So...I'd not heard about Bloom's railing against HP. It doesn't surprise me at all, but reading the article itself amused me. Aside from the fact that he's a horrible misogynist, he's a rather brilliant literary critic. It's really too bad that he used such poor examples--if he'd used some relevant ones then I may have been able to take his argument more seriously.http://wrt-brooke.syr.edu/courses/205.03/bloom.htmlThough the book is not well written, that is not in itself a crucial liability.
All of them are rather horribly written, actually. I'm not a fan of the writing at all, but that didn't stop me becoming entirely swept away by the series.In what follows, I may at times indicate some of the inadequacies of "Harry Potter." But I will keep in mind that a host are reading it who simply will not read superior fare, such as Kenneth Grahame's "The Wind in the Willows" or the "Alice" books of Lewis Carroll. Is it better that they read Rowling than not read at all? Will they advance from Rowling to more difficult pleasures?
Not entirely true. I know a number of people who have read the likes of those he listed and are still Potter fans. Also, a number of people (children and adults alike) have
gone on to read those stories/stories just like those mentioned.Harry Potter, now the hero of so many millions of children and adults, is raised by dreadful Muggle relatives after his sorcerer parents are murdered by the wicked Voldemort, a wizard gone trollish and, finally, post-human. Precisely why poor Harry is handed over by the sorcerer elders to his priggish aunt and uncle is never clarified by Rowling, but it is a nice touch, suggesting again how conventional the alternative Britain truly is. They consign their potential hero-wizard to his nasty blood-kin, rather than let him be reared by amiable warlocks and witches, who would know him for one of their own.
...which is exactly why one needs to read the entire series before saying things like this. We know exactly why Harry was left with his relatives now.Hogwarts enchants many of Harry's fans, perhaps because it is much livelier than the schools they attend, but it seems to me an academy more tiresome than grotesque.
The first half of that says it perfectly. How many of us would much
rather be in Potions with Snape than in...math, for example? How many of us would love to live in an atmosphere like that? How many of us would rather shout "Scourgify!
" than actually wash our tubs? It's a much more interesting world to think about than our own.One can reasonably doubt that "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is going to prove a classic of children's literature, but Rowling, whatever the aesthetic weaknesses of her work, is at least a millennial index to our popular culture.
Nah. I think they have exactly what it takes to become a classic, actually. No real time period is indicated, and that's generally a mark towards a good piece of fiction--a timeless piece of fiction. While the writing might be awful, it's timeless. It's been the door to a whole world (especially) of science fiction and fantasy for a number of kids who hated reading prior to reading it.Perhaps Rowling appeals to millions of reader non-readers because they sense her wistful sincerity, and want to join her world, imaginary or not. She feeds a vast hunger for unreality; can that be bad? At least her fans are momentarily emancipated from their screens, and so may not forget wholly the sensation of turning the pages of a book, any book.
A very important argument for
the book, really.And yet I feel a discomfort with the Harry Potter mania, and I hope that my discontent is not merely a highbrow snobbery, or a nostalgia for a more literate fantasy to beguile (shall we say) intelligent children of all ages.
Well...many of those books were written at a time when harsher stories were deemed acceptable for children. You'd be hard-pressed to find many parents who will read fairy tales such as those written by the Grimms to their children nowadays. That I'd be one of those is completely beyond the point (though I would also read them HP), and probably just another reason why Lindsay shouldn't have children ;-)
Intelligent children require slightly intelligent role models, frankly. My mom read to me constantly growing up--all sorts of stories--and I grew up to be a bookworm. Yes I read silly stuff, but I also read classics--both then and
now. If it weren't for my mother talking about O. Henry and Franny and Zooey
and Big Brother when I was younger I probably would never have picked up any of those books--but I did, and they led me to others.
Sadly, I can't seem to find the critique that A.S. Byatt (a female contemporary literary critic) has written (unless I want to pay the NYTimes four dollars for the archived article), but I've heard "goblet of bile" quoted a few times now. She also has a slightly more understanding explanation for despising the series, at least--apparently her (absolutely amazing, if you haven't read it yet READ IT NOW) novel, Possession
, fell in behind two
of J.K. Rowling's HP novels in a "recent poll of the 50 greatest books written by women." I'd be angry, too, if I'd written Possession
and that happened.
Found the Byatt article! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/07/10/npott110.xmlMs Rowling's magic wood has nothing in common with these lost worlds. It is small, and on the school grounds, and dangerous only because she says it is.
Slightly true. While there aren't some of the things more prevalent in other forests of fiction, we have been introduced to some true "dangers" within her forest--who can deny that things such as the centaurs and Aragog's family would make one wary of travelling within the Forbidden Forest? While there might not be Will'o'the Wisps or pixies hiding around the next corner, Bane or Aragog or a werewolf (which we've actually been given no proof actually exist in that forest...probably just rumors from Lupin's days) or something equally as frightening might
be.In this regard, it is magic for our time. Ms Rowling, I think, speaks to an adult generation that hasn't known, and doesn't care about, mystery.
I think many of us would very much deny this. I adore mystery within my stories.Sadly, being taught literature often destroys the life of the books.
Well...this depends on both the student and the teacher. I will always remember the teacher who introduced me to Ayn Rand, and I will never forget the teacher whom I credit as the reason I despise reading Shakespeare (and who also managed to ruin one of my favorite books that I had loved before her class).It is the substitution of celebrity for heroism that has fed this phenomenon. And it is the levelling effect of cultural studies, which are as interested in hype and popularity as they are in literary merit, which they don't really believe exists. It's fine to compare the Brontes with bodice-rippers. It's become respectable to read and discuss what Roland Barthes called "consumable" books.
...which is exactly why I hate "cultural studies" types of classes. Toni Morrison and Stephen King and many many others are not deserving of the praise heaped upon them, frankly. I won't deny that the HP books are "consumable books," but you'd never see me discussing their merit as amazing pieces of literature. They're fun to wonder about, though.
I realize that the phenominon of Harry Potter may well die to a dull roar later on down the road--once all the books have been released. Right now we're in the middle of it all--not knowing how it ends, not being able to know until all the books have finished being written. Because of this not knowing that we have, we're intrigued, we're curious, we've fallen in love with a number of characters and actually care about them and what happens to them next. Soon enough we'll be in a place where all seven books can be read in just a couple of weeks, and things won't be like they are now. Things won't need
to be like they are now. People who are fans now will read them to their children, their own children will remember them from their youth and likely read them to their children next, and the trend could well continue for generations and generations. I do see this series becoming a classic. Not a classic in the "wonderful piece of literature" sense, but in the "always able to sweep us away" sense. I really believe that that's inevitable.