On Lewis and Pullman
I'm supposed to go see The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tonight. I'm sure I'll blog about it (hiding the spoilers, natch!) behind a cut.
I've read the Alison Lurie and Polly Toynbee write-ups about the film in The Grauniad, and now there's this, in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
But I'd like it if someone would explain to me why we are supposed to buy into the "either Christian allegory OR rousing fantasy tale for everyone" and "you can like Pullman or Lewis, but not both" dichotomies.
I loved Narnia as a child. I'm looking forward to the film. I would probably still love the books today, although in a different way, because I read more critically. There did come a time when I liked Lewis' space trilogy more. Hell, I really love Charles Williams' novels. That they are allegory neither bothers nor offends me. They are what they are.
Pullman is also allegory, to a certain extent. His Dark Materials (I'm not talking about the Sally Lockhart books, which I think are pretty great, too) is certainly didactic. I think he oversimplifies many things about religion, class, and magic to make his points in a way so unsubtle as to be borderline offensive. And I think they are great books and would give them to any child old enough to handle the scary bits. I have friends who are practising Christians who also like Pullman.
People. We can like both. Really. Just like we can enjoy both kinds of literature: science fiction and fantasy. Or both kinds of history: Ancient and Medieval. Or both kinds of music: country and western (the music of pain)...
*ducks to avoid her early modernist friends' rapid-fire projectiles*
Update: This essay by Meghan O'Rourke at Slate is a better take, I think. I'm bothered by one thing, though. She says:
Some liberals, like the popular children's author Philip Pullman, therefore dismiss him out of hand [...]
What exactly does she mean by 'liberal', I wonder? Is there any way that the adjective really fits?