On Critical Reception of Harry Potter and Twilight: “It’s Deja Vu All Over Again” (Part 1: Genre)

Yogi Berra, inspired American living koan, is supposed to have said (when Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were hitting back to back home runs repeatedly for the New York Yankees) “this is like deja vu all over again.” I’m no yogi but I confess to understanding what the home plate pundit was thinking. The dismissals of, objections to, and superficial readings of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga are remarkably reminiscent of the critical reception to Joanne Rowling’s Harry Potter novels and persistent beliefs about the Hogwarts adventures. To my surprise, quite a few serious readers of Ms. Rowling’s work are playing the part of Harold Bloom and Michael O’Brien in the update to the Potter wars of years past.

I have read and enjoyed all four and a half of the Twilght books. In that accomplishment and enjoyment I am hardly unique; when I checked several weeks ago, the four books in print held four of the top five slots at Amazon.com and on the New York Times Best Sellers list. But in asserting that the books have literary value and that their popularity is perfectly understandable (without insulting those who love the books by saying they’re morons, have no taste, or belong exclusively to the category of ‘pubescent girls’), I find myself standing alone as literate friends move to the other side of the room rolling their eyeballs and shaking their heads.

I’ve had this experience before, and, like Prof. Berra, I’m startled to be “feeling deja vu all over again.”

Ms. Meyer’s and Ms. Rowling’s debut series have two obvious things in common: they are both wildly popular and they both have been dismissed, as James Thomas said of Potter critics in academia, for being “too current, too popular, and too juvenile.” There’s little to add about how well each of these series is selling but a closer look at what turns critics and culture warriors off about Bella Swann and Harry Potter reveals an ironic twist or two. In this first in a series of posts this week, I want to look at genre and the role it plays in critical acceptance and dismissal.

Let’s start by noting that both Ms. Rowling and Ms. Meyer are perceived as hacks by critics that matter. Harold Bloom has not and is not likely ever to retract his famous verdict (rendered on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page) that Ms. Rowling’s Philosopher’s Stone was horribly cliche-ridden and, well, “slop.” Harry Potter cannot hold a candle to Wind in the Willows, etc. William Safire at the New York Times confirmed that opinion in the Paper of Record with his judgment that Ms. Rowling’s work was not worthy of “serious adult attention.” A. S. Byatt, also in the Times, similarly dismissed Ms. Rowling by attacking the maturity, taste, even the psychological integrity of Potter-philes.

Ms. Meyer to my knowledge has not yet reached the attention of these critics but she has culture watchdog-reviewers of her own. My favorite is Stephen King, both for what he says and because, of all writers, Mr. King had the gall to say it.

Here is what Lorrie Lynch of USA Today says he said:

When I flew up to Maine to talk to him in December, we got into a discussion of popular authors vs. the academic elite, a subject he has strong opinions about, and I asked him if his mainstream success over the past 35 years paved the way for the massive careers of Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling and Twilight author Stephenie Meyer. …

King, whose Stephen King Goes to the Movies collection came out last week, doesn’t know how much of an influence he had on Meyer, but he does know that Rowling read his stuff when she was younger. … “Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people. … The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.

But then King recalls that when his mom was alive, she read all the Erle Stanley Gardner books, the Perry Mason mysteries, obsessively when he was growing up. “He was a terrible writer, too, but he was very successful,” King says. … “People are attracted by the stories, by the pace and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it’s very clear that she’s writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books. It’s exciting and it’s thrilling and it’s not particularly threatening because they’re not overtly sexual. A lot of the physical side of it is conveyed in things like the vampire will touch her forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for girls, that’s a shorthand for all the feelings that they’re not ready to deal with yet.

This is remarkable, and, coming from Mr. King, borderline hilarious.

“Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.” Like Erle Stanley Gardner, she is a “terrible writer… but very successful.” Gotcha.

Here is Mr. King years ago responding to critics who dismissed him as a writer without talent and explaining to wanna-be writers how to gauge talent:

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.”

Here is Harold Bloom, though, on the talent, success, and literary merit of Stephen King:

THE DECISION to give the National Book Foundation’s annual award for “distinguished contribution” to Stephen King is extraordinary, another low in the shocking process of dumbing down our cultural life. I’ve described King in the past as a writer of penny dreadfuls, but perhaps even that is too kind. He shares nothing with Edgar Allan Poe. What he is is an immensely inadequate writer on a sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph, book-by-book basis.

The publishing industry has stooped terribly low to bestow on King a lifetime award that has previously gone to the novelists Saul Bellow and Philip Roth and to playwright Arthur Miller. By awarding it to King they recognize nothing but the commercial value of his books, which sell in the millions but do little more for humanity than keep the publishing world afloat.

If this is going to be the criterion in the future, then perhaps next year the committee should give its award for distinguished contribution to Danielle Steel, and surely the Nobel Prize for literature should go to J.K. Rowling.

Prof. Bloom reserves his harshest criticism of Mr. King by affirming what King said about Joanne Rowling:

But when I wrote that [Ms. Rowling was a cliched writer] in a newspaper, I was denounced. I was told that children would now read only J.K. Rowling, and I was asked whether that wasn’t, after all, better than reading nothing at all? If Rowling was what it took to make them pick up a book, wasn’t that a good thing?

It is not. “Harry Potter” will not lead our children on to Kipling’s “Just So Stories” or his “Jungle Book.” It will not lead them to Thurber’s “Thirteen Clocks” or Kenneth Grahame’s “Wind in the Willows” or Lewis Carroll’s “Alice.”

Later I read a lavish, loving review of Harry Potter by the same Stephen King. He wrote something to the effect of, “If these kids are reading Harry Potter at 11 or 12, then when they get older they will go on to read Stephen King.” And he was quite right. He was not being ironic. When you read “Harry Potter” you are, in fact, trained to read Stephen King.

I know very little about Stephen King beyond that he is famous for writing horror fiction and that he thinks enough of himself as a writer to see himself as an important influence on Ms. Rowling’s formation as a writer (something she has never mentioned herself) and his body of writing as the proper destination for which Harry Potter is excellent preparation. Success is sufficient testimony of talent for men like himself when attacked by academic elites but Ms. Meyer’s success requires a qualifying note about her supposed audience. Ms. Meyer’s popularity, explains the Lord of Tabloid Horror, is essentially all about her crafting acceptable soft porn for the niche market of tweenie girls wanting to explore their incipient sexuality “safely.”

Really, there is a lot to laugh about in Mr. King’s donning the hat of the cultured don. I enjoy his saying in On Writing that stories shouldn’t be planned and plotted but should grow organically from the seed of a creative idea. Ms. Rowling, of course, Mr. King’s “terrific writer,” is an obsessive planner, while Ms. Meyer, inspired by a dream and writing at a furious pace to story’s end, “can’t write worth a darn.”

The funniest thing, though, and the chief irony of Mr. King running down Ms. Meyer is that the reason he is shown so little respect by men like Prof. Bloom is the same reason that Ms. Rowling and Ms. Meyer are not regarded as “serious writers” or “worthy of adult attention.” As a writer of science fiction and horror stories that grew up reading and got his start writing magazine pulp fiction (and who is more current and popular than Lovecraft), he is the Rodney Dangerfield of his class. His consequent insecurities about his abilities as a writer reflect not only in his long charade as “Richard Bachman” but in his offering himself as a maven that will now decide which writers are good and which are bad. Fearing judgment, he turns the gospel imperative upside down and judges.

Ms. Rowling was similarly dismissed because the core genre of the Hogwarts Adventures genre melange is schoolboy fiction a la Hughes’ Tom Brown’s Schooldays. Yale’s Harold Bloom, for example, (yes, him again) sees Tom Brown’s Schooldays as Rowling’s “ultimate model,” albeit Tom Brown “reseen… in the magical mirror of Tolkien.” Stephen King, a fan, also sees Tom Brown and Rugby at Hogwarts: “The Harry Potter series is a supernatural version of Tom Brown’s Schooldays, updated and given a hip this-is-how-kids-really-are shine.”

Anthony Holden, a despiser, asks, “Why, in the weariest tradition of English children’s literature from Tom Brown’s Schooldays on, did she have to send Harry to a neo-Dotheboys Hall, complete with such arcane rituals as weirdly named hierarchies and home grown sports with incomprehensible rules?” Citing the anti-hero of Charles Hamilton’s Greyfriars boarding school books, Holden describes Potter as ”a tedious, clunkily written version of Billy Bunter on broomsticks.”

Harry Potter couldn’t be good reading because it was a new entry in a tired genre for hacks like Enid Blyton and Angela Brazil, formula writers who wrote Victorian morality tales for the near illiterate.

And Stephenie Meyer? She begins even further down the poll of literary prestige in her having selected Harlequin Romance as her core genre. Like Ms. Rowling, the double-coding of literary categories in the Twilight Saga is many more than two coats thick with heavy layers of neo-gothic, postmodern morality tale, and manners-and-morals fiction a la Austen — not to mention the X-Men mutant good-guy team super hero comic books — but the first impression and the one critics walk away with is the sort of romance novel that is sold to housewives and young women in grocery stores. (For more on ‘double coding’ and ‘genre blending,’ see the Postmodernism chapters of Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader.)

Ms. Meyer is aware enough of genre blending that she parodies bodice-ripper fiction as often as not, but, in choosing this category of books and largely conforming to its conventions, she cannot be hopeful of ever achieving critical acceptance. Prof. Alan Jacobs of Wheaton in his patronizing anointing of Ms. Rowling as the Queen of Penny Dreadfuls suggests Ms. Meyer’s fate. I suspect she is, at best, destined for endless critical condescension because good writers, really good writers, don’t write romance trash. (Just like they don’t write science fiction and horror….)

To be continued.


  1. Literature written by women, and children’s literature as a genre, has always been dissed. Even my senior thesis advisor twenty years ago (in the Economics department), who was a visiting scholar from England, sneered at me for taking a course on Jane Austen, saying that she just wrote British humor, nothing special. The wonderful thing about Rowling’s series is that she is writing for many levels in a very accessible, absorbing way, subtly introducing children and adults to great ideas mulched from all the works she has read, symbolism, and literary alchemy without children even realizing they’re being educated. It’s like a commercial for canned spaghetti I saw tonight: “a full serving of vegetables in every bowl, but shhhh, don’t tell them.” The ability to manage pacing and interest to excite children and keep them engaged is important. When a story bogs down, children will lose interest (says the person who as a young teenager stopped reading Two Towers in the middle and never finished the series). Another great aspect of the Potter series from the point of view of children’s lit is her extensive use of new or challenging vocabulary. As an adult I hadn’t picked up on it until I looked through the Harry Potter Dictionary I bought for my daughter and saw the many pages of great words. This is how children learn vocabulary (and eventually do well on their SAT’s).

    As for Philip Roth, I absolutely HATED Call It Sleep. I read it as a teenager and I now remember nothing from the story (if you could call it that), only that I really really didn’t like it.

  2. Nice try, John, but I’m not taking the bait. Nary a word will you hear from me on Ms. Meyer again. 😉

  3. Okay, I can’t resist just one comment but it’s not technically about Ms. Meyer but about her critics.

    Perhaps it is fair to say that many academic or high brow critics are rejecting her work because it is lumped into the romance category. Or comes too close to sci fi & fantasy.

    But I would just caution against lumping every critic of Meyer into that category. Especially criticism from readers as opposed to professional critics or academicians. Because it would be unfair & inaccurate to do so.

    I know several inveterate readers of science fiction & fantasy, myself included, who were not impressed by Ms. Meyer’s work. And while I don’t necessarily read romance as a habit of course, I will read a romance novel if I’m interested enough in the story & characters. Plus, my wife, who is a voracious reader of paranormal romance of all kinds & by all sorts of authors, has evinced no desire to read Ms. Meyer’s work & that says something to me.

    So, while I think you’re right, John, in your assessment of many critics of Ms. Meyer, who are rejecting her work out of hand because of its perceived genre just as they did to Ms. Rowling, I still think you’re painting with too broad a brush at times and not taking seriously the response from readers of those genres. So, that would just be my concern & caution, & I hope you would think them valid ones.

    No matter what, though, I still love you & your voluminous work. 🙂

  4. Thank you, RevGeorge, for daring to enter this conversation! I am grateful for the proof that you have forgiven my previous failings in civility on this subject.

    That said, I can agree with your point, albeit with one reservation. Pillorying dismissive and demeaning criticism of Ms. Meyer’s novels does not mean, as you point out, that the books have no failings or that everyone is obliged to like them. I look forward to sharing someday in a different venue why I think the cross between Sue and Reed Richards’s family life, a Bronte gothic romance (or two), an X-Men battle with Alpha Flight, and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream that we got in the conclusion of the Twilight Saga is the literary equivalent of avocado ice cream and oreo pizza, i.e., an interesting idea but a real stretch.

    Before I get there, though, I’m obliged to explain the many important ways these books do work and what the tower mavens neglect in their patronizing dismissal of Ms. Meyer as a writer. The question of Twilight-mania, as it was with Potter-mania, is “why do so many people like these stories so much?” The woman is obviously doing something right that connects and resonates with readers. I hope to begin answering that question in the context of our shared Potter experience (this isn’t a Twilight blog, after all) tomorrow and Thursday. Stay tuned!

  5. OK, John, I’ll wait to see where you are going with this one. But for now, all I really need to say, is ditto what revgeorge said.

    Oh, and the idea of avacado ice cream or oreo pizza might be interesting, but, to me, not at all appealing. And that’s my reaction to everything that I read about Twilight. If a book doesn’t appeal to me, then I won’t read it, whether it is well written or not. When it comes down to it, vampires just aren’t something I want to read about – I started to read Dracula and still haven’t finished it. I read some romance novels a very long time ago, and decided I just had better things to do with my time. Since Twilight sounds like a combination of both, I just have to conclude that there are so many books out there that I’d rather spend time reading.


  6. Believe me, Pat, I’m not trying to recruit readers for the Twilight Saga any more than I have ever beat the drum or made altar calls for Harry. The two authors seem to have done their jobs sufficiently well that my job has only been to try and explain what each did that worked as spectacularly as it has.

    How many people have I met that have told me they don’t like fantasy, kids books, or school stories so they never could get into Harry? Plenty. There are a lot more, I’m finding out, that don’t like Harlequin Romance or vampire stories who I know will never be able to get past that to enjoy Meyer’s books (though, Twilight has vampires in it only as a pointed deconstruction of the vampire mythos/metanarrative; we’re light years from Bram Stoker here and much closer to Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Marvel Girl). I understand that.

    The de gustibus out clause, however, is unfortunate because, like the boy who doesn’t like root vegetables or beans and misses out on a wonderful world of gustatory delights, readers balking at Twilight are missing something. Meyer really has a lot of fun with Bronte novel Byronic heroes and with young adult fiction in what is essentially her remarkable re-telling of the Adam and Eve story from Genesis. By never picking them up, you won’t get to enjoy her sense of humor or the allegorical elements of her stories or the delights of seeing how she works her re-takes of Romeo & Juliet, Wuthering Heights, and Pride & Prejudice into the Forks Adventures.

    But, as you said, you cannot argue with genre preferences. I hope this decision to ‘just say no’ to Ms. Meyer means you’re reading The Brothers Karamazov or Artemis Fowl!

  7. reneegladine says

    I’m looking forward to hearing your comments on the last book in the series–avocado ice cream and Oreo pizza, indeed. And guzzled down at breakneck speed, too!

    After finishing ‘Breaking Dawn,’ I was increasingly unsatisfied with where Meyer took that book. When I found out that she had essentially written it as a sequel to ‘Twilight’ before her publishing company asked her to return to Forks and fill in Bella’s remaining time in HS, I realized what one problem was–Meyer, of course, reworked ‘Breaking Dawn’ to take into account the plot developments in Books 2 and 3, but the character development and themes still proceed from Book 1.

    ‘New Moon’ and ‘Eclipse’ are darker, more complex thematically, and Edward and Bella are no longer the same characters after all the trials they went through in those books. If you just take the first three books, they are heading somewhere much darker, richer, and ultimately more sacrificial than ‘Breaking Dawn’ ever dares to go…It could have been such a beautiful finish to the subtext you mentioned previously about the love between the believer and the divine.

  8. Ok, I had see what the all of the fuss has been about here and at the hogshead, so I got Twilight today and have listened up threw chapter 8. I know I tried reading the book before, and it didn’t happen, but I’m chalking that up to a function of time (or lack there of) instead of interest. I’m actually enjoying the story more than I thought I would, I don’t know if it’s because of the story or that the two sites patrons have brought my expectations down to such a level that they can only go up. 🙂

    To the post at hand. I have never understood why certain genres are demeaned. When I got married, my wife needed high speed internet for work so we got internet/cable. I wanted the SciFi channel (required an extra package/service) since at the time I only watched three TV shows all on one night on that channel. My wife and her friends made fun of me to no end until I finally told my wife (who was the ring leader of the group) to stop. My other anecdote involves my father since we own our family’s farming business together. Last November after I got all of my work that I scheduled to get done that day, I went to tell my dad I was leaving. His response was, “Oh, I forgot you had THAT conference today (allow for generous sarcasm).” I don’t know if he thinks down on my appreciation for Harry Potter as fantasy or children’s books.

    I just wonder what genre of literature is good to the Harold Blooms of the world since they don’t seem to like anything. I know it’s a blanket statement that isn’t true, but I don’t understand. Maybe, I’ll try to look it up and see if I can add anything to tomorrow’s discussion since Bloom will be returning according to John.

  9. Perhaps one of the reasons I love these books is that I’m not a genre reader. I loved the genre blending in Potter, too. Though I’ve read and enjoyed books from many genres, no single genre has appealed to me with any real consistency.

    I don’t really read harlequins at all, so it’s hard for me to compare against that lot. Likewise, I just don’t often pick up the pastel-covered girly paperbacks that line department-store bookshelves. I did read a lot of Christian romances in my teens; looking back, none that I can recall came anywhere near matching the artistry of Twilight. Nowadays, I really only bother with romances if there appears to be more to them than romantic emotion, and I found more than that in Twilight; the story spoke to me on multiple levels. I’ve read all four of the books three times and have seen more to interest me every time.

    So many highly intelligent people, all of whom I greatly respect, have commented so negatively about Meyer’s writing that I have to question at least parts of my own assessment; still, I saw weaknesses in the writing, but not serious or consistent failure. Meyer kept me interested and engaged in all but a couple of parts, and by the third read I even liked those. 🙂 The length of the books seemed wonderful to me, not merely because they were long—a lot of very dull books are long—but because they were both long and fascinating. Meyer writes suspense quite well, in my opinion at least; it surprises me that King overlooked this.

    I liked her descriptions, her characters, the flow of her English. There were passages in the later books, especially, that I thought quite powerful; Bella has a dream in New Moon, after Edward leaves her, that is an incredible picture of the agnostic loss of faith—something I once experienced—and the imagery greatly moved me.

    I also agree with Lily Luna that work by women, especially for women, tends to be dismissed outright—though I would never suspect that from Travis Prinzi or Dr. Sturgis or Revgeorge or the others who have criticized here and at the Hog’s Head. Whether that might play into the Stephen King question, I couldn’t begin to say. Stephen King’s comments on Meyer sounded to me much like Orson Scott Card’s rather caustic and dismissive comments on Rowling last year. I have never read King’s work (am not a horror fan), but Orson Scott Card, at least, is a brilliant writer who yet managed to miss the value in Rowling’s work.

    Oh, and it is actually possible to get avocado ice cream in Bellingham, WA, if you show up at Mallard’s on the right day. I think the standard flavors are still preferred, however. 😀

    I’m looking forward to the rest of your series, John, and to everyone’s comments as well. I wasn’t going to take my laptop with me for the next week in Florida … but now I’m awfully tempted.

  10. Arabella Figg says

    I think you’re not being quite fair to King, John, in your take on this: “King…doesn’t know how much of an influence he had on Meyer, but he does know that Rowling read his stuff when she was younger.…”

    King doesn’t say he was a big influence. He simply *appears* to speculate he *may* have been an influence on Meyer and that Rowling read his work. These were the reporter’s words, and reporters must condense long conversations to fit limited word counts; sometimes nuance can be lost or there can be an unmeant intimation. Having done interview feature stories, I know how this can happen. So I think we need to be careful about “reading” King’s mind, when we don’t know his exact words.

    I read King’s columns in Entertainment Weekly and he never claims to be more than a mainstream pop culture pundit/junkie; he’s not a snobby Culture Pundit such as Bloom. I don’t feel King’s summation of Twilight’s popularity was harmful or insulting; I think there was some truth there and he simply stated his own point of view. I’m not a King fan—I often disagree with him. But, at least, unlike Harold Blooms, he invites disagreement and engagement.

    On previous Twilight posts, here and at the Hog’s Head, I took a reverse turn on Twilight–on the first read, I was boggled at(and distracted by) the amateurish writing style, with little character depth in narrator Bella, but the book was okay. But in my second read, I found much edifying merit in the book (even without understanding the deeper meanings John is bringing out). I still felt the same about Meyer’s writing and her annoyingly repetitious use of certain words such as “smirk.” Nevertheless, Meyer told a very good story that touched me in many ways. And Bella’s “old soul”/waxing enthusiasm over Edward’s charms made perfect sense. I was dismayed by criticism of the book from those who hadn’t read it, a la the previous dumping on Harry Potter.

    Midnight Sun was a revelation. I could see how much Meyer’s writing had improved. MS was also very compelling in story and character development, and I regret she’s not completing it. It’s clear Meyer has grown in skill throughout the Twilight sequels I haven’t read (just not into vampires, but who knows).

    There are few genres I don’t like–straight gory horror, bodice-ripper romance, noir, gothic, vampire (although, I read Dracula and enjoyed it); yet others enjoy them. Our bookshelves overflow with a diverse collection of fiction and nonfiction. Yet many of you might be disappointed by our shelves, with very few Greats there.

    As for bestsellers. Not all bestsellers are “Greats” and not all “greats” are bestsellers. Some are snack-food and some are meat. I plan on rereading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point about the roots of trends and fads, because there may be something applicable to Twilight and even Rowling (not that I limit their appeal to trends and fads…obviously).

    (Note: work by women–why was Zenna Henderson, a wonderful SF writer, not given the respect received by her male counterparts?)

  11. Correction to my earlier post: Philip Roth did not write Call It Sleep, which was written by Henry Roth. My bad.

    The following website displays Harold Bloom’s Western Canon list of books: http://www.interleaves.org/~rteeter/grtbloom.html
    How he can include the vile and sadistic Miss Lonelyhearts and the drunken Catcher in the Rye on his list, yet sneer at the Potter series, I don’t know. On the other hand, he doesn’t include Tolkein or C.S. Lewis either. Looking at his list it would seem that great works have to be set in the real world unless they’re ancient sagas (Beowulf).

  12. Arabella Figg says

    Lily Luna, perhaps Bloom prefers sordid teens picking pimples (Real World) over heroic self-sacrifice (pure fantasy)….

  13. juliababyjen says

    I loved the Twilight books. They weren’t nearly as good as Harry Potter, but there were still worth reading. And I think the reason I liked them so much was Meyer’s style of writing. It was captivating. She made me feel like I was Bella. I couldn’t put them down.

    I’m not surprised at the critics response, though. They just don’t have enough imagination to read Harry and Bella I guess….

  14. Arabella Figg – Gee, maybe we’d need Snape In the Rye, story of late-teen Snape, getting drunk on firewhisky at the Leaky Cauldron, stumbling across London bumping into people and feeling sorry for himself, then feeding the ducks in Kensington Gardens (or something like that; it’s been over 25 years since I read Catcher)!

  15. Arabella Figg says

    Lily Luna, my first thought was “don’t forget the green-eyed prostitute.”

    Then I went to Wikipedia to read a plot summary of Catcher in the Rye. A lot of resonance there. One really could do a young disaffected Snape in the Rye, including his going to the Ministry and contemplating the Wizarding statue. Weird!

  16. Arabella Figg, I just went and read the Wikipedia summary, too. I hadn’t realized how much I’d forgotten of the story. It was assigned reading in eighth grade and reading the plot summary, I have to admit I ought to go back and reread it as an adult.

  17. Arabella Figg says

    I also read Catcher in my teens and thought it revolting. Several years ago, thinking I’d read it too young, I felt I should give such a referential work another go, and just couldn’t hack it. So good luck from Arabella. (I really liked Paul’s Story by Willa Cather, though, and might reread that.)

  18. Hi, long-time lurker, first-time poster here. I’m really fascinated by this discussion, though I don’t have much to add because I haven’t yet read the Twilight Quartet.

    I just wanted to chime in on Library Lily’s comment that “Orson Scott Card, at least, is a brilliant writer who yet managed to miss the value in Rowling’s work.” I’m a big fan of his, and, barring last year’s tirade on the Lexicon suit and Rowling’s “outting” of Dumbledore, he has often praised the series:


    Additionally, while I thought his article last year on Rowling was far harsher than the situation warranted, I think he was being facetious when he accused Rowling of ripping off Ender’s Game. He seemed to be trying to prove that Rowling’s claim to copyright infringement in the Lexicon case was ludicrous by raising what he thought to be an equally ludicrous claim.

  19. Right you are, Mytharic! I hadn’t read Card’s article in a long time and should have re-checked it before speaking of it, as I had not correctly remembered the thrust of it. 🙂

  20. daviesra6a says

    The Harry Potter series is The Famous Five meets Mallory Towers with a hint of Catcher in the Rye on Speed. A brilliantly written children’s series by a superbly talented authoress. Anyone who claims that the narrative transcends age boundaries is reading too much into the text. Harry Potter is contemporary, modern and engaging with a generation of an audience who had never fallen in love with reading. Rowling should be applauded simply for this. Any argument that it is not a ‘classic’ should be ignored in my opinion. To accept it as part of this country’s heritage is not to ignore what came before but to accept it as a continuation of this country’s great culture.
    These are just some of my views, I would appreciate any comments if people are still posting on this thread. Thanks a lot!

  21. A quick comment to daviesra6a: When you say that “Harry Potter is contemporary, modern and engaging with a generation of an audience who had never fallen in love with reading”, I disagree. It is all that you say, but it dos transcend age (and gender, and national) boundaries. I (44) enjoy it, my daughter (11) does, and so do my husband, son (7), niece (19) , nephews (between 12 and 16) and my mother-in-law (65). All the females mentioned have been avid readers since their elementary years, and two of them are or have been English Literature students. And lest you say, this is a potterite family, I suggest you read the polls (or, indeed, more on this site!)

  22. Twilight is simply the best movie and i am so much addicted to it. Kirsten Stewart is very pretty and Robery Pattinson is so handsome!!!

  23. That’s really too bad for the critics, for they will become irrelevant. If they think that they can bash wonderful books and regain dignity and respect, they are kidding themselves. They will end in a club like “literary loonies who the masses can’t understand”.
    BTW, great article.

  24. Ruth Stephanie says

    There is no room for comparison if you are going to put quality next to trash. All Twilight is, is an unnatural clumsy Bella liking a sparkly boy who wants to eat her, and an Edward who likes Bella, basing his feelings on the fact that he can’t read her mind…Yeah great story. Their being together or not, doesn’t really concern me. If they ended up having a bad break up, boohoo, I’ll welcome them to the normal world. Since they stayed together forever, well good for them, now we can finally move on. I learned absolutely nothing new about life through the infamous Twilight series. If anything changed, it was the size of my brain, actually, I think it died when I read them.

    Although I must admit, I was a fan when I began reading. Except, it wasn’t popular back then, when I was reading the book in 2006, no one even knew what it was. But then of course, they stuck a face to the fictional character, and everyone was stunned. That’s when it turned annoying. Thank goodness I had the realization that Twilight, wasn’t exactly that, how do you put it? Good, as everyone made it out to be. You just have to make a literary analysis.

    What’s worse is that it let people think that it is good writing, and now, all of a sudden, there are poorly written vampire stories, everywhere, it’s like the Nazi Invasion. Twilight is now the unfortunate permission to let trash be published. It’s heart breaking. If you really want a profound vampire tale, go to Anne Rice, at least it’s not written to appeal only ‘tween girls’. (God, I hate the word ‘tween’)

    Well, have a nice day

  25. Kids, read Borges and discover what good literature is !

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