[Milton-L] Golden Compass

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 6 15:55:00 EST 2007

I read Pullman's first book with great excitement and quickly bought the other two but found my interest flagging and myself ultimately greatly disappointed. He certainly writes in a far better style than Rowling, but he lacks storytelling skills. His plot begins to limp and its final resolution is a letdown.
  But I'll avoid any plot spoilers and stop at this.
  Jeffery Hodges

Larisa Kocic-Zambo <larisa at lit.u-szeged.hu> wrote:
        v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}  o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}  w\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}  .shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);}        st1\:*{behavior:url(#default#ieooui) }              For some, the following might contain spoilers related to Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, so if you are about to read them and wish to keep up the suspense of the novels, please, skip my comment.
  I remember being enthralled by Pullman’s first book in the trilogy, the Northern Sky (The Golden Compass), and hardly waiting to get hold of the Subtle Knife. However, hints made to Lyra as being the second Eve, made me dread the outcome in the third installment, The Amber Spyglass. I thought, oh no, not again. If Pullman is going to pull the original sin string too, I am going to lose it. Especially, since he claims to have been influenced by Milton (it seems only as far as the „his dark materials” expression goes). Of course, I do not wish to deny the Magistrates’/the Church’s (of all denominations) role in devaluating love and the consumption of it to an abomination, and their/its responsibility in viewing it as the „original sin”, i.e. the reason of, or at least the primal consequence of Fall – a fact that is only heightened by the endless number of visual representations of the Fall, where Adam’s and Eve’s intimate parts are hidden with leaves. But Milton of all
 people was quite adamant in emphasizing the misconception of this idea (see the description of Adam and Eve’s connubial love before the fall in Book IV): 
  Strait side by side were laid, nor turnd I weene
Adam from his fair Spouse, nor Eve the Rites
Mysterious of connubial Love refus'd:
Whatever Hypocrites austerely talk
Of puritie and place and innocence, [ 745 ]
Defaming as impure what God declares
Pure, and commands to som, leaves free to all.
Our Maker bids increase, who bids abstain 
But our Destroyer, foe to God and Man?
Haile wedded Love, mysterious Law, true source [ 750 ]
Of human ofspring, sole propriety,
In Paradise of all things common else.
By thee adulterous lust was driv'n from men
Among the bestial herds to raunge, by thee
Founded in Reason, Loyal, Just, and Pure, [ 755 ]
Relations dear, and all the Charities
Of Father, Son, and Brother first were known.
Farr be it, that I should write thee sin or blame,
Or think thee unbefitting holiest place,
Perpetual Fountain of Domestic sweets, [ 760 ]
Whose bed is undefil'd and chaste pronounc't,
Present, or past, as Saints and Patriarchs us'd.
  So when Pullman says, 
  “This is exactly what happens in the Garden of Eden
 They [Lyra and Will] become aware of sexuality [ie. in Pullman’s argument, the same way Adam and Eve are in a moment after the fall, when „the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” Gen. 3,7], of the power the body has to attract attention from someone else. This is not only natural, but a wonderful thing! To be celebrated! Why the Christian Church has spent 2,000 years condemning this glorious moment, well, that’s a mystery. I want to confront that, I suppose, by telling a story that this so-called original sin is anything but. It’s the thing that makes us fully human” (see http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200712/religious-movies/2).
  he is definitely missing Milton’s point, as quoted above, and equating a manmade, institutional hypocrisy with a divine decree that one is supposed to oppose. In a superficial sense, Pullman is interpreting Milton in a Blakeian way - his Lord Asriel cast in the role of the heroic Satan -, while in reality, at least from Milton’s point of view, Satan, the leader of the rebellion against God, is in fact sharing the deplorable notion of the „Christian Church” Pullman is resolved to confront. For Satan, observing the first pair „imparadis’t in one anothers arms”, turns „for envie, yet with jealous leer maligne / ey’d them askance” and exclaims to himself: 
  Sight hateful, sight tormenting! thus these two [ 505 ]
Imparadis't in one anothers arms
The happier Eden, shall enjoy thir fill
Of bliss on bliss, while I to Hell am thrust

  All in all, I loved His Dark Materials, but, personally, found its end lacking in its initial vigor and genuineness of thought. As for the movie, it remains to be seen.
  Larisa Kocic-Zambo
  From: Peter C. Herman [mailto:herman2 at mail.sdsu.edu] 
Sent: Wednesday, December 05, 2007 12:35 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Golden Compass

  But those expecting that the movie will be faithful to the book, or even bear a nodding acquaintance to it, will be disappointed. See the article in the most recent Atlantic Monthly on how the film-makers essentially bowdlerized Pullman's skeptical vision. 

Peter C. Herman

At 03:11 PM 12/4/2007, you wrote:

  There was some recent discussion of movies so I will mention The Golden Compass based on Philip Pullman's first novel in a trilogy. Pullman has enertained many young and older readers with 'His Dark Materials,' a fantasy trilogy inspired by his reading of Milton. He also has out a Paradise Lost put out by Oxford with his own "Fan" notes with the text. The movie hopefully also inspired by Milton will be out Dec 7 below is the official film website.
Paul Miller
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University Degrees:

Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
(Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts")
M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University

Email Address:

jefferyhodges at yahoo.com



Office Address:

Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
School of English, Kyung Hee University
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Home Address:

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