Britocentric fantasy

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at
Tue Apr 13 07:41:33 EDT 2004

--- Charles Butler
<hannibal at> wrote:
> 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?

Australians of my generation were brought up thinking
that saving the world was what God had created the
British for, so such fantasies seemed only Right and


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