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2 - Narnia and its crtitics

author: Rowan Williams

Taken from The Lion's World

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Narnia and its critics

I mentioned earlier the way in which Philip Pullman had conceived his own trilogy as a sort of riposte to the Narnia books. The parallels are clear enough – an alternative universe including talking animals, even (though Pullman might dispute this) an active and independent heroine, if we give due weight to how Lucy is portrayed in The Lion. And it is possible to see how Pullman’s aims correspond to Lewis’s as we have just explained them. Pullman’s parallel world is one in which we encounter God in a way that strips away the conventions that in our world conceal his real nature – only, in Pullman, that ‘real nature’ is a fiction. It is something projected by those who want arbitrary power, a great fantasy that sanctions systematic abuse, oppression and corruption. The God of these stories is ‘objectively’ no more than a self-deluded angel, now senile and helpless, but allowed to survive because he is the symbolic focus and rationale for unaccountable human authority...

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