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Re: [mythsoc] plots and pocket framistans

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  • David S. Bratman
    ... I don t think your standard of criticism of HP is particularly severe. I think they re good books with flaws, and I basically agree with your criticisms.
    Message 1 of 32 , Nov 11 7:50 AM
      At 07:16 PM 11/10/2003 , WendellWag@... wrote:

      >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.

      I don't think your standard of criticism of HP is particularly severe. I
      think they're good books with flaws, and I basically agree with your
      criticisms.


      >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,

      Never judge a book by its news story.


      >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.

      I didn't think you were objecting to the books, just pointing out things
      that irritated you personally.


      >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 often wonder if this is partly due to F.R. Leavis's influence on literary
      criticism. He held that there was a small canon of masterworks, and
      everything else was beneath notice except as documents in the history of
      taste. The problem is that this tends to put the masterworks on a pedestal
      as above criticism, but even the greatest masterworks have some flaws.

      Years ago, someone published a collection of negative reviews that
      masterworks of literature received when newly published. The editor wrote
      (paraphrase) "Boy, wouldn't you hate to have been the guy who panned
      _Moby-Dick_." So I read the pan of _Moby-Dick_ and was astonished: it
      summed up exactly the problems I'd had with that book. The reviewer was
      right! (at least as far as I'm concerned)


      >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?

      Well put. I'm not so offended by that line myself, because I don't
      perceive myself as complaining. I believe, as you do, that there are much
      better books. But I don't think the HP books to date are bad books, so if
      I'm a little puzzled at their hype, I'm not offended by it, even on behalf
      of Diana Wynne Jones, who has a right to feel offended.

      I also don't blame Rowling. The hype clearly came from the first book's
      popularity, not the other way around, and the sequels' popularity is also
      not artificial. Rowling does not puff herself up with her own genius, and
      the HP paraphernalia has been reasonably tasteful. If kids dress up as
      Dementors, it's only as Halloween costumes that are supposed to be scary,
      as far as I know. I don't have the problem with this that I have with One
      Ring collectors.


      >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.

      Both of which have spots that irritate me a lot more than anything in Harry
      Potter.

      - David Bratman
    • John C. Meyers
      Just saw this in today s NYTimes email (free registration required; link isn t free in about a week): Going at the Changes in, Ya Know, English By EMILY EAKIN
      Message 32 of 32 , Nov 15 7:51 AM
        Just saw this in today's NYTimes email (free registration required; link
        isn't free in about a week):

        Going at the Changes in, Ya Know, English
        By EMILY EAKIN
        In his new book, "Doing Our Own Thing," the linguist and
        cultural critic John McWhorter paints an elaborate picture
        of a culture in linguistic upheaval.

        <http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/15/arts/15JOHN.html>

        Once again, mythies are ahead of the curve!

        John (lurker since the GEnie days)
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