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on 14 October 2011
The aim of the collection is to provide a series of critical essays that cover some of the most important topics and contexts relevant to studying and understanding His Dark Materials. This collection consist of original material and offers a wider range of more sophisticated responses to the trilogy of novels as well as the dramatic adaptation of the novels which is firmly based upon research and in the main from established literary critics, rather than specialists in children's literature. P Overall, the collection engages with a greater range of issues and contexts and with more critical acuity than currently exists in the field of studies of His Dark Materials and responds to existing debates about Pullman's work while also establishing new ones.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Katharine Cox

I Adversaries and Influences

1. Recasting John Milton's Paradise Lost: Intertextuality, Storytelling and Music 11
Rachel Falconer

2." `When I grow up I want to be ...' ": Conceptualization of the Hero Within the Works of, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Philip Pullman. 28
Phil Cardew

3. Constructions of the Child, Authority and Authorship: The Reception of C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman. 40
Elisabeth Eldridge

4. "Dark Materials to Create More Worlds": Considering His Dark Materials as Science Fiction. 57
Steven Barfield

II Traditions and Legacies

5.Revitalizing the Old Machine of a Neo-Victorian London: Reading the Cultural Transformations of Steampunk and Victoriana 75
Steven Barfield and Martyn Colebrook

6.Revisiting the Colonial: Victorian Orphans and Postcolonial Perspectives 93
Laura Peters

7. Exploring and Challenging the Lapsarian World of Young Adult Literature: `Femininity', Shame, the Gyptians and Social Class 111
Nicola Allen

8."Imagine Dust with A Capital Letter": Interpreting the Social and Cultural Contexts for Philip Pullman's Transformation of Dust 126
Katharine Cox

III Religion, Sexuality and Gender

9. The Man Who Walked With God: Phillip Pullman's Metatron, The Biblical Enoch, and the Apocrypha. 143
John Haydn Baker

10. The Republic of Heaven: East, West and Eclecticism in Pullman's Religious Vision 154
J'annine Jobling

11. "Walking into mortal sin": Lyra, the Fall, and Sexuality 172
Tommy Halsdorf

12. Becoming Human: Desire and the Gendered Subject 187
Sarah Gamble

13. After the Fall: Queer Heterotopias 202
Sally R. Munt

IV Dramatizing His Dark Materials

14. Staging the Impossible: Severance and Separation in the National Theatre's Adaptation 219
Patrick Duggan

15. Staging and Performing His Dark Materials: From the National Theatre Production to Subsequent Productions 239
Karian Schuitema

Bibliography 267
About the Contributors 273
Index 275
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on 7 December 2011
This is a well-organized and very varied collection of critical material on Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials which will be of real help to teachers who are considering how to teach these complex and powerful stories to students at secondary school or at university, or students who wish to write about them in the kind of depth that might be required for a University level extended essay or dissertation. The volume treats Pullman's books as exciting, serious and rich instances of contemporary literature, as well as outstanding examples of children's fantasy fiction. The volume will therefore also be of great aid to those who want to find out far more about how Pullman's unique imagination draws from past literature and tradition and how his books relate to the themes of more mainstream contemporary literature.
Most existing books on His Dark Materials are aimed at the general reader and provide useful background information but do not address critical debates about his work with the kind of informed view shown here. For example, it addresses a number of questions about Pullman's work that should concern his serious readers and where a straightforward answer is by no means clear. There aren't any diatribes against the atheist Pullman by evangelical Christians nor defences from other Christians, as these themes have been done to death in books already published.
Instead the volume is about new ways of considering His Dark Materials. Would you like to know how His Dark Materials represents social class and the non-British, what it says about the legacy of British colonialism and Victorian children's literature, or how it explores the formation of female and male adolescent identity in society? Does it interest you to find out the way Pullman draws contrasts with the tradition of Christian science fiction, deploys the genre of alternate history or utlises the conventions of Steampunk? Have you wondered whether Pullman's own comments about C.S.Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien are really borne out in the practice of his own writing? Did you suspect Pullman's memorable Enoch/Metatron may have had more obscure and scholarly sources than Pullman might have let on to us? Have you wondered if and how the staging of the dramtic version of His Dark Materials could be done in small theatres and with even smaller budgets? If these are the kinds of questions about His Dark Materials that interest you, then you will certainly enjoy this collection of expert critics exploring Pullman's trilogy.
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on 27 November 2011
This is a hugely interesting read. I came across this book as a Pullman enthusiast primarily, but there are a range of essays within it to suit a variety of audiences. The chapters in the first section are especially good for anyone interested in young adult literature, such as teachers or librarians. I'm an English teacher and the book has been passed around my colleagues with great interest. Anyone who managed to see the amazing stage versions of the play at the National Theatre in London will enjoy the last section of the book. I'd recommend this book for anyone who has read and loved 'His Dark Materials', anyone who is interested in children's literature and anyone with an interest in literature and theatre. Of course, for die-hard fans this book is one that must be added to the collection.
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on 30 January 2012
I bought this book as a Pullman fan and it doesn't disappoint. Though quite academic in tone (appropriately) there is plenty here for people who are simply fans. If you are interested to get some impeccably researched and reasoned perspectives on what is, I think its fair to say, one of the most thought provoking stories of our times, then this is for you. I particularly enjoyed the essays exploring the Victoriana and Steampunk themes of the books and as mentioned before the last essay is a must for anyone who enjoyed the National Theatre productions.
Recommended for:

Pullman fans
Anyone who may teach, mark essays or stage productions of the books
People who enjoys good essay writing
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on 17 January 2012
This is an extremely valuable collection of essays. The book covers a wide range of themes that continually emerge in 'His Dark Materials', yet have not always been thoroughly addressed by literary critics. Whilst all of the essays contribute to widening our understanding of Pullman's fiction, the chapters on Science Fiction and on the emerging genre of Steampunk are particularly illuminating, while the final section's analysis of theatrical adaptations of 'His Dark Materials' engages with ongoing interpretations of the narrative. I would recommend this book to both academics undertaking research and students who are seeking to understanding the diversity of themes within Pullman's trilogy.
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