Snobbery within the arts is nothing new. Providing that you are in the right clique you could publish a novel full of your drunken rants and critics would delight in how marvellous and left field it is. If you are outside that precious little circle then it is open season on any works that are considered inferior, thrashy, or silly pulp fiction nonsense.
When J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter became a phenomena with children all over the world, some the critics couldn’t help but sneer not just at Rowling’s writing ability about the stories themselves. It was perceived by some critics as third-rate writing who couldn’t believe that adults never mind children enjoyed the magical world of Harry Potter.
Now if Rowling had declared herself to be the next big thing since Tolkien and that Harry Potter was the greatest piece of art then some of the criticism would be fair. The fact of the matter is that Rowling has never professed herself to be a genius. As most writers will tell you is for people to enjoy the stories as much as you enjoy writing and creating them. From the interviews I assume that Rowling is satisfied so long as her fans enjoyed the exploits of Harry Potter.
A good work of fiction doesn’t necessarily have to be testing or require the works of the Odyssey to understand the plot. The art is to tell a good story that grabs hold of the reader and takes you deep into the pages of the world it is portraying. This whether the critics like it or not is what Rowling excels at and is one of the reasons why Harry Potter is so popular.
It is that excitement of discovering a new world where you can be yourself. A place of magic that temporally takes you away from what is happening outside. These are characters that they can relate to as Harry and his friends develop to young adults. What Rowling does and does well is create a well written story that the reader can easily become enthralled and feel an emotional connection to the characters. There is a undeniably a feel good factor that good will always overcome evil.
You would think that any books that encourage children to read and enjoy the world that literature can bring is a good thing. However there are people who frown at Harry Potter and even some that are aghast that their children not only devour them but are big fans. Some will argue that they are badly written, juvenile, and that there are better works of fiction that should be read.
That though is just snobbery. Reading is about enjoyment. It is about discovering and moving on to other works that you want to try or sends a tremor of excitement when you read the blurb on the sleeve. Reading should be fun and down to the individual to decide what they want to read.
Of course you don’t necessarily have to like the books your children or even your partner enjoy. Sometimes that can be the fun part of having a proper debate about the stories. What is not acceptable is deriding the book simply because it is either J.K. Rowling or Harry Potter. To just dismiss it as childish nonsense and to tell them to read something proper like Charles Dickens Bleak House
Books lead to other stories and how many children have discovered the likes of C.S. Lewis the tales of Narnia or even Roald Dahl through Harry Potter? Influences that are quite evident within the Harry Potter world.
Is everything a bit too black and white in Harry Potter? Maybe. Are some of the characters such as the Dursley’s too much of a caricature? Possibly. Besides the strong themes of friendship, love, loyalty, even coping with the death of a loved one are all topics that are covered quite well in Harry Potter.
The main thing is that the Harry Potter stories are enjoyable page turners. You can feel the joy, excitement, the injustice, and the danger within the pages of Rowling’s novels.
That for me as a writer is a success. To hit that connection with the audience has to be the overall aim. You want the reader to feel that they know the character and care about their journey. You want them to feel part of that world and delight in it.
JK Rowling whether critics like it or not has made her mark in the literary world. Harry Potter like Bilbo Baggins or Aslam the lion are very much well-loved and known literary characters.
It is high time that some critics stop being a snob and mocking books that doesn’t fit into their criteria of literature. After all we all need a bit of escapism and books are about entertainment and enjoyment. Besides anything that encourages children to read has to be a good thing. Rowling certainly knows how to write a good book and for that at least should be given praise for that.