JKR (A bit wandering)

Alex alex.mb at zoo.co.uk
Wed Aug 2 10:43:39 EDT 2000

I've thought for a long time that the Harry Potter books are inspired by
those by DWJ. I think Witch Week was a definite influence and Rowling made
Harry Potter into a reverse version of that. I also think that the idea of
quidditch (though not how it works) stemmed from that incomprehensible game
that Hildy plays, I can't remember what it's called. The idea of Portways
and the golden cup in HP 4 also seems to come form DWJ>

I've just finished HP 4 and found it just as formulaic as the others. Don't
get me wrong, it's a quick read because it's quite absorbing but I felt
Rowling relied upon coincidence and magic to push the story on rather than
character and a complex plot. How tired an idea is it that someone (I won't
reveal who) has taken another's identity; the book became rather like Scooby
Doo at that point. (DWJ did that much better when Kankredin was pretending
to be a horse/the One because that formed an important part of the plot).
She could have introduced all sorts of other interesting angles but Harry
always remained a good person except for an argument with Ron and we never
saw why people were motivated to fight for the dark when being part of the
dark seemed to make you into a cowering slave. Harry's relationship with
Slytherin house is also never explored properly, it becomes purely goodies
versus baddies with no discussion as to why people are placed into the
houses in the first place. If the majority of those placed in Slytherin
embrace the dark does it mean that people are genetically predisposed
towards evil. In that case you can't punish them with the Dementors. If they
aren't predisposed toward evil, why isn't Hogwarts doing somehting about the

By the way, the much vaunted death and the puberty bits that people talked
so much about pre publishing are anticlimaxes. They've been inserted for 10
year ols who think they're teenagers. There's no real sense of pain at the
death and there's no true feeling of longing with the love interest. Sorry
Neil, I know you like HP but I always start with enthusiasm and end up
disappointed. On the whole, I think DWJ would be far more worthy the fervent
approval received by RKJ (apart from Mixed Magics which I found dull
(apologies to all those who disagree)). I think the popularity of HP really
stems from how comforting it is. It is formulaic, as I said before, as it
blends the humourous fairytale with the school story. That's why adults like
it as well. I believe that the Chalet School books sell more to grown women
than to childern for example.

Sorry to ramble. If you do want to buy HP 4 and you're in the UK, it's £7.49
from streetsonline, with no postage.


PS Paul, I quite agree about Psmith. He should have remained a superior sort
of bachelor.

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