Sunday, August 19, 2007

Harold Bloom's critique of Harry Potter

I am working on a piece titled, "The Return of Real Danger: Why is Harry Potter so Popular?" In the process, I ran across this interesting critique by the great literary critic Harold Bloom in the Wall Street Journal. It's called, "Can 35 Million Book Buyers Be Wrong? Yes." After it ran, the editors called and told Bloom that they had never seen anything like it: they had received 400 negative response letters and only one positive one, and the latter they said they suspected he had written himself!

6 comments:

dean said...

having never been too awful interested in the potter books and movies (one reason being the whole witchcraft and wizardry angle), i gleaned most of my information from word of mouth, book reviews and news reports. i must say i was rather surprised to see that such a notable figure as harold bloom thinks so little of rowling's "masterpiece." to hear educators and many parents tell it, the potter books have single-handedly saved our next generation from sliding into the suffocating pit of illiteracy.

looking forward to your take on this...

Steven said...

I do not have a problem with Rowling's series itself. I actually think it is a creative story which has perhaps helped fight illiteracy to some extent. However, I have not read any of the books, and I never will, and I would not recommend that anyone do so. My reason is simply that there are better things to read. Most people who read the Potter books have not read much (if any) Lewis or Tolkien, for example. To me, its like choosing between a fast-food burger and a prime filet mignon at the same price.

Pedro Morgado said...

Please, don’t let J. K. Rowling kill Harry Potter. :)

Please, save Harry Potter.

solarity said...

>>.Most people who read the Potter books have not read much (if any) Lewis or Tolkien, for example.<<

I have a couple of children who read and loved Tolkien, enjoyed Lewis, but literally couldn't wait to get their hands on the latest Potter book. A whole new level of interest. My third child couldn't care less about any of them!

The whole wizadry and witchcraft thing doesn't do anything for me either, but, in the end, the good people prevail and the forces of evil are suitably vanquished. Nothing inherently wrong with that lesson.

solarity said...

>>Says Bloom " I hope that my discontent is not merely a highbrow snobbery, or a nostalgia for a more literate fantasy to beguile (shall we say) intelligent children of all ages.">>

Actually, I think his criticism IS based on a certain snobbery. The same snobbery that prevails throughout the world of critics when something gets too popular. The thinking is that "if that many of the great unwashed actually like this stuff, just how truly good can it be?"

I've always suspected that critical acclaim would continue to be heaped upon the likes of Thomas Kinkade, Andrew Lloyd Webber, et al if they had remained rather obscure artists.

hechizos said...

I think it is so popular because everyone feels like an out cast at some point in there life and that is what Harry and his friends are, and we all wish that we were speacial. I am a fan of the series but I have never obsessed about it. As for a more deserving series, as far as "childrens books" go I would have to say The Dark is Rising sequance by Susan Cooper.