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The Geography of Shadows: Souls and Cities in P. Pullman's His Dark Materials

From: Philosophy and Literature
Volume 35, Number 2, October 2011
pp. 269-281 | 10.1353/phl.2011.0021



The soul is an elusive thing, and anyone who wants to describe it must do so with metaphors, painting it in a picture of words. A geography of inside and outside, of walls and boundaries, is the expression in metaphor of a conception of human beings as creatures whose essence is the capacity for deceit and self-deception. Can we tear down the walls of this defamatory self-conception, this portrayal of the natural condition of persons as being one of hiding? With its rich fictional menagerie of angels and ghosts, daemons, witches, and specters, talking bears and impersonal but sentient matter, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials invites us to do just that.

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