In Defence of Harry Potter

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GlottalGreekGeek
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In Defence of Harry Potter

Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Tue Dec 06, 2005 5:57 am

J. K. Rowling is far from the best of living authors, but she has considerable merit. I have seen enough comments on this board which I feel criticize the Harry Potter books more on the basis on their mass appeal rather than an actual evaluation of them.

(my cAPS LOCK BUTTON IS GOING BONKERS, AND I am tired of fixing the cAPS, SO IGNORE THE ODD CapitALIZation of the remAINING WORDS OF THIS POST - BLame my keyboARD, NOT ME.)

ONE OF THE CRITICISMS I Have found is thAT THE BOOKS are only populAR BECause of the mARKET HYPE. THERE IS PROBably some truth in this, but I don't think they would hAVE BEEN able to gAIN THE Market hype without being first boosted by the word of mouth. I first heARD OF Harry Potter when A FRIEND OF MINE RECOMMENDED IT TO ME WHEN I Was `10 yeARS OLD. She gAVE ME A COPY and I loved it. I hAD NO IDEa thAT Harry POtter wAS any more populAR THan other books I hAD REad. When months lATER I heARD about the HARRY POTTER PHENOMENON, IT felt weird. Therefore I disAGREE WITH THOSE WHO DISDain HARRY POTTER THINKING IT IS ONLY EPhemerAL TRash for guilible consumers.

I hAVE MORE TO Say on the topic, but it's lATE at night, AND I am sick of my keyboARD'S ISSUES Making me look like some IMMature`12-yeAR OLD, so I will sAY the rest lATER.

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Post by classicalclarinet » Tue Dec 06, 2005 7:21 am

hmm.. I'm unfamiliar with this. But what percentage of the hype is word-of-mouth anyway? Rowling wasn't known when she published her first book, but did her books subsequently get boosted up w/ lots of marketing?

Good luck w/ your keyboard problems...what did you do to it? :)

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Post by bellum paxque » Tue Dec 06, 2005 8:40 am

She [G.K. Rowling] portrays witchcraft as an enjoyable pasttime which can lead to magical and mythical journeys; in reality, it is merely a pagan pathway to destruction.
Like most popular phenomena, Harry Potter is subject to the scorn of those who think that something enjoyed widely ought not to be enjoyed at all. Another motivation for bashing the books, though, is found in the words I quoted (taken from the other thread). Since the story, on a simple narrative level, is all about witches and wizardry, Christians of the rather conservative variety associate it with new age cults, Satanism, and other (according to them) pernicious influences. This judgment is made usually before they've read enough of the books - heck, before they've read any, often - to gain any direct knowledge beyond the hearsay found in popular Christian magazines, video series, and sermons. Where's my authority for saying such things? That's the way my mom formed her opinion about HP .

As to your original point, GGG, I'm in full agreement. I didn't get around to really reading the series until last year, but I remember a time about six years back when I heard about them for the first time from a friend of mine, who told me I just had to read them. Going through the first twenty pages of book 1, though not engaging enough to send me scurrying to a bok store to buy it, was enormously entertaining. All this with no press and no ads. HP is more than a mass media masquerade. Not a "classic," perhaps,* but solid entertainment, round characters, a compelling moral conflict, and a vividly drawn world.

David

*I find myself asking, with T.S. Eliot, "What is a classic?" I don't find myself answering as he does, however.

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Post by Celtica » Tue Dec 06, 2005 10:00 am

I'm a so-called 'Potter-fan", and as my father would say "It's just a yarn". It's no great piece of literature in English, so don't expect it to be so in Latin. Ultimately it's aimed at children, and written at a level that a child can read and keep their attention.
To those who claim it's encouraging evil, I refer you to what I said before: <i>It is just a yarn. A story. Make-believe.</i> If you can't understand the concept as an adult, I worry for you.

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Post by antianira » Tue Dec 06, 2005 4:36 pm

I never understood the the Potter-pagan attacks. Last time I checked I couldn't conjure magic with a little wand. Its a basic good vs. evil story and all the different angles in between. A little boy who thinks he's a nobody, learns how to stand up to and overpower evil because he has love (of his family) on his side. What is offensive about that?

Of course I never understood what people have against paganism "Do no harm" (the Wiccan rede) I never found particularly threatening. But if you object to pagan material, why on earth would you want kids to read mythology?

BTW, have you read the Half-Blood Prince? very sad ending.

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Post by Deudeditus » Tue Dec 06, 2005 9:54 pm

Code: Select all

BTW, have you read the Half-Blood Prince? very sad ending
I wrote a song for the ol' bloke. I almost cried... there, it's out.. :)

My girlfriend's mother even accused Mrs. Rowling of using magic to enhance her books' popularity. She said that it explained for the books appeal to a wide range of ages and people... Personally, I believe that Harry's story is what appeals people. Good vs. Evil is pretty much universal. (I don't know that for sure, but I'm willing to assume). For a kids book, it is very good.. heck, for an adults' book, it's good.
I also liked seeing Rowlings development as a writer, and the development of her character-developing skills. :D

G3, hope you fixed your keyboard!

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Post by nostos » Tue Dec 06, 2005 10:03 pm

Deudeditus wrote:I wrote a song for the ol' bloke. I almost cried... there, it's out.. :)

. . .

I also liked seeing Rowlings development as a writer, and the development of her character-developing skills. :D
Ha, I'm not alone on that part of the half-blood prince! :wink: And I liked seeing her development too; fortuitously, it goes very well with the developing kids who read her novels.
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Post by Carola » Tue Dec 06, 2005 11:07 pm

antianira wrote:I never understood the the Potter-pagan attacks. Last time I checked I couldn't conjure magic with a little wand. Its a basic good vs. evil story and all the different angles in between. A little boy who thinks he's a nobody, learns how to stand up to and overpower evil because he has love (of his family) on his side. What is offensive about that?
Yes I agree - I have been trying to get housework done by twitching my nose for years - doesn't work :wink:

If Harry Potter is so evil, what about Grimm's fairytales, Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" and countless myths and legends through the ages? As for the use of magic to enhance the books' popularity - I think that is just plain old green-eyed jealousy! After all, no-one who is successful got there by hard work and planning did they? It was just luck.
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Post by Kasper » Wed Dec 07, 2005 12:11 am

All the 'Potter-pagan attacks' are too pathetic to waste your breath on, if they need to protest something than surely more offensive material than HP can be found.

The thing that does bother me about HP books is the enormous number of adults who read them. There is some 3000 years of literature, poetry and philosophy out there, comprising the deepest human thougths and emotions, and yet people are reading Harry Potter. I think it is great for kids to get into reading lenghty books by readying stuff like HP, but for adults I find it quite sad. Pardon me for grossly generalizing, but it never ceases to surprise me how ignorant Australians are of history, geography, other cultures, etc.

Maybe if they would apply the potential of their intellects (which they certainly have seen the state-of-the-art scientific and economic developments in this country) to something other than fantasy/easy-to-read childrens books, there would be a little less ignorance and prejudice in the world. Unfortunately, the world is not a matter of good versus evil. it's a tad more complicated than that.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”

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Post by Carola » Wed Dec 07, 2005 1:22 am

Kasper wrote: I think it is great for kids to get into reading lenghty books by readying stuff like HP, but for adults I find it quite sad. Pardon me for grossly generalizing, but it never ceases to surprise me how ignorant Australians are of history, geography, other cultures, etc.

Maybe if they would apply the potential of their intellects (which they certainly have seen the state-of-the-art scientific and economic developments in this country) to something other than fantasy/easy-to-read childrens books, there would be a little less ignorance and prejudice in the world. Unfortunately, the world is not a matter of good versus evil. it's a tad more complicated than that.
Well, with the highlight of most people's week being the latest episode of "Big Brother", what would you expect? I mean, look at what is on Aussie television and radio - 99% total garbage. Unfortunately our culture is set by the lowest common denominator. Just don't forget to support the ABC and keep hounding your local bookshop for some decent literature. I also make a point of putting in almost weekly orders for decent books from the library - one of these days they will get sick of having to ransack their storage area for these volumes and put them out on the shelves, where they belong!!!!
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Post by Democritus » Wed Dec 07, 2005 5:12 am

There are so many valuable books to read, but so little time. You have to take your pick. :) Sometimes I read something serious, sometimes I read something light.

I liked Harry Potter. It was not a serious or deep book, but so what. It was fun. :) I only read the first one. Don't know if I will ever read the others. There are too many other books I want to read.

It's funny that some folks focus on paganism and magic, since they were not even the most incredible parts of the book. The least-realistic part of HP1 was Potter's family, and they were not magic at all. Harry's uncle was impossibly mean, and his cousin was utterly unbelievable. They were my favorite parts. :twisted:

The Potter books echo a theme which is common in mythology, that of the child who discovers that his parents are not his real parents, and that the child is actually a king. Potter is no king, but he is an important person in the wizard world. It's no surprise that this motif fascinates audiences -- it always has.

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Post by Deudeditus » Wed Dec 07, 2005 5:10 pm

It's no surprise that this motif fascinates audiences -- it always has.
Methinks it always will. :)

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Post by vir litterarum » Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:35 am

It was not a serious or deep book, but so what. It was fun
Not

a "classic," perhaps,* but solid entertainment
I find that it is not even necessary for me to criticize the books; the people supporting them do it quite adequately. The problem with parents today is objectified in the Harry Potter series. " As long as our children are reading, we are mollified." Parents no longer care what their children read; they are so desperate to remove their children from the television set that they merely divert their eyes to television in printed form. Why should we encourage children to read banal magical dross while an infinite variety of fascinating classical literature with some redeeming value is waiting for them to imbibe. People see reading Harry Potter as superior to watching television; I see it as equivalent. I am willing to bet that 90% or more of all the people who read Harry Potter do not read it for educational purposes but for sensual fulfillment. Someone may claim that subconsciously children are being educated as they read but, with the exception of a few miniscule and trifling tidbits of useful information, the books are utterly vestigial and thoroughly harmful to our children if only for the diversion they create to lead our children away from authentic literature. Parents, instead of settling for Harry Potter, should actually attempt to force their children to read quality books, not some finite and inane wizard stories which only satiate the imaginative side of a person. Life is extremely short and, even if a person were to live to be 150, he could still find preferable literature to Harry Potter. I invite anyone to attempt a refutation of this statement.

"If Harry Potter is so evil, what about Grimm's fairytales, Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" and countless myths and legends through the ages?"

If anyone studies mythology rigorously, they will discover that myths had a purpose. Sometimes they were used to explain natural phenomena, and sometimes they were used to teach moral lessons. Harry Potter, however, serves no purpose but entertainment. If a person reads mythological tales, they receive insight into an ancient culture and their beliefs. Another difference is that much mythology was actually written well such as that contained in the Iliad and the Odyssey. You cannot honestly even compare Harry Potter to mythology, for the disparity in quality,purpose, and significance is infinite. You also say that the pagan claim against Harry Potter should be maintained also against mythology and any work containing certain preternatural phenomena. The only difference is witchcraft still persists as a very active and real pagan religion, while almost noone any longer professes believe in the gods held within ancient mythology;therefore, since there is still a very real threat that reading Harry Potter could cause children to view withcraft as delectable, mythology is no longer a religion. I am not suggesting that we give our children mythology to read before they are conscious enough to comprehend its significance either. Harry Potter, on the other hand, is being distributed to children who do not even understand what witchcraft is. They only see that it can cause people to do magnificent acts, and this causes them to want to be witches. You cannot honestly say that not one child has been driven towards becoming a witch as a result of reading the books. If only for its inaccurate, simplistic, quixotic, and inane portrayal of a nefarious religion, the series should be eliminated from human remembrance.

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Post by annis » Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:47 am

vir litterarum wrote:If only for its inaccurate, simplistic, quixotic, and inane portrayal of a nefarious religion, the series should be eliminated from human remembrance.
I feel a chill wind in my spirit when I hear insidious nonsense like this.

What means do you propose for this Glorious Elimination?
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;

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Post by Carola » Thu Dec 08, 2005 4:20 am

They only see that it can cause people to do magnificent acts, and this causes them to want to be witches.
Thank goodness most of the children I know are quite sensible and can tell the difference between make believe and fantasy - unlike some fanatical adults who obviously can't!! I hate to remind you "vir litterarum", but no child can "turn themselves" into a witch no matter how many Harry Potter books they read! Any more than countless thousands of children could have turned themselves into Superman, Buck Rogers, Batman or the Jolly Green Giant for that matter, simply by indulging in a bit of childish fantasy. The books probably aren't the best ever written, but somehow most children manage to survive a bit of trashy literature. Or didn't any of you ever read comic books when you were younger? MMM????
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Post by Bardo de Saldo » Thu Dec 08, 2005 7:24 am

". . . quixotic . . ." (vir litterarum)

Litterarum?

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Post by Misopogon » Thu Dec 08, 2005 8:16 am

HP is is not a master piece of world literature, but it's funny and enoyable, like watching a fllm or reading comics. I also believe that for many people, not just children, HP represents an introduction to reading and I do not find it bad.
What means do you propose for this Glorious Elimination?
Probably we should make a big bonfire, burning all HP books and, why not?, all the evil books which corrupt our children, our families, our society! Let's burn them!
It sounds familiar: did it already happen in tha past? Maybe in the last century?
Or didn't any of you ever read comic books when you were younger?
Comics like Bugs Bunny are evil! They teach our children that the pets are equal to the humans and this is against the Creation!

Out of irony, I find sad that nowadays people believe in withcraft, I thought it was something of the past times. It seems that I was wrong. Or maybe I am just a victim of an ugly witch, the Black Annis (No, William is not responsible
:lol: ).
As Lucretius wrote "Tantum potuit religio suadere malorum"
Regards
Misopogon

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Post by annis » Thu Dec 08, 2005 1:41 pm

Misopogon wrote: Or maybe I am just a victim of an ugly witch, the Black Annis (No, William is not responsible :lol: ).
And I work so hard, too.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;

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Post by annis » Thu Dec 08, 2005 2:32 pm

Misopogon wrote:As Lucretius wrote "Tantum potuit religio suadere malorum"
I am such a metrical obsessive: tantum religio potuit...
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;

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Post by Misopogon » Thu Dec 08, 2005 2:51 pm

annis wrote:
Misopogon wrote:As Lucretius wrote "Tantum potuit religio suadere malorum"
I am such a metrical obsessive: tantum religio potuit...
:oops: You are right: I shouldn'tn trust my memory...
It is in De Rerum Natura, I,80.

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Post by nostos » Thu Dec 08, 2005 5:35 pm

Harry Potter, if one has read all of the books, is not equivalent to watching TV. That one does not want to see what is there cannot be argued against, however (how Freudian!). Rowling has more to say than the average television show. She is no Faulkner, but neither is she Danielle Steele. She is continuing in the tradition of Carroll, Lewis, and for an older audience Tolkein.

No stable child will read HP and therefore attempt witchcraft; there are lots of mediating factors which you, vir litterarum, have not taken into account, of which HP is only a minor fraction. To say otherwise is absolute nonsense.

By the bye, anyone know when the next HP is to be placed on the shelves? Or will she make us wait another 2 years?? :wink:
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Post by vir litterarum » Fri Dec 09, 2005 1:42 am

She is continuing in the tradition of Carroll, Lewis, and for an older audience Tolkein.
This is perhaps one of the most erroneous statements I have ever seen in my entire life. C.S. Lewis was a Christian, and the he used magic in his novels to represent Christian themes. What does the magic in Harry Potter represent? All I have ever heard is the very vague concept of good vs. evil. If you believe that all of the very young children who read these novels can discern between fantasy, you are grievously mistaken. I am willing to bet that many children who read Harry Potter still believe in Santa Claus. If you do not wish that children should not read these books for the evil they portray as good, that is fine. You should at least recognize that it is just another example of contemporary garbage. It is fine with me if you wish to read these books and live in denile of the fact that you are wasting your time. People spend their time gleaning every conceivable little theme out of a book which was written for children. I am astounded by the number of adults who are interested in these novels. We are on a classical website, surrounded by classical literature, and people are attempting to justify allowing their children to read Harry Potter while they could be reading Vergil, Homer, or any of the myriad classical authors.

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Post by Carola » Fri Dec 09, 2005 3:31 am

vir litterarum wrote: This is perhaps one of the most erroneous statements I have ever seen in my entire life. C.S. Lewis was a Christian, and the he used magic in his novels to represent Christian themes. What does the magic in Harry Potter represent? All I have ever heard is the very vague concept of good vs. evil. ....................................................... We are on a classical website, surrounded by classical literature, and people are attempting to justify allowing their children to read Harry Potter while they could be reading Vergil, Homer, or any of the myriad classical authors.

Are you trying to tell us children should only read good Christian authors like Vergil and Homer? (Spot the obvious mistake here :roll: )

What if the children were Jewish/ Buddhist/ Islam/ Hindu (or any other religion) ? Do they get to read Harry Potter?
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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Fri Dec 09, 2005 4:32 am

I am still not clear whether you fear that children will think that they can get all of Harry's magical powers somehow, or whether you think the books will encourage children to convert to the Wicca religion. If the former : all but the mentally ill know that the magic is Harry Potter is not real, just as they know that no matter how many time they stuff themselves in their parents' wardrobe they won't get into Narnia. If the latter : perhaps, but it takes a lot more than Harry Potter to make someone go Wicca. The one Wiccan I know at my school is much more fond of Tolkien than Harry Potter, so I don't see how Harry Potter is more culpable of this than your dear Inklings. Besides, since I am not a Christian, I do not care whether the books children read have Christianity in them or not.

As to the general Harry Potter = trash/television, I disagree. I highly recommend trying to read either a Goosebump or an Animorph book (normallly I would recommend not touching those books with a ten-foot pole, but I don't think life is complete without one attempt to read genuine, childrens-book trash - it will certainly make you hold Homer more dear). The Goosebumps and Animorph series are certainly no better than watching television, in fact they were both turned into TV series.

When I was a child (some people still think I am a child) I read a lot of childrens books. A lot. I read much more back then than I do now, strangely enough. I have read Alice in Wonderland, Tom Sawyer, The Wizard of Oz, some E. Nesbit books, some Frances Burnett books, the Narnia books, the Lois Lenski books, the Edgar Eager books, a number of Katherine Patterson books, the Little Prince, the Green Knowe books, the Prydain Chronicles, a lot of mythology (whether Greek, Egyptian, Russian, or African) the Bill Britain books, Tolkien, some of the Redwall books, some of the Penelope Farmer books, about five Roald Dahl books, the two Elizabeth Wintrop books, several Lois Lowry books, some Laurence Yep, a few Robin McKinley books, a few books by Louis Sachar, some Isaac Asimov, Little Women, the Princess and the Goblin, some Andre Norton, the Tamora Pierce books, a couple of the Elizabeth George Speare books, some Rudyard Kipling, some of the Eva Ibbotson books, some Howard Pyle, Hans Brinker, a lot of Diana Wynne Jones books, two books by Susan Cooper, a lot of Jane Yolen books, a few Anne McCaffery books, and so much more (the most notable absences, to me, are the Anne of Green Gables books and the Heinlein juveniles, though I have read a few of Heinlein's adult books by now). I think I have established my authority.

Some of those books listed above are classics, and some are pretty low grade (though I think the Goosebumps books should win the bottom-of-the-heap prize). As a child, the Harry Potter books were among my faviorites, and are the few from among those listed above which I feel any compulsion to keep reading even today. I expect Harry Potter to join the canon of childrens' literature, and be read even fifty years from now.

Again, I have more to say, but I am too busy to put it all down now.

P.S. The keyboard was still in warranty, so we replaced it for free.

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Post by Kerastes » Fri Dec 09, 2005 9:20 am

Kerastes joins the debate. It's Harry Potter — I can't help it. :)
Celtica wrote:I'm a so-called 'Potter-fan", and as my father would say "It's just a yarn".
Cool, another one of us! I'm a middle aged Potterhead myself.
It's no great piece of literature in English, so don't expect it to be so in Latin. Ultimately it's aimed at children, and written at a level that a child can read and keep their attention.
I've seen a few children (7-11 years old) turned on to reading by those books, and as they are not poorly written (though poorly edited, in my grandiose opinion), that alone makes them worthwhile.

I'm looking forward to reading both the Latin and Greek versions of the first book. I want to see how it compares to Winnie ille Pu.
antianira wrote:I never understood the the Potter-pagan attacks. ...
Of course I never understood what people have against paganism
Know what's really annoying? Harry Potter has nothing whatever to do with paganism. Or Neopaganism. I've read all six books. The folks at Hogwarts celebrate Christmas, not the winter solstice; Easter, not Oestara or Beltaine; Halloween, not Samhain. The closest we get to religion is Uncle Vernon observing there's no mail on Sunday.
But if you object to pagan material, why on earth would you want kids to read mythology?
There's the rub. Or as Isaac Bonewits observed, mythology is the study of other people's religious stories.
BTW, have you read the Half-Blood Prince? very sad ending.
Yes, indeed. But I suppose it had to be. It's the only way Harry will truly become a man in the last book.
Kasper wrote:The thing that does bother me about HP books is the enormous number of adults who read them. There is some 3000 years of literature, poetry and philosophy out there, comprising the deepest human thougths and emotions, and yet people are reading Harry Potter.
Oh I read great literature too, unlike most adults. And I actually avoid most fiction, great lit or otherwise. But when I read lightly, I indulge in Harry Potter or Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. Most of my friends are science fiction fans who read voraciously, good and bad. But alas, most adults I encounter read the literary equivalent of junk food. But modern society has always been that way.
Democritus wrote:I only read the first one. Don't know if I will ever read the others. There are too many other books I want to read.
I was lucky to get them on audio, read by Jim Dale. He gives a superb performance, doing all the character voices himself. When I grow up, I want to narrate like he does. :)
The least-realistic part of HP1 was Potter's family, and they were not magic at all. Harry's uncle was impossibly mean, and his cousin was utterly unbelievable.
I think that explains some of its popularity with kids. When I was ten years old, I certainly felt like Harry.
The Potter books echo a theme which is common in mythology, that of the child who discovers that his parents are not his real parents,... It's no surprise that this motif fascinates audiences -- it always has.
And there's another reason. It has qualities in common with Star Wars, which Joseph Campbell described as a modern myth. Speaking of Campbell, I invite the other Potterheads to compare the archeypical hero's journey with Harry. Should yield some fruitful thought.
vir litterarum wrote:Why should we encourage children to read banal magical dross while an infinite variety of fascinating classical literature with some redeeming value is waiting for them to imbibe.
Oh it's not that bad. And life doesn't have to be spent continually in the clouds, even by Socrates.
I am willing to bet that 90% or more of all the people who read Harry Potter do not read it for educational purposes but for sensual fulfillment.
Okay, but that doesn't mean the HP books are devoid of educational value. They show a model of competent narration, widen a child's vocabulary. and they play with language, including Latin and French.
Someone may claim that subconsciously children are being educated as they read but, with the exception of a few miniscule and trifling tidbits of useful information, the books are utterly vestigial and thoroughly harmful to our children
Children are not educated as they read, they are practicing the skill of reading, which is an educational activity. It is also educational when they discuss the books, led by a competent adult. Information is often the least useful part of any book, especially the classics.
Life is extremely short and, even if a person were to live to be 150, he could still find preferable literature to Harry Potter. I invite anyone to attempt a refutation of this statement.
Far from refuting it, I cheerfully concede the point. But I still find Harry Potter worthwhile. In a similar way, I know politics is ephemeral, but I still vote. I play Beethoven piano sonatas, but I also sing a decent Elvis at the karaoke bar. A fine cabernet will put me in oenophilic heaven, but sometimes I have a taste for a cheeseburger and beer. American beer.
... myths had a purpose. Sometimes they were used to explain natural phenomena, and sometimes they were used to teach moral lessons.
The Harry Potter books exhibit a high sense of right and wrong, good and evil. They portray meanness, greed, bigotry, and betrayal of friends so one finds them revolting. They show that appearances can be deceiving (Hagrid, the gentle giant fond of monsters), and that wealth is often misused (how the Malfoy family gets its way). Harry is ultimately more powerful than Lord Voldemort, both because he is loved and, unlike the most evil wizard of our time, has the ability to love others.
... witchcraft still persists as a very active and real pagan religion, while almost noone any longer professes believe in the gods held within ancient mythology
This is not true. There are now many reconstructionist pagan religions which worship the ancient deities of Rome, Greece, Egypt, and Scandinavia. I can reference websites, if you're interested.
therefore, since there is still a very real threat that reading Harry Potter could cause children to view withcraft as delectable,
You lost me there. I'll grant you that witchcraft is a threatening concept and that children may develop some curiosity about it, but when they find out that "real" witchcraft bears no resemblance to Harry Potter, I can't see the interest persist beyond play.

mythology is no longer a religion. I am not suggesting that we give our children mythology to read before they are conscious enough to comprehend its significance either.
I'm probably opening a whole barrel of worms here, but I still see no difference between religious stories and mythology.
Carola wrote:Thank goodness most of the children I know are quite sensible and can tell the difference between make believe and fantasy - unlike some fanatical adults who obviously can't!!
Touché! That was the conclusion of a hilarious article in The Onion, a satirical paper, right around the time Harry Potter became popular. The gist of it went something like: Experts are concerned that reading the Bible might be dangerous, promoting belief in supernatural phenomena. It also does psychological harm to believe in a completely evil, Voldemort-like personage called Satan. How I wish I could find that article again!
vir litterarum wrote:This is perhaps one of the most erroneous statements I have ever seen in my entire life. C.S. Lewis was a Christian, and the he used magic in his novels to represent Christian themes.
J.K. Rowling is Christian too. Really. Perhaps not the kind of Christian some would approve of, but then again Christians have always amazed me in their ability to exclude their spiritual brethern. But like it or not, J.K. Rowling is recognizably and respectably Christian.
What does the magic in Harry Potter represent? All I have ever heard is the very vague concept of good vs. evil.
In the Harry Potter books, magic is neither good nor evil. It is people who are good or evil or fall somewhere in between. Witches and wizards are a hidden society of people co-existing with muggles (ordinary folks). Magic has no moral significance, but I see that as one of the moral points of the story. Or, as wise old Dumbledore says to Harry at the end of the second book: "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

(By the way, and contrary to the Harry Potter books, I have it on good authority that a male witch is called a witch, not a wizard.)
If you believe that all of the very young children who read these novels can discern between fantasy, you are grievously mistaken. I am willing to bet that many children who read Harry Potter still believe in Santa Claus.
But even if you're right, children grow up. Adults, on the other hand....
If you do not wish that children should not read these books for the evil they portray as good, that is fine.
Have you read them, vir litterarum? The good portrayed in them includes love of family, loyalty to friends, willingness to undergo hardship and face danger for one's friends or to prevent a miscarriage of justice, telling the truth, the superiority of kindness to wealth, the need to struggle against tyranny despite hardship and loss. If you still maintain that these themes are evil portrayed as good, then we differ more in our morals than our literary taste.
We are on a classical website, surrounded by classical literature, and people are attempting to justify allowing their children to read Harry Potter while they could be reading Vergil, Homer, or any of the myriad classical authors.
The age group for Harry Potter (9-12) is about right for Homer, actually, though I think Vergil is a bit advanced. There's time for both.
Carola wrote:What if the children were Jewish/ Buddhist/ Islam/ Hindu (or any other religion) ? Do they get to read Harry Potter?
I do love your wit.
GlottalGreekGeek wrote:When I was a child (some people still think I am a child) I read a lot of childrens books. A lot. ... [extensive bibliography deleted] I think I have established my authority.
Indeed. When I was a child, I read only non-fiction, mostly science, though I did fall in love with D'Aulaires Greek Myths at the age of ten, which kindled my interest both in classics and pagan religions. If I had encountered Harry Potter at the age of ten, my reading habits, and perhaps my life in general, would have taken quite a different turn.

Kerastes
whose neighbor sometimes calls him Dumbledore

P.S. Another peculiar benefit to Harry Potter: My neighbor's grandkids were never better behaved on their visits than when we sorted them into houses, awarding points for good behavior (eating their vegetables) and subtracting points for bad.

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Post by darthanakin » Fri Dec 09, 2005 4:07 pm

Hey but weren't authors all the way from Shakespeare writing contemporary fiction for their own time? Shakespeare might be widely accepted as the epitome of English literature today but during his time, his works might have been subjected to the same amount of controversy as Harry Potter is today.

In fact, all though this is not related to western literature, a chinese literature classic today, "The Dream of The Red Chamber" was thought of as low class and vulgar when it was written.

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Post by nostos » Fri Dec 09, 2005 4:56 pm

Kerastes wrote:. . . then we differ more in our morals than our literary taste
I think this is the problem. The entire thing stems from an overly emotional reaction, when there's really nothing there to be reacted against.

vir in this particular instance has not the vir-tue of trying on the shoe before he complains that it doesn't fit (I do this all the time, also). Before trashing it, read it; then you may or may not have such strong negative opinions about it; but I recommend you don't base your opinions on third-party accounts.

As to Lewis being Christian, magic and Christianity, in my impression of both, do not commingle very well with one another, whatever the author may be.
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Post by antianira » Fri Dec 09, 2005 5:19 pm

kerastes - you are truely a master of the cut and paste, LOL

This is not true. There are now many reconstructionist pagan religions which worship the ancient deities of Rome, Greece, Egypt, and Scandinavia. I can reference websites, if you're interested.

I belong to an online Greek mythology group, a number of the members are 'reconstructionist pagans' I was a bit surprised to learn that some still worship ancient pagan dieties (of course it strikes me more as 'piss off mom and dad by worshipping Zeus', but that's just my opinion, to each their own)



The latin version is pretty easy to read, even with my mediocre latin abilities I am able to chug through it with minimal dictionary time. Some one on this site posted an online site that has the first few chapters (in latin) available.


Regarding the adult HP readers (because I'm to lazy to do a proper cut and paste of the discussion) Some adults love to read, and will read a variety of works. Most of the people on this site propably fall in the 'love to read' category. But the reality is that many adults would rather watch some actor-wannabe chug maggots than pick-up a book, any book, good or bad. I don't think its fair to blame Rowling for appealing to both book lovers and the literary challenged.

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Post by FiliusLunae » Sat Dec 10, 2005 12:51 am

For what it's worth, I personally would have never in a million years thought of reading any of these Potter books, had the first one not been translated into Latin. I mean, I haven't even watched the movie. As for the storyline, I think it's an entertaining one; it keeps me interested wondering what will happen next (in Harrius Potter, that is).

But yeah, let them translate the rest of the series. :P

~FILIUS VESTER LUNAE

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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Sat Dec 10, 2005 1:15 am

nostos wrote:I think this is the problem. The entire thing stems from an overly emotional reaction, when there's really nothing there to be reacted against.
Mmmm, I was more interested in the "trash" than the "leading the children off the Christian path" angle of Harry Potter criticism when I started this thread. And vir is not the only one at this forum who has dismissed Harry Potter as being low entertainment for the masses, he just reminded me that I wanted to start a thread on this.

The defining touch of the Harry Potter books, I think, is that the characters (well, most of the important ones) are better fleshed out by fewer words than in most books, period. Not at the level of the world's greatest writers, but still far above average. Almost all television characters are caricatures which always follow the formula in the show book (for those who don't know, the "show book" is the bible of the television series which defines all personalities, relationships, etc, of a TV series). J.K. Rowling, by contrast, has put some of her blood into her characters. For example, she says she wrote the scene with the Mirror of Erised shortly after her own mother had died, and I can believe that. The characters also mature over the course of the books. In almost every television series, the characters change little from season to season.

People also talk about J. K. Rowling's imagination. Though she has skill in building a world, I have seen plenty of fantasy where the world-building was done better. For me, it is the humanity of her characters which has brought them as far as they have gone.

EDIT : From what I hear, it will be at least two years before the next book comes out. Well, what can you expect from a woman who has to take care of two very young children and one somewhat older child.

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Post by bellum paxque » Sat Dec 10, 2005 9:48 am

It is a just decision to bring the topic back around to style. So far vir litterarum has been the harshest critic of the series, and he (ut propter "vir" credo) has expressed his scorn not only for the "paganism" of the series but also for its literary deficiencies. However, unless I've missed something, I haven't seen any precise charges against the style, the characters, the plot, or any other major quality. Perhaps, vir litterarum, you would like to elaborate your disgust? GlottalGreekGeek made a specific defense by arguing that J.K. Rowling deftly portrays her characters. Can you provide the same sort of evidence? General denunciations aren't the most persuasive way to argue.

Regards,

David

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