His Dark Materials

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His Dark Materials

Northern Lights
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass
Author Philip Pullman
Language English
Genre Fantasy
Publisher Scholastic
Published 1995–2000
Media type Print
The trilogy (North American versions)

His Dark Materials is a trilogy of fantasy novels by Philip Pullman comprising Northern Lights (1995, published as The Golden Compass in North America), The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2000). It follows the coming-of-age of two children, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they wander through a series of parallel universes against a backdrop of epic events. The three novels have won various awards, most notably The Amber Spyglass, the 2002 Whitbread Book of the Year prize, while the trilogy as a whole took third place in the BBC's Big Read poll in 2003.[1]

The story involves fantasy elements such as witches and armoured polar bears, and alludes to a broad range of ideas from fields such as physics, philosophy, theology and spirituality. The trilogy functions in part as a retelling and inversion of John Milton's epic, Paradise Lost; with Pullman commending humanity for what Milton saw as its most tragic failing.[2] The series has drawn criticism from some religious individuals and groups due to the negative portrayal of organised religion, most notably, the Catholic Church.

Pullman's publishers have primarily marketed the series to young adults, but Pullman also intended to speak to adults.[3] North American printings of The Amber Spyglass have censored passages describing Lyra's incipient sexuality.[4][5]

Pullman has published two short stories related to His Dark Materials: "Lyra and the Birds", which appears with accompanying illustrations in the small hardcover book Lyra's Oxford (2003), and "Once Upon a Time in the North" (2008). He has been working on another, larger companion book to the series, The Book of Dust, for several years.

The London Royal National Theatre staged a major, two-part adaptation of the series in 2003–2004, and New Line Cinema released a film based on Northern Lights, titled The Golden Compass, in 2007.


[edit] Series titles

Satan struggles through hell in a Gustave Doré illustration of Paradise Lost.

The title of the series, His Dark Materials, comes from 17th-century poet John Milton's Paradise Lost, Book 2:

Into this wilde Abyss,
The Womb of nature and perhaps her Grave,
Of neither Sea, nor Shore, nor Air, nor Fire,
But all these in their pregnant causes mixt
Confus'dly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordain
His dark materials to create more Worlds,
Into this wilde Abyss the warie fiend
Stood on the brink of Hell and look'd a while,
Pondering his Voyage; for no narrow frith
He had to cross.

— Book 2, lines 910–920

Pullman earlier proposed to name the series The Golden Compasses.[6]

This term also appears in the poem Paradise Lost, where it poetically refers to the "compasses" with which God shaped the world, an idea depicted in William Blake's painting The Ancient of Days. Due to confusion with the other common meaning of compass (the navigational instrument) this phrase in the singular became the title of the American edition of Northern Lights (the book prominently features a device that one might label a "golden compass").

[edit] Settings

The trilogy takes place across a multiverse, moving between many parallel worlds. In Northern Lights, the story takes place in a world with some similarities to our own; dress-style resembles that of our Victorian era, and technology has not evolved to include automobiles or fixed-wing aircraft, while zeppelins feature as a notable mode of transport. It appears that in this world the Protestant Reformation never took place — the text refers to John Calvin as a Pope — or possibly that Reformation succeeded only in that it overthrew the Catholic Church and installed a Protestant clerical hierarchy. The Church as portrayed by Pullman (often referred to as the "Magisterium") exerts a strong control over his fictional world. In The Subtle Knife, the story moves between the world of the first novel, our own world, and in another world, a city called Cittàgazze. In The Amber Spyglass it crosses through an array of diverse worlds.

One distinctive aspect of Pullman's story comes from his concept of "dæmons". In the birth-universe of the story's protagonist Lyra Belacqua, a human individual's soul manifests itself throughout life as an animal-shaped "dæmon" that always stays near its human counterpart. Witches and some humans have entered areas where dæmons cannot physically enter; after suffering horrific separation-trauma, their dæmons can then move as far away from their humans as desired.[7]

Dæmons usually only talk to their own associated humans, but they can communicate with other humans and with other dæmons autonomously. During the childhood of its associated human, a dæmon can change its shape at will, but with the onset of adolescence it settles into a single form. The final form reveals the person's true nature and personality, implying that these stabilize after adolescence. Pullmanian society considers it "the grossest offence"[cite this quote] for one person to touch another's daemon — this would violate the most strict of taboos. "A human being with no dæmon is like someone without a face, or with their ribs laid open and their heart torn out: something unnatural and uncanny that belonged to the world of night-ghasts, not the waking world of sense."[8]

In some worlds, Spectres prey upon the dæmons of adolescents and adults, consuming them and rendering said dæmons' humans essentially catatonic; they lose all thought and eventually fade away and die. Dæmons and their humans can also become separated through intercision, a process involving cutting the dæmon away from the human. This process can take place in a medical setting, as with the titanium and manganese guillotine used at Bolvangar, or as a form of torture used by the Skraelings. This separation entails a high mortality rate and changes both human and dæmon into a zombie-like state. Severing the link using the silver guillotine method releases tremendous amounts of unnamed energy, convertible to anbaric (electric) power.

At first glance, the universe of Northern Lights appears considerably behind that of our own world, but in many fields it equals or surpasses ours. For instance, it emerges that Lyra's world has the same knowledge of particle physics, referred to as "experimental theology", that we do. In The Amber Spyglass, discussion takes place about an advanced inter-dimensional weapon which, when aimed using a sample of the target's DNA, can track the target to any universe and disrupt the very fabric of space-time to form a bottomless abyss into nothing, forcing the target to suffer a fate far worse than normal death. Other advanced devices include the Intention Craft, which carries (amongst other things) an extremely potent energy-weapon, though this craft, first seen and used outside Lyra's universe, may originate in the work of engineers from other universes.

[edit] Series

[edit] Northern Lights (The Golden Compass)

In Northern Lights (published in the United States and Canada as The Golden Compass), the heroine, Lyra Belacqua, a young girl brought up in the cloistered world of Jordan College, Oxford, and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, learn of the existence of Dust, a strange elementary particle believed by the Magisterium to provide evidence for Original Sin. Dust appears less attracted to the innocence of children, and this gives rise to grisly experiments carried out on kidnapped children and their daemons in the distant North by scientists of the Magisterium. Lyra, initially excited at being placed in the care of the elegant and mysterious Mrs. Coulter, discovers to her horror that the latter works as a member of the secretive General Oblation Board (known among children as the "Gobblers") which kidnaps the children and runs the experiments; a horror compounded later when Lyra identifies Marisa Coulter as her own mother. She also learns that Lord Asriel, ostensibly her uncle, is her father. Lyra runs away from Coulter, whereupon the Gyptians (a gypsy-like culture based on riverboats) find her and mount an expedition to rescue the missing children. Lyra and Pantalaimon accompany them, also hoping to save their best friend Roger Parslow. With the aid of the exiled panserbjørne ("armoured bear") Iorek Byrnison who becomes Lyra's protector, John Faa and Farder Coram, the leaders of the Gyptian people, the aeronaut Lee Scoresby, and the witch Serafina Pekkala, they save the children from the experiments and destroy the research station, then continue on to Svalbard, the home of the armoured bears, where Lyra aids Iorek in winning back his kingdom by killing his rival. Lyra continues on to find Lord Asriel, exiled to Svalbard at Mrs. Coulter's request. Lord Asriel had been researching how to open a bridge to another world. This requires a vast amount of energy, acquired by severing Roger from his dæmon, killing Roger in the process. Lord Asriel, followed by Lyra and Pantalaimon, journey through the gate separately in search of the source of Dust. Coulter wishes to destroy dust and thus Original sin, while Asriel wished to kill "The Authority" (God) and bring an end to the Magisterium.

[edit] The Subtle Knife

In The Subtle Knife, Lyra journeys through the Aurora to Cittàgazze, an otherworldly city whose denizens have discovered a clean path between worlds at a far earlier point in time than others in the storyline. Cittàgazze's reckless use of the technology has released soul-eating Spectres, rendering much of the world incapable of transit by post-adolescents. Here Lyra meets Will Parry, a twelve-year-old boy from our world. Will, who recently killed a man to protect his ailing mother, has stumbled into Cittàgazze in an effort to locate his long-lost father. Will becomes the bearer of the eponymous Subtle Knife, a tool forged 300 years ago by Cittàgazze's scientists from the same materials used to make Bolvangar's silver guillotine. One edge of the knife can create portals between worlds and the other edge easily cuts through any form of matter. After meeting with witches from Lyra's world, they journey on. Will finds his father, who had gone missing in Lyra's world under the assumed name of Stanislaus Grumman, only to watch him murdered almost immediately, and Lyra is kidnapped.

[edit] The Amber Spyglass

The Amber Spyglass tells of Lyra's kidnapping by her mother, Mrs. Coulter, an agent of the Magisterium who has learned of the prophecy identifying Lyra as the next Eve. A pair of angels, Balthamos and Baruch, inform Will that he must travel with them to give the Subtle Knife to Lyra's father, Lord Asriel, as a weapon against The Authority. Will ignores the angels; with the help of a local girl named Ama, the Bear King Iorek Byrnison, and Lord Asriel's Gallivespian spies, the Chevalier Tialys and the Lady Salmakia, he rescues Lyra from the cave where her mother has hidden her from the Magisterium, which has become determined to kill her before she yields to temptation and sin like the original Eve.

Will, Lyra, Tialys, and Salmakia journey to the Land of the Dead, temporarily parting with their dæmons to release the ghosts from their captivity imposed by the oppressive Authority. Mary Malone, a scientist originating from Will's home world, interested in Dust (or Dark Matter/Shadows, as she knows them), travels to a land populated by strange sentient creatures called Mulefa. There she learns of the true nature of Dust, which is defined as panpsychic particles of self-awareness. Lord Asriel and the reformed Mrs. Coulter work to destroy the Authority's Regent Metatron. They succeed, but themselves suffer annihilation in the process. The Authority himself dies of his own frailty when Will and Lyra free him from the crystal prison wherein Metatron had trapped him, able to do so because an attack by cliff-ghasts kills or drives away the prison's protectors. When Will and Lyra emerge from the land of the dead, they find their daemons. The book ends with Will and Lyra falling in love but realising they cannot live together in the same world, because all windows must be closed to prevent the loss of Dust, and because each of them can only live full lives in their native worlds. During the return, Mary learns how to see her own dæmon, who takes the form of a black Alpine chough. Lyra loses her ability to intuitively read the alethiometer and determines to learn how to use her conscious mind to achieve the same effect.

[edit] Related works by Philip Pullman

[edit] Lyra's Oxford

The first of two short novels, Lyra's Oxford takes place two years after the timeline of The Amber Spyglass. A witch who seeks revenge for her son's death in the war against the Authority draws Lyra, now 15, into a trap. Birds mysteriously rescue her and Pan, and she makes the acquaintance of an alchemist, formerly the witch's lover.

[edit] Once Upon a Time in the North

This short novel serves as a prequel to His Dark Materials and focuses on the once 24-year-old Texan aeronaut Lee Scoresby. After winning his hot-air balloon, Scoresby heads to the North, landing on the Arctic island Novy Odense, where he finds himself pulled into a dangerous conflict between the oil-tycoon Larsen Manganese, the corrupt mayoral candidate Ivan Poliakov, and his longtime enemy of the Dakota Country, Pierre McConville. The story tells of Lee and Iorek's first meeting, and of how they overcame these enemies.

[edit] The Book of Dust

The in-the-works companion to the trilogy, The Book of Dust will not continue the story, but will offer several short stories with the same characters, world, etc. The book will touch on research into Dust as well as on the portrayal of religion in His Dark Materials. Pullman has not yet finished writing this work.

[edit] Future books

Pullman has also told of his hope to publish a small green book about Will:

Lyra's Oxford was a dark red book. Once Upon a Time in the North will be a dark blue book. There still remains a green book. And that will be Will's book. Eventually...

Philip Pullman

Pullman confirmed this in an interview with two Israeli fans in August 2007.[9]

[edit] Characters

  • Lyra Belacqua, a wild, tomboyish 12-year-old girl, has grown up in the fictional Jordan College, Oxford. She is described as skinny with dark blonde hair and blue eyes. She prides herself on her capacity for mischief, especially her ability to lie with "bare-faced conviction". Because of her ability, Iorek Byrnison gives her the byname "Silvertongue". Her dæmon Pantalaimon, a shapeshifting incarnation of a part of her soul that all characters from her world have, attends her constantly.
  • Will Parry, a sensible, morally conscious, highly assertive 12-year-old boy from our world, serves as the bearer of the Subtle Knife. He is very independent and responsible for his age, having looked after his mentally unstable mother for many years. He is strong for his age, and knows how to remain inconspicuous. At the end of his adventures he discovers the name and form of his dæmon: Kirjava, a cat.
  • Lord Asriel, ostensibly Lyra's uncle, later emerges as her father. He opens a rift between the worlds in his pursuit of Dust. His dream of establishing a Republic of Heaven to rival The Authority's Kingdom leads him to use his considerable power and force of will to raise a grand army from across the multiverse to rise up in rebellion. He has as his dæmon Stelmaria, a snow leopard.
  • Marisa Coulter, the coldly beautiful, highly manipulative mother of Lyra and former lover of Lord Asriel, serves the Church in kidnapping children for research into the nature of Dust. She has black hair, a thin build, and looks younger than she is. She later captures Lyra and hides her away, perhaps seeking to protect her. Later in the story, Mrs. Coulter switches sides regularly between the Authority and Lord Asriel's Republic. Her maternal instincts finally win out in the end, as she uses her duplicitous core to deceive the Regent Metatron, working together with her former lover to pull him down into the abyss. Her dæmon, a golden monkey (named Ozymandias in the BBC Radio adaptations, but never named in the books), has a cruel, abusive streak. Though he often communicates with Mrs. Coulter, the reader does not hear him speak, giving him an air of menace.
  • Mary Malone, a physicist and former nun from the same world as Will, finds her studies of Dust (referred to as Shadows, shadow particles or dark matter in her world) draw her into Lyra's adventures. She lives for a time amongst the mulefa, and constructs the Amber Spyglass in an effort to discern why Dust appears to be leaving the universe. Mary relates a story of a lost love to Will and Lyra, playing the serpent to the children's Adam and Eve and serving as the catalyst for their coming-of-age and the halting of Dust's exodus. With effort, Mary discovers that she too has a dæmon, unnamed, which takes the shape of an Alpine chough.
  • Metatron, a human being of biblical times, Enoch, transfigured into an angel. After the rebellion of the "fallen angels" he took the regency of the throne of the Authority, implanting the monotheistic religions across the universes and so affirming his power and rule. Though an angel, he still feels human feelings, and so becomes vulnerable to the temptation of Marisa Coulter.
  • Iorek Byrnison, a massive armoured bear, regains his armour, his dignity, and his kingship over the Panserbjørne with Lyra's help. In gratitude, and impressed by her cunning, he dubs her "Lyra Silvertongue". A powerful warrior and armoursmith, Iorek repairs the Subtle Knife when it shatters and goes to war against The Authority when it threatens Lyra and Will. As a bear (as opposed to a human), he has no dæmon; instead, his armour, which he himself shapes, constitutes his soul.
  • John Faa and Farder Coram lead the community of river gyptians. When the Church kidnaps the gyptians' children to serve in experiments in the frozen outpost of Bolvangar, John Faa and Farder Coram mount a rescue-expedition, bringing Lyra along. Outside the stories, several historical Gypsies have borne the name "John Faa", and a "John Faa" also appears as a romantic hero in a ballad about Gypsies.
  • Lee Scoresby, a rangy Texan aeronaut, pilots a balloon for Lyra and the gyptians in their expedition North; he is also a friend of Iorek Byrnison, and comes to aid Lyra in a number of her battles. His loyal dæmon Hester takes the form of a hare. He dies while fending off soldiers of the Muscovy Empire in an effort to save Stanislaus Grumman.
  • Stanislaus Grumman (also known as John Parry, or Jopari [Tartar pronunciation]), Will Parry's explorer father, once served as an officer in the Royal Marines. As an expedition-guide he leaves his/Will's world by accident during a blizzard in the Brooks Range, Alaska (see the Alaska letters sent to his wife [1985] in The Subtle Knife). He traverses by one of the many trans-dimensional windows which leads to Lyra's World. Arriving there, he uses the name Stanislaus Grumman, earns a doctorate, and explores the northern lands, unsuccessfully trying to find the entry/exit window he came through. The indigenous Tartars, believing him a shaman, initiate him into their tribe. During the initiation he receives a small ceremonial hole in the top of his skull. His inherited dæmon, a female osprey named Sayan Kötör, disappears when he dies. Lee Scoresby gives his life to save Grumman, and eventually Grumman meets up with his son, but a vengeful witch whose love he once spurned shoots him down. (Grumman's pseudonym may allude to Stanislaw Ulam, the renowned nuclear physicist.)
  • Serafina Pekkala reigns as the beautiful queen of a clan of Northern witches. Her snow-goose dæmon Kaisa, like all witches' dæmons, can travel much farther apart from her than the dæmons of humans. Serafina Pekkala comes to the aid of Lyra and her friends on a number of occasions. Though several hundred years old when Lyra encounters her, she appears youthful and may live for centuries more.
  • Roger Parslow, a young boy, becomes Lyra's best friend and loyal compatriot at Jordan College. His death at the hands of Lord Asriel tears open a bridge between the worlds, through which Lyra and Asriel travel in a search for the origins of Dust. Guilt-stricken over Roger's death, Lyra determines to travel through the Land of Dead to apologize and release him; in doing so, she and Will succeed in liberating the lost souls of the dead, allowing their essence to merge with the particles of Dust that permeate the universe. His dæmon was Salcilia, who frequently took the form of a terrier.
  • The Authority, the first angel to have emerged from Dust, though not God the Creator (a figure completely absent from the trilogy, given that all the angels come about by chance as a casual aggregation of cosmic dust), poses as such to subsequently-formed angels. At the time of the trilogy, the Authority appears quite weak, having given most of his power to his regent, Metatron, and having spent most of his existence in retirement to "comprehend deeper mysteries". Pullman portrays him as extremely aged, fragile, kind, and naїve, unlike his bitter, thoroughly malicious underling. He eventually dies on exposure to a gust of wind, his weak form unable to resist it, but appears to find death a relief.

[edit] Awards and recognition

The Amber Spyglass won the 2001 Whitbread Book of the Year award, a prestigious British literary award. This is the first time that such an award has been bestowed on a book from their "children's literature" category.

The first volume, Northern Lights, won the Carnegie Medal for children's fiction in the UK in 1995.[10] In 2007 the judges of the CILIP Carnegie Medal for children's literature selected it as one of the ten most important children's novels of the previous 70 years. In June 2007 it was voted, in an online poll, as the best Carnegie Medal winner in the seventy-year history of the award, the Carnegie of Carnegies[11][12].

The Observer cites Northern Lights as one of the 100 best novels.[13]

On 19 May 2005, Pullman attended the British Library in London to receive formal congratulations for his work from culture secretary Tessa Jowell "on behalf of the government".

On 25 May 2005 Pullman received the Swedish government's Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children's and youth literature (sharing it with Japanese illustrator Ryōji Arai).[14] Swedes regard this prize as second only to the Nobel Prize in Literature; it has a value of 5 million Swedish Kronor or approximately £385,000.

The trilogy came third in the 2003 BBC's Big Read, a national poll of viewers' favourite books, after The Lord of the Rings and Pride and Prejudice (the only entries in the "top ten" written before 1978). At the time, only His Dark Materials and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire amongst the top five works lacked a screen-adaptation (the film version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which came fifth, went into release in 2005).

Leonardo da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine" (1489–90), along with two portraits by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Hans Holbein the Younger, helped inspire Pullman's "dæmon" concept.[2]

[edit] Influences

Pullman has identified three major literary influences on His Dark Materials: the essay On the Marionette Theatre by Heinrich von Kleist (online at southerncrossreview.org), the works of William Blake, and, most important, John Milton's Paradise Lost, from which the trilogy derives its title.[15]

Pullman had the stated intention of inverting Milton's story of a war between heaven and hell, such that the devil would appear as the hero.[16] In his introduction, he adapts a famous description of Milton by Blake to quip that he (Pullman) "is of the Devil's party and does know it." Pullman also referred to gnostic ideas in his description of the novels' underlying mythic structure.[17].

The Chronicles of Narnia, a series of books by C. S. Lewis, appears to have had a negative influence on Pullman's trilogy. Pullman has characterised C. S. Lewis's series as "blatantly racist", "monumentally disparaging of women", "immoral", and "evil".[18][19] However, some critics have compared the trilogy with such fantasy books as Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle as well as the Narnia series.[20][21]

[edit] Controversies

His Dark Materials has occasioned some controversy, primarily amongst some Christian groups.[22][23]

Pullman has expressed surprise over what he perceives as a low level of criticism for His Dark Materials on religious grounds, saying "I've been surprised by how little criticism I've got. Harry Potter's been taking all the flak... Meanwhile, I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God".[24]

Some of the characters criticize institutional religion. Ruta Skadi, a witch and friend of Lyra's calling for war against the Magisterium in Lyra's world, says that "For all of [the Church's] history... it's tried to suppress and control every natural impulse. And when it can't control them, it cuts them out" (see intercision). Skadi later extends her criticism to all organized religion: "That's what the Church does, and every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling". By this part of the book, the witches have made reference to how they are treated criminally by the church in their worlds. Mary Malone, one of Pullman's main characters, states that "the Christian religion... is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all". Formerly a Catholic nun, she gave up her vows when the experience of falling in love caused her to doubt her faith. Pullman has warned, however, against equating these views with his own, saying of Malone: "Mary is a character in a book. Mary's not me. It's a story, not a treatise, not a sermon or a work of philosophy"[25].

Pullman portrays life after death very differently from the Christian concept of heaven: In the third book, the afterlife plays out in a bleak underworld, similar to the Greek vision of the afterlife, wherein harpies torment people until Lyra and Will descend into the land of the dead. At their intercession, the harpies agree to stop tormenting the dead souls, and instead receive the true stories of the dead in exchange for leading them again to the upper world. When the dead souls emerge, they dissolve into atoms and merge with the environment.

A traditional depiction of the Fall of Man Doctrine by Thomas Cole (Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, 1828). His Dark Materials presents the Fall as a positive act of maturation.

Pullman's "Authority", though worshipped on Lyra's earth as God, emerges as the first creature to evolve. Pullman makes it explicit that the Authority did not create worlds, and his trilogy does not speculate on who or what might have done so. Members of the Church are typically displayed as zealots[26][27].

Cynthia Grenier, in the Catholic Culture, has said: "In the world of Pullman, God Himself (the Authority) is a merciless tyrant"[28] His Church is an instrument of oppression, and true heroism consists of overthrowing both."[29] William A. Donohue of the Catholic League has described Pullman's trilogy as "atheism for kids".[30] Pullman has said of Donohue's call for a boycott, "Why don't we trust readers? [...] Oh, it causes me to shake my head with sorrow that such nitwits could be loose in the world".[31]

Pullman has, however, found support from some other Christians, most notably from Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury (spiritual head of the Anglican church), who argues that Pullman's attacks focus on the constraints and dangers of dogmatism and the use of religion to oppress, not on Christianity itself.[32] Williams has also recommended the His Dark Materials series of books for inclusion and discussion in Religious Education classes, and stated that "To see large school-parties in the audience of the Pullman plays at the National Theatre is vastly encouraging".[33]

Pullman has singled out certain elements of Christianity for criticism, as in the following: "I suppose technically, you'd have to put me down as an agnostic. But if there is a God, and he is as the Christians describe him, then he deserves to be put down and rebelled against".[34] However, Pullman has also said in interviews and appearances that his argument can extend to all religions.[35][36]

[edit] Adaptations

His Dark Materials has appeared in adaptation on radio, in theatre and on film.

[edit] Radio

The BBC made His Dark Materials into a radio drama on BBC Radio 4 starring Terence Stamp as Lord Asriel and Lulu Popplewell as Lyra. The play was broadcast in 2003 and is now published by the BBC on CD and cassette. In the same year, a radio drama of Northern Lights was made by RTÉ (Irish public radio).

The BBC Radio 4 version of His Dark Materials was repeated on BBC Radio 7 between 7 December 2008 to 11 January 2009. With 3 episodes in total, each episode was 2.5 hours long.

[edit] Theatre

Nicholas Hytner directed a theatrical version of the books as a two-part, six-hour performance for London's Royal National Theatre in December 2003, running until March 2004. It starred Anna Maxwell-Martin as Lyra, Dominic Cooper as Will, Timothy Dalton as Lord Asriel and Patricia Hodge as Mrs Coulter with dæmon puppets designed by Michael Curry. The play was enormously successful and was revived (with a different cast and a revised script) for a second run between November 2004 and April 2005. It has since been staged by several less known theatres in the UK, notably at the Playbox Theatre in Warwick (a major youth theatre company in the West Midlands). The play had its Irish Premiere at the O'Reilly Theatre in Dublin when it was staged by the dramatic society of Belvedere College.

A major new production will be staged at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in March and April 2009, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh.

[edit] Film

A scene from Northern Lights' screen adaptation. The computer-generated dæmons contributed to the film's Academy Award for Visual Effects.

New Line Cinema released a film adaptation, titled The Golden Compass, on 7 December 2007. Directed by Chris Weitz, the production had a mixed reception, and though worldwide sales were strong, its United States take underwhelmed the studio's hopes.[37]

The filmmakers obscured the books' explicitly Biblical character of the Authority so as to avoid offending some viewers, though Weitz declared that he would not do the same for the hoped-for sequels. "Whereas The Golden Compass had to be introduced to the public carefully", he said, "the religious themes in the second and third books can't be minimized without destroying the spirit of these books. ...I will not be involved with any 'watering down' of books two and three, since what I have been working towards the whole time in the first film is to be able to deliver on the second and third"[38]. In May 2006, Pullman said of a version of the script that "all the important scenes are there and will have their full value"[39]; in March 2008, he said of the finished film that “a lot of things about it were good.... Nothing can bring out all that's in the book. There are always compromises”.[40]

The Golden Compass film stars Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra, Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Coulter, and Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel. Eva Green plays Serafina Pekkala, Ian McKellen voices Iorek Byrnison, and Freddie Highmore voices Pantalaimon.

[edit] Terminology

[edit] Further reading

  • Frost, Laurie et al. (2006). The Elements of His Dark Materials: A Guide to Phillip Pullman's trilogy. Buffalo Grove, IL: Fell Press. ISBN 0-9759430-1-4. OCLC 73312820. 
  • Gribbin, John and Mary (2005). The Science of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. Knopf Books for Young Readers. ISBN 0-375-83144-4. 
  • Lenz, Millicent and Carole Scott (2005). His Dark Materials Illuminated: Critical Essays on Phillip Pullman's Trilogy. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3207-2. 
  • Raymond-Pickard, Hugh (2004). The Devil's Account: Philip Pullman and Christianity. London: Darton, Longman & Todd. ISBN 978-0232525632. 
  • Squires, Claire (2003). Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy: A Reader's Guide. New York, N.Y.: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-1479-6. 
  • Squires, Claire (2006). Philip Pullman, Master Storyteller: A Guide to the Worlds of His Dark Materials. New York, N.Y.: Continuum. ISBN 978-0-8264-1716-9. OCLC 70158423. 
  • Tucker, Nicholas (2003). Darkness Visible: Inside the World of Philip Pullman. Cambridge: Wizard Books. ISBN 978-1840464825. OCLC 52876221. 
  • Wheat, Leonard F. (2008). Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials: A Multiple Allegory: Attacking Religious Superstition in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Paradise Lost. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1591025894. OCLC 152580912. 
  • Yeffeth, Glenn (2005). Navigating the Golden Compass: Religion, Science and Daemonology in His Dark Materials. Dallas: Benbella Books. ISBN 1-932100-52-0. 

[edit] References

  1. ^ For example, Northern Lights, won the Carnegie Medal for children's fiction in the UK in 1995; the final volume, The Amber Spyglass, won both 2001 Whitbread Prize for best children's book and the Whitbread Book of the Year prize in January 2002.
  2. ^ a b Robert Butler (3 December 2007). "An Interview with Philip Pullman". Intelligent Life (The Economist). http://www.moreintelligentlife.com/node/697. Retrieved on 10 July 2008. 
  3. ^ "The Man Behind the Magic: An Interview with Philip Pullman". http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?ean=9780440238133&displayonly=ITV&z=y. Retrieved on 8 March 2007. 
  4. ^ Rosin, Hanna (1 December 2007). "How Hollywood Saved God". The Atlantic Monthly (The Atlantic Monthly Group). http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200712/religious-movies. Retrieved on 1 December 2007. 
  5. ^ Corliss, Richard (8 December 2007). "What Would Jesus See?". Time (Time Inc.). http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1692926,00.html. Retrieved on 4 May 2008. 
  6. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". BridgeToTheStars.net. http://www.bridgetothestars.net/index.php?p=FAQ#4. Retrieved on 2007-04-05. 
  7. ^ Pullman, Philip (2007) [2000]. The Amber Spyglass. His Dark Materials. New York: Random House, Inc.. pp. 423. ISBN 978-0-440-23815-7. "There's a region of our north land, a desolate, abominable place... No daemons can enter it. To become a witch, a girl must cross it alone and leave her daemon behind. You know the suffering they must undergo. But having done it... [their daemon] can roam free, and go to far places." 
  8. ^ Pullman, Philip (2007) [1995]. The Northern Lights. His Dark Materials. London: Scholastic UK Ltd. pp. 214. ISBN 978-1-407104-05-8.  Chapter 13
  9. ^ http://www.hisdarkmaterials.org/news/philip-pullman/pullman-interview-with-israeli-hdm-community-image-updates
  10. ^ "Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners". CarnegieGreenaway.org.uk. http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/livingarchive/title.php?id=63. Retrieved on 2007-04-05. 
  11. ^ ""Pullman wins 'Carnegie of Carnegies'". http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,2108541,00.html. 
  12. ^ ""70 years celebration the publics favourite winners of all time"". http://www.carnegiegreenaway.org.uk/celebration/winners.php. 
  13. ^ The best novels ever (version 1.2) from Observer Blog
  14. ^ SLA - Philip Pullman receives the Astrid Lindgren Award
  15. ^ Fried, Kerry. "Darkness Visible: An Interview with Philip Pullman". Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=amb_link_2079432_11/002-7083137-2301611?ie=UTF8&docId=94589&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0QW4GD8JBKQXMTFSBZT2&pf_rd_t=1401&pf_rd_p=196508801&pf_rd_i=9459. Retrieved on 2007-04-13. 
  16. ^ Mitchison, Amanda (2003-11-03). "The art of darkness". Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2003/11/04/bopull04.xml&page=1. Retrieved on 12 April 2007. 
  17. ^ "The Dark Materials debate: life, God, the universe...". Daily Telegraph. 2004-03-17. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml;jsessionid=TJR5TSEZILCCXQFIQMFSFF4AVCBQ0IV0?xml=/arts/2004/03/17/bodark17.xml&page=2. Retrieved on 2008-04-01. 
  18. ^ Ezard, John (June 3, 2002). "Narnia books attacked as racist and sexist". The Guardian (Guardian Unlimited). http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,726739,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-04-04. 
  19. ^ TheStar.com |comment |Writing the book on intolerance
  20. ^ Crosby, Vanessa. "Innocence and Experience: The Subversion of the Child Hero Archetype in Philip Pullman's Speculative Soteriology". University of Sydney. http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/2123/1250/1/CrosbyF.pdf. Retrieved on 12 April 2007. 
  21. ^ Miller, Laura (26 December 2005). "Far From Narnia: Philip Pullman's secular fantasy for children". The New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/12/26/051226fa_fact. Retrieved on 12 April 2007. 
  22. ^ Overstreet, Jeffrey (February 20, 2006). "Reviews:His Dark Materials". Christianity Today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies/reviews/hisdarkmaterials.html. Retrieved on 12 April 2007. 
  23. ^ Thomas, John (2006). "Opinion". Librarians' Christian Fellowship. http://www.librarianscf.org.uk/bookshelf/opinion/houghton.html. Retrieved on 12 April 2007. 
  24. ^ Meacham, Steve. "The shed where God died". Sydney Morning Herald Online. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/12/12/1071125644900.html. Retrieved on 2003-12-13. 
  25. ^ "A dark agenda? Interview with Philip Pullman". surefish.co.uk. November, 2002.. http://www.surefish.co.uk/culture/features/pullman_interview.htm. Retrieved on 2008-05-04. 
  26. ^ Ebbs, Rachael. "Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials: An Attack Against Christianity or a Confirmation of Human Worth?". BridgeToTheStars.Net. http://www.bridgetothestars.net/index.php?d=commentaries&p=attackcomment. Retrieved on 2007-04-13. 
  27. ^ Greene, Mark. "Pullman's Purpose". The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. http://www.licc.org.uk/articles/pullmans-purpose. Retrieved on 2007-04-14. 
  28. ^ . Grenier, however, misrepresents the Authority: Pullman actually presents the Authority as a frail old man whose power the angel Metatron has taken.
  29. ^ Grenier, Cynthia (October 2001). "Philip Pullman's Dark Materials". The Morley Institute Inc. http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=4004. Retrieved on 2007-04-05. 
  30. ^ Donohue, Bill (9 October 2007). "“The Golden Compass” Sparks Protest". The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. http://www.catholicleague.org/release.php?id=1342. Retrieved on 4 January 2008. 
  31. ^ David Byers (27 November 2007). "Philip Pullman: Catholic boycotters are 'nitwits'". The Times. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article2953880.ece. Retrieved on 28 November 2007. 
  32. ^ Petre, Jonathan (10 March 2004). "Williams backs Pullman". Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1456451/Williams-backs-Pullman.html. Retrieved on 12 April 2007. 
  33. ^ Rowan, Williams (10 March 2004). "Archbishop wants Pullman in class". BBC News Online. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/3497702.stm. Retrieved on 10 March 2004. 
  34. ^ "Sympathy for the Devil by Adam R. Holz". Plugged In Online. http://www.pluggedinonline.com/thisweekonly/a0003516.cfm. Retrieved on 16 December 2007. 
  35. ^ Spanner, Huw (13 February 2002). "Heat and Dust". ThirdWay.org.uk. http://www.thirdway.org.uk/past/showpage.asp?page=3949. Retrieved on 5 April 2007. 
  36. ^ Bakewell, Joan (2001). "Belief". BBC News Online. http://web.archive.org/web/20040911070237/http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/belief/scripts/philip_pullman.html. Retrieved on 5 April 2007. 
  37. ^ "'Compass' spins foreign frenzy". http://www.variety.com/. March 13, 2008. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117982066.html?categoryid=1246&cs=1. Retrieved on 2008-03-13. 
  38. ^ "‘Golden Compass’ Director Chris Weitz Answers Your Questions: Part I by Brian Jacks". MTV Movies Blog. http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2007/11/14/golden-compass-director-chris-weitz-answers-your-questions-part-i/. Retrieved on 2007-11-14. 
  39. ^ Pullman, Philip (May 2006). "May message". http://www.philip-pullman.com/pages/content/index.asp?PageID=126. Retrieved on 2008-09-24. "And the latest script, from Chris Weitz, is truly excellent; I know, because I`ve just this morning read it. I think it`s a model of how to condense a story of 400 pages into a script of 110 or so. All the important scenes are there and will have their full value." 
  40. ^ "Exclusive interview with Philip Pullman". The Times. March 22, 2008. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/fiction/article3596811.ece. Retrieved on 2008-12-01. 

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