Paradise Refigured

Naomi Wood

in The Oxford Handbook of Children's Literature

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780195379785
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Paradise Refigured

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  • Children's Literature Studies
  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)


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This article argues that through a radical retelling of the myth of the fall from Paradise in the His Dark Materials trilogy (1995–2000), Philip Pullman replaces an old mythology of childhood and coming of age with a fresh version which does not privilege innocence over experience or adulthood over childhood. Pullman models a critical engagement with questions about self and other and one's place and meaning in the cosmos. His Dark Materials addresses two strands of Romantic thought: rebellious challenges to religious and state authority; and the Romantic “cult of childhood,” which indulged in an orgy of child worship that prized children's innocence over adults' experience. The article also legitimately and usefully challenges deeply entrenched notions that children are best kept innocent and that one's physical, material, and sexual existence is less significant than the spiritual.

Keywords: His Dark Materials; Philip Pullman; innocence; child worship; Paradise

Article.  10403 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Children's Literature Studies ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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