DWJ's answers: Harry Potter

Neil Ward neilward at dircon.co.uk
Thu Aug 30 20:58:34 EDT 2001

Philip said:

<< Like Bettina and Sally, the thing I object to most is the way JKR's fans
ignore the background of children's fantasy from which her books have come,
and treat HP as an isolated phenomenon. >>

Sadly, I agree that this is the perception among many younger readers of
Harry Potter, but I can vouch for the fact that the bulk of adult readers
seem to be fans of the genre, and regularly namecheck Pullman, Pratchett,
Gaiman, Cooper et al, as well as DWJ (okay, that's usually me).

I am still, for my sins, a moderator of the YahooGroups list 'Harry Potter
for Grownups,' which now has pushing 2000 members - a fair representation of
the fandom.  Ironically, I'm in the minority: I hadn't read much in this
genre before I was given the first Harry Potter book (let's say the Narnia
books and The Hobbit - hardly a foundation course), and that's how I came to
DWJ: I wanted more of the same.  I am that person who spotted the "If you
liked Harry Potter, try this.." stickers.<g>

Harry Potter is a literary phenomenon for reasons other than something
unique to JK Rowling's writing or creation and it's now a publicity,
mechandise-spinoffing monster.  Popularity spawns interest; fame wins
attention.  There is certainly something in the books that captures the
imagination - I would say that, wouldn't I? - but they have been given a
huge stage and a glaring spotlight.  There's something the Potterverse
labels the "universal appeal of Harry Potter" and the fact that we
constantly debate that perhaps indicates that even we can't believe how
massive it is.

Addressing the original point, I don't see that many similarities between
DWJ and JKR, at least little that is common only to their respective works.
>From my limited perspective, there appear to be far more common and recycled
themes knocking about the realms of science fiction (time travel, robotics,
alien invasion) or 'quest' fantasy (LOTR, King Arthur, dark forces).  I
guess it depends where you place the goalposts.


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