HP review

Anna Clare McDuff amcduff at math.sunysb.edu
Thu Jul 3 08:56:10 EDT 2003

On Thu, 3 Jul 2003, Hallie O'Donovan wrote:

> If you want provocative (and also intelligent, IMHO) you might have a
> look at this one.
> http://books.guardian.co.uk/harrypotter/story/0,10761,979797,00.html
> But don't read it if your blood pressure won't handle HP criticism
> (in the negative, rather than literary sense), or if you can't stand
> the thought of social/political analysis of the books.  :-)

	<grin> Having read that, you should try this, Rod Liddle's answer
to it (also from the Grauniad) which really made me laugh!


> Some of the points are not that well argued, but I think it's an
> interesting contrast to the HP as anti-conformist argument in the
> Phoenix article, which I really didn't buy.

	I dunno, I can see the anti-conformist reading & I think it's an
interesting one, but I think it might apply more to other cultures, like
the American Bible Belt where Potter-burnings take place, etc. I don't
think Rowling *intended* Harry to be a great anti-conformist hero, I think
he's intended to be a hero in the classic English mould, but I can see the
argument that he has wound up in places where he could take on that role.
As the Phoenix article says, there is always more than one way to read a

 Anyone know if the
> Richard Adams was THE Richard Adams?

	Not sure, but don't think so. My problem with the Adams article
was that he doesn't really know enough about the books to use them to make
the points he was trying to make, so his arguments are rather inept and
clumsy and easily countered by pointing out the things he's misunderstood.
I mean, any book that's playing around with British mythology and
archetypes as much as the Potter books do are going to be strongly
reminiscent of our past. And statements of his like "Socially, wizards are
so strongly attached to the nuclear family that they cannot conceive that
Harry wants to avoid his family during the school holidays." are just
absurd. The reason why Harry has to stay with the Dursleys every summer
even though there are places he could go that would be much "better" in
some senses has been a long running mystery only recently explained. And I
have to say I don't quite understand his arument that the Telegraph
reading Malfoys are depicted as the Enemy, as are the Daily Mail reading
Dursleys, therefore Rowling is championing one-nation conservatism. I mean
is he just sulking that the Good Guys might possibly be readers of the Sun
or the Times rather than the Guardian? Really the Adams article reminded
me more of the whinging that was heard a few years back, I think around
the time Azkaban came out, that it wasn't fair that the best selling
children's books are so firmly rooted in our past. Which they are, there's
no denying it. It's one of the things that makes them so richly
interesting to me!


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