Philip Pullman interviewed about the ideas behind "His Dark Materials"
[YT,1 hour, South Bank Show,parts 2
]. Inside, and hidden from those who don't want spoilers, are links relating to the ideas raised and about the books generally.
References have to start out with the Fall of Man
and specifically with Milton's Paradise Lost
(Pullman's opinion this book
) which gave the series its title and form. Add in some William Blake
and especially "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
" which Pullman memorised as a child (part of an excellent New Yorker article "Far from Narnia
"). Finally Heinrich Von Kliest's essay "On the Marionette Theatre
" which sees the fall in a positive light (and which features an un-foolable fighting bear to boot).
Growing up his early literary inspirations included Tove Jannson's "Moomins"
- for their gentle strangeness, Arthur Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons" books
for their skilful construction and the comics such as The Eagle
for their vivid way of telling a story. An illustration in "A Hundred Million Francs" by Paul Berna
might have been the original inspiration for Lyra. "The Balloonist" - by MacDonald Harris
serves as a template for Arctic exploration by balloon. Leonardo da Vinci's painting "Lady with an Ermine
" and "Young Woman with a Macaw" by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
were inspirations for the look of daemons. A general antipathy to CS Lewis' Narnia
( Pullman on 'The Dark Side of Narnia
') - and other books which appeared to be against the idea of growing up
- helped shape HDM too.
Altough they are fantasy the books have quite a lot of science in them: multiverses
, dark matter
and communication devices which work on quantum entanglement
for example. And if you would wish to follow in the steps of Mary Malone you might want to know about divination using the i-ching
On writing - Pullman outlines some lessons for aspiring writers
and fans of garden sheds interview him on the perfect place to construct your own best-selling trilogy
On religion we have previously had a thread about Pullman's conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury
. Separately he has been called "The Most Dangerous Author in Britain
" for his religious views. In the documentary he sites Physicist and atheist Steven Weinberg
For more serious fans Srafopedia
is a wiki-based encyclopedia to go with the series and BridgeToTheStars
is perhaps the best site for serious addicts.
Finally places are important: the gargoyles of Oxford
, Jordan college - based on Pullman's alma mater, Exeter College
. The (threatened) boatyards of Jericho
, Svalbard -the Arctic pearl
(from a previous post). And finally, of course, a garden