[DWJ] Philip Pullman and CS Lewis (was RE: Incoherent Notes on THB and Shelley)

Janet Eastwood janet.eastwood at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 1 15:31:56 EDT 2014

With that and Blake's views in mind, interesting that both have characters who have retained some degree of innocence and passed through experience to regained innocence. I may not have the right term here - don't the stages go something like, innocence, the experience, and a sort of innocent experience, or experience with the possibility/openness/goodness of innocence? And this last stage isn't always attained. 

I'm thinking of Diggory and Polly in Narnia, who went to Narnia, then spent most of their lives in England and grew old, but return to Narnia when they die in time for the Narnia within Narnia to come forth. Polly is described as "the eldest of the Queens - but even she was not old, and there were no grey hairs on her head and no wrinkles on her cheek" and Diggory as "a man whose golden beard flowed over his breast and whose face was full of wisdom" (p. 123, ch. 12). I always took this to mean that they were old (based on the children's perspective of Diggory in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) but were somehow restored, that what they were on the inside showed on the outside more than it would in England. This is me trying to write coherently what I thought incoherently as a child, though. 

And in HDM, Mary Malone, the former nun. Obviously she isn't a child and can't be innocent, but she holds much more potential for seeing things as they are, for being changed herself, and for saving the world, than any other adult figure. I have a sneaking suspicion that she would be able to read the alethiometer, or would be able as an adult to learn to read it before Lyra would. 

And in both worlds, as you say, these mature characters (maybe the innocent experienced should be called mature? from what I recall of Blake's experience, it was pretty bleak) are present but definitely secondary to the child characters with their (kept or not) innocence. 

Or maybe this is all just me trying to find hope, because they both have something right, but they're both missing something. Apologies for rambling! 

> Date: Wed, 1 Oct 2014 15:04:33 -0400
> From: deborah.dwj at suberic.net
> To: janet.eastwood at hotmail.com
> CC: dwj at suberic.net; arykiy at gmail.com
> Subject: Philip Pullman and CS Lewis (was RE: Incoherent Notes on THB and Shelley)

> The way I read the trilogy, especially The Amber Spyglass, is that there's a metaphysics that is exactly like CS Lewis's, and the only thing that has been made topsy-turvy is which is good and which is bad. I might say that the trilogy *agrees* the nylons and boys will bring you out of the kingdom of heaven -- it just thinks that's a *good* thing.
> In fact, it's pretty explicit that puberty and emergent sexuality causes the death of Innocence. It's just that the Narnia books see permanent Innocence (especially as embodied in Lucy) as the ideal which leads to endless youth. And the HDM books see permanent Innocence as a creeping horror which intercision was attempting to create.
> -deborah

More information about the Dwj mailing list