His Dark Materials Illuminated: Critical Essays on Philip Pullman's Trilogy

Overview

British author Philip Pullman’s celebrated trilogy for young readers, His Dark Materials [Northern Lights/Golden Compass (1995), The Subtle Knife (1997), The Amber Spyglass (2000)], has reached a broad spectrum of readers, from those appreciating his metaphysical imagination and literary depth to those charmed by his suspenseful and emotional storytelling. Demonstrating its wide appeal in 2001, The Amber Spyglass became the first book to be awarded the Whitbread Book Award in both the adult and children’s ...

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Overview

British author Philip Pullman’s celebrated trilogy for young readers, His Dark Materials [Northern Lights/Golden Compass (1995), The Subtle Knife (1997), The Amber Spyglass (2000)], has reached a broad spectrum of readers, from those appreciating his metaphysical imagination and literary depth to those charmed by his suspenseful and emotional storytelling. Demonstrating its wide appeal in 2001, The Amber Spyglass became the first book to be awarded the Whitbread Book Award in both the adult and children’s categories. Pullman’s trilogy is distinguished not only for its narrative and poetic power but also for its awareness of literary tradition. His Dark Materials confronts some of the most urgent dilemmas of our time without suggesting answers but rather a way of meeting them with courage and surviving them with grace.

Edited by Millicent Lenz—renowned for her study of Pullman’s work—this is the first book to place His Dark Materials in critical perspective. The fourteen diverse essays within offer literary and historical analysis as well as approaches from such disciplines as theology, storytelling, and linguistics. The first part, Reading Fantasy, Figuring Human Nature, looks at Pullman’s art of making stories and creating fantasy worlds and at readers’ responses to his creations. Part 2, Intertextuality and Revamping Traditions, examines the rich intertextuality of Pullman’s narratives and his use and revamping of literary traditions, including fantasy. Part 3, Pullman and Theology, Pullman and Science Fiction, centers on the complexities of the author’s stance toward religion, his treatment of "Eve," and his affirmation of the Republic of Heaven.

With the staging of His Dark Materials by the National Theatre in England and a film adaptation of the trilogy soon to become a reality, Pullman’s popularity and reputation across age groups is ever-growing—making this book a vital resource to scholars and informed readers of his work.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814332078
  • Publisher: Wayne State University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2005
  • Series: Landscapes of Childhood Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,281,219
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Millicent Lenz was professor at the School of Information Science and Policy at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She was author of many works, including Alternative Worlds of Fantasy Fiction: Ursula K. LeGuin, Terry Pratchett, and Philip Pullman (Continuum, 2001) and Nuclear Age Literature for Youth: The Quest for a Life-Affirming Ethic (American Library Association, 1990), which was awarded the Prize for Best Book of Criticism of Children’s Literature by the Children’s Literature Association.

Carole Scott is professor of English in the Children’s Literature Program at San Diego State University and former undergraduate dean. She is co-author of How Picturebooks Work (Garland, 2001).

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Table of Contents

Awakening to the twenty-first century : the evolution of human consciousness in Pullman's His dark materials 1
I Reading fantasy, figuring human nature
1 Reading dark materials 22
2 Second nature : daemons and ideology in The golden compass 37
3 Dyads or triads? : His dark materials and the structure of the human 48
4 Northern Lights and northern readers : background knowledge, affect linking, and literary understanding 57
II Intertextuality and revamping traditions
5 Pullman's His dark materials, a challenge to the fantasies of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, with an epilogue on Pullman's neo-romantic reading of Paradise lost 75
6 Pullman's enigmatic ontology : revamping old traditions in His dark materials 95
7 "Without Lyra we would understand neither the new nor the Old Testament" : exegesis, allegory, and reading The golden compass 106
8 Rouzing the faculties to act : Pullman's Blake for children 125
9 Tradition, transformation, and the bold emergence : fantastic legacy and Pullman's His dark materials 135
III Pullman and theology, Pullman and science fiction
10 "And he's a-going to destroy him" : religious subversion in Pullman's His dark materials 160
11 Rediscovering faith through science fiction : Pullman's His dark materials 174
12 Circumventing the grand narrative : dust as an alternative theological vision in Pullman's His dark materials 188
13 Unexpected allies? : Pullman and the feminist theologians 199
14 "Eve, again! Mother Eve!" : Pullman's Eve variations 212
Philip Pullman : a biographical note 223
Works by Philip Pullman 225
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