Philip Pullman and Heinrich von Kleist

His Dark MaterialsPoster for the film His Dark Materials

Being an admirer of the fiction of Philip Pullman ( Pullman writes a book that will shed light on darkness of his beliefs – Times Online ) and intrigued by his thinking, I’ve taken a moment to read an essay which he has said is a powerful influence: Heinrich von Kleist’s On the Marionette Theatre.

Von Kleist’s account of the bear is a clear inspiration for the figure of Iorek Byrnison, the leader of the Panserbjørn, or armoured polar bears, in Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, which has been adapted for radio, stage and screen. I’m intrigued as well by what the bear signifies in Kleist’s essay: the grace of unconscious knowledge, grace that precedes the fall (in the Biblical sense).

“Does that mean”, I said in some bewilderment, “that we must eat again of the tree of knowledge in order to return to the state of innocence?”

What kind of knowledge is it that would allow us to reclaim innocence? What is the relationship between knowledge and attachment?

About David

I am an environmental writer, journalist and speaker living in Cape Town, South Africa.
This entry was posted in Film, poetry and literature. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Philip Pullman and Heinrich von Kleist

  1. Cliff Burns says:

    Thanks for providing the link to the Von Kleist piece on puppets, etc. We’re big fans of Philip Pullman in this house too. My wife has been interested in puppets for years in her capacity as teacher and artist. Good stuff!

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