His Dark Materials: a fascist fable?

Is Phillip Pullman’s controversial trilogy a fascist fable?  Tom Smith thinks so:

Pullman’s trilogy is a work of considerable literary merit, which does not keep it from being pretty poisonous stuff.  Madame Bovary is a really great novel but I suspect that to write it Flaubert had to have been a really twisted guy.  The literary organs are falling all over themselves to heap praise upon Pullman’s books, of course, having been nauseated by the success of the Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and the Harry Potter series, all of the latter being, in one way or another, powerful teachers of essential bits of the Judeo-Christian world view and virtues, especially for kids.  All of these books I am happy to see my kids reading, and they have all (except 4 year old Mark) read all of them. Pullman, naturally, hates Narnia, and is probably not fond of the other books either.  He appears to have set out to write the anti-Narnia, and to be fair, has done a pretty good job.  Well, if there weren’t a battle of good and evil in the real world, LOTR and the rest wouldn’t be so entertaining, would they?

The main point of this post, however, is to point out an irony.   The villains in the Golden Compass and sequels are the Catholic-Nazis — a fair characterization of the book’s point, since anytime you have villains running concentration camps with medical experiments, that is psychic charge you are invoking.  But in fact, if you want to experience the flavor that contemporary fascism would have when translated into first rate children’s literature, you cannot, in my view, do better than Pullman’s series.

I have been furiously re-reading The Golden Compass in order to be able to comment more intelligently on the controversy and the movie when it is released.  So I am not going to comment in depth right now.  But I found the above post thought provoking and not as shocking as you might think from the title.

My initial impression was that The Golden Compass was a great book and not as hampered by Pullman’s worldview and/or message.  Subsequent books got bogged down in the metaphysics to the point of harming the story.

For more on the controversy surrounding the movie from a Christian perspective read this article by Peter T. Chattaway, a film critic for ChristianityTodayMovies.com and this Q&A type post from Jeffrey Overstreet.

About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season – oh, and watching golf too).

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