Religion in DW - favourite character?

Moderators: Jason, Toothy, Tonyblack

Who is your favourite character?

Rincewind
0
No votes
Vimes
2
10%
Vetinari
2
10%
Granny Weatherwax
5
24%
Death
6
29%
Tiffany Aching
0
No votes
The Librarian
2
10%
Moist von Lipwig
0
No votes
Nanny Ogg
1
5%
Someone else I shouldn't have forgotten: please tell me in your reply!
3
14%
 
Total votes : 21

Religion in DW - favourite character?

Postby anna » Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:52 am

Hi everyone!

(first of al.. sorry for my bad English! ;) )

I am a third-year religious studies student at St. Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. For my honours programme I am doing a paper on religion in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series: I want to analyze how he makes use of it and the view of religion that can be found in his books.

Even though there has been a lot of research on religion in, for example, Tolkiens LoTR, there are virtually no reflections on religion in DW. For those of you who are interested: Dr Graham Harvey (the Open University) has written two articles on paganism in the Discworld, in which he argues that Pratchett in his books creates and enhances the pagan world and encourages his readers to "re-enchant the world".
- http://www.basr.ac.uk/diskus/diskus1-6/harvey-6.txt
- http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=nl&lr=&id=exQ4Zmtjc_sC&oi=fnd&pg=PA41&dq=allesintitel:+Discworld+and+Otherworld:+The+imaginative+use+of+Fantasy+Literature+among+Pagans+auteur:G+auteur:Harvey&ots=f06Gdp09aX&sig=O5KjfUMGvw9twMpwxBd8l8HZMnM#v=onepage&q&f=false

I am now looking into Pratchett's view of religion according to interviews and lectures, and I also want to get a better understanding of what the fans think of his books, so I can find out to what extent the fans agree with/identify with/use the message in his books in their own lives. Therefore, I have been looking around on this forum for some time, and I've found some very interesting opinions! I found out that there is a lot of discussion going on regarding your favourite characters (and storylines) on the Discword, and I hope I'm not boring you by asking yet again..! As a lot of people give multiple answers to this question, I was curious to find out which character would become #1 if you could only choose one.

Unfortunately, I could only enter up to 10 options. I know I'm probably forgetting a lot of great characters, so please let me know who you think is the best DW character!

Any personal information wil of course be kept anonymous. Thank you for answering!

- Anna
anna
New member
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Oct 19, 2012 6:58 pm

Re: Religion in DW - favourite character?

Postby Tonyblack » Sat Nov 10, 2012 1:23 pm

Hello anna and welcome to the site. :)

Of your selection I have gone for Granny WEatherwax. She's not the nicest person, but I do like her outlook on life.
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
User avatar
Tonyblack
Moderator
 
Posts: 28637
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:29 pm
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Re: Religion in DW - favourite character?

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:16 pm

Hi anna and welcome to the forum, on your selection I have went for other as I like the Wee Free Men, Rob Anybody, Big Yan, Daft Wullie and Not as big as medium sized Jock but bigger Wee Jock Jock, impossible to pick only one as it's the same as just pick one book, what the books do for me is make me smile and laugh, but Terry has stated elsewhere that there are no hidden meaning or messages in his books, some of his later books are darker than others in content.
Although I think he does look around in real time and incorporate some of what is happening into the story he is writing at the given moment.

This link below I found interesting.

http://lezgetreal.com/2012/01/forget-an ... pratchett/ :mrgreen:
He willnae tak' a drink! I think he's deid! , on the other hand though A Midgie in yir hand is worth twa up yir kilt.
User avatar
Who's Wee Dug
Member
 
Posts: 13987
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Stirlingshire, Scotland

Re: Religion in DW - favourite character?

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:09 pm

I've gone for someone else including all of the above (except for Moist because I disapprove strongly of his motivations even when he's trying to be good* :P )

Some other admirable 'repeat' characters - Lu-Tze (History Monk par excellence and ultimate master of Oi Dong) Gaspode (does voluntary work with vulnerable destitutes and is often available for covert intelligence gathering for the local constabulary); Ponder Stibbons (does all the real work at UU); Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully (makes the other wizards think for themselves whilst seeing they get some exercise in between their onerous dining schedule); Detritus (no longer dumb troll muscle for hire, he's a force for good in his community in the war against the silicon narcotics trade); Sybil Vimes (staunch supporter of her hubby, but a peace officer in her own right on an international level on behalf of goblins and spokesperson/activist for swamp dragon rights); Magrat (for putting up with Granny and Nanny and being very good with herbs and diagnostics); Leonard of Quirm (for being an intelligent simpleton)

One hit wonder characters - Brutha (Small Gods); 71 Hour Ahmed (Jingo); Pteppic & Ptraci (Pyramids); Mr. Pump (Going Postal); Mr Nutt & Glenda (Unseen Academicals)

anna wrote:Even though there has been a lot of research on religion in, for example, Tolkiens LoTR, there are virtually no reflections on religion in DW. For those of you who are interested: Dr Graham Harvey (the Open University) has written two articles on paganism in the Discworld, in which he argues that Pratchett in his books creates and enhances the pagan world and encourages his readers to "re-enchant the world".

Disagree with the above because a) paganism was/still is a 'way of life' religion/philosophy and
b) there are numerous reflections of religions, particularly priests and gods in nearly all Discworld books.

I also think that Discworld is a magic mirror to this one because really it's all about humans (regardless of whether they're dwarfs, trolls or orcs) and how they live and die (for good or bad) and 'write' their stories. Terry's writing may not overtly be about religion (aside from making fun of priests and gods for the hell of it) but it always has an underlying moral code, which is probably best illustrated by Death in that he treats everyone the same and doesn't tell his charges what to do, because they decide ultimately what their afterlife will be which, in cases like Vorbis (Small Gods), or Mr. Pin (The Truth) is generally a fitting punishment for how their lives were lived.

*this is just a default reaction on principle to Moist for me because people think he should be the next Patrician when really he isn't fit to lick Vetinari's boots and is in fact just an ego-centric smartypants ;)
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
User avatar
Jan Van Quirm
Member
 
Posts: 10316
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:07 pm
Location: Dunheved, Kernow

Re: Religion in DW - favourite character?

Postby michelanCello » Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:56 pm

Hoi, Anna! :D And good luck with your programme!
Listen.
User avatar
michelanCello
Member
 
Posts: 8571
Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:08 pm
Location: Budapest, Hungary (and yes, I'm sure it's Budapest, not Bucharest)

Re: Religion in DW - favourite character?

Postby Mycroft Vimes » Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:57 am

Hi Anna,groeten uit Rotterdam! :)

I went for Death,the great equaliser,big on cosmic justice and such. :mrgreen:
The fact you can't help sympathising with the grim reaper and even end up liking him quite a bit,to me also is the ultimate accolade to Terry Pratchett's skills as a wordsmith.

As Gods of the Discworld go,i'm partial to Offler for his pragmatic approach to Godhood and Om for his selfdeprecation in Small Gods and later according to Vimes the fact that he "imposed very few abominations and no special clothing, and was rather loose on prayers"(although beware of the Quisition,they might appear unexpectedly! :roll: ).
Also gotta love the Djelibeybi's gods,particularly the fact they have a Supreme God,although not just the single one,but multiple contenders. :lol:
'It's just like crop circles. No matter how many aliens own up to making them, there are always a few diehards who believe that humans go out with garden rollers in the middle of the night-'
User avatar
Mycroft Vimes
Member
 
Posts: 753
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2011 5:01 pm
Location: Below Sealevel.

Re: Religion in DW - favourite character?

Postby anna » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:17 pm

Thank you all very much for your great replies, and Who's Wee Dug, for the article on Pratchett! I hadn't encountered it before, it is very interesting!

I'm starting to believe Pratchett created too many wonderful characters to just pick one, haha.

Jan Van Quirm, thank you for your comment! I completely agree with you that Pratchett covers much more than just paganism on the field of religion. But I don't understand your first point that paganism was/still is a 'way of life' religion/philosophy. Do you mean that because of that, it cannot be created or enhanced by fantasy literature? I do agree with Harvey on that point, because the Discworld has quite a lot of elements in common with paganism, for example magic, witches and wizards, the fact that DW is inhabited by multiple races and the use of Faerie. Also, I believe that Pratchett encourages people to see the world as something that's enchanted and alive. I've only read one book that features the Witches (I am definately not as much of an expert as you all are, please correct me if I'm wrong), Wyrd Sisters, and I did get the idea that Pratchett encourages us to see our environment as something that is alive, and not just as objects. Harvey sees in this a hint of animism and an incentive to "listen" to the world around us. What do you think? Can pagans use (fantasy)literature as a source for constructing their own religion, also in a practical sense?

Terry's writing may not overtly be about religion (aside from making fun of priests and gods for the hell of it)

I wonder, in his interviews he defines himself as a humanist and says he sees mankind as something divine, not God ("in my religion, the building of a telescope is the building of a cathedral"). People shouldn't believe in some creator, they are the Creator. This is quite a statement and I wonder: do you recognize this in his books?

As Gods of the Discworld go,i'm partial to Offler for his pragmatic approach to Godhood and Om for his selfdeprecation in Small Gods and later according to Vimes the fact that he "imposed very few abominations and no special clothing, and was rather loose on prayers"(although beware of the Quisition,they might appear unexpectedly! ).
Also gotta love the Djelibeybi's gods,particularly the fact they have a Supreme God,although not just the single one,but multiple contenders.

Mycroft, I'm curious to know what you think of Pratchetts use of Gods/religion in DW. Do you think there's a point he's trying to make, or if he just uses his gods and religions to poke fun at certain legends, myths, people and institutions?

Again, thank you all for answering and I hope I'm not boring you too much with all my questions! :)

-Anna
anna
New member
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Oct 19, 2012 6:58 pm

Re: Religion in DW - favourite character?

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:20 pm

anna wrote:....I don't understand your first point that paganism was/still is a 'way of life' religion/philosophy. Do you mean that because of that, it cannot be created or enhanced by fantasy literature? I do agree with Harvey on that point, because the Discworld has quite a lot of elements in common with paganism, for example magic, witches and wizards, the fact that DW is inhabited by multiple races and the use of Faerie. Also, I believe that Pratchett encourages people to see the world as something that's enchanted and alive. I've only read one book that features the Witches (I am definately not as much of an expert as you all are, please correct me if I'm wrong), Wyrd Sisters, and I did get the idea that Pratchett encourages us to see our environment as something that is alive, and not just as objects. Harvey sees in this a hint of animism and an incentive to "listen" to the world around us. What do you think? Can pagans use (fantasy)literature as a source for constructing their own religion, also in a practical sense?

That 'was/is' thing is mainly to do with neo-paganism and wicca and even goth/steam punk culture in contemporary western and pacific rim society. Wikipedia has a v.g. article on contemporary pagan beliefs, which is not necessarily a religious thing, but has taken on quite an ecumenical path as I see there is such a thing as Jewish Wicca and even 'Queer' Pagans, based on ancient and classical Mediterranean cultural roots (we did have two German members on here who were priestesses of Gaia/the Mother goddess but they haven't posted much recently). So, whether it's a social or ideological lifestyle we do have 'serious' paganism in general society, even if for some it's at best a kind of fashion statement or shallow self-expression mimicing spirituality. ;)

I think Harvey is definitely right in his conclusion that Disworld has animism and elements of listening to the world around us. Lancre is 'alive' in Wyrd Sisters as the land mourns for it's true king when Verence I is murdered and I think in at least 2 books Unseen University is described as having an awareness of what happens within it, especially of course in the Library - the Librarian is arguably a kind of High Priest in his mastery of L-space and Keeper of the books too. As for the Witches themselves - the elder series of DW novels are worthy of exploration in their entirety, but specifically for your dissertation Lords and Ladies and Carpe Jugulam as they respectively tackle Elves and DW transitional vampirism (moving from classic behaviour to the less aggressive Black Ribboner kind), with CJ especially being of interest as it also features Mightily Oats an Omnian missionary whose vocation is to bring the 'monsters' of Uberwald (and Borogravia), including vampires of course, back into the fold, not necessarily of Om but into what passes for mainstream society in those parts.

A related book that may also be worth looking at in relation to Elves and Witches/Wizards in terms of 'lore' and spirituality is The Folklore of the Discworld co-written by Terry with Dr. Jacqueline Simpson who's a renowned folklorist who's helped Terry with background material for the magical aspects of several of the main series, very specifically CJ in relation to folklore on magpies (Count Magpyr is the chief vampire) and also for the last in the 'new' witch series featuring Tiffany, I Shall Wear Midnight with it's references for the Cunning Man and for rough music too.

And yes, I do think fantasy writing does effect modern pagans very much, especially with the rise of Harry Potter for witches/wizards alongside the 'real' world, but also the zombie apocalypse and Buffy fans too.
Also worth looking at if you want to explore the more cerebral side of things is to do a bit of research into transpersonal psychology which deals with human spirituality and impacts on the fantasy life. It's not the same as parapsychology (the zener cards and telepathy etc) but it does address philosophic and quasi-religious activity. I recently took part in a research study with 17 other people for a thesis into the effects of 'absorbed reading' of fantasy literature and how it effected spiritual and mental health in terms of socialisation, life-lessons and healing, writing about experiences I'd had while reading books about Discworld and Middle Earth :whistle: :lol:

anna wrote:
JVQ wrote:Terry's writing may not overtly be about religion (aside from making fun of priests and gods for the hell of it)

I wonder, in his interviews he defines himself as a humanist and says he sees mankind as something divine, not God ("in my religion, the building of a telescope is the building of a cathedral"). People shouldn't believe in some creator, they are the Creator. This is quite a statement and I wonder: do you recognize this in his books?

Most definitely. :D The Science of the Discworld books and The Last Continent look at aspects of creation and how a Creator might operate. Another link for you http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/audio/2 ... rdian-club - click on the MP3 download link, where he's talking to a journalist about science teaching and religion.
One of my own favourite quotes from Terry is
I'd rather be a rising ape than a falling angel
which perhaps says a lot about his world view that he's more or less confirmed has humanist leanings, but he also says that his morals are loosely formed around the mainstream social view of the Church of England upbringing that he had, on the basis that being nice to each other and not doing harm is the way to go. Also that you treat people as persons and not objects or things, which is very much a central theme in the Witch books where very little actual magic is done, but there is a lot of herbology and medicine and wise-woman activity that all works with Granny Weatherwax's main attribute of headology. :)

anna wrote:Again, thank you all for answering and I hope I'm not boring you too much with all my questions! :)

They're very interesting questions and the answers are widespread and both objective and subjective and very open to argument of the learned variety so it's fun to take part in the discussion! ;)
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
User avatar
Jan Van Quirm
Member
 
Posts: 10316
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:07 pm
Location: Dunheved, Kernow

Re: Religion in DW - favourite character?

Postby raptornx01 » Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:55 am

Belief is a very strong element throughout the discworld books. Its even stated numerous times that belief is the most powerful force in the world. and one that is needed.

He even uses it in more unconventual ways. for example in Witches Abroad,

"Spoilers for the book"

When Granny faces off with Mrs Goggle (sp?), she uses the fact that Mrs Goggle, and the other people there, believe that she is powerful and her magic is effective as a weapon against her. she makes a show of letting Mrs Goggle prove how strong she is before plunging he arm in the fire.

there are many other examples. But i always found the views on religion presented to be very interesting. and somewhat refreshing.
"The reason an author needs to know the rules of grammar isn't so he or she never breaks them, but so the author knows how to break them."
User avatar
raptornx01
Member
 
Posts: 2196
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:03 am
Location: South florida, US

Re: Religion in DW - favourite character?

Postby rockershovel » Sun Dec 09, 2012 6:50 pm

Pratchett makes a very important distinction from our world, right at the beginning. The Discworld gods are real, in the sense of having a specific existence, and no-one doubts this although very few Discworld inhabitats have ever actually seen a god, and when they do appear the results tend not to be what people expect ( Pyramids, for one thing )

However they draw strength and stature from the number of worshippers they have, which is a somewhat different thing. Om does quite literally appear, in a corporeal sense, in "Small Gods" precisely because he is drawing strength from the belief of those looking on.

Moist von Lipwig is able to pass off the retrieval of his buried loot as "divinely inspired" and Vetinari accepts this for legal purposes.

Discworlders are also quite cynical about the precise relationship between the gods, and those who purport to serve them - the running joke about what happens to sausages "offered up" to Offler is a case in point.

The dwarves are also quite clear that Tak has long since left them. Whether their unquestioning belief in his one-time existence makes him powerful, is unresolved; certainly he is about the only named deity never to make an appearance.

I'd say that religion, in the sense that we mean it, doesn't exist in Discworld.
rockershovel
Member
 
Posts: 142
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Religion in DW - favourite character?

Postby raptornx01 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:28 pm

It does, its just that the main characters either don't really mention or if they do take the stance that, basically, "They know damn well the things exist, so believing in them would be like believing in the postman." (to paraphrase)

and its not just the number of believers, but the strength of that belief. the example I gave, and the one you gave about Om illustrate this.

But those are only a couple of incidences. He even makes a point of saying that the gods don't really do that kind of stuff anymore. and in most areas, and with most people, its all fallen into the realm of traditional religion. Pre-Small-Gods Omnia, and those countries in Monstrous Regiment for example. people just generally believing.
"The reason an author needs to know the rules of grammar isn't so he or she never breaks them, but so the author knows how to break them."
User avatar
raptornx01
Member
 
Posts: 2196
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:03 am
Location: South florida, US

Re: Religion in DW - favourite character?

Postby rockershovel » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:25 pm

It's like the afterlife; this can be a form of reincarnation, or it can be a crossing of a desert to an unspecified destination, or an individual simply fading away or persisting as a sort of phantom. Really, it's so variable, often to suit a specific plot point or joke, that it really isn't possible to say anything sensible about religion on Discworld
rockershovel
Member
 
Posts: 142
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Religion in DW - favourite character?

Postby raptornx01 » Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:12 pm

Well, no, he has said, and stated it several times throughout the series that what happens to you when you die is dictated on the your beliefs. What you believe will happen is what will happen. Has he veered from that on occasion? Yes. But that is more of a product of Death being a hypocritical character and what he says not always following in line with his actions. When he says "There is no justice, just me" but then later, at times offering up a bit of poetic justice. but those are the exceptions, not the rule. overall it has followed that line, and what has been shown is the case that what they have believed has been what has happened. If they believed there would be a dessert then there was one, if they believed in reincarnation, then it would happen.

All that is very much in line with the idea of humans creating religion and all the things that go along with it.
"The reason an author needs to know the rules of grammar isn't so he or she never breaks them, but so the author knows how to break them."
User avatar
raptornx01
Member
 
Posts: 2196
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:03 am
Location: South florida, US

Re: Religion in DW - favourite character?

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:54 pm

:clap: Oooooh! :clap: I REALLY BELIEVE in desserts - do we get to choose d'you think? ;) I'd go for a nice big bowl of profiteroles with a serving of honeycomb Cornish Ice Cream :D
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
User avatar
Jan Van Quirm
Member
 
Posts: 10316
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:07 pm
Location: Dunheved, Kernow

Re: Religion in DW - favourite character?

Postby raptornx01 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:18 am

:lol:
"The reason an author needs to know the rules of grammar isn't so he or she never breaks them, but so the author knows how to break them."
User avatar
raptornx01
Member
 
Posts: 2196
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:03 am
Location: South florida, US

Next

Return to Discworld novels

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 7 guests