Byatt on Potter

Robyn Starkey rohina at shaw.ca
Thu Jul 10 14:04:03 EDT 2003


>Given the kind of literature she writes--which is a far cry from popular
>fiction--I am not at all surprised that she has this opinion.  She might as
>well have been writing about John Grisham or Danielle Steel.  At least she
>acknowledges the quality of some children's literature rather than
>dismissing all of it as inadequate for adults; many "literary" readers can't
>see the value in anything not written for adults.  Still, I don't see that
>she's really said anything new, except that she's saying it about HP.  In
>wanting to understand why adult readers are so addicted to these books,
>Byatt doesn't really seem to believe she'll find the answer to be a positive
>one.  That's a little depressing--but again, not a huge surprise.

I thought it was extremely interesting that all the books Byatt gave as 
examples of good fantasy were ones which have a religious element, in that 
they either deal with gods or powers. I think this is what she doesn't like 
about Rowling, that the HP books have no real spiritual depth. Even book 5, 
which gestures towards talking about an afterlife, is superficial when it 
comes to this aspect. What Byatt identifies is the sense of mystery 
attached to magic. An element, I have to say, which is always present in 
DWJ books, the Dalemark books perhaps the most markedly so.

Robyn 
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