Byatt on Potter

Robyn Starkey rohina at
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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