UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Isle of Knots, a novel : religion in Isle of Knots and related fantasy fiction for youth, an exegesis Hirsch, Russell Francis


In this thesis, I use the ideas of mythologist Joseph Campbell as a framework to compare and contrast the portrayal of religion in my own novel, Isle of Knots, with C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Campbell argues that myths and religious tales must be interpreted as metaphors rather than literal facts (as has been common in the Christian tradition). I explore how The Chronicles of Narnia reimagines Christian myth in a fantasy world and contrasts Campbell’s view by emphasizing literal belief in God. His Dark Materials likewise re-envisions Christian myths but attacks literal belief in religion and encourages an experience of the divine in our own world through physical, material means. Pullman’s critique of literalism bears some similarities to Joseph Campbell’s scholarship, but through my novel, Isle of Knots, I strive to present a fictional world even more fully attuned to Campbell’s ideas. My protagonist starts with literal beliefs in a fictional religion similar to Christianity but eventually relinquishes such beliefs in favour of a primarily metaphorical interpretation of gods and mythologies. Through this metaphorical interpretation, my characters must also grapple with Campbell’s morally ambiguous view of the divine, which transcends the duality of good and evil.

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