HP review

Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Fri Jul 4 10:16:39 EDT 2003


Anna:
> Absolutely! I hope my post didn't sound as if I were
> misrepresenting you or tarring you with the Adamsian brush as it were. I
> wrote it in a hurry so as to finish before going out to the theatre (went
> to see an original no-budget musical comedy called the East End of Chicago
> at the Circus Theatre Stratford in which an old friend of mine is playing
> Al Capone. Lots of great dancing. It's on 'til Saturday if anyone is
> interested </plug>) so I may not have been clear.

By the way, I really enjoyed your Henry V review a couple of days ago -
please keep them coming!

> Certainly, where the notion of fascism comes in for me is when
> people label things ideologically *and* decree that only certain
> ideologies can be represented and all else must be subjugated. I don't see
> anything wrong in discussing underlying ideologies. Actually I think it's
> kind of healthy both psychologically and socially because we usually bring
> our ideologies to what we read and we usually take ideologies from what we
> read so being clear about what's going on seems like a sensible course of
> action to me. It maybe the old academic blood stirring in my veins but I
> personally love seeing if cases can be made, there's a thrill to seeing
> how a marxist reading of Harry Potter could pan out, or a queer theory
> one, or a christian reading or whatever viewpoint takes your fancy really.

I agree with all this, but especially the first bit. Of course it's fun to
see how a case can be made for a HP as a queer/Xian/Islamic text, and with a
bit of ingenuity it's frightening to see how easy it is to make some kind of
case of that sort for anything. But it's not just an intellectual exercise -
it's also a useful way of making oneself (partly) aware of the assumptions
one brings to a text. Ideologies aren't just conscious beliefs, of course -
that's just the visible bit of the iceberg - and if one can find a way to
make some of the other 9/10ths visible that is indeed healthy, as you say.

> I just get itchy when books are *denounced* for being ideologically
> suspect.
>
Me too. Not that I've ever seen that on this list, you understand... :-)

> Oh yeah, there was a lot of muttering on the old letters page & I
> think to a large extent Liddle was reacting to that, the whole thing was
> set in motion by the Adams article, but as usual it gathered a lot of moss
> very fast.

I think this is the uncruxing of the wires I'd been hoping for. No one minds
a fierce barb of satire, so long as it's well-aimed - it just seemed as if
Liddle was having a go at Adams for things he'd never said. But if there is
indeed an off-stage 'third voice' in this conversation, in the form of the
Guardian letters page, that makes things a good deal more comprehensible. (I
still have problems with Liddle finding that it ludicrous that children's
books might have ideological content - but that's a different and less
important matter than the censorship question.)

Charlie

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