I’ve been listening to The Golden Compass (audio book) and are reminded of one of the many reasons why I adored this trilogy: the brilliantly placed and worded paradoxes by Pullman. As a quick example: (paraphrased here): “She’s afraid of him… and the thing she fears most is his kindness.” (Lyra and John Farr). One of my students (now 17) wrote me upon reading my thought on this topic:
Let’s face it, that trilogy is in a very small league of “stories of the century.” Having not read them in years (I think I’d cry again if I did), I will venture to say that such paradox is what makes the three so arresting and breathtaking – a stunning universe that is both new and our own, with religious elements that are both familiar and yet twisted, and in the middle a people just like us but with souls on the outside. So his paradoxical writing is something of a window, a…what’s the word…lens, tunnel, mirror…(it’s late to be thinking)…through which the paradoxes shine even more brightly. And, since conflict is what readers read for, people absolutely love it, because the very writing is in conflict with itself and what it portrays.