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Wednesday, November 06, 2019

In His Dark Materials, now an HBO series, the author takes on organized religion. It's not a fair fight. (Pullman is an Executive Producer on the project. The thread link is to an article, not a review.)



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12 Enlightening Facts About His Dark Materials

In 1995, British author Philip Pullman published The Golden Compass (or Northern Lights, as it was called in most countries outside the U.S.), the first book in the fantasy trilogy collectively known as His Dark Materials.

The series' name referred to John Milton's Paradise Lost, a heady reference for what were ostensibly books for teens. And indeed, each of the books"1995's The Golden Compass, 1997's The Subtle Knife, and 2000's The Amber Spyglass"grappled with questions about philosophy and science, and courted controversy with its critical eye toward organized religion.

Yet the series, far from being prohibitively dense, is highly readable and contains all the elements of a spirited fantasy, including armored polar bears, witches, and a Texas gunslinger who flies a hot air balloon.

Here are a few things you might not know about Pullman's books"which HBO and the BBC have turned into a series starring Lin-Manuel Miranda that will debut in 2019"and the controversy surrounding them.



In numerous speeches, Pullman, who has described himself alternately as an "atheist" and an "agnostic atheist," maintains that his books are more about the dangers of rigid theological doctrine and institutions than they are anti-God or anti-faith. He also argues that his books are a testament to storytelling's ability to impart morals to children. "'Thou shalt not' might reach the head, but it takes Once upon a time' to reach the heart," he wrote in a newspaper column.


Rowan Williams called the books instructive, saying they are in fact about the death of a false God and the upholding of true Christian values. He and Pullman had a lively public conversation back in 2004, a transcript of which you can read here. Williams even went so far as to say that Pullman's series should be taught in schools. Fundamentalists, needless to say, did not agree.


#1 | Posted by Corky at 2019-11-05 11:40 PM | Reply

Not nearly as in your face with Christian themes as C.S. Lewis, that's for sure. I read this series to my daughter when she was younger. Excellent storytelling. This HBO series seems to be much closer to the source material than that abomination of a film that came out a few years ago.

#2 | Posted by Hagbard_Celine at 2019-11-06 10:59 AM | Reply

CS Lewis and Tolkien were an interesting pair of scholars; there's a link at the thread article about them. Lewis may have been a bit like an ex-smoker after his conversion, though.

The movie version was pretty commercial, and I'm looking forward to the other two books on film in this series. So far it seems just OK, well done pretty much, but hopefully it gains some.... spirit.

#3 | Posted by Corky at 2019-11-06 11:06 AM | Reply

"So far it seems just OK, well done pretty much, but hopefully it gains some.... spirit."

The book starts out slow. And the concepts involved were more interesting than the execution of the plot a lot of the time. But when you're done with the series the thing that stays with you is the fantastic world and universe the story takes place in.

#4 | Posted by Hagbard_Celine at 2019-11-06 11:51 AM | Reply

The Subtle Knife may have been my favorite concept.

#5 | Posted by Corky at 2019-11-06 02:46 PM | Reply


#6 | Posted by Hagbard_Celine at 2019-11-06 03:09 PM | Reply

Although I'm not above loving war bears.

#7 | Posted by Corky at 2019-11-06 03:24 PM | Reply

"Although I'm not above loving war bears."

Keep it on Pornhub old man.

#8 | Posted by Hagbard_Celine at 2019-11-06 03:50 PM | Reply

#8 |

Your time of month?

#9 | Posted by Corky at 2019-11-06 03:52 PM | Reply

Tolkien or Rowling Pullman is not.

#10 | Posted by Tor at 2019-11-06 04:42 PM | Reply

I have the first episode and was aiming to watch it tonight after dinner.

BBC describes it as "the new Game of Thrones".... let's see...

#11 | Posted by J_Tremain at 2019-11-08 05:23 AM | Reply

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