Byatt on Potter
rohina at shaw.ca
Fri Jul 11 22:05:16 EDT 2003
>The question is not the problem. However, an answer which presupposes that
>there is something wrong with those readers is really no answer at all.
>Byatt didn't really try to figure out the answer; she assumed that the
>readers were at fault. She drew conclusions based on why *she* no longer
>read such books and then assumed that adult HP fans must be stuck in those
>earlier stages--further assuming that this was universally bad, as though
>all readers will eventually pass through all the stages of intellectual
>development to become great readers.
I think this is a perceptive point, and it is part of the underlying issue
in this debate. For many people who read and criticise literature
"seriously", as Byatt does, there is a really important moment of
development, at which the reader finds the ability to separate comments on
a work of literature from his or her personal feelings about liking the
text. There is a tendency among students, I find, to equate "I didn't like
it" with "bad story". (Now don't all jump on me here and say this is what
Byatt is doing; I *like* JKR, but I can also see many many faults in her
writing.) The flip side of this is what is irritating Byatt about Rowling.
All these people like her work so much, they are apparently blind to its
faults. So she treats these readers like slow first-year students. But as
you point out, Melissa, not everyone wants to become Byatt's ideal reader.
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