Sunday, January 20, 2008

Books: His Dark Materials Trilogy

Since the film The Golden Compass was recently released, I figured it was time to give the books a shot. I finished His Dark Materials Trilogy last night, and I enjoyed it a lot. I'm curious to see how the movie compares, though I had heard they cut out most of the religious references - I think this will be rather hard to do with the second and third parts of the trilogy considering the outcome of the novels. I didn't like the film version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe very much and have no desire to see the follow up, though I had loved the novels as a child. Reading it as an adult, I realized that the religious references had gone straight over my head, and since my parents aren't that religious, they hadn't intended for me to read them as parables to the Bible but rather as adventurous and fantastical stories. His Dark Materials Trilogy is for older children than The Chronicles of Narnia, and isn't quite as stark in defining good and evil. Like Harry Potter, there is some moral ambiguity within the characters, and there are people such as the Master that face complicated decisions with no clear answers. Another character may do something that in any other children's book would make him the villain, but despite this action, his overall intent is still seen as the proper course. Also, another thing that Harry Potter has in common with these books is that not only do they portray the evil that an individual can cause (which of course happens in The Chronicles of Narnia), but they also show how bureocracy and systems can lead to evil. Pullman discusses and refers to the idea of the Fall, and Eve's disobedience, and I agree with the view that it was a good thing (/would've been a good thing if it had really happened and wasn't just a story). After all, I'd much rather have knowledge and consciousness than innocence and paradise. Besides, could we even recognize paradise and happiness as such if we didn't have knowledge? If all we had was blissful ignorance, how exactly would that separate us from the animals of the world? I remember some more conservative groups of Christianity had a problem with Harry Potter because they believed it endorsed witchcraft and satanism (and now of course homosexuality what with Dumbledore and all) but I don't remember if I heard about any backlash to this series. There must have been some, though, since it directly challenges the church as an organization and also questions basic beliefs. Of course, they were also released in the mid-90s, and it seems like the very conservative voices of Christianity didn't start becoming quite as heard until a few years later so that the focus has been more on Harry Potter and The DaVinci Code. I'm sure now that the movies are being made they will have more to say.

No comments: