Britocentric fantasy

Charles Butler hannibal at
Mon Apr 12 12:30:57 EDT 2004

Okay, here's a topic I've been thinking about recently. I was reading a
couple of academic articles (both I think by Americans) on Susan Cooper, and
both criticise the Dark is Rising sequence as colonial/imperialist texts
because they make it clear that all the important stuff involved in the
saving of the world goes on in Britain, and that the rest of the world (the
worldwide circle of the Old Ones) are involved, if at all, only in a
subsidiary way, passing on messages like 'Tell Will Stanton that the Old
Ones of the South are ready,' etc.

Okay - as it happens I largely disagree with this line, but what's almost
more interesting to me is why the same criticism *hasn't* been levelled at
other British fantasists whose British hero(in)es also save the world (and
often more than one): Pullman, for example, and maybe even Rowling (has HP
saved the world yet? Does he look likely to?). And - obDWJ - it is quite
clear that Chrestomanci, the most powerful magician in the world, who seems
to have a multiverse-wide brief to police magic, is also an employee of the
British Government first and foremost - in fact he plain says so in
Magicians of Caprona. And Britain (or Britain-analogues) are at the centre
of world-saving in several other books too, such as Hexwood, Merlin
Conspiracy, Sudden Wild Magic, and so on. Yet no one, to my knowledge, has
accused DWJ of having imperialist tendencies in the way they have Cooper.
Isn't that odd?

How does this look from outside Britain, I particularly wonder?


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