Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Article on J K Rowling

There was a lengthy piece by Killian Fox on J K Rowling in the Guardian on Sunday. These two paragraphs, in particular, interested me:

AS Byatt has weighed in against the oeuvre, arguing that: 'Ms Rowling's magic world has no place for the numinous. It is written for people whose imaginative lives are confined to TV cartoons and the exaggerated [more exciting, not threatening] mirror-worlds of soaps, reality TV and celebrity gossip.' Critic Harold Bloom lamented that: 'Harry Potter will not lead our children on to Kipling's Just So Stories or his Jungle Book. It will not lead them to Thurber's Thirteen Clocks or Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows or Lewis Carroll's Alice.'

Both criticisms fall short of the mark. The Potter series does become progressively darker and more serious in tone, and in response to certain religious groups which have marked the books out as unsuitable reading material for children, Rowling has emphasised the importance of confronting fear early on: 'That's a very important part of growing up, I think.' One might concede that Harry Potter is not great literature. But to witness the sheer pervasiveness of its appeal, which pays no attention to age, gender, language or cultural differences, and still to claim that it has little merit seems hugely wrong-headed.


I can't help wondering how Harold Bloom knows that Harry Potter won't lead children to Kipling, Carroll, Grahame or Thurber - has he checked ?!

* * * * * *

I confess that I'm feeling rather burnt-out by the Cybils and as a consequence I'm going to be taking things a little easier during January. I'm not stopping reading (not until I die !), but I'm not going to try to read so much. I started reading James Shapiro's 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare some time ago, after it was recommended as a good book to accompany Susan Cooper's King of Shadows, and I want to finish it before the library starts asking for it back again...

I also started Laurie Frost's The Elements of His Dark Materials some time ago and have yet to finish it, owing to deadlines beating my calendar to bits. Since Laurie kindly sent me a copy from the US, as The Elements of His Dark Materials isn't out in the UK until March, I'd quite like to get it finished before then !

And finally, I got the Doctor Who Season 2 box set of DVDs for Christmas, so I'm indulging myself in some viewing pleasure.

However, I'll still be around the Blogosphere reading other people's Blogs - and I'll still be writing for The Edge of the Forest and Write Away. I'll also post book news, etc. here as and when I hear it...

4 comments:

gail said...

Critic Harold Bloom lamented that: 'Harry Potter will not lead our children on to Kipling's Just So Stories or his Jungle Book. It will not lead them to Thurber's Thirteen Clocks or Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows or Lewis Carroll's Alice.'

I laughed when I read your response to this comment. My own thought is that Kipling, Thurber, and Carroll are all fine, but if Rowling doesn't lead a child to reading them, civilization isn't going to fall.

Bloom wrote a book a few years ago that's supposed to bash contemporary kidlit. I keep meaning to try to find a copy. But something else always comes up.

Michele said...

Well there is that too ! I've never Thurber - does that make me illiterate or poorly-read ?! I've not read Bloom's book either - I don't think my blood pressure could stand it !

Laurie Frost said...

The paperback edition of Elements is available now in the UK. March 2007 may be posted somewhere as the pub date for the hardcover, but the cloth edition has been delayed.

When the book was released in the fall, there were glitches with the UK distributor, and amazon.co.uk was listing a delivery time of 3 to 5 weeks. This situation has been remedied; the site now shows that the book is in stock and that orders are fulfilled in the UK.

I don't know about on-the-shelf bookstore availability. However, it should, in theory, be possible for a bookstore that uses Turnaround as a distributor to meet a request for Elements as speedily as it does for any other book Turnaround handles.

All the best,
Laurie

Michele said...

Thanks for the update Laurie !!