(2/11/01 10:18:45 am)
|Why do adults like "Harry Potter" ? |
Congratulations to you all for the very interesting exchange of ideas on the fairy-tales, fantastic and all related subjects!
I kept reading all the comments and felt everybody almost like a friend!
I am a first-year student in a Master in Information Studies Canadian program. Tomorrow I am due with an assignment on "Literature Review" for the Research Methods course. The research I proposed to do my 'Literature Review' is "The need of fantastic in adults' life. Why do adults (non-parents) read and like Harry Potter?"
To my surprise (and disappointment), most of the interpretations I found (on the web or published in various newspapers) are purely religious debates. Could anybody suggest where I could find more about the success of the novel? Would any of you tell me what do you think about my subject?
Thank you very much...
(2/11/01 12:50:56 pm)
|hope this helps|
I think the parents who are happiest with the Pottermania are those parents happy to see their children engaged with the act of reading--though I'm not sure how many of those adults read the books for their own pleasure.
But the question you ask for your research project, "why do adults need the fantastic?" is a good one and there are some interesting essays you might want to look at that address that question. Jane Yolen's book "Touch Magic" is very good, as is another work mentioned often on this board, "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales", edited by Kate Bernheimer (who, lucky for us, contributes often to this board) and a fabulous little essay about why adults need fantasy in a collection of essays by Ursula Le Guin, called "Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction."
You probably can find all the above at a university library.
Good luck tomorrow.
(2/11/01 4:13:18 pm)
|Re: hope this helps|
Thank you very much, Midori, for helping me to narrow down the list of possible readings on my subject! Even I won't be able to finish before tomorrow night, I rather "sacrifice" my mark for doing a proper research, I realy like the topic!
(2/11/01 8:17:54 pm)
|Re: hope this helps|
One of the few articles on Harry Potter that I have found online that hasn't been either promotional or about the religious contentions is a feminist interpretation on Salon.com. It doesn't fit into your theme about fantasy for adults, but it is an interesting article if you haven't read it. The link is at:
All of the books Midori mentioned are wonderful. I particularly recommend "Touch Magic" since Yolen discusses fantasy in particular for both children and adults.
As a children's book and fantasy enthusiast, I would like to add the simplistic point that a good story, good enough writing and great characters appeal to people of all ages. Harry Potter fits the bill. It doesn't have to be *great* literature to speak to the masses. I avoided the books until the third one came out because I was feeling snobbish about anything that was a bestseller. Faint memories of the Goosebumps kept popping into my head. Then I read the first one and couldn't sleep until I had finished it.
I think one of the main reasons that Harry Potter is so popular is because the Hogwarts and Muggle worlds are so real. Rowling mentions that she knows much more about her universe than any of us ever will, such as the names of all the World Cup Quidditch teams. She has thought about this world and it becomes real and great fun as we read along. Now with the growing fight of good against evil that is coming to a full out war (and with Harry aging) I think the remaining books are going to become less *fun* and more philosophical. It will be interesting to see how the popularity lasts as the tone of the books change and as marketing deluges us into hating the name Harry Potter.
But the books are not all fun and games. Harry learns lessons and we get to learn them with him. I have an adult friend who had an epiphany while reading about the Mirror of Eisring in the first book. She realized she was not being honest with herself about some aspects in her life. The human condition is the same on many levels whatever our age. We diminish the pains and troubles of childhood as "childish" but they were just as painful as the ones we have as adults in many cases. In fact, I propose that they can be even harder because children are in less control of their surroundings, they have smaller vocabularies and experience to help them express themselves, and they have less understanding of time to know that "this too shall pass."
Harry Potter also offers us the idealistic childhood many of us dream of or wish we had. He is the orphan with special powers that no one understands. He is well-liked and often misunderstood. His troubles can be very real, but he gets out safely without permanent emotional scarring. He is humble but special. It is fun to be a kid again when we read his story.
Finally, great literature is ageless. Often books get put in categories just because of the age of the characters or the subject matter or the length of the manuscript. The marketing department needs to categorize them so they can sell them. But the best authors in children's literature often say that they aren't writing for an age or a specific audience as much as they are writing a story they need to write and share.
(2/13/01 5:31:59 am)
|Re: hope this helps|
Great answer, Heidi! And I want to second Midori's recommendation of the Yolen and Bernheimer books, which are both wonderful.
(2/13/01 7:09:22 am)
To Heidi's superb analysis, I would add only regarding the need for fantastic literature, that it is the oldest literature. Fiction, in essence, has always been about the fantastic, beginning with Gilgamesh and Enkidu. So the need for it, whatever that might be, has been with humankind from the beginning.
(2/17/01 10:28:22 am)
|Re: Why do adults like "Harry Potter" ? |
Midori, Heidi, Terri, Gregor...
Thank you all for stopping and offering advice and, most of all, your own thoughts. This week was the first time when I allowed myself to move away from my "Systems Analysis and Design" books and re-enter into a world I thought lives in few hearts - the fairy tales kingdom. My assignment stopped being the reason of reading all the books you recommended...
I hope you won't mind, but I will cite from your beautiful essays or analysis...there were moments when after reading your thoughts, I felt breatheless, your words were so powerful I felt that any answer I would give would sound superficial...