October 30, 2019
MarkBernstein.org
 
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The Secret Commonwealth

by Philip Pullman

Lyra is in her twenties, a postgraduate student at Oxford, and she and her daemon are not speaking to each other. That is to say: Lyra and her soul (spirit? Genius?) have fallen out. It’s a profound and thrilling premise, and Pullman explores it wonderfully.

Once again, I find myself reading Pullman’s exciting and engaging urban fantasy, always notable for the thoughtfulness of its characters even when they are children, and once again I realize that he’s doing something much larger and more serious than I’d thought. There’s lots here: a bravura attack on aspects of postmodernism, a thoughtful response to Karl Ove Knausgaard. There’s even a hypertext fiction vignette!