Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What I'm reading
The Amber Spyglass. By Phillip Pullman.

This made me want to re-open my Milton, and nothing has ever made me want to reopen Milton after studying him out of (self-imposed) obligation in graduate school. I don't generally like darkly lit dystopian works, but this one is less dark, curiously enough, even if the principal characters do go to the land of the dead. This was the first of the trilogy I actually liked, perhaps because I finally grew to like Will and Lyra. And I really liked the Gallivespians (is he nodding to Swift there? probably). The scope of the series is so apparent here -- its ambitious character that borrows from so much of literature to ask again some of the great, timeless questions. Pullman is clearly an excellent student of literature, which he evidently concentrated on at the expense of keeping up with theology. In some ways his is a very old-fashioned view of the superiority of Enlightenment rationalism, though with souped-up contemporary physics. The controversy over Pullman's atheism is well-covered at Idol Chatter by Donna Freitas, who told me when I interviewed her about Killing the Imposter God, her book on Pullman, that she envied my encounter with it for the first time. I'm curious enough to dip back into Milton and, even more so, Blake.

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