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July 07, 2003

Pottermania - Adult Regression?

A.S. Byatt, author of the lovely Possession, comments on a certain child wizard's appeal to adults: "Harry Potter and the Childish Adult".

I think it's a good critique. While I've enjoyed the Rowling series, I've read richer, more complex children's fantasy literature that can be savored by adults. The work of Robin McKinley springs to mind, especially The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown. Just because one writes with children in mind doesn't mean that the writing has to be juvenile. Even in a fantastic setting, one writes with a sense of the genuine, the true, where even minor characters are not cartoonish figures, but seem to have a life of their own in the course of a few well-wrought sentences. Just look at the difference between Tolkien's Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

I wonder if Harry Potter is so popular with adults because they haven't read much other fantasy literature, so they have little to compare against it. Maybe because I've read a lot of that genre, both children's and adults, that reading Harry Potter has been pleasant, but not earth-shattering for me.

Yours, &c., LC | 04:38 PM | Writing & Language | Comments (2)


I was happy to read Byatt write favorably of Susan Cooper, whose Dark is Rising series I enjoyed a great deal when I was young.

I recalled it faintly while reading the first Harry Potter book. Still, reading Cooper's series (which starts, I believe, with Over Sea Under Stone) made me want to read all about British history and mythology. The Potter books (I've only read two) don't inspire any such curiosity.

Posted by: Scott at July 7, 2003 06:25 PM

check out pottermania onion style:

i have not read any of the books and probably won't, but i have seen the two movies. the first was entertaining fluff. the second was just bad.

Posted by: marco at July 8, 2003 01:08 PM