Arts and Letters Daily reminded me that Phillip Pullman is not happy to see the Narnia films made. In this article he is quoted as calling the books "one of the most ugly and poisonous things I've ever read" as well as "blatantly racist" and "monumentally disparaging of girls and women". Which may or may not be true. It's a tough call whether or not the books are simply classics, or propaganda (they were certainly intended as the latter). And, like everything else, that still leaves the question of whether we should read them - the Huck Finn question, if you will.

Shelby commented:
As a huge fan of both Narnia and His Dark Materials (don't care for anything else Pullman has written), I think both should be read, but with a critical eye like any book. As far as propaganda, Pullman shouldn't be pointing any fingers as HDM has as big of an agenda as Lewis did. As for racist and disparaging of females, yes, I would prefer that young readers get a rounded view of the world from a wide variety of books, but I think we would do wrong to do away with every book with a hint of sexism and racism, because that's the real world, and I think it's better to allow kids to read books like this and have the parents deal with the issues individually. Yeah, like most parents do that --. To be honest, I would bet that for Pullman, the sexism and racism issues are very secondary to his objection to the religious allegory. Interestingly for Harry Potter fans, Kevin read that Rowling patterned Gilderoy Lockhart after Pullman.
on Sat Dec 3 19:13:44 2005

David commented:
I always find it interesting that Pullman objects to someone else's commentaries on or promotion of religion, given what his books say (and their stated goal). That said, though, given that it is Disney doing it, there is perhaps a double reason for concern. A friend of mine noted Disney makes her unconfortable, with their black=bad white=good motif. She wouldn't let her son watch the stuff. Add that to Narnia, and we'll have to see what you get - given that they plan to use the themes (well, at least the religious one) to promote the film, it could be a little over the top....

I love the Potter trivia - I wonder whether it's a pseudo-accurate portrayal?

on Sun Dec 4 15:44:40 2005

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