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Harry Potter Readers Are Stupid

So says A.S. Byatt, author of Possession. I’m paraphrasing.

The more I read about A.S. Byatt, the less likeable she seems.

Last week, we talked about her dismissiveness of bloggers and social media. This week, let’s talk about how much she dislikes Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling. How fun!

Byatt comes across as the quintessential book snob. The complex, fantastical world of Harry Potter isn’t good enough for her. J.K. Rowling is just a simpleton, parroting old clichés.

This comes from an op-ed Byatt wrote for the New York Times in 2003.

Auden and Tolkien wrote about the skills of inventing “secondary worlds.” Ms. Rowling’s world is a secondary secondary world, made up of intelligently patchworked derivative motifs from all sorts of children’s literature — from the jolly hockey-sticks school story to Roald Dahl, from “Star Wars” to Diana Wynne Jones and Susan Cooper. Toni Morrison pointed out that clichés endure because they represent truths. Derivative narrative clichés work with children because they are comfortingly recognizable and immediately available to the child’s own power of fantasizing.

Okay, so Ms. Rowling just ripped off a bunch of other fantasy authors. But, what about you, dear reader? What does A.S. Byatt have to say about you—who might have read all the Potter books and thoroughly enjoyed them?

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. Its values, and everything in it, are, as Gatsby said of his own world when the light had gone out of his dream, “only personal.” Nobody is trying to save or destroy anything beyond Harry Potter and his friends and family.

Oh, and this too:

In this regard, it is magic for our time. Ms. Rowling, I think, speaks to an adult generation that hasn’t known, and doesn’t care about, mystery. They are inhabitants of urban jungles, not of the real wild. They don’t have the skills to tell ersatz magic from the real thing, for as children they daily invested the ersatz with what imagination they had.

You people who like Harry Potter are so, so simple. You and your gossip columns and reality TV shows.

With the exception of cooking shows, I don’t watch reality TV. I don’t watch soaps, and I have no idea what the latest celebrity gossip is.

Do you? What do you think of that massive, patronizing, condescending generalization of Harry Potter readers? And what about your lack of imagination and understanding of the “real wild” (whatever that means)—according to a woman who has lived in the urban “wild” of Oxford and Cambridge and now the backwoods of London.

When I think of pretentious book snobs, I think of A.S. Byatt. Blech.

If you want to read the rest of this tripe, where Byatt talks about Freud’s “family romance” theory to explain her snobbishness, and gives you even more reasons why Rowling is a remedial hack author, please be my guest.

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90 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sam #

    And now I don’t feel bad about disliking Possession so much. How rude of her to tear apart a fellow artist. Byatt had success and Rowling had success; who cares if it was with different readers? Rowling encouraged a generation to read and some of them probably read Byatt’s books. This really makes me sad. As printed literature becomes under attack more and more, those that support it really need to stick together across genre and age group.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
    • Yes, her attitude in general isn’t very endearing and doesn’t make me want to like Possession any more than I already do (and I don’t).

      Like

      March 27, 2014
  2. random2409 #

    Sounds like the woman is a nasty old snob. She’s also not half as clever as she thinks: all literature, like all art, is derivative, that’s the nature of creativity: to take something that already exists and put a particular slant on it, thus culture becomes an organic process, growing and developing, building block upon building block, throughout the course of history humanity itself. Until she gasps that basic principle about the creative process I suggest she shuts up. Her books aren’t much cop either…

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  3. I understand that remarks like Byatt’s get attention but are quite unnecessary and, hopefully, soon forgotten.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  4. Maybe this snobbery stems from envy. People read Harry Potter and they love him. She doesn’t have the same readability to her stories. I tried really hard to get through Possession and just couldn’t. I think that she needs to get on with her own writing and not knock the tall poppies.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  5. Wow. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Will definitely read more on what this A.S. Byatt has to say about J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter fans. I consider myself a book lover though I’ve been quite neglecting that aspect of myself lately. I respect both fans and critics alike but I draw the line at pretentious book snobs. Hmm. Anyway, I think I need to start reading books again. I’m glad I follow your blog so I could get ideas on a bucket list. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    March 27, 2014
  6. This is a great post – excellent! Really interesting, and made me laugh. It is always good to avoid pretentious book snobs. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    March 27, 2014
  7. Oh god, that makes me so sad. I really like Possession, and I love Harry Potter. Does it hurt her that I liked both? with regards to the reality tv comment, people can enjoy both Ulysses and Big Brother without one part of their interests reflecting on the other, although I don’t happen to agree that Harry Potter is simple. One of things I love about it most is the intricacy of the world, the depth and the effort that has gone in to ensure that you never find yourself rudely jolted forth by any inconsistencies. I also don’t agree that nobody is trying to destroy/save anything apart from Harry Potter and his family (in fact, it indicates she is commenting without reading it which is a pet peeve of mine), but even if that was the case, so what? Possession is hardly a novel about wide-ranging world-changing events. That kind of judgemental attitude is completely unnecessary.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 27, 2014
    • Agreed. Yes, she obviously has no idea what she’s talking about in terms of the Harry Potter series.

      Like

      March 27, 2014
  8. Hmmmm, besides the Harry Potter series having a wealth of amazing lessons to teach young readers, what’s wrong with enjoying a good story for the sake of enjoying a good story. So many people like it because they can relate to it. As far as the t.v. thing I hardly see how that’s relevant to anything.
    So what if Rowling borrowed from other fantasies. All artists borrow from each other no matter the medium. It’s been happening since the beginning of time.
    If a series of books has wide appeal and gets people to read, then what’s the problem? My opinion is that she needs to lighten up a little bit and enjoy things for what they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 27, 2014
    • Preach it! I just have no patience for people like Byatt. And her book isn’t really making me like her more.

      Like

      March 27, 2014
      • I agree! I haven’t read any of her books but comments like that don’t really encourage me to check her out.

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        March 27, 2014
  9. Jan #

    Oh my god! I had no idea she’d said these things! Who does she think she is?? It’s one thing not to like an author but to tear it apart and insult the readers like this is ridiculous! I may be a huge Harry Potter fan but I hate soaps and reality tv and I read a lot of the classics as well. I’ve got an AS Byatt book waiting to be read but I don’t think I’ll bother now – I’m probably too simple to understand it anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

    March 27, 2014
  10. You know what? I think I’ll pass. I’d rather not give her any more attention. Basically she’s just another bitter wannabe who’s own book hasn’t made a massive impact on the lives of the many and is just bitching about it. Maybe she ought to read Bambi and learn that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. I don’t care if loads of people said her book is fabulously brilliant, I wouldn’t read it out of principle. I definitely wouldn’t give someone with such a bad attitude my hard earned cash. My pet hate is people who put others down in a bid to elevate themselves. This is what’s happening here IMO.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
    • But her book won a big award! You think that would fuel her ego enough so that she wouldn’t have to build it by tearing down other authors.

      Like

      March 27, 2014
      • Maybe she has issues and needs a therapist? Who knows. I still won’t read her book.

        Like

        March 27, 2014
  11. I don’t condone violence, but she kind of needs a bitch slap… Sacrilege!

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  12. Thank goodness we’re not all required to base our choices of reading (and entertainment in general) on Ms. Byatt’s suffocating philosophy. What a narrow-minded and boring approach to life! I would have to hang myself. Blech, indeed.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  13. deweydecimalsbutler #

    I am sure, just SURE that J.K. Rowling cried herself to sleep on her bank account with her castle as she read these comments.

    Everyone has something to prove. Some people have no one to prove it to, so they must create them.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  14. I read books for enjoyment, not to impress other people. If someone doesn’t like the Harry Potter books, that’s fine. That opinion has no effect on me,

    Liked by 1 person

    March 27, 2014
  15. What a fun sponge! She seems like a close-minded person who is just jealous of J.K’s success! Bad form Byatt, bad form. 🙂

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  16. J.R.Barker #

    Well clearly she has the only truly unique story, and if we don’t like it we’re doomed to cliches and repetitive tripe.

    I’ve never read any of her works and now I never will, way to alienate an entire generation of readers Byatt!

    Like

    March 27, 2014
    • And who knew that Tolkien was the first person to think of dragons and elves?

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      March 27, 2014
      • J.R.Barker #

        Quite, because there’s not hundred of years of myth and legend to copy from. It’s 100% original.

        Like

        March 27, 2014
  17. Reblogged this on dunjav.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  18. I’ve read a couple of A.S. Byatt’s books and I wasn’t impressed at all. Boring and clichè. Harry Potter isn’t boring or clichè at all maybe Byatt is envious of how many readers and fans the Harry Potter books have?

    Like

    March 27, 2014
    • IhateHarry #

      After a certain point in history, books about a Chosen One, a Dark Lord and a Merlin-like wizard are by definition cliche. Does anyone expect the Chosen One to die or the Dark Lord to live? Of course not since there is The Prophecy. Star Wars was intelligent enough about this plot line to recognize that this is the story of Oedipus and thus surprise the audience with “Luke, I am your father!”

      Like

      November 29, 2015
  19. I just think Mrs.Byatt’s just a frustrated muggle who is disappointed of not receiving her Hogwarts letter at the age of 11.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  20. gatergirl96 #

    Some author’s just have to have something to gripe about.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  21. First of all, it is really unfair that a writer talks in this terms of another writer.
    I like people who have a strong opinion and give you the possibility of exploring things from other points of view, but this is not a strong opinion, this is an ATTACK. And I don’t see the necessity or the usefulness of an attack.
    Reading through it I started to laugh: It reminds me of my partner playing the intellectual , he keep saying random things without any connection or meaning till I don’t start to laugh out loud in the middle of an exhibition. Are we sure she knows what is she talking about?!
    I just have two things left to say.
    Generalization is practical, but it is not what you expect from an intellectual.
    I don’t really see how to relate Harry potter to 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. ” , since what it did was exactly the opposite. It was so well written that generations of children preferred to read this book instead of watching cartoons for all the day. And even though they made a film out of each Harry Potter book, readers all over the world enjoy reading the original story because of the magic they can find in it, which is actually limited on the big screen.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
    • I agree. All of this said, the interview was 10 years ago. I’d love to know if she’s changed her mind since then.

      Like

      March 27, 2014
      • Oh! I hope she did, otherwise she would sound even sillier.

        Like

        March 27, 2014
  22. Reblogged this on ohyesjulesdid and commented:
    I’m not even going to give Byatt’s argument credence by trying to discredit it. I’m simply stating I enjoyed the Harry Potter series immensely, especially when I read it each night with my son. He grew up from the age of four with the stories of Harry and his friends to the point where I’d find him with a flashlight reading more after I’d gone to bed. Rowling helped fuel my son’s interest in reading and fantasy so that he did read Tolkien and others.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  23. Literati snobbishness or deep-seated jealousy over something readable making bank? Perhaps both.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  24. Tch, how difficult it is to curb the poisonous pen!

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  25. Wow. That’s offensive to Rowling, as well as all HP fans out there, which is probably everyone who has read the books. I don’t know of anyone who didn’t like them. And we don’t all watch cartoons and reality TV. She must have a giant chip on her shoulder – I wonder what caused it.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  26. Art3mis #

    How horrible! What made her say all these horrible things about not only JK Rowling, but a HUGE number of her loyal fans? My only answer is either jealousy or she’s truly just a snob.
    I’ve never heard of her, and I will probably never read her books.

    Thanks for sharing this. I like how all the comments basically discredit everything she said. Kudos to everyone for sharing their story on what makes Harry Potter so awesome, and that we don’t all watch Reality TV shows. Because we are all awesome! No matter if we watch, or if we don’t watch, Reality TV.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  27. alysinunderland #

    This is so sad. I don’t understand why she would be so dismissive of children that read books. There aren’t enough of them and to hear that from an author is certainly not encouraging. Besides all of that, I read the Harry Potter books, and I’ve read The Children’s Book. All of them are amongst my favourites. If those who read Harry Potter books are stupid, then does that not mean that her own fanbase is stupid too?

    Liked by 1 person

    March 27, 2014
  28. This kind of elitist attitude is why people stray from classic literature and literary fiction. I am a firm believer that you can read whatever makes you happy and still be an intelligent member of society. I might have a Harry Potter tattoo and collect owls, but I’ve also got a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, and one of my favorite books is the Great Gatsby.

    This kind of crap makes me unreasonably angry and I wish people would just get over it. Adults read and enjoy Harry Potter and will continue to do so because not only do the books speak to a generation, but they at heart are a story of love triumphing over evil, sacrificing yourself for the good of others, and valuing true friendship.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  29. Jetagain #

    As I said in an earlier post, I read “Possession” in the early 90’s and remember liking it but remember very little about it. In the mid seventies I read “The Hobbit” and the complete “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. I remember much more about it–but then, I read them before life got complicated with having children. I did Not read Harry Potter because, when the first book came out, my then college age daughter (raised on Tolkein) told me not to read it because it was “derivative”. I’m still tempted to start reading them but then, there’s so many unread books on my shelf. There’s also “Game of Thrones” which my kids and my brother rave about. What to do?

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  30. Brenda #

    Live and let live! Why should anyone care what someone else is reading? Instead we should be happy they are reading at all.

    As for Harry Potter, I (a 55 yr old gma), read and enjoyed them a great deal. And no, I do not watch soaps, reality tv, or cartoons… In fact I watch almost no tv at all. My 7yr old grandson is now reading them and enjoying them so much he arrives at the breakfast table every morning with his nose in the book!

    It is too bad she seems to be so bitter about someone else’s success. She should be happy she has been published, most people would be overjoyed at that.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  31. Although she has a right to her opinion, it is extremely rude and unnecessary to publicly insult a fellow author and the people who like that author’s books.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  32. Everyone has a right to his opinion but I have the right to bare my fangs and have my blood boil over A.S. Byatt! Avada Kedavra!

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  33. How judgemental and narrow-minded of her!

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  34. Matt Ryan #

    You’re all being rather unfair to Ms. Byatt. I know the title of this post is intended to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it is also fairly inaccurate. She isn’t critical of Rowling for using common motifs– Byatt herself acknowledges her many influences. And she acknowledges that children’s literature can be comforting for adults. What she does acknowledge is that Rowling’s stories lack a “compensating seriousness” and “a world we [do] not feel we control…” Her explanation is that our generation “hasn’t known, and doesn’t care about, mystery. They are inhabitants of urban jungles, not of the real wild.” What is offensive about this observation? We live in a much safer and sterile world that any of our predecessors. She’s right. What do I know about the real wild?

    She closes her op-ed by stating that there is “nothing wrong” with reading “consumable books.” Nothing wrong. But if we confine ourselves only to books like Harry Potter, we will miss the “shiver of awe” (great expression) that other writers (like Barrie, Tolkien, and LeGuin) provide. So read Byatt and Rowling!

    And it isn’t unfair for one writer to talk about another writer. Writers have been commenting on other writers for centuries. As a reader (and expert on fantasy and fairy tales), Byatt has every right to be a critic. Thank god for critics!

    One concession: She is likely a snob–or, to put it more gently, an elitist. But she’s a damn good writer. One of the best out there today. I recently reread her story “The Thing in the Forest” published in The New Yorker. It’s nearly perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 27, 2014
    • The problem is that she’s pigeonholed Harry Potter readers into people who have the mental power of an 8-year-old. It’s a brutally inaccurate generalization. Sure, she says there’s nothing “wrong” with it, but there’s nothing morally wrong with being stupid.

      How can she say that Harry Potter readers are types who are confined to reality shows, TV cartoons, etc. Like none of us have heard of Fitzgerald or Steinbeck or “high literature.” It’s ridiculous. The response on this post alone refutes that. This is blog about reading through literary classics–a lot of people come here daily–and look at how many of them also ardently love Harry Potter.

      As for her being a “damn good writer.” I’ll say technically, yes. But plot isn’t her strength. She’s just not a good storyteller in my opinion.

      Like

      March 28, 2014
  35. This makes my blood boil.

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    March 27, 2014
  36. I think writers have been criticizing each others’ work for, well, forever—especially some of the male writers you’ve already reviewed. And I don’t think writing should be held to different standard than other professions where the “product” is placed in the public eye for comment and critique. I like Matt Ryan’s commentary, here, that allows for Byatt being a snob, but also takes her criticism as something to think about and refute. It doesn’t mean people should like her, but they should at least consider her intellectual opinion, unlike the one-star opinions on Amazon that diss a book because it didn’t arrive in the mail promptly. It is also possible that she has changed her opinion in the time since this interview. But if she hasn’t, well, at least we know where she stands, and we don’t have to agree with her. As with Wagner, we try to separate the art from the artist so it does not influence (ideally) how we read her fictional works.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  37. Oh. My. God.

    I can’t…I can’t even…My words are breaking.

    I hate when people pretend that every author ever hasn’t been borrowing from other stories, cribbing the best and most relevant pieces, drawing on them to tell tales that work. Harry Potter is no less inventive because it draws on old traditions and sources to tell its story.

    I also absolutely hate the pejorative way she talks about children.

    Ugh, elitism.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  38. As an author I don’t know how Byatt could have this attitude toward someone who had such a huge, positive impact on young readers. Almost anything that inspires reading should be a good thing, yes?

    Like

    March 27, 2014
    • 100% agree. But she’d rather an 8-year-old read Keats I guess.

      Like

      March 28, 2014
  39. I might be stupid, but at least I’m not as bored as I was after The Children’s Book and that bloody Elementals collection. I’ve been making sure that I stuck to low brow, or at least entertaining, ever since…

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  40. This reminds me of the old saying that opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one. I grew up listening to rock and roll, country and gospel. Now you would think that someone with that kind of musical education would not want to listen to classical music. And, for a very long time, I was afraid of to even try. All the snobs had pretty well led me to believe that I had to have a certain education and aesthetic to have the perception be able to listen with the music. Then in the early eighties I was ready for some music. The musical genres I listened to were beginning to bore me. At first I tried modern jazz and I was completely lost. I appreciated the artistry it took to create the music. But musicians like Monk, Coltrane and Bird lost me. Then I came across a number of cds issued by Phillips. They were classical pieces with themes like Bach for Breakfast and Beethoven’s Adagios. After two or three of these, I was hooked. I began to expand my musical knowledge and my love for the music grew. The snobbish gatekeepers were not keeping me out of the playground of the classics.

    I came to really appreciate the music of J. S. Bach and the amazing variety he created. Then there was Beethoven and Ravel and Debussy. To this day, one of my all-time favorite cds is by the pianist Carol Rosenberger. Barbara Bonney has a cd of Schubert’s Lieder has a very moving Ave Maria on it. And I dearly love Sibelius’ music. But I am no fan of Mozart or Mahler. The thing I learned from the experience was classical music was like any other kind of music. They were artists and composers I loved, like Dylan and the Beatles, and there were artists and composers I never cared for. To this day, I have never sat through an opera but there are pieces by Puccini I love.

    All this is to say that J. K. Rowling isn’t for everybody. Before Byatt condemns Harry Potter, she should read the books. I don’t think she has read even one. Then she can make an educated critique. I would remind her that Dickens, Jane Austen and George Eliot appealed to the same stupid readers that Rowling is appealing to in her fiction. Perhaps if this snob of a Byatt didn’t look down on readers so much, she might be able to create works that were accessible to more readers. Then she would have many more of those “stupid” readers she has very little respect for.

    One thing is for sure. Readers will be reading Harry Potter one hundred years from now. As far as Byatt is concerned, her work might be found buried in one of those dusty libraries she prefers to people. Or under it.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
    • Matt Ryan #

      Byatt would commend your musical diet. You haven’t confined yourself to music that is safe and comfortable. You explored a wide range of artists and styles, and thus learned to discriminate. Byatt wants the same thing for readers. If readers confine themselves to Harry Potter and the like and do not venture beyond, they cannot tell “ersatz magic from the real thing,”

      Like

      March 27, 2014
    • Matt Ryan #

      Don Royster writes, “Before Byatt condemns Harry Potter, she should read the book.”

      Reading the full op-ed piece, it is clear that Byatt has read Rowling. Agree with her or not, she is a serious literary critic. I’m not sure why you would suggest that she hasn’t read the books.

      And I do wonder if we will be reading Harry Potter in a hundred years. Kids today seem to quickly lose interest with narratives that aren’t immediately fresh. I don’t blame them. There seems always to be something new and shiny introduced. I was, however, surprised to learn from my students that they are “over” The Hunger Games.

      Like

      March 27, 2014
      • The interesting thing about the HP books was that kids who normally did not read were suddenly reading. One of things about writers like Byatt that really bug the heck out of me is that they right very difficult books that have uninteresting characters and plot. They use language to show just how smart they are. As a writer, I think I would prefer to write like J K Rowling and win over millions of readers, both adult and juvenile than to be a Byatt and have very few readers.

        Like

        March 28, 2014
      • I absolutely believe we’ll be reading Harry Potter in 100 years. It’s the LOTR and Narnia of this generation. Hunger Games isn’t even close.

        Like

        March 28, 2014
  41. bookgeeking #

    Does she not realise that she has just called at least a quarter of the population stupid? Who cares if she thinks it’s simple, it does what it’s meant to, it entertains. There are some really complex ideas in it. The HP books have charm that keep readers of all ages going back for more.
    I have a book by A.S. Byatt, not sure if I will be reading it now. She may have just signed her own professional death warrant.
    Thanks for posting this 🙂

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  42. Clearly a woman used to associating with the upper crust “at the watering holes of the well-to-do” (to borrow a phrase from Rice/Lloyd-Webber’s “Evita”).

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  43. A) Voldemort and his sheep were attempting to destroy/take over the ENTIRE WORLD. Muggles and wizards alike were attacked who had absolutely nothing to do with Harry and/or the Order. Voldemort started his nonsense long before Harry was even born. How’s that for complexity?

    B) I am a certified teacher who has written and published fantasy books in my own right. As such I am obviously 1) not stupid and 2) capable of higher fantasy and feel that, although I am not a ‘well known’ author I do have the right to be a bit of a book snob. I shall not be reading any of hers. People who are content in themselves and what they do, do not feel the need to put down anyone else in their field.

    Oh and the HP story was originally written just for Rowling. Her subsequent success was the product of hard work and wonderful characters.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  44. I have to defend Byatt just a little bit here. I loved Harry Potter, but there’s something wrong with insisting that any one book should be “good enough” for someone. Along with Matt Ryan I wonder if the issue is more about whether a large number of people, readers and writers, are confining themselves, to Harry Potter. There’s nothing wrong with reading for pleasure but there is something wrong with reading only for pleasure.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
    • I think a lot of her readers have gone on to read more complex books because of her.

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      March 28, 2014
    • I do

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      March 28, 2014
    • This is a blog about reading some of the best literature ever written. I think Byatt wouldn’t even dispute the brilliance of some of the books on the Time list. A lot of people come here every day, and by the comments on this post alone, you can see how many of them love Harry Potter.

      Harry Potter readers aren’t confined to Harry Potter. They just know a good story and don’t restrict themselves to some kind of academic, literary snobbishness when deciding what they like and want to read.

      Like

      March 28, 2014
      • That’s a good point. I’m honestly curious, Robert, if you think that the discussions that people have had here about the Time list and classics in general have shown the kind of engagement and passion that is stirred up when someone comments negatively on Harry Potter. If so, that’s an encouraging sign. I read the Byatt article, finally, and it did strike me as pretty harsh. I still wouldn’t go as far as you and some of the other commenters. I suppose I won’t win friends or readers or whatever by saying this, but I guess I share a certain pessimistic outlook with Byatt when it comes to the state of reading. Anyhow, thanks, Robert, and thanks to Don and artourway.

        Like

        March 28, 2014
  45. Yup, I don’t like her already. I’d like to think I’m actually imaginative and creative.

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  46. I will just pass on the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “People do not deserve to have good writings; they are so pleased with bad.”

    Like

    March 27, 2014
  47. Frankobs #

    Reblogged this on Nur, was hier steht!.

    Like

    March 28, 2014
  48. Yep, Byatt is an a**hole. I feel a whole lot better now about not really enjoying Possession. Heh. I won’t get into my feelings about people dismissing Harry Potter and the people who read it. The Judgey McJudgersons are just making themselves look like fools anyway.

    Like

    March 28, 2014
  49. To say this means she has read them? ;D

    Liked by 1 person

    March 28, 2014
  50. I heard poet Billy Collins speak recently, and he pointed out that all writers are really imitators – we can’t escape all that has come before us, and it has shaped us and our thinking. I’ve met others besides A.S. Byatt who try to claim that HP is unoriginal, and I always think the comment makes them sound small and ignorant. All fiction is based on previous fiction in some ways, even unconsciously. The hero’s journey etc etc. You would think someone using $50 words like ASB would know this. Not impressed.

    Like

    March 28, 2014
  51. pipbookview #

    Worse book I tired in the last few years was by AS Byatt. The Children’s Book was beyond painful to read. It was so padded out with unnecessary descriptions and a slow plot it actually pained me to read it.
    And now this pointless and frankly childish lash at a huge portion of readers is ridiculous. I’ll think a large amount of her potential readers will put her books aside at this.

    Like

    March 28, 2014
  52. I’m rereading the Harry Potter series for the 7th time right now. And yeah, I did just finish “The Sun Also Rises” and I will be reading “Ulysses” afterwards, does this mean I lack imagination? My main issue with this is not that they are condemning Harry Potter readers – but condemning ANY readers at all.

    My goodness, if a child, young adult, or adult finds pleasure in a book – can we not just let them be? Aren’t there more important things to be fighting than what we choose to find comfort in during the hours we are not at work or school?

    I truly wish that the anonyminity of the internet would stop allowing writers to feel that they can perpetuate negative thoughts on anything that speaks up, speaks out, or speaks on a topic they deem unworthy.

    Like

    March 28, 2014
  53. I don’t know what to say… must be because I am so simple!

    Like

    March 28, 2014
  54. Who is A.S. Byatt? Never heard of her before.

    Like

    March 28, 2014
  55. Reblogged this on Underneath The Glitter and commented:
    This is crazy. Loves me some Harry Potter!

    Like

    March 29, 2014
  56. I grew up reading Harry Potter before I even knew what a ‘reality show’ was. The series is good because it ingeniously mixes myths, legends, and other worlds with an original story-line.

    Like

    March 29, 2014
    • Kitty #

      For me it seems like she just dumped a bunch of fantasy stuff together without thinkung and called it a day. Anyone can do that, Tolkien managed to mix in old myths so thouroughly they became their own thing, JK’s world is a hgodgepodge.

      Like

      June 22, 2015
  57. I think who wrote this couldn’t get the real meaning of Harry POtter’s books unless he would appreciate them as many readers have done. or maybe he is just envious of Rowling’ fortune.

    Like

    March 29, 2014
  58. all the Potter WORK i and many would say ” more than incredible “

    Like

    March 31, 2014
  59. Reblogged this on Confessions of a Book Geek and commented:
    This is a blog post that has inspired mass debate (and hysteria) and I think it is clear to see why… Where do you stand on this issue? Do you think Harry Potter is over-rated and for the “simple minded” or do you think it is one of the greatest stories of our time?

    Like

    April 1, 2014
  60. Cat #

    I have to agree with Byatt. While she does come across a little snobbish, I’d also say a lot of HP fans do the same. I’ve been told many times, despite being a fantasy lover, that I lack imagination or intelligence because these book just don’t grip me. I mention this because I’m afraid the fans may have skewed my judgement of the books, and made me dislike them more than ever, and their attitude to criticism is appalling, frankly.

    I think Rowling uses a lot of material from other people, as does every other writer. But, I don’t think she puts enough of her own spin on old ideas, she just throws them in and hopes for the best. The world feels like a patchwork of others material, and not it’s own thing. I think the Discworld is very similar, you can recognize themes and places from other stories and real life, but Pratchett makes the effort to blend all of it into one coherent world that stands apart. The WW feels like it could never stand on it’s own.

    Fact is, I can’t visualize a lot of the things described in HP, and used the films as a bit of a cheat sheet. I think it’s down to JK’s writing style; she tells a lot without showing and is quite inconsistent, I never know what’s going on. I am usually a very visual person, and can “see” the story like a movie when I read, but with HP this rarely happens. If that means there is something wrong with me, so be it.

    Like

    April 11, 2014
    • Everyone’s attitude to criticism is appalling. You said so yourself that it’s possible that you dislike HP more than maybe you would have originally, just because of what others have said to you, because you didn’t enjoy them. If that isn’t a reaction to criticism then I don’t know what it is.

      Everyone is entitled to like and dislike whatever they please. I am not a fan of Wuthering Heights, it depressed the crap out of me. It doesn’t mean that I would go out there and write a scathing piece about how everyone who likes is must all be depressed and love wallowing in their own self pity and those of others. Mainly because it isn’t true. One of my friends happens to love it and she is none of those things. Byatt has made some appalling assumptions about the people who love to read Harry Potter and, worse, has gone public with her harsh, false, negative opinions.

      Say you don’t like the stories, fine. Say it’s just other stuff mixed up into a new story, fine. There is nothing original in the world and any writer would be naive to believe otherwise; but do NOT belittle people, just because their opinions do not match your own. THAT is what Byatt did that has made everyone so angry.

      And I STILL won’t read any of her books. I don’t care how good or bad they are. Just like I won’t buy any song by Chris Brown because he beat up Rhianna.

      Like

      April 27, 2014
      • Kitty #

        There is a difference between criticism and ad hominums to stifle an argument. You sound fairly childinsh to me, and so do many of the fans

        Like

        June 22, 2015
        • The beautiful thing with that is I couldn’t care less what you think of me. Sadly, others do care what people think of them.

          Like

          June 22, 2015
  61. unknown #

    How dare you?! Don’t talk about the best author in history like that!

    Like

    June 1, 2014
  62. IhateHarry #

    The novels start with a goofy/revolting cliche, namely leaving Harry on the Dursley’s doorstep. Perhaps the Dursleys have good reason to think magical people are a bunch of dangerous bozos. Eventually, a thousand pages later, Rowling explains why Harry was placed in the hands of people who didn’t want him. But why didn’t Dumbledore hand the baby over in person? And it is right and proper to accuse the Harry fanatics of mindless adoration of their “queen” for not asking these questions.

    J.K. Rowling and the late unlamented “artist of light” Thomas Kinkade have this in common: bad art that appeals to the masses.

    Like

    November 29, 2015

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Do you like Harry Potter? If yes, you’re childish. | Possessed Cat
  2. If you can’t say anything nice… | Confessions of a Book Ninja

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