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

Janet Eastwood janet.eastwood at hotmail.com
Thu Oct 2 18:59:54 EDT 2014

> Cathy wrote: 
> Having inverted the Christian-Romantic model of human development, however, Pullman surprisingly preserves its structure intact. In *His Dark Materials*, as in the tradition it critiques, puberty is *the* life-defining event, the point at which the form of one’s daemon becomes fixed for ever. Prior to the settling of one’s daemon one cannot know “the kind of person” one is, while afterwards significant change is not to be expected (Pullman 1995, 167). Coming from a writer whose project is one of liberation from ideological repression this is a highly restricted vision of the human potential for growth and self-determination. [...]
> You anticipated the point about sacrifice, of course. If I can put on my pop-psychological pork-pie hat for a moment, it's tempting to see in PP's anger against CSL the disquiet of a child scared of growing up to resemble his parent. It's a story as old as Oedipus - or Harold Bloom.
Cathy, thanks for the passage. It's a very difficult thing in imagination (and history), to break away and think so independently that one doesn't replace what one rebelled against (whether government/system or theory/ideology) with something pretty much the same. I'll have to look for Gili's essay. 
The daemons having a fixed form at puberty bothers me more now as an adult than it did as a child, when puberty and adulthood were unimaginably far off. Maybe that was part of Pullman's rebellion against Lewis? Presenting children as unformed and though fluid, incapable of the very distinct, unique daemons adults have, in contrast to Lewis' more idealized childhood? I can't help but think it paved the way for Harry Potter's Sorting Hat (age 11!) though, as I wrote about here http://thebookwars.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/i-sometimes-think-we-sort-too-soon/. Anybody want to write a paper comparing HDM and HP in terms of rebellion, structure/form, and potential for change (Sorting/daemons)?

And thanks for the write-up of the conference! I look forward to hearing more. 



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