In addition to creating a frenzy among readers, young and old, by writing the HP series J.K. Rowling also caused several critics to cringe in her direction!
Among the most infamous instances where criticism attacked the beloved HP author was an article published in a NY Times article. Prize winning writer A.S. Byatt not only dismissed J.K. Rowling and her latest Harry Potter book, she also goes as far as insulting the readers of the series.
Byatt says she believes adults have become fans of the books because it allows them to regress into the comfort zone of childhood. No harm there. What I find offensive is that any author can say that J.K. Rowling’s magic world has no place for the numinous. Byatt claims that HP is written for people whose imaginative lives are confined to TV cartoons and the exaggerated mirror-worlds of soaps, reality TV and celebrity gossip. She also goes on to say that Rowling speaks to an adult generation that hasn’t known and doesn’t care about mystery.
Whether Byatt is correct or not really makes no difference. People have the right to say what they like. What I am amazed at is the fact that someone who is supposedly a “writer” could make such generalizations as to why anyone decides to pick up a book.
Several other critics have voiced their opinions about the series with similar dislike, but they never go as far as attacking its fans. While they did appear puzzled at the great adult fan base of the Potter books, they didn’t belittle anyone in doing so.
Byatt’s remarks upset many readers, who posted comments on various Internet sites. Many of those who posted reactions argued with her assumptions that adults who read Harry Potter are literary virgins who can’t tell the difference between a good or bad book.
Here is a link to a copy of the article, Harry Potter and the Childish Adult, written by A.S. Byatt.
While surely she is entitled to her opinion, I also feel that readers are entitled to theirs. Here is a link to an article in BBC News UK,where readers of all ages reacted to Byatt’s statements.
As I said before, I don’t have a problem with critics
who don’t like Harry Potter. You like what you like! I just don’t
see how it’s anybody’s right or even in their best interest
to insult anyone else’s choices. Readers, both child and adult,
should be able to read whatever they like for whatever reasons. They shouldn’t
be dissuaded from trying something new or feel self-conscious about what
they already read because of any critic.
All Harry Potter material is copyright J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros, Scholastic Inc., and Bloomsbury Publishing. This is an unofficial site and in no way affiliated with any of these entities.
© 2003 Jennifer Serra