His Dark Materials Illuminated
Critical Essays on Philip Pullman's Trilogy
Edited by Milicent Lenz with Carol Scott
Childhood Studies, Children's Literature, Literary Criticism and Theory
Pages: 256 Size: 6x9
An important contribution to the criticism of fantasy and science fiction, with excellent material on intertextuality and theology.
— Peter Hunt
British author Philip Pullman’s celebrated trilogy for young readers, His Dark Materials [Northern Lights/Golden Compass (1995), The Subtle Knife (1997), The Amber Spyglass (2000)], has reached a broad spectrum of readers, from those appreciating his metaphysical imagination and literary depth to those charmed by his suspenseful and emotional storytelling. Demonstrating its wide appeal in 2001, The Amber Spyglass became the first book to be awarded the Whitbread Book Award in both the adult and children’s categories. Pullman’s trilogy is distinguished not only for its narrative and poetic power but also for its awareness of literary tradition. His Dark Materials confronts some of the most urgent dilemmas of our time without suggesting answers but rather a way of meeting them with courage and surviving them with grace.
Edited by Millicent Lenz—renowned for her study of Pullman’s work—this is the first book to place His Dark Materials in critical perspective. The fourteen diverse essays within offer literary and historical analysis as well as approaches from such disciplines as theology, storytelling, and linguistics. The first part, Reading Fantasy, Figuring Human Nature, looks at Pullman’s art of making stories and creating fantasy worlds and at readers’ responses to his creations. Part 2, Intertextuality and Revamping Traditions, examines the rich intertextuality of Pullman’s narratives and his use and revamping of literary traditions, including fantasy. Part 3, Pullman and Theology, Pullman and Science Fiction, centers on the complexities of the author’s stance toward religion, his treatment of "Eve," and his affirmation of the Republic of Heaven.
With the staging of His Dark Materials by the National Theatre in England and a successful television adaptation of the trilogy, Pullman’s popularity and reputation across age groups is ever-growing—making this book a vital resource to scholars and informed readers of his work.
His Dark Materials Illuminated offers fifteen essays by various hands that uncover the richness of Philip Pullman's provocative trilogy. Pullman's work emerges from this collection as an intense and sophisticated story and argument. The authors deal in a scholarly but accessible fashion with the polemical nature of this masterwork."
– Roderick McGillis, University of Calgary, editor of Children’s Literature and the Fin de Siècle
A distinguished cast of contributors delivers a high-quality collection of essays that consistently matches Pullman's originality and intelligence. This is the best examination of a major work that I have seen for some years-detailed, wide-ranging, and often startling: an important contribution to the criticism of fantasy and science fiction, with excellent material on intertextuality and theology."
– Peter Hunt, Cardiff University, editor of the International Companion Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature and co-editor of the Norton Anthology of Children’s Literature
His Dark Materials by itself is a fascinating and enjoyable reading experience; the essays in His Dark Materials Illuminated contribute valuable insights to scholars at all levels: undergraduate, graduate, and professional."
– Children?s Literature Association Quarterly
His Dark Materials, arguably the most significant fantasy trilogy of the late twentieth century, explores some of the most important moral and cultural issues confronting young readers in their quest for life's meanings. Its power to evoke both speculative and scholarly responses is amply answered by these well-informed and informative studies, which combine a wide range of critical approaches with lively and challenging approaches to the fiction."
– John Stephens, Macquarie University, editor of Ways of Being Male: Representing Masculinities in Children’s Literature and Film and author of Language and Ideology in Children’s Fiction