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Customer Discussions > The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Has anyone who read JK Rowling ever read classic literature?


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Showing 26-50 of 128 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 28 Feb 2008 14:25:19 GMT
Yes - we do.

The Harry Potter series may not be the most intellectual (whatever that is) or Rowling the most technically proficient of authors, but I do think she is more than capable of coming up with a story and setting so full of detail that readers want to know what happens next and care enough for the characters to want to know what happens to them. She has made it cool to read for a whole generation of children - therefore I salute her. My 11 year old has read the series and is currently reading Pride and Prejudice: Perhaps she is to be pitied and laughed at too. Reading is not as simple as wanting to play the latest Nintendo game. Children are just not that gullible when it comes to book choice and I doubt very much that tens of millions of them are wrong. I have read the whole series of `Potter' books and am widely read in the classics. I dare say I will read them all again, as I tend to do when I enjoy books, and continue to be able to read and appreciate the classics. If you do not like an author, band or programme then do not read, listen or watch. An attitude so blinkered and narrow, and so dismissive of something on the grounds you do not like it, truly is pitiable and laughable. To belittle anyone reading something you do not personally approve shows, quite frankly, a rather immature and, I would go so far as to say, nasty outlook on life. Perhaps we should write off Shakespeare given the rumours that he gleaned rather a lot from his contemporaries in his great works. No of course I am not putting Rowling in the same bracket as Shakespeare - I feel confident she would laugh her head off if I did. As to not deserving her money - that smacks of jealousy more than anything else.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Feb 2008 21:04:41 GMT
Amie says:
I have a younger sister who is 14, same age as the original poster. She reads a whole variety of books: Pride and Prejudice, Oliver Twist, Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, along with Watership Down, as well as books like Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, Girl, 15 and books like that, plus Harry Potter. She's always received high grades in English and has an excellent vocabulary. She enjoys all different styles of books, and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, I'd say it's more productive and educational to read a range of styles, instead of staying with one particular type.
I enjoy the Harry Potter books too, and lots of other stuff, though I don't read the classics. I've tried, but I just don't enjoy that style. But I wouldn't insult the people who do enjoy classic literature, because everyone likes different things.
As to Terry Pratchett, I personally don't enjoy his books that much. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate that others do, or that he's a good writer.
As some people have said here already, JK Rowling's fame is not just for her books but for helping children read more and her work for charity. As to her having little imagination, if she had none, she couldn't come up with any story, bestselling or not.
You really should try to be more openminded, both in accepting people with views different to your own and in your own reading habits - the classics aren't the only books worth reading.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Feb 2008 22:23:16 GMT
The Other says:
Actually filch refers to theft, to correct your first error. And of course we could all go and read Dracula....a novel that shot a relatively unknown writer to success overnight, based in myth and folklore...Ohhang on, is that not what you accuse Rowling of? Incidentally Stokers later work's were no where near as memorable. He is essentially a one-hit wonder. Whereas Rowlings work improved as she went on, and as she rose to the challenge of writing for her adult audience as well as her child ones. Oh andhey, the books grew up with them as they went on, and provided a series that will probably sit happily next to tolkien in the years to come. (Actually Harry Potter is a damn sight easier to read. And not in a small words way.) Especially once she does the rewrites on the early novels that she spoke about. Oh...and the put-outer? that was in the first, child only intended novel. The same device, or at least a later model, turns up as the much more 'long worded' 'Deluminator' later on.
Oh and I would recommend Pratchett too, but he is quite a different percolator of fish.
Incidentally, I presume you refer to Mary Shelley in your list? given the other names you mention are largely found in the penguin classics section. She wrote one book. One. Incidentally most 'classics' are merely so-called, because they have the benefit of around a century to develop a reputation. That and the fact the are now copyright free, and the whole cover price can go straight in the publishers ermine lined pocket of course. But this isn't about putting down 'classics' but about correcting your attack. Dickens was paid by the word. And it shows. Any of the authors you are mentioning have their good points.....none of them are actually as well written, with as well developed or imagined characters as Rowling's.
In short, have you read the classics? and have you read the Harry Potters? I do not get the impression that you have. I fear you may be merely reacting against books that have a massive wave of popularity. And that's something I can understand. I couldn't get to grips with the Harry's from the first novel. Because I was an adult reader. But I could once I read Goblet of Fire first and then backtracked to fill in the back story. But then, Goblet was when they started being for adults as well as children.
On a separate but related note....the Harry Potter books have made sure we have more literate and more imaginative children. Something that was sorely in decline for the last ten or fifteen years.

Oh...and if J K Rowling was lacking 'an intelligent mind' in order to use words such as demented, then she surely would not have bothered with 'Dementors' nor certainly bothered with little historical accuracies like Nicholas Flamel, or indeed any of the other accurate and obscure mentions that turn up throughout the novels.

You need to read them properly, and make informed arguments, rather than 'demented' attacks, that display a lack of any attempt to be 'skilful'. (which, even in a world of spellcheckers, you misspelt)

Now if I could just just resurrect and write licensed spin-offs with Remus and Nymphadora, I'd be a happy fellow.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Feb 2008 22:25:54 GMT
The Other says:
Hey, I like Pratchett as much as the next guy with far too many books with orangutans in them, but I don' think Terry begrudges rowlings success....and Pratchett's discworld isn't aimed at teens,though like you I read them at a very young age. Harry Potter is...the are two very different sets of books. Entirely different.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Feb 2008 22:32:08 GMT
The Other says:
I really wish you hadn't put the 'especially boys' in there Mrs.Mullin, sci-fi andfantasy, which Potter definitely is, used to be considered a boys genre. We finally get it all gender balanced, and now i have to worry about the age old 'boys develop slower than girls' stereotype? ;) Until Harry, girls read problem pages and song lyrics, and boys read the sports pages and manuals. Harry Potter changed all that for the better. The whole 'development' and 'boys don't like to read' thing....is a terrible myth that needs exploding, and I think you are the kind of person who could probably explode it if you chose. :) (I reckon the development statement was a biological fact that sideslipped into one regarding intelligence at somepoint...no one bothered to heck the reality.)

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Feb 2008 13:06:48 GMT
C. Relf says:
I don't understand the way people like to compare books in this manner - segregating them into Classics and Non Classics. A book should be taken in its own right and enjoyed in its own right; whether a person enjoys that book or not is should bare no significance to anyone else's view. I have a degree in English Literature and had to read a fair few books as part of my course, the classics and modern, good, bad, long and short. People made their own judgements about the books we studied - for example Bleak House by Charles Dickens - personally I disliked it and in the end actually listened to the tapes (a travesty, I know) as getting through it felt like it was taking an eternity. But others loved it. But then I loved and appreciated other books that people didn't.

I don't think you can discount JK Rowling because she has written a series of books about a young wizard. And I think the response she has got from these books proves that people enjoy the way she writes and the stories she is presenting. It is evident she has struck gold (literally!).

What I don't agree with is when people immediately disregard something as bad literature based on the fact it appeals to the `masses'. That is not the point of enjoying books. People who have a love of reading and enjoy literature are willing to read anything and everything...the phrase `never judge a book by its cover' springs to mind. As you are only 14 I am sure in time you will realise there is more to literature than reading what you are told is 'classic'.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Feb 2008 22:28:23 GMT
Mikeyb_uk says:
Here's a short thought that won't take much of anyone's time to the author of this post.
Grow up. It's a series of books for children and therefore cannot be compared to the classical writer of by-gone years.

Shes the most financially successful author in human history and I can't believe that someone would discredit her achievement just so they can make some blatantly vindictive and bigoted comments regarding something that they probably wouldn't be able to create themselves.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Mar 2008 17:36:48 GMT
Peretz34 says:
Perhaps when A Townsend is a little older, s/he will a.) learn to spell 'Skilful' and b.) feel rather ashamed and embarrassed by his/her adolescent snobbery and pomposity. Being a writer myself, as well as a former high school English teacher, I have no hesitation in expressing my admiration for J K Rowling. To inspire an entire generation to read is quite an achievement, wouldn't you say? To create an allegorical tale that is planned and executed over seven extended volumes is also a fair accomplishment, wouldn't you agree?
Simply because you do not find the Potter books enjoyable does not mean that they are worthless. I am no friend of Thomas Hardy's prose and I loathe the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez lauded by many others, but I would not think of mocking their skill. Each to his own, and embrace our differences rather than deriding them!
Finally, can A Townsend honestly believe that if J K Rowling (or anyone else for that matter) wrote in the style of Dickens, Stoker or Austen today, that anyone would read it? Writing reflects the age it is written in and literature evolves accordingly. If all production of literature had ceased at the start of the 20th century, what extraordinary stories, relevant to their time, would we be without today?
Do get off your high horse and enjoy reading whatever you like.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Mar 2008 23:50:31 GMT
J. Park says:
My child is Harry Potter daft, even though she would now be thought of as "too old for all that". However, she reads voraciously, and barring Poe, Shelley and Everett, has read every other author you mentioned, and more. She is not stupid, she does not equate Rowlings literary style with the "all time greats", but she does think they are an extremely enjoyable read, and, that JK Rowling is much more in touch with the thoughts and feelings of this generation of children, than any of her detractors are. I come from a family of teachers who are all of the same mind, quite frankly, anything that gets children reading, is "a good thing". Children also need to develop their imagination, Rowling has encouraged this by the bucket-load. My daughter and her friends write fan fiction based on Harry Potter, sometimes it is a prequel, sometimes the next generation. Surely the average child, given Dickens to read, does not rush to grab a pen and start producing their own version?

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Mar 2008 00:06:19 GMT
J. Park says:
My child is Harry Potter daft, even though she would now be thought of as "too old for all that". However, she reads voraciously, and barring Poe, Shelley and Everett, has read every other author you mentioned, and more. She is not stupid, she does not equate Rowlings literary style with the "all time greats", but she does think they are an extremely enjoyable read, and, that JK Rowling is much more in touch with the thoughts and feelings of this generation of children, than any of her detractors are. I come from a family of teachers who are all of the same mind, quite frankly, anything that gets children reading, is "a good thing". Children also need to develop their imagination, Rowling has encouraged this by the bucket-load. My daughter and her friends write fan fiction based on Harry Potter, sometimes it is a prequel, sometimes the next generation. Surely the average child, given Dickens to read, does not rush to grab a pen and start producing their own version?

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Mar 2008 14:37:36 GMT
Last edited by the author on 2 Mar 2008 14:40:00 GMT
B. Erar says:
Hi, I'm one of those Harry Potter fans who love that pathetic writing you mentioned. I am also a Jane Austen fan. Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion are among my favorite books. I really love reading Dostoyevski too. Great Expectations is my favorite Dickens. etc. etc.
Anyway, I dont need to tell you whole my life story, do I?
Well now, I want to ask you a question too. Why do you read?
As I understand from your post, you are 14 (correct me if I'm wrong) and I would be really sorry for you, if you are reading those authors you've listed just to show off. But if you really enjoy reading, I would really be surprised by your statements. Of course everyone has diffirent tastes, but to belittle the work of someone else's is beyond that.
As to the claim of yours about the lack of intelligence and imagination in the books, I wonder what your definition of intelligence and imagination is. I suppose from your perspective, Tolkien would lack intelligence and imagination too since his creatures are from mythology too. I dont want to be disrespectful but, I think, to see the meaning behind Rowling's word tricks itself, requires intelligence and intellectual background.
So to make it clear, I just want to say that Harry Potter and,for example, works of Sartre are two different areas of literature. I personally read them for different reasons and with different feelings.
Speaking as your elder, I suggest you to change your perspective upon literature, because this way you will neither be able to fully understand it or benefit from it.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Mar 2008 15:27:43 GMT
K.W says:
(Hope I've posted this in the right place)

'`I always come back to Harry; because on a personnal level, Harry Potter is my childhood, my tweens, teens and now my life as a young adult. It's seen me through deaths and new schools, exams and university etc etc

When I was your age I was waiting on Order of the Pheonix. I've spent more than half my life waiting on Harry, growing up with Harry (cliche, yes...but true!) and thats exactly where the magic lies for me. It's for that reason and that reason alone I love the series and I will defend it because it's been such a constant thing in my life.'

Hear hear! I'm 17 and the exact same applies to me.

*Sigh* I have read a great number of the books already mentioned and others beside. All you have achieved here is offending a number of older, more experienced people (and I'm not including myself in that!)

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Mar 2008 13:01:14 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Mar 2008 13:03:12 GMT
T. Duffy says:
Hey why are you worrying about JKR at 23:30? To despise or enjoy her books should not be keeping you awake at night! I suggest a lavender bath, a hot cup of milk and a turkey and lettuce sandwich to help you relax and get a good nights sleep.
More to the point, everyone is entitled to read what they enjoy and read as widely as they are able and inclined to do so.
In a day I might read as widely as Dahl (for my 5 year old) to Greene/Faulks/McEwen/Gaskell/Attwood.......My physical and mental energy determines my current read.
There are a lot of immense concerns in a lifetime. What and how JKR writes should not be one of them (or maybe they should to a 14 year old)?!

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Mar 2008 11:18:11 GMT
Thank you for your contribution which I echo completely
Helen

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Mar 2008 12:41:37 GMT
E. Thompson says:
A Townsend, I agree with you to an extent about Rowling's fairly simple style which trips up on itself at times. CAPITAL LETTERS TO REPERESENT SHOUTING is not very graceful. Neither is the frequent occurrence of the word 'apparently' (Has anyone else noticed this?) But she is principly a children's writer, where a simpler style is a required ingredient. It is coincidental that she has managed to reach readers of all ages, so we shouldn't compare her to too many authors who write for the adult audience.

With regard to your criticism of 'put-outer', I don't think I am alone in believing that this is a deliberately quirky term, as are the names of many of the contraptions, places, people, creatures, and so on. I remember reading that Rowling had trawled through all kinds of old languages, old books, old maps and old myths in search of inspiration, and I think the story comes to life because of this.

In my opinion, it is not Rowling's stylistics that earns her acclaim from so many of us. It is the effort she has put in to creating a rich history and complex plot that blows the appreciative reader away. Writers before and since have and will flaunt a more sophisticated style, but nobody can say she is talentless. The idea of a magical world may not be an original one either, but Rowling breathes an energy in to the story that has kept fans hooked, regardless of whether they have 'read Dickens, Poe, Shelley... etc', and wouldn't you say she has succeeded in introducing a great number of people to the joy of reading? I have always been a bookworm myself and have read, as you put it, 'classic literature'. Maybe Harry Potter has become classic in its own right, even if we are not reading and critically discussing it in its entirety in universities yet.

A book does not simply have to be about 'gaining intellect' either - for many it's about escapism, and imagination!

I think Filch is named so because of his occupation as a scruffy caretaker. Just as Snape's name is reminiscent of the word 'snake', the emblem of Slytherin, which itself sounds like 'slithering'! All for the benefit of the younger readers' imaginations!

It's a shame you don't enjoy the books. Perhaps 'best living British writer' doesn't only refer to Rowling's handle on language? Perhaps it also means the ability to reach millions of readers, which is what she has done.

By the way, I don't think it's fair for S Dougherty to take your age as a sign of ignorance; he/she is only 18, and I am only 20! It doesn't mean you aren't entitled to an opinion. Do you mind my asking if you've read all the Potter books, or started on one and gave up because you didn't like it? If it's the latter, I would strongly recommend trying again with it, and reading to the end! I picked up The Hobbit when I was 11, and couldn't really get on with it. I tried again a year or so later, and absolutely whizzed through it, and then the LOTR trilogy. I'm so glad I picked it up a second time. Maybe you should give Harry a second chance?

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Mar 2008 12:49:01 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 4 Mar 2008 12:56:25 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Mar 2008 12:53:26 GMT
Last edited by the author on 4 Mar 2008 12:57:03 GMT
E. Thompson says:
As a former English teacher you should know that 'skilful' is in fact the correct spelling. Consult the OED for proof. The fact that so many of you are picking apart A Townsend's argument simply by criticising his/her spelling is quite a low blow, wouldn't you agree?

Saying 'I'm an English teacher' doesn't give you ultimate knowledge and authority.

Before the backlash occurs... I'm planning on being an English teacher myself, so this is no slur to all teachers!

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Mar 2008 13:40:37 GMT
L. Macdonald says:
terry pratchet is a terrible writer. i know he is funny and prolific but his skill is just not comparable with rowling.

comparing a modern children's story with the classics doesnt really work. they are not simlar enough to make a credible comparison and enjoying one does not negate the enjoyment of the other.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2008 21:57:00 GMT
Grace Root says:
I (like Ms. Rowling herself, as it happens) am a student of THE Classics - the Greek and Latin literature that frankly wipes the floor with Dickens. I am a keen reader of the French greats - Zola, Camus etc - the exquisite short stories of Akutagawa, and most other things I can get my hands on. Incidentally, the Harry Potter stories are some of my all-time favourite books. I was the same age as Harry when the first book came out, and essentially grew up with him. To create, as an adult, a set of characters that someone of the same age can identify with is a pretty impressive achievement as far as I'm concerned. I don't think there's any question of Rowling's intelligence, and as a Classicist I love her little references to classical mythology and minute attention to detail with the Latin names of characters (Sirius, for example, is the Latin name for the Dog Star and the canine companion of the mythical hunter Orion - Sirius' animagus is a dog and he is a loyal companion to Harry who finds himself compelled to 'hunt' Voldemort, etc etc) and the etymology of the spells. It's really well thought out and just delightful - it makes the magical world sound even more mystical and exciting for the younger reader, yet holds a myriad of other meanings for the more intellectual reader.

The most important thing about Rowling's books, in my opinion, is the fact that it offers a story that is compelling reading for people of all ages, and gave me much-needed escapism as I was growing up. I'm sure many other people feel the same.

As someone's already said, there's a time and a place for various styles and intellectual levels of literature. I don't want to read Joyce 24/7, nor do I want to read Harry Potter 24/7. I could probably read Euripides 24/7 but that's beyond the point. You'd do well to get off your high horse and realise that not all literature has to be 'classic' in order to be valuable, and the fact that the Harry Potter books have introduced, or reintroduced, so many people to the joys of reading, makes them more valuable than 99% of the stuff that's churned out by the bucketful these days.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2008 23:14:51 GMT
In a lesson of abject stupidity, please look no further than Mr Townsend's post.
I do not expect that these books will be enjoyed by everyone and I do agree that they are fairly simplistic - but I believe this is part of the appeal of these books. They are accessible to a wide audience.
The books that are mentioned were not written for the same age group as Harry Potter was intended, therefore would be more complex. They were also written in a different era with different literary expectations.
The Harry Potter books should be judged on their own merits - as per anything, some people like it and some people won't. The series is extremely popular in our time, using popular modern language - as were the novels mentioned by A Townsend in their own respective times.
I will admit that there are some more thought provoking books written which challenge society, family values etc... However, I would put to you that J K Rowling has overcome a huge obstacle in helping people re-discover the medium of reading. To be honest, having taught children it is heat-breaking to discover how neglected reading is in this day and age - The Potter books have introduced not just this generation, but a lot of previously 'lost' generations, to reading. Any author who can do that deserves all the praise they get.
I personally never expected to read these books, but am glad that I did.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2008 00:43:19 GMT
Last edited by the author on 6 Mar 2008 00:46:14 GMT
I think you are being a tad elitist. Classic Literature is the type of novel I read the most, being an English Literature degree student, and no, J.K. is not a fantastic writer. However, I think she does deserve the fame and fortune she has received. Her talent in characterisation and imagination more than balances out her stagnated writing. She has got a new generation reading and has brought joy to millions of people.

I do not really understand your criticism of her borrowing things from other writers, or myths and legends - all writers do that in this day and age. The thing about Austen, Collins, Poe, Richardson, etc. is that they had more of a scope for brand new ideas - even then they were not new!

I just find your attitude annoying. You don't think J.K. is "clever" enough, or "intellectual" enough? And you have to make sure that you let everyone know that you enjoy "better" literature? Whatever. I hope enjoying 'classical literature' makes you feel better about yourself, and you can look down on everybody else who enjoys J.K. Rowling. :/

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2008 17:13:46 GMT
K Reid says:
Please don't insult my intelligence! I have a First Class Honours degree in English Literature and I am an English Teacher, yet I still appreciate the skill and ingenuity displayed by Rowling in the Harry Potter series.

The books are beautifully written, intelligent, articulate and have an originality that is simultaneously coupled with obvious homages to other, earlier texts.

I don't argue that Rowling is in the same league as Thomas Mann or JK Huysmans, but you don't mention writers like these. In fact, looking at your question, it seems to me that your definition of classic is simply 'old'. Dickens, Stoker and Austen were writing populist novels too - don't make the assumption that because they are older they are somehow better.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Mar 2008 17:03:25 GMT
Excuse me, u ignorant man. I am 20 years old and count Harry Potter as one of my favourite authors along with Wilkie Collins, Thomas Hardy, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gakell, Oscar Wilde.Do you want me to continue? Or do u get the picture? Please do not insult me or anyone else who is like me by suggesting we don't read "classics." Potter is a classic.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Mar 2008 19:03:30 GMT
M. Page says:
Totally agree - thought I was the only person on this planet who was not impressed with her writing. She also takes loads of her ideas from Terry Pratchett - any Rowling fans who have not read any of his books - read Mort or The Colour of Magic - you'll see! So voting her over him for best childrens authour is a bit of an insult to people who can write! However you should (as already has been said) read a book because you enjoy it not beacuse everyone else is reading it!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Mar 2008 22:20:53 GMT
J. Crookes says:
I always thought it was just me who thought the books were way over hyped for adults. Leave em to the kiddies.
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This discussion

Participants:  115
Total posts:  128
Initial post:  12 Feb 2008
Latest post:  13 Aug 2010