Friday, February 8, 2008

Live-Blogging His Dark Materials, Part IV: Lyra's Oxford

Last night I read Lyra's Oxford, the short sequel to His Dark Materials and the prequel to The Book of Dust.

Pullman describes it as a story that, while it was being written, collected to it scraps of paper which "might be connected with the story, or they might not; they might be connected to stories that haven’t appeared yet." He states that these papers floated through doors from world to world, blown by winds, until they collected here, in his book.

I suppose these papers did their floatings before the doors between the worlds were closed.

The story itself is short and not particularly memorable; it's kind of like a MOTW where Lyra is chased by a witch who is trying to kill her (because the witch's son died fighting for Lord Asriel and we know that witches kinda get venegancy when people they love disappear), and meets an alchemist who isn't actually an alchemist -- he's using it as a cover so that people will think he's crazy and ignore the actual scientific work he's doing in his basement. We don't find out what that work is, although my money's on "meth lab." *__^

One of the most interesting things in the book, however, comes in one of Pullman's "scraps of paper" (these are actual pieces of paper kept separately within the book's pages, Jolly Postman-style). It's a list of books written by Jordan Scholars, one of which is titled With Gun and Rod in the Hindu Bush, by Captain R. T. G. Collins.

So. Let's theorize here. Was the Authority also the Hindu Authority? (And would that be Vishnu, Brahma, or Shiva?) If the Authority wasn't the Hindu Authority, then did their faith remain unchanged? Do the Angels hang around the Hindu Bush, or do they leave those crazy people alone? Do they try to convert them?

I guess I was assuming that Lyra's world was an entirely Christian world, as that was what Pullman had set up for us previously. Even Will, who comes from our world, doesn't mention anything about people from other religions. It would have been interesting if he had said something to Lyra along the lines of "in my world, not everyone believes in Adam and Eve and the Church's God." But... Pullman seemed to want to limit his book to a critique on the Christian church only.

So, to my readers: does knowing that Lyra's world contains people who don't belong to the Church or the Authority change Pullman's atheist message and philosophies? If so, how?

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