Part of a project on ways that contemporary adaptations of Renaissance sources thematize modes of textuality, this paper examines figures of books and reading in Philip Pullman’s trilogy “His Dark Materials.” I argue that these novels not only offer dynamic, nuanced engagements of Milton’s Paradise Lost and other early-modern canonical texts, but also offer figures for different protocols of reading that can help us reflect upon our position at the cusp of residual, dominant, and emergent forms (allegory, the novel) and media (oral, print, and post-print). This paper proposes that the three instruments yielding the American titles of the volumes (the golden compass, the subtle knife, and the amber spyglass) refract Spenserian practice in ways that adapt Renaissance traditions for new uses, and that illuminate ways that material media and textual forms collaborate to reanimate and transform the textual materials they sponsor and inhabit.
|Keywords:||Literary Analysis, Renaissance Allegory, Contemporary British Fiction, Genre, Adaptation, Novel, Milton, John, Pullman, Philip|
Professor of English, English Department, Villanova University, Villanova, PA, USA
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