensional characters who are described as mainly good or bad, but HDM has such a broad variety of characters and true development that they seem real. As a person, I was much more satisfied with His Dark Materials because it involved universal facts and details that we can all relate too, and the story is so involving that reality and fantasy seem to coexist together. Narnia has weaker female characters, while Pullman places females as the heriones and strongest, most influential beings in his novels. Definately better than Narnia.

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