Attack on Potter literary worth starts war of words

  July 10, 2003 at 4:51 PM ET
  Cheeser     HPANA (via Daily Telegraph)

The Booker prize-winning author A. S. Byatt was accused yesterdayopens in new window of dumping "a goblet of bile" on JK Rowling by insisting that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was lacking the skill of the great children's writers. Expectedly, backlash has begunopens in new window:

Byatt's argument is just what you'd expect from someone shouldering the mantle of high culture. To show that she's not a total killjoy, Byatt allows that Rowling's books are entertaining and reveal "a sure instinct for childish psychology." To answer the bigger question of what explains the series' huge success with adults as well as children (uh, because J.K. Rowling is a master of narrative?), Byatt decides that the books represent "comfort" for their readers, embodying Freud's notion of "family romance" (finding the surrogate family where we are appreciated for ourselves) and the chance to regress to a safe world where good and evil are readily identifiable and we feel that we are given control over the unpredictable.

From the BBCopens in new window:

Byatt has reportedly been called a snob after her editorial column appeared in the New York Times on Monday.

Of the latest Harry Potter book, she wrote: "It is written for people whose imaginative lives are confined to TV cartoons, and the exaggerated (more exciting, not threatening) mirror-worlds of soaps, reality TV and celebrity gossip."

Incidentally, if you look closely at the right side of The Telegraph's article, they link to HPANA!


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