Fwd: Re: Byatt on Potter

Robyn Starkey rohina at shaw.ca
Fri Jul 11 15:24:04 EDT 2003

>I can't help feeling, from what you've said there, that these works must be
>a bit parochial, if they address something that specialised?

Well, they address a set of ideas. The ideas themselves haven't lost 
validity, but people have perhaps thought further now.

>It's terribly hard to think that a book being dated after less than twenty
>years qualifies it as anything other than "ephemeral", really.

Really? I would think that qualifies just about anything that said anything 
about computers in any way would qualify, then. What about books that 
mentioned the idea of the possiblility of email or the web, written in the 
early 1990s? Just because technology or ideas have moved on, does that 
automatically mean the book should be trashed? Considering how quickly 
ideas and technology are moving at the moment, I can't imagine a work which 
makes contemporary references which won't be dated quite quickly.

As an example, we were watching a repeat of season 1 Buffy, and both the 
cell phones and the computers that were being used were noticeably old. My 
husband pointed out that the music was also very dated. Does this make the 
show somehow worthless? I think not.

>Handicapped in this: I think I have read some Lodge, but it made no impact
>and I have forgotten it, and I'm fairly sure that although I read a Byatt
>once because she was at my old school and I thought I'd give it a try, I
>can't remember which one.  Plainly I wasn't particularly impressed, and
>it's absurd to discuss texts with which one has no particular familiarity.
>So my remarks above are intended as general comment not particular, and may
>be doing injustice to particular texts which will come to be seen as
>"classics" (possibly "classics of their time") for reasons which happened
>not to impinge upon me when I read them.

Well, quite clearly your remarks are not particularly well informed in 
these specific cases, but I also take issue with the general thesis.

I actually place a lot of emphasis on historical and cultural contexts, so 
the concept of "dated" to me is not a perjorative one. I mean, Chaucer's 
work is certainly dated, but I don't dismiss it for this reason.

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