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Followup to CoN vs. HDM

I took advantage of a minor touristic opportunity on Wednesday and visited the U.S. Embassy in London. I've walked by the aging grey concrete building any number of times before. Inside, it's an office building. If the ground floor is any indication, most of it is open-plan offices behind the kiosk windows. In other words, as a touristic destination, it leaves a lot to be desired, which is just as well, because - due to security concerns - I would be really surprised if they do tours.

But that's not really why I made my first trip to an embassy. austengirl, theft victim, needed to replace her passport and there was a good chance she'd need someone who could vouch for her identity. In the end, I wasn't necessary, but I spent a lovely afternoon with her, eating sushi, hunting down an unexpectedly elusive coffee shop, browsing wool with lushfemke, and eating a really lovely plum tart at a branch of Le Pain Quotidien.

Along the way, while passing time in the embassy, austengirl mentioned a hypothesis she had about the Chronicles of Narnia and His Dark Materials, namely, that pretty much everyone felt strongly that one was better than the other. She was called up soon after for the next part of her passport application, so I never got around to asking her if she had opinions on why that particular split.

Obviously, the two series have their major divides, most notably on theological grounds. They're written in very different styles of prose, in rather different time periods. One has a continuous plot art, the other is a collection of related stories. And the majority (two-thirds) of respondants to the poll I posted on the subject found it easy to pick one series over the other. That doesn't mean, of course, that those who found it an easy choice all decided easily for the same reasons, as the varied and though-provoking comments show.

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austengirl
Aug. 14th, 2007 09:38 pm (UTC)
In answer to your question, I think my idea actually came out of an interview with Phillip Pullman in the New Yorker a while back. If I can dig up the link, I'll post it. Basically, he said he found Lewis' didactic tone really off-putting, particularly at the end of the series, and that sort of pushed him into heading the opposite direction with Dark Materials, though his own religious beliefs had moved toward atheism long before he became a writer.

That was my initial connection between the two, in terms of literary merit, well that's a different matter. I like both of them quite a lot, though I haven't read Narnia in about 10 years. A long winded reply perhaps, but I hope it answers your musings.
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