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THE present essay began life as an attempt to explore the possible relationship between the fantasy writing of Philip Pullman and that of George MacDonald. However, that attempt rapidly encountered the force of Harold Bloom's warning against the error of treating poets as if they were self-contained individuals. In The Anxiety of Influence Bloom is admittedly making specific reference to the relations between lyric poets, whereas the work to be discussed in the present paper is fantasy writing in prose. Nevertheless I believe that Bloom's analysis of the "family romances" of "poets as poets" can be adapted to apply to writers in other literary genres, and to the so-to-speak "familial" relations that constitute a writer as a creative literary individual. Indeed, Bloom himself sought in his 1980 paper "Clinamen: Towards a Theory of Fantasy" to apply his "anxiety of influence" theory not only to the genealogy of the literary genre--or rather sub-genre (2)--of fantasy, but also to the relationships between particular instances of fantasy writing, for example the relation of his own The Flight to Lucifer to David Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus. Of course the gender bias of Bloom's famous theory of "the anxiety of influence" was long ago pointed out by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar in their The Madwoman in the Attic; this is an issue to which I shall return later in this essay. What I hope to show in the present paper is that however tenuous and complex the "family" connections that link Pullman and MacDonald may be, they tend to be dominated by another figure who is closely and inextricably associated with both of them: C.S. Lewis. Lewis figures, firstly, as a bad father to Pullman, a seemingly inevitable precursor whose writing seems to fascinate as well as repel Pullman. Secondly, Lewis appears as MacDonald's dutiful son, devoted to his spiritual (if not literary) master. Ultimately, however, there seems to me to be something hollow and unconvincing about both these versions of a filial relationship. In the first place, Lewis is arguably not the moral monster that Pullman makes him out to be; and secondly, MacDonald is more than just the spiritual director (important as that is) that Lewis presents us with. For one thing, MacDonald is, I will argue, a much better writer than Lewis would have us believe. While there is not necessarily any "taint of insincerity" in these misrepresentations, only perhaps something rather voulu (as Owen Barfield once said of C.S. Lewis [xi]), nevertheless Pullman and Lewis could also be seen as "framing" their precursors, in all the senses of Barbara Johnson's memorable usage of the term "frame" (Johnson). However, it is Harold Bloom's "map of misreading," in its own way as arcane as Johnson's poststructuralist subtleties, that seems more apt here, and more in tune with the Gnostic sympathies of both Pullman and MacDonald. Without venturing too far into the battery of explicitly Gnostic categories that Bloom elaborates in The Anxiety of Influence and A Map of Misreading, one might suggest that it is the first two of his six strategies for misreading--or "revisionary ratios," as Bloom calls them--that might seem to apply most readily to the relationships that are the subject of the present paper. Clinamen (or "swerving") might arguably apply to the relation of Philip Pullman and C.S. Lewis, with the former "swerving" away from his precursor in a corrective movement. Bloom's second "revisionary ratio" tessera (or "antithetical completion") might seem more appropriate to the way in which C.S. Lewis (as I hope to show below) "antithetically 'completes' his precursor, by so reading [MacDonald's work] as to retain its terms but to mean them in another sense, as though the precursor had failed to go far enough" (Anxiety 14). However, Bloom's six "revisionary ratios" are so general--Bloom himself is quite undogmatic about their number, their names and their application--that it is difficult to be very pr

GENRE
Yrkesrelaterat och teknik
UTGIVEN
2007
22 mars
SPRÅK
EN
Engelska
LÄNGD
29
Sidor
UTGIVARE
Mythopoeic Society
STORLEK
223
KB

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