Author Topic: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]  (Read 3834 times)

Inspector Norse

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Re: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]
« Reply #90 on: June 12, 2020, 02:30:34 PM »
I like the Potter books. I was a couple of years too old for them, maybe, but had younger siblings so read them as well and enjoyed them. As I got older and outgrew them I could recognise the flaws but was attached enough to the characters and world to want to see it all through to the end.

Rowling does take liberal sprinklings of ideas from plenty of other places but what makes it work is that the world she puts together is one that the reader can easily imagine, one that keeps growing and one that people want to live in and want to keep on exploring. It was maybe accidental given the inconsistencies, holes and oddities scattered through the books, but there was a weird alchemy that gives her wizarding world exactly the right amount of familiarity, strangeness, comedy and wonder. I think that's why people were OK with the later books being bloated and awkward: the audience wanted that, wanted all the irrelevant detail and directionless plots. They wanted to move through the world as Harry did, organically following his adolescence season by season and year by year, rather than just jumping from plot point to plot point and skipping the classroom hi-jinks and schoolyard games.  It was kind of weird though that Harry was still getting surprised and amazed by magic stuff after five or six years.

There's also maybe something to be said for the way its cultural impact and success affected the later books and reading them. There was the sensation of it being important and significant, if you were at all invested. Finding out what would happen next was a major international event, given how many people around the world were into this stuff, which lent the books a significance and point that they perhaps objectively hadn't earnt. It felt like the revelations and resolutions mattered, the same way that the World Cup or something matters even though in reality watching Senegal beat Korea 1-0 is a waste of your time.


FerriswheelBueller

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Re: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]
« Reply #92 on: June 12, 2020, 02:36:36 PM »
As I pointed out, I haven't read the HP books, I read the first few pages of the first one, was struck by the similarity to other books I'd already ready and thought the writing was poor, as Mango Chimes said, more like one of those iffy 1950s school stories, so left it there.  I come here purely to put forward that opinion, based on my own childhood experience, as a valid opinion.  You can't prove to me that I shouldn't hold it because you like HP books.  I do know what plagiarism is thanks, you cheeky patronising cunt.

To be fair he doesn’t make it to school until ~20-30% through the first book because they bang on and on about his childhood so it’s reasonable for you to say you’ve read a decent amount of one, if that helps.

Re: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]
« Reply #93 on: June 12, 2020, 02:51:53 PM »
I was well into my Discworlds by the time Philosopher's Stone came out. I enjoyed the Potter books and I read them all, but when I was maybe 13 or 14 I specifically remember noticing a sentence that was something like this:

Quote
Inside the egg came a growling, mewing noise, as if the baby dragon inside had woken up.

...and thinking that if Terry Pratchett had written it he would have left the second part out. I think that was my first ever conscious lesson in showing and not telling.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]
« Reply #94 on: June 12, 2020, 02:53:22 PM »
I still pop on discworld audiobooks if I’m pottering (lmao) around the apartment doing cleaning or something and want a story on but not something I’ll have to pay too much attention to.

touchingcloth

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Re: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]
« Reply #95 on: June 12, 2020, 07:34:47 PM »
I like the Potter books. I was a couple of years too old for them, maybe, but had younger siblings so read them as well and enjoyed them. As I got older and outgrew them I could recognise the flaws but was attached enough to the characters and world to want to see it all through to the end.

Rowling does take liberal sprinklings of ideas from plenty of other places but what makes it work is that the world she puts together is one that the reader can easily imagine, one that keeps growing and one that people want to live in and want to keep on exploring. It was maybe accidental given the inconsistencies, holes and oddities scattered through the books, but there was a weird alchemy that gives her wizarding world exactly the right amount of familiarity, strangeness, comedy and wonder. I think that's why people were OK with the later books being bloated and awkward: the audience wanted that, wanted all the irrelevant detail and directionless plots. They wanted to move through the world as Harry did, organically following his adolescence season by season and year by year, rather than just jumping from plot point to plot point and skipping the classroom hi-jinks and schoolyard games.  It was kind of weird though that Harry was still getting surprised and amazed by magic stuff after five or six years.

There's also maybe something to be said for the way its cultural impact and success affected the later books and reading them. There was the sensation of it being important and significant, if you were at all invested. Finding out what would happen next was a major international event, given how many people around the world were into this stuff, which lent the books a significance and point that they perhaps objectively hadn't earnt. It felt like the revelations and resolutions mattered, the same way that the World Cup or something matters even though in reality watching Senegal beat Korea 1-0 is a waste of your time.

Lots of good points here. The size of the largest of the books which I find a barrier to re-reading them now was an absolute boon when they were first released, as I didn’t really want to leave the world. I like your comment about the mix of familiarity and strangeness being part of the appeal, and I do think it’s an ineffable, alchemical balance which makes the books so compelling. There are certainly examples of similar types of fiction aimed at a similar audience which do certain things objectively better - His Dark Materials is much stronger thematically and in making quite pointed use of allegory, and Pratchett flies his allusions to other sources much more in the open, and both writers are better at prose - Rowling is very non-adept with the simile in particular, and does things like describe Hagrid as having “feet the size of baby dolphins”.

But I don’t enjoy either of those authors in the same way. The early HP books are ones I return to relatively often if I want an easy, pleasing read, whereas His Dark Materials I’ve only re-read a couple of times when I wanted to go back to that particular story (mainly because unlike Harry Potter you can’t really dip into a single book in isolation), and I don’t think I’ve ever read a Pratchett book a second time.

The cultural impact is also a great point. I feel quite lucky that I was able to have the shared experience of anticipating and then tearing through these books in my teens, I can’t actually think of any other thing I’ve waited for so keenly - I guess for the kids a few years after me it was the HP films, and the next lot the Marvel ones.

Slight tangent, but it’s odd to me just how massive the films are among people 5-10 years younger than me, to the point that they have tattoos and things based on the series. From memory the books were definitely not cool among my peer group, mainly because books in general weren’t cool.

Re: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]
« Reply #96 on: June 13, 2020, 01:56:02 AM »
^ I often think that the first book in the series shares elements with The Hobbit, in that one comparison to later books in the series it’s much more clearly written as a children’s book, and you’re dead right that the later books are in some ways hobbled by the corner she had written herself into in book one

Yes it's there in the first line isn't it 'Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.' That 'thank you very much' is unimaginable in the later books.

Re: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]
« Reply #97 on: June 13, 2020, 11:12:28 AM »
I'd agree with this, except I'd substitute book four for book five. I got through that one and thought "Right, her editors didn't bother reading this stuff so neither will I."[

Yeah, that one was dreadfully written. I think it was that one that Rowling had to rewrite in a hurry, because she found a plot hole (not that there isn't a huge plot hole anyway in the final version but hey ho), so it perhaps explains why that one has a not-proof-read feel. It wouldn't have killed her publisher to clean it up a bit for subsequent printings. The later books don't have quite the same problem, although in my view they are super-bloated with third-rate "world building". But then, I was trying to read them to a seven-year-old, who interest in the civil service was less than keen.

Re: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]
« Reply #98 on: June 20, 2020, 04:01:34 AM »
I was well into my Discworlds by the time Philosopher's Stone came out. I enjoyed the Potter books and I read them all, but when I was maybe 13 or 14 I specifically remember noticing a sentence that was something like this:

...and thinking that if Terry Pratchett had written it he would have left the second part out. I think that was my first ever conscious lesson in showing and not telling.
There's quite a pointed moment in one of the first Tiffany Aching books in which Tiff is having a moment on the hills in the cold and rain, and imagining some posh boarding school for Wizards, full of luxury, but without the first clue about what's actually involved in magic. Who could Pratchett have had in mind?

More seriously, he uses the Tiffany Aching cycle to really bring out the contrast between (his notion of) witchcraft and wizardry. I'd characterise - no doubt inaccurately - the former as basically being hard graft and kiddology, and very little actual, you know, magic. Whereas the latter is all about grandiose projects without a shred of humanity. That the two traditions split along gender lines[1] (with a couple of exceptions) rings true to me. 
 1. Yeah, yeah #notallwizards

touchingcloth

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Re: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]
« Reply #99 on: June 22, 2020, 12:11:31 AM »
There's quite a pointed moment in one of the first Tiffany Aching books in which Tiff is having a moment on the hills in the cold and rain, and imagining some posh boarding school for Wizards, full of luxury, but without the first clue about what's actually involved in magic. Who could Pratchett have had in mind?

More seriously, he uses the Tiffany Aching cycle to really bring out the contrast between (his notion of) witchcraft and wizardry. I'd characterise - no doubt inaccurately - the former as basically being hard graft and kiddology, and very little actual, you know, magic. Whereas the latter is all about grandiose projects without a shred of humanity. That the two traditions split along gender lines[1] (with a couple of exceptions) rings true to me.
 1. Yeah, yeah #notallwizards

It took a few moments there - when you wrote that he used the books “to really bring out the contrast between (his notion of) witchcraft and wizardry“, I was trying to work out what he was contrasting it with.


Re: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]
« Reply #101 on: June 23, 2020, 04:39:19 AM »
It took a few moments there - when you wrote that he used the books “to really bring out the contrast between (his notion of) witchcraft and wizardry“, I was trying to work out what he was contrasting it with.

Yeah, sorry. I could have expressed that better. Thanks for sticking with it until clarity emerged.

timebug

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Re: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]
« Reply #102 on: June 25, 2020, 09:28:16 AM »
Marc posted at length on this, and it's a topic I share(d) with him totally. I read all of the books,and became less impressed by each subsequent one. Hated the films from the off,and have only seen about three of them. The thing that really pisses me off, is the commercialisation of the thing; get your HP scarf/hat/wand/house badge/broomstick/pen/pencil/teeshirt/comdoms/etc
And the fans who used to queue for half the night when a new book appeared. Like Star Wars and other franchises, I accept that there will always be fans of this stuff, but it has no appeal for me personally. And yes, I think JK is actually a pretty shoddy writer,
and plot holes abound, even in something ficticious and 'magical'.
Sadly (to me) these things will be around for years,and many children will grow up on them, thinking them wonderful and so on.
Pity, but there you go.

Gurke and Hare

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Re: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]
« Reply #103 on: June 25, 2020, 04:09:40 PM »
Sadly (to me) these things will be around for years,and many children will grow up on them, thinking them wonderful and so on.
Pity, but there you go.

It was so much better before Harry Potter, when all the children read Dickens and Plato.

Old Nehamkin

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Re: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]
« Reply #104 on: June 26, 2020, 01:49:28 PM »
Sadly (to me) these things will be around for years,and many children will grow up on them, thinking them wonderful and so on.
Pity, but there you go.

I'd argue that plenty of the mainstream staples of children's fiction that prior generations have been offered (Enid Blyton, Biggles etc.) are of equal or lower literary merit than Potter is. I loved the Potter books myself as a child and I'd say I had a reasonably healthy reading diet that made plenty of room for more "classic" stuff like Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Dahl etc. along with other contemporary kids' authors like Lemony Snicket, Eoin Colfer, Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman and Anthony Horowitz. I certainly don't think that Harry Potter stunted my reading habits or dimmed my curiosity for discovering new fiction or anything along those lines. I haven't read any of the books since I finished the last one at 14 and I'm perfectly happy to leave the series in the past, but I don't think I'd hesitate to pass them on to my kids if I ever have any.

Re: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]
« Reply #105 on: June 26, 2020, 07:21:56 PM »
It was so much better before Harry Potter, when all the children read Dickens and Plato.
Dickens and Plato, the beloved Malk Dosney characters

touchingcloth

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Re: JK Rowling - Harry Potter books [split topic]
« Reply #106 on: July 01, 2020, 01:02:50 AM »
I'd argue that plenty of the mainstream staples of children's fiction that prior generations have been offered (Enid Blyton, Biggles etc.) are of equal or lower literary merit than Potter is. I loved the Potter books myself as a child and I'd say I had a reasonably healthy reading diet that made plenty of room for more "classic" stuff like Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Dahl etc. along with other contemporary kids' authors like Lemony Snicket, Eoin Colfer, Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman and Anthony Horowitz. I certainly don't think that Harry Potter stunted my reading habits or dimmed my curiosity for discovering new fiction or anything along those lines. I haven't read any of the books since I finished the last one at 14 and I'm perfectly happy to leave the series in the past, but I don't think I'd hesitate to pass them on to my kids if I ever have any.

I agree, and it’s one of many admittedly low brow things I enjoy in the arts, and it’s nice to have a mix in what you read, listen to and watch.

I’d put Rowling on a par with Tolkien even though neither of them are a Joyce. They’re both obviously quite different as well - Tolkien excels at world building but fails in characterisation and a compelling plot, Rowling does less well at the world building but writes characters I believe and stories I can tear through. She’s a bit like Crichton in that regard - Jurassic Park is flawed in so many ways but I can read the fuck out of it.

My tastes are admittedly in the gutter of culture when it comes to fiction, and the heavier reading I do is on science, politics or history. Plot holes? Arsed, mate - I can never suspend my disbelief enough to not realise I’m reading fiction, so if something doesn’t hang together with the plot my brain just accepts it in the same way that it accepts the world contains Balrogs and earth-bearing tortoises.

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