Philip Pullman And The Republic Of Heaven

I discovered Philip Pullman eight years ago. And I so wished I had done so much earlier. My daughter was ten and she picked up his Northern Lights, the first of his Dark Materials Trilogy in the children’s section of the British Library. She was looking for something else like Harry Potter and she probably liked what she read on the back cover. She didn’t put that book down till she had finished it and then she said we had to read it too. What a wonderful discovery that was! We devoured his three Dark Materials books – the other two are The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, recommended them to all our friends when they were looking for something to read and looked for every book he’s written in the bookstores. (The movie The Golden Compass, based on his first book is very watchable too). Truth be told, I didn’t enjoy his other books as much as I did the trilogy but it’s unfair to compare. It was our first taste of this incredible author and obviously,those first books made a lasting impression.




Speaking of truth, one of the most interesting devices that the Dark Materials books feature is the Alethiometer which is rather like a compass pointing you to the truth. (That's why the film is titled The Golden Compass). The little heroine in the stories, Lyra, can read it because she does so instinctively. Does Heaven really lie about us in our infancy? She can’t do that once she falls in love with Will and maybe loses those clouds of glory trailing behind us in our innocence. It's another world, different experiences and yet, the feelings are so universal. The Dark Materials trilogy is all about the old order of heaven and earth passing away and a new order coming into being where the Republic of Heaven will have everyone equal, respecting one another, believing in what they like, doing what they like and living life fully. An idealistic world but what a tumultuous ride to get there.

It's a magical place he leads us into, a place where every person has an alter-ego, usually an animal that best personifies the person. It is this 'other' that makes the person complete, that brings about balance. When the two are separated, the person is as good as dead. The stories in his book exemplify this theme and make it come alive. The world is filled with good and evil people but there is a constant struggle to attain perfection and this is what makes it different. It is, on the surface, a simple children's story but scratch the surface and you'll find embedded within, the seeds of morality, of idealism and of quantum physics.

Then, this birthday, a friend gave me a gift – his latest book. I doubt most Christians will open this book, forget read it, once they see the title. I know my parents won’t, even though they are the most wonderful people alive. However, if you leave your beliefs aside for a while – a suspension of belief if you will, and read it like you would a story, it’s a wonderful read. It’s the story we all know, told with a twist and the thing is, it’s almost believable. If you were to go beyond that and think of the issues that are brought up, maybe we all have to agree that what has happened to the Church is a far cry from what the Saviour taught. You need to read it to fully appreciate it and you also need to go beyond the words to the deep meaning that the story contains. As an aside, the book was printed with white jackets and gold printing and with black jackets and gold printing. An advertising gimmick – but so relevant, I thought! Pullman wrote this book as part of Canongate’s ‘The Myths Series’.


There’s been so much in Philip Pullman’s writing that I’ve connected with. He writes in such a wonderful way that draws you in, makes you feel like you're a part of the book. Here are a few nuggets from his books, his essays and his talks. I hope you find them as powerful as I do.


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Comments 27 comments

jayb23 profile image

jayb23 6 years ago from India

Wow..This was super amazing. It just blew me. Shalini plz post some more nuggets. They are simply mind blowing. I have to pick this book for sure. Keep up the good work.


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 6 years ago

WOW is right Shalini. I have never had the good fortune of reading Philip Pullman but you have done a superb job in introducing him.

I enjoyed the nuggets especially "The truth is too large and complex. Nobody has the truth".

How incredibly true.


Kiruba Harris de Unda 6 years ago

Thanks for that Shalini. The quotes are so very true. I have not read Philip Pullman but shall look out for his books. Regarding his latest book on Jesus and Christ, may I be allowed to say, that we often confuse the Jesus of History with the Jesus of faith. Then again, unscrupulous persons of the church have and continue to do so, used our Jesus of faith, to miss interpret, cheat, steal and frighten good believers, all in the name of Jesus Christ.


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Hi Jay - thanks for reading. You'll find his books at Landmark and Strand.

Hi Sabu - thanks. Yes, he has some wonderful stuff!

Hi K - yes, because we're told it's wrong - and that's why as you say, it's easy for people to manipulate others.


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

Ahh, every time you mention Philip Pullman, I decide to read one of his books...but it still hasn't happened. The Jesus book sounds fascinating...maybe I can borrow it from you? :)


quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

The sad thing concerning the struggle between wisdom and stupidity is that some people dont! :)


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Yes, of course! B is reading it right now - and I've got one of yours to return too :)

Hi quicksand - LOLOL! Very profound, I'm sure :D


quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

In fact I too don't struggle between wisdom and stupidity! Looks like a great topic for a new hub. Ladies first!

Got interested in that book on JC. :)


sunforged profile image

sunforged 6 years ago from Sunforged.com

Im a big fan of the Dark material trilogy and was quite unhappy to hear there is little to no chance of ever seeing the full trilogy realized on the big screen.

A very fine selection of excerpts, well presented too ..Pullman is quite the quotable author and I look forward to reading this book.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Now, how can I thank you? I got used to reading old authors, I got left behind by new ones. I have never heard of Philip Pullman until now. And now, more expense in buying new books... Oh, well... :-))


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

All yours, quicksand :)

I do hope you like the book.

Hi sunforged - yes, that's sad. After spending so much on it, they hit a roadblock with parents who felt it was evil! I thought the film was very well made. Thanks for coming by - you might find this book different from his trilogy.

De Greek - and here I was thinking that if anyone knew Pullman, you would, my friend :) I'm sure you'll like him - I love his writing style!


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

Thank you so much Shalini, as soon as I can I will look for Pullman`s books, thanks to your great Hub.


Jarrod1240 profile image

Jarrod1240 6 years ago

Breathtaking...I am a Christian who, because of my home, has never been permitted to read and who has never had the desire to read books by Pullman...but some of these quotes pierce my heart...I actually am going to the library later today and am checking our his Dark Materials series. Thank you for this hub. I am passionate about literature and mostly fantasy literature!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Fantastic hub. A real eye opener. Thank you.


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Hi Tatjana = I'm sure you'll like them. Missed you these past few days :)

Hi Jarrod - yes, the movie ran into a loss because everyone thought it was evil. When you read his books, you'll find that's not true. It's a story on a large canvas and all it dies is deal with the struggle between the positive and the negative.

Hi Hello, hello- thank you! Always good to see you :)


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

Shalini, I loved the first of the Dark series. Here is the US it is called The Golden Compass which gave the title to the film. But I was disappointed in the promise of this first book. I could not wait to read the second and had to wait for the third to be published, but I felt he lost his way and did not do justice to the characters he created. I guess you did not feel this way?

I do love bits of what he wrote in the way of your quotes. I would like to discuss some of them, because I don't necessarily agree or would like to banter about them because they inspire new thoughts. But I do like them, lol.

I loved Harry Potter. Did your daughter ever read any of the books that inspired JKR like The Secret of Platform 13 or any by Eva Ibbotsen? I am trying to think what other books I read after the glory of Potter, lol. I love the first, third and last books in the Potter series the best :).

Thanks for alerting me to this new book by Pullman. Could be quite controversial, I imagine. Which isn't a bad thing.


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Hi Story - yes, it is called The Golden Compass there. I guess it was the time I read it - I just flowed along with it :) No, she hasn't read those books as far as I know.

Like you said, these books help our thoughts along to new dimensions. I thought this new one would be controversial but is is a simple story, well told. Of a Saviour whose work wasn't allowed to spread the way it should after him because the powers that be took over.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

I think this book reveals truth, if this is what it says. I completely get that. One of my favorite books is The Aramaic Lord's Prayer translated by Neil Douglass Klotz. I should have added it to my list of favorite books- another brain dead moment, lol. It expresses thoughts of Jesus as poet and mystic. I can't get enough of it, each time I read it.


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

This looks really interesting. How true it is that what Christ taught is difficult to find in most religions today.


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Thanks for recommending the book Story - I haven't read it.

Hi Dim - how true. It's tragic how far we've come from His teachings!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

Hey Shalini,

I love the way you placed those nuggets there. Very creative!

I am only familiar with Pullman's "Golden Compass". Now I'm interested in checking his other works. They sound interesting.

Thanks for sharing! I always learn something from you!

God bless!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Shalini, thanks for introducing me to an author I'd never heard of. "The Good Man Jesus" is definitely going on my summer reading list.


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Oh Jill - thank you so much - from you, that's such wonderful praise!

Hi Sally's Trove - I do hope you like it - thanks as always for reading!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

HI, I have read his books and this one sounds really interesting, I love the way that you presented his quotes, very intriguing, I will definetely buy it, thanks for letting us know about it, cheers nell


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Hi Nell - if you do, I hope you like it. It's a simple tale unlike his Dark Trilogy books but it's great reading.


ezhuthukari profile image

ezhuthukari 6 years ago from Kerala

I have read the trilogy and thought it was really good. Haven't read his latest book though..Will try and get hold of it. An excellent hub Shalini!


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Hi ezhuthukari - thanks so much. I'm glad there are quite a few who have read him and liked him!

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