Philip Pullman: "shallow and sinister"?
The Milton List has been having a discussion of Philip Pullman's "Dark Materials" series because of its many allusions to Milton's writings, which some Milton experts are currently exploring. Other Milton scholars remain unimpressed by Pullman. For instance, Professor James Fleming wrote:
Am I alone in finding Pullman both shallow and sinister?I concurred:
As far as I can tell, The Golden Compass ends with Lord Asriel, the good-scary guy, murdering a child (Roger). This is presented as a noble sacrifice, allowing the great man to open up the heavens in defiance of an authoritarian God.
A little Brothers Karamazov rids us of this deed.
You're not "alone in finding Pullman both shallow and sinister." Even worse, he can't tell a good story.Other readers will certainly have had a different reaction, and I'd be interested in Written Wyrdd's opinion since she's a reader of fantasy and sci-fi and is also, I take it, a writer herself.
In the mid-90s, I was sitting in a cafe in London reading book reviews in some newspaper and came across two reviews, one of Rowling and the other of Pullman. An excerpt from the latter's book aroused my curiosity, but I didn't actually read the series until around 2005, long after I'd read most of the Harry Potter series.
I was greatly disappointed by the story's development in the Pullman's series. I started reading with high expectations, and the quality of his writing is certainly very good, but the story went nowhere. Even the writing seemed to falter in the latter books . . . but perhaps I was just getting bored.
Like Professor Fleming, I was troubled by the "noble sacrifice" -- though there may have been an allusion to Christianity in that -- but whatever Pullman might have intended by that, and by the entire series, I finished reading him with a sense of letdown.
In my opinion, he let his animus toward Christianity distort his story.
Despite Pullman's literary gifts, which are considerable and far better than Rowlings', the latter tells a much better story that kept me interested to the very end.
The 'noble sacrifice' in the Harry Potter series worked rather better, too.
For anyone interested, I blogged on my reaction to Pullman back in 2005, soon after having finished him in disappointment.
Was the Pullman series a letdown for anyone else?