Amanda Craig Rates Rowling As One Of The Greats

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Times Online

In Amanda Craig's review of the final Harry Potter novel, she points to some of the author's stylistic weaknesses:

True, her style is plain, often pedestrian. An excess of adverbs weakens the dialogue, repetition that any decent editor would have excised is left in and she has a fondness for sub-plots that became maddening in the later books....

And identifies her strengths:

Morally, Rowling is far more interesting than the norm, for where C. S. Lewis and Tolkien have unambiguously good or bad characters, she is careful to show how, as Dumbledore tells Harry, that choice makes all the difference. Good and bad wizards and witches spring from the same families, and this confusion is played to the hilt in the Deathly Hallows...
Rowling�s magic, like E. Nesbit�s before her, is deliberately mundane. Wizards have to do homework and pass exams. Magical creatures need care. The meals that appear at the wave of a wand still have to be cooked in kitchens, somewhere, by someone. This is why readers fall under her spell: because she makes the magical real, and reality correspondingly more magical...

But her review ends with a very telling (if rather bizarrely snatched-from-the-air) distinction:

No, she isn�t Henry James or Nabokov or even Dickens... But Rowling�s imagination has changed the perception of an entire generation, and that is more than all but a handful of living authors, in any genre, have achieved in the past half-century. Whatever other critics say, she is right up there with the other greats of children�s fiction.

Take careful note of what she is saying. Rowling cannot be talked about alongside the great and good of adult books, but she is a topnotch children's author. Hmmmm!

Craig says some accurate things in this review but she assembles her points into an implausible prediction of Rowling's longevity, by adding in a breathtaking generalisation such as "Rowling�s imagination has changed the perception of an entire generation..." I'm not sure what she means by this. There's no explanation. Just jump to:

Our children�s children will queue up to make the journey to Hogwarts in their turn, and the gratitude of parents as they enjoy another day of peace during the holidays will be undying.

That is where I (and John Sutherland) beg to differ.

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on July 28, 2007 10:13 AM.

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