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Daemon Voices

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  1,591 ratings  ·  290 reviews
Essays on Storytelling. In over 30 essays, written over 20 years, one of the world's great story-tellers meditates on story-telling. Warm, funny, generous, entertaining, and above all, deeply considered, they offer thoughts on a wide variety of topic, including the origin and composition of Philip's own stories, the craft of writing and the story-tellers who have meant the ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published October 5th 2017 by David Fickling Books
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Siobhan Murphy I would personally say no - it's more like academic essays and transcripts of lectures that he has delivered on a range of topics. He does ruminate a …moreI would personally say no - it's more like academic essays and transcripts of lectures that he has delivered on a range of topics. He does ruminate a little on the writing of His Dark Materials in some of the essays, but it is definitely a minority.(less)

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Spencer Orey
This is a collection of older short nonfiction pieces, many of which have useful ideas and tips for writers, often with reference to the Dark Materials books. I haven't read those books yet but it didn't take anything away from reading this. In general, Pullman has kind of a grumpy voice, but wow he can really write, and he often has a ton of useful things to say.

These kinds of books are usually really uneven, and this one is no exception. A good number of the pieces are introductions to other t
Sebastien Castell
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Daemon Voices, Phillip Pullman’s collection of essays on storytelling, philosophy, and society, appears at first glance to be a simple aggregation of a number of his previous talks and articles. It’s only when you reach the end, to his piece on The Republic of Heaven, that what he’s been building up to all along (perhaps over the entire course of his writing career), becomes clear: the role of stories in building a society rich in myth and wonder but without religion.

Not everyone will find the a
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: bbc radio listeners
Recommended to Bettie by: Laura
Description: Essays on Storytelling. In over 30 essays, written over 20 years, one of the world's great story-tellers meditates on story-telling. Warm, funny, generous, entertaining, and above all, deeply considered, they offer thoughts on a wide variety of topic, including the origin and composition of Philip's own stories, the craft of writing and the story-tellers who have meant the most to him. The art of story-telling is everywhere present in the essays themselves, in the instantly engaging ...more
"The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it” - Samuel Johnson

Having loved His Dark Materials, I did wonder what Pullman would ‘say’ in these essays and speeches. Well, I was expecting frank and direct views - no beating around the bush for him - and that is exactly what I got. The author concentrates on storytelling however rather than novel writing, the distinction telling and interesting.

The other thing that surprised me to a certain extent is
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Philip Pullman’s Dæmon Voices – Essays on Storytelling is pleasurable reading for English teachers, students, writers and anyone who loves stories. Best known for the trilogy, His Dark Materials, Pullman has a deep, highly practical understanding of what it takes to craft a story to delight both novice and experienced teachers of writing. His obvious affection for other storytellers, the ones who have meant the most to him, further illuminates Pullman’s philosophy of writing successfully, and wi ...more
Carmilla Voiez
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A beautiful book about writing. The hardback version has colour plates at the centre and is exquisitely bound. It contains lectures and articles by Pullman about books and writing. There’s considerable repetition because these talks and essays were intended for different audiences, but rather than becoming boring, the repeated points help to reinforce important and recurring themes. Taken as a whole it is a feel good read for aspiring and accomplished authors. It talks of the importance of liter ...more
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
In these personal, entertaining and deeply thoughtful essays, Philip Pullman examines the art of storytelling.

Written over a period of 30 years, they reflect on a wide range of topics including the origins of his own stories, the practice of writing and the storytellers who have most inspired him.

Today's essay reveals how his days at Oxford in the sixties provided the inspiration for the setting of His Dark Materials.

Adapted and produced by Kate McAll
A Pier production for
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it
This is quite readable and has some interesting ideas and insights. However Pullman contradicts himself a lot and has strong opinions on subjects that aren't his area of expertise. He should probably be more aware of his white privilege in places too. Pullman says himself that his talent seems to lie in fantasy (though he's snooty about genre fiction) and I agree that he should probably stick to that. His Dark Materials is a masterpiece. I'm a bit of a completist so I was interested to read this ...more
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
We all know Philip Pullman can write. But come on. This compendium of essays by him is heavy sledding. Not his fault - I think the editors decided, "let's put every essay Pullman ever wrote in one book, no matter if they're repetitive." I expected to find his complete shopping lists in the next chapter, or his phone pad doodles. This is not for reading in bed: doze off and you might end up with a bloody nose as the book slips from your hands. All that said, reading these essays introduced me to ...more
Miss Bookiverse
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book proposes, the reader questions; the book responds, the reader considers. (p. 416)

I love reading non-fiction about the craft of storytelling and the relationship between author and reader, especially from such a talented, intelligent individual as Philip Pullman. I don't agree with all of his views (especially on the merit of fantasy books) and some of his musings went over my head, but I enjoyed the majority of these extremely well written speeches, introductions, and essays and the lit
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The good: almost everything!! As usual, Pullman writes with passion and clarity. It's obvious that he is deeply interested in a broad range of subjects, from science to art to storytelling to religion. He is very explicitly interested & invested in humanity, and what brings joy and meaning to life, and he is certainly determined to celebrate the real and inhabited physical world.

Some of the most reoccurring subjects include: William Blake; children's literature as a genre and childhood as shared
It is difficult to try and get into the mind of a writer and wonder how the pieces of the jigsaw, which will later become a story, a play or an essay all fit together but what we have here is one author’s contemplation on what it is to write, why write what does he and where his fascination with what he writes all stems from. It is a highly accomplished autobiographical map of his literary mind and it tells us much of Pullman’s beliefs with regards to religion and story but of which are, in his ...more
The essays in this collection are especially interesting if you want to know more about His Dark Materials, although Pullman also touches upon writing, the importance of fiction, religion, and a number of specific books (including Paradise Lost and Tom's Midnight Garden). Indeed, I enjoyed reading about the thought that went into His Dark Materials the most.

What keeps me from rating this book higher is that it was, at times, repetitive. This makes sense (these essays originated as lectures, and
Kathleen Flynn
So good!

I heartily recommend this to all fans of His Dark Materials, particularly anyone with an interest in writing themselves. There is a lot here about Pullman's approach to writing, views on other writers, and thoughts about the world more generally. It's compiled from various talks he gave and articles he wrote, which made me a little worried it might be shapeless or repetitive. But though some ideas and images recur, it's more helpful than annoying, in my view.

I refer you to my 46 highligh
Kieran Fanning
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Finally finished this well written and beautifully made compendium of essays on storytelling. I found some of them a little dull and irrelevant, but there are also some gems in here. Will appeal to anyone with an interest in children's literature. 4 stars. ...more
Charlotte Burt
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Much more scholarly than I was expecting with frequent references to William Blake and Milton. I learned a lot
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
"There is the wood and there is the path. The making-up part is different from the writing-down part." ...more
Dec 27, 2020 rated it liked it
This is the kind of book that I think is better appreciated if you read one or two essays at a time over a long period. Unfortunately, I really just wanted to be done with it, and so I read the whole thing straight through, which made it kind of a slog by the end. I love the "His Dark Materials" trilogy and I think Pullman is a great writer, so this was never an unpleasant read, but I also didn't feel like I needed it as a permanent part of my book collection. If you're more of a Pullman complet ...more
Jul 22, 2020 rated it liked it
This book includes a collection of essays more or less related to storytelling collected from various speeches, articles and introductions to other books. Most of the essays approach storytelling from a theoretical or abstract, although "unacademic" according to the author. Although the themes of the essays are pretty varied, they are grouped pretty cohesively by theme throughout the book.

I'd expected a bit more focus on writing, but still found many of the essays interesting, particularly the
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: electronic
titular sentence:
p261: In fact, there are probably dæmon voices whispering to us all the time, and we’ve forgotten how to hear them.

wait, what?:
p192: And in order to understand this cartoon, which we all effortlessly do, we instantaneously call on our memories not only of what we’ve seen happen when you tip over a container of liquid, but of such things as carol singing—we know why there is a group of people standing in the snow, and what they’re doing, and we contrast the innocent purity of the
Big Al
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Really delightful compilation. Sometimes Pullman gets a bit cranky (e.g. throwing shade at the entire genre of fantasy EXCEPT for his own works within the genre...) and long-winded, but for the most part he is a charming companion. Pullman has a simple style, but he shares some valuable ideas in this collection about storytelling, education, and the nature of consciousness itself (!). I quite enjoyed reading his thoughts on subjects he is passionate about, like Milton, Blake, children's literatu ...more
Oh Philip Pullman, you might be my favorite philosopher.

While some exact sentences and ideas repeat themselves a few times throughout this collection of essays about writing, reading, education, and morality each essay really is its own perfectly written piece. They are almost like sermons the way they are constructed, but obviously humanist sermons, not religious ones.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
'How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way
Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?'
- William Blake (p.456)

In delving into this - often inspirational, mostly entertaining - assortment of talks, speeches, justifications, laudations, blurbs and - most importantly, to Pullman - stories, it seems I chose that childlike criterion, unbeknown to me, of 'sortes Virgilianae, the old custom of bibliomancy' (p.170), and dove in at whim and wish. The whim was whatever seemed to
Camelia Rose
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, audio
I am a fan of Phillip Pullman's The Dark Materials trilogy. I also love Sally Lockhart series. This collection contains 33 essays spanning several decades. It's a pleasant and thoughtful experience to listen to this master story-teller talking about his creative process (Magic Carpets, The Writing of Stories, Intention, Let's Write it in Red, Poco a Poco and more), often taking examples from The Dark Materials. William Blake and Milton's Paradise Lost, by whom his worldview has been influenced, ...more
Laura Clark
Nov 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
If you’re thinking about buying this book to learn about writing from a respected author you might be disappointed; there are better books out there for that purpose. This is not a ‘How To’ guide, more a collection of musings on stories with the occasional (fleeting) reference to how he developed some aspects of his trilogy, His Dark Materials.

Yes, it’s cerebral and eloquent - you’d hardly expect less from Phillip Pullman - but it is also very repetitive because he obviously used material again
Apr 21, 2020 rated it liked it
The first 150 pages of this book were outright inspiring. I love Pullman's breakdowns of world building, his argument for children's literature as a source for morality, and his takedown of innocence as an ideal state. I was most fascinated just to learn his approach to writing: starting with moments and images, then spinning them out until everything fit into place.

I would have rated it more highly but for two things:
-I don't think the format of the book best serves his purpose. To me, the fact
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
My mini Philip Pullman renaissance has been dragging me and my lil boat of reading through some real interesting territory, and, aside from His Dark Materials, this night just be my favourite swamp yet.

To begin with, Mr Pullman has thought about shit and he’s thought about it a lot. (Applause for my beautiful use of the English language here to make my point pls)

But for real- old mate has lots to say about being an artist, about life and about writing and I’m going to say 80% of it is deeply int
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
In over 30 essays over the course of 20 years one of the worlds great story tellers mediates on story tellers. Warm, funny, generous, and above all deeply considered offering thoughts on a wide variety of topics.
He truly is a wordsmith, crafting the right combination of words and ideas.It is a must for any writer, who wants to understand the craft. His vivid imagery and striking phrases are imbedded in the story telling history of our souls. Read. this slowly, enjoy each sentence, use it as a r
Nick Swarbrick
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: set-aside, lit-crit
I’m not giving up on this - the collection of essays is a delight- but I’m reading it piecemeal and I am not at all sure “set aside” is right either. This is a book to ponder and dip into for me. Just not sure Goodreads really is the forum that does it justice.
Annina Luck Wildermuth
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Some of these lectures by Philip Pullman are brilliant--well, probably all of them are, but some of them are either not my interest or way above my head. However, the ones where he talks about the craft of writing are fantastic and I would recommend those for any writer or creative.
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PHILIP PULLMAN is one of the most acclaimed and best-selling writers at work today. He is best known for the His Dark Materials trilogy: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, which has been named one of the top 100 novels of all time by Newsweek and one of the all-time greatest novels by Entertainment Weekly. In 2004, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British ...more

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“The mind has plenty of ways of preventing you from writing, and paralysing self-consciousness is a good one. The only thing to do is ignore it, and remember what Vincent van Gogh said in one of his letters about the painter's fear of the blank canvas - the canvas, he said, is far more afraid of the painter.” 4 likes
“Stories aren't made of language: they're made of something else. A little earlier I said that stories were about life; perhaps they're made of life.” 3 likes
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