Saturday, July 21, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

So, I see that Harry Potter And The Oh For Fuck’s Sake Just Fucking Die Already Why Can’t You is released today.

Reminds me of the article Span brought to my attention.

This one here.

On the one hand, I disagree with Lezard's implicit idea that children's literature should be written with as much of a flourish as its adult equivalent. In my last post on this issue I mentioned I’d read kid’s books UnLunDun and Skulduggery Pleasant. UnLunDun was passed to my flatmate, and is currently doing the rounds of various friends; Skulduggery Pleasant isn’t, simply because the language and ideas presented therein just aren’t complex enough to hold an adult’s interest for that long. However, I will be lending both to my students, and I’m pretty sure they’ll be enjoyed equally. Just because Lemony Snickett (as an example) is clever, it doesn't mean that children won't like reading books that aren't Lemony Snickett.

However, all the cretins who have argued that Harry Potter counts as valid adult literature need to realise the absolute, crushing truth of this part of Lezard’s article:

Here, from page 324 of The Order of the Phoenix, to give you a typical example, are six consecutive descriptions of the way people speak. "...said Snape maliciously," "... said Harry furiously", " ... he said glumly", "... said Hermione severely", "... said Ron indignantly", " ... said Hermione loftily". Do I need to explain why that is such second-rate writing?

If I do, then that means you're one of the many adults who don't have a problem with the retreat into infantilism that your willing immersion in the Potter books represents. It doesn't make you a bad or silly person. But if you have the patience to read it without noticing how plodding it is, then you are self-evidently someone on whom the possibilities of the English language are largely lost.

I was discussing this issue last night with a friend who pointed out an exercise he was given by someone he knew: reread the first book in the series, find the several incidents of Harry going for a walk, and figure out how many of those times Rowling describes it as “stretching his legs”.

The answer is: all of them.

I’m pleased it’s raining on all you morons queuing for the book right now. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to read some Ghost Rider comics...


Tristan said...

while your literary criticisms are profound my are more purile...

looks what happens when you replace the word 'wand' with 'wang' in the potter books...

(JonJonB) Purely in the interests of science, I have replaced the word "wand" with "wang" in the first Harry Potter Book
(JonJonB) Let's see the results...

(JonJonB) "Why aren't you supposed to do magic?" asked Harry.
(JonJonB) "Oh, well -- I was at Hogwarts meself but I -- er -- got expelled, ter tell yeh the truth. In me third year. They snapped me wang in half an' everything

(JonJonB) A magic wang... this was what Harry had been really looking forward to.

(JonJonB) "Yes, yes. I thought I'd be seeing you soon. Harry Potter." It wasn't a question. "You have your mother's eyes. It seems only yesterday she was in here herself, buying her first wang. Ten and a quarter inches long, swishy, made of willow. Nice wang for charm work."
(JonJonB) "Your father, on the other hand, favored a mahogany wang. Eleven inches. "

(JonJonB) Harry took the wang. He felt a sudden warmth in his fingers. He raised the wang above his head, brought it swishing down through the dusty air and a stream of red and gold sparks shot from the end like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light on to the walls

(JonJonB) "Oh, move over," Hermione snarled. She grabbed Harry's wang, tapped the lock, and whispered, 'Alohomora!"

(JonJonB) The troll couldn't feel Harry hanging there, but even a troll will notice if you stick a long bit of wood up its nose, and Harry's wang had still been in his hand when he'd jumped - it had gone straight up one of the troll's nostrils.

(JonJonB) He bent down and pulled his wang out of the troll's nose. It was covered in what looked like lumpy gray glue.

(JonJonB) He ran onto the field as you fell, waved his wang, and you sort of slowed down before you hit the ground. Then he whirled his wang at the dementors. Shot silver stuff at them.

(JonJonB) Ok
(JonJonB) I have found, definitive proof
(JonJonB) that J.K Rowling is a dirty DIRTY woman, making a fool of us all
(JonJonB) "Yes," Harry said, gripping his wang very tightly, and moving into the middle of the deserted classroom. He tried to keep his mind on flying, but something else kept intruding.... Any second now, he might hear his mother again... but he shouldn't think that, or he would hear her again, and he didn't want to... or did he?
(melusine ) O_______O
(JonJonB) Something silver-white, something enormous, erupted from the end of his wang

(JonJonJonB) Then, with a sigh, he raised his wang and prodded the silvery substance with its tip.

(JonJonJonB) 'Get - off - me!' Harry gasped. For a few seconds they struggled, Harry pulling at his uncles sausage-like fingers with his left hand, his right maintaining a firm grip on his raised wang.

Ms Klake said...

I refuse to read any of the Harry Potter books. I just wont do it. Because I'm not interested, no matter how much people bang on about the supposed awesomeness that is Harry Potter. This shocks people, I can't understand why.

Span said...

I can certainly agree that Rowling's writing isn't that hot. Particularly after book three, when it appears she was above the attentions of an editor. There's a lot of faff that doesn't need to be in the books, and, about 10 chapters into the last book, I'm finding it irritating. Perhaps this is more apparent than normal because I was reading some Jane Austen beforehand.

But I still wants to know what happens, and I want to read it as it unfolds in the book, rather than on some spoiler-ridden website somewhere. I like the characters she creates (even the evil ones) and the general plot appeals. If I have to wade through some eye rolling passages (ok, a LOT of them) to get there then I will.

But then I like Jilly Cooper too.

Glad you found the article useful :-)

automaton said...

Same category as Dan Brown, really- heck of a page-turner, but the writing itself not so shit hot.