Friend of this blog and author of Thought Prison: The Fundamental Nature of Political Correctness, Bruce Charlton, has written perhaps the most damning critique of Ms. Rowling’s self-importance and agenda as a writer since Orson Scott Card let her have it with both barrels over the Copyright law suit years ago. Mr. Charlton thinks we need to have a ‘Emperor Wearing No Clothes’ moment in the wake of Casual Vacancy’s transparent screed against everyone not celebrating Redistribution of Wealth. You can read it in a piece he’s titled ‘Case study of Leftist resentment, moral inversion and the corrosion of character: J.K Rowling.’
Mr. Charlton errs on the side of the right, perhaps, in his hyperbole but it seems like a small breeze of fresh air and something of a counter balance from the excess Jo adoration we are accustomed to from the political left (can you say ‘Harry Potter Alliance‘? I can). Reading Ms. Rowling’s recent ‘By the Book’ interview in the New York Times , you’d have to be numb not to be struck by the author’s pretense and desire to be admired and respected by the cognoscenti. As a UK correspondent of no little reading penetration and literary accomplishment wrote me, “Reading the article made me feel dumb. And boring. And provincial, in the worst sense. Oh yes, and unsophisticated, too.”
This is a shame. As we’ve noted here many times over the years, Ms. Rowling’s charitable efforts and personal restraint in the Public Square have been remarkable and laudable given her unprecedented celebrity and the speed she traveled to it from total obscurity. Her behavior has seemed wonderfully unnatural in her remaining balanced and not as pre-occupied with herself in public as fame encourages, even demands. It seems of late she is sadly human after all and, if Mr. Charlton is correct, her fame and wealth and power have left their mark.
Ms. Rowling was relatively subtle politically through her Potter Period, if her resentment and agenda was never very far from the surface of the story. She told Charlie Rose that the voice she misses writing is Dumbledore’s and I’m afraid I’m obliged to admit I miss him, too. The balance, the charity, and the humility of the Headmaster are qualities missing from the voice in Ms. Rowling’s latest book, her recent interviews, and her public posture.
I’m not sure if Mr. Charlton’s charges will be able to act as a counter-spell for Ms. Rowling’s condition; forgive me for suspecting she is immunized to correction from any quarter. I’d like to think, though, that his anti PC message might bring a little sobriety (via the cold water in the face treatment?) to those of us who think Ms. Rowling’s artistry and accomplishment in the Hogwarts Saga must mean she gets a Free Pass for her pedestrian, tired, and self-righteous liberalism. Let us hope that she does not become the cartoon of the Left herself that she has made of the cartoon conservatives, the Mollisons and Dursleys, in her fiction.
Your comments and corrections this week of the Presidential election are coveted, as always.
UPDATE: Comments to this thread have been closed with Mr. Charlton having the ‘last word.’