Jones & Rowling contrasts

JOdel at aol.com JOdel at aol.com
Fri Jan 31 14:36:21 EST 2003


I'm enjoying the discussion and while I agree with most of the comments 
related to the simplification of Rowling's work contrasted with Jones's 
sublety and sophistication I think we are overlooking a very real 
consideration. 

Rather than comparing the HP series with things on the order of Howl, or Fire 
& Hemlock, we ought to be comparing them to the likes of Witch's 
Business/Wilkin's Tooth, Ogre Downstairs, Power of Three, and Dogsbody. [In 
that order, too.] 

Rowling's work may be a run-away popular phenomenon, but Rowling hadn't any 
control over that. We are still looking at the *first published work* of a 
new, reasonably young author. It's a bit much to compare her work with 
Jones's *current* work. I mean, can you really try to do an objective, 
focused contrast of Dogsbody and Goblet of Fire and not find the comparisons 
flattening out to at least some degree?

Where Rowling has effectively painted herself into a corner is that she sold 
a *series*, rather than a single book. She set up the parameters for the 
world that the series takes place before she started writing the adventure, 
and now she's stuck with it. Any major sweeping change will throw everything 
out of balance. Even minor but crutial changes would be a beast to handle 
because of the sheer weight of material which is already out. Rowling simply 
does not have the kind of room to maneuver that Jones does now or has had at 
any point in her career.

On the other hand, Rowling is entering the marketplace in a whole different 
era from the one that Jones found herself in at the beginning. Jones was 
constrained to a very rigid set of parameters when she started selling 
stories. Fantasy was effectively regarded as *only* for the Children's 
market. And children's books were not doorstop volumes. Both of these 
limitations have loosened up in the past 30 yers. Publishers no seemingly 
*like* doorstop novels, in all genres. Children's literature has gotten very 
much darker than it was back in the Nixon/Carter administrations. The Harry 
Potter series as it stands would have never been picked up at all. If Jones 
were a young writer starting out now, her work would be somewhat different 
too.

Although I think if I were going to try to compare Rowling to anybody it 
would probably be a combination of Roald Dahl and John Bellairs (Not the 
House with a Clock in its Walls trilogy, though. Probably one of the other 
two.)
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