In a message dated 11/9/2003 11:09:17 PM Eastern Standard Time,
> It does seem to me sometimes that just because Harry's such
> a success, the books get subjected to an unwarranted amount of terribly
> serious criticism.
(Excuse me for quoting this particular post. I don't wish to claim that it's
the only place that I've seen the problem that I'm going to talk about. The
thing that I'm objecting to is an attitude that I've seen in many places.
This is just a useful point to enter my objections to this attitude.)
I subject the Harry Potter books to a higher standard of criticism because
it's been constantly promoted to me as being the greatest thing since sliced
bread. With very little exception, every news story I've read about the book has
treated it as if it were the greatest children's book ever written, and I
wouldn't even put it among the best ten children's fantasy series I've read (and
I'm not super-well-read in children's fantasy). Virtually every news story
about the books I've ever seen have implied that the only people who could
conceivably object to the books are either fundamentalists who think it's the work
of the Devil or people who just don't like children's fantasy. Read my posts
carefully. At no point did I ever say that it was a bad series. It's a
reasonably good series. It's just not a great series.
I hate hype. I'm much more bothered by people who grab my labels and demand
that I acknowledge that what I consider to be a reasonably good work of art is
actually a great work of art than I am by the existence of purely bad works.
Truly bad works of art aren't the ones that get hyped. It's the flawed but
acceptable ones that are hyped, and it bothers me when people are unable to
admit that there are flaws in otherwise good work.
I am even more offended by the statement that "well, at least Harry Potter
has gotten children reading, so you shouldn't complain." What is the argument
here - that if I complain about Harry Potter being less than perfect that it
will cause children all over the world to quit reading the Harry Potter books?
Then they will quit reading anything, and so civilization will collapse into
total barbarism? (You know, if civilization actually depended on children
reading one book series, maybe it should collapse.) In any case, no child has
ever asked me my opinion of the books, and I've never offered my opinion to one.
I pass my copies of the Harry Potter books on to one of my brothers so that
his children can read them someday. I find that my nephews and nieces can
think for themselves, so I don't find it necessary to tell them when I give them
_The Chronicles of Narnia_ or L'Engle's _Wrinkle in Time_ books that I think
that I consider them great works. I let them make up their own minds.
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