Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Disliking Narnia

One of the criticisms against Phillip Pullman (and his books) is that he disliked the Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis. Interestingly, there's someone else who didn't like the Narnia series, albeit probably for different reasons than Pullman. That someone was J.R.R. Tolkien.

Tolkien and Lewis were close friends, and Tolkien was pivotal in Lewis' conversion. But he really disliked the Narnia stories (really, really disliked them), because he felt they were too explicitly allegorical.

So, if we're going to criticise Pullman for his literary taste, then let's acknowledge that on this particular issue at least, he's in good company.

My point - don't be mislead by irrelevant criticisms.

6 comments:

Kim said...

Pretty interesting, Dan. I personally still tackle with the question of why we read in the first place...

Michelle said...

That is a pretty ridiculous criticism. Not liking a book because the author doesn't like another book.

The Dan Ward said...

Yeah, it's crazy, isn't it Michelle? And yet, that's part of the case some people make... ugh!

Mark said...

I don't know if it is all that crazy. I'm admittedly pretty ignorant of Pullman's actual criticism (I don't know why he dislike the Chronicles, or what exactly he said about them), but I'll make some assumptions based on my understanding of Pullman and the current "controversy".

Let's say that I like the Chronicles of Narnia, and a big part of why I like them is because I resonate with the world view and underlying philosophy/religion/whatever. If Pullman says something to the effect of "I don't like those books because they have a stupid philosophical underpinning and people who buy into it are brainwashed fools," then why wouldn't I be disinclined to read any books he writes (particulary any that are in a similar genre but with a decidedly contrary theme)?
Put another way, if I'm a big Sci-Fi movie fan, and a new director says "I don't like the Star Wars films, because they are too fantastical", shouldn't I take that into account when I am deciding whether to plunk down $10 to go see his movie? Sure, it wouldn't be the only factor in the decision, but why not part of it?

The Dan Ward said...

Actually, Mark is right - Pullman dislikes Narnia for a very different reason than Tolkien did. Pullman's distaste is philosophical / theological, while Tolkien's was literary and stylistic.

However, my post on this topic was responding to the somewhat breathless description of Mr Pullman in some recent emails & discussions, and how he (gasp!) doesn't like the Chronicles of Narnia. It didn't say way, or what his objections are... as if mere dislike was sufficient to make him look suspicious.

That's all I was sayin'

dad said...

Hi Dan: oh, this is getting heavy and serious discussion..... regardless of the criticisms, I liked the Chronical of Narnia stories and the film, whether Pullman disliked them or not on any grounds. I liked them based on personal experience (my own reading) and listening to you describe them to me many years ago (remember that car trip to New Mexico in 1994?....good comments and thoughtful questions from you, Mark, Kim, and others..... keep it going...Dad