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Literary Criticism About Harry Potter

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1430 words Published: 2nd May 2017

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The books about Harry Potter were written in England by J. Rowling and were published during the period from the 30th of June 1997 till the 21st of July 2007. The genre of the series is Fantasy, Mystery and Thriller. The books tell about the adventures of a boy Harry Potter and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley; all of them are the pupils at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

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When in 1999 in the prestigious best-seller list of “New York Times” the first three rows were occupied by Joanne Rowling’s book about a little wizard Harry Potter, it became obvious that the Western world is faced with a new, hitherto unknown phenomenon. First English, and then other developed countries were captivated with the epidemic of reading. Suddenly, unexpectedly, children’s literature has proved its competitiveness with such monsters as pop music and game industry.

Literary criticism.

From the beginning, Harry Potter book has received positive feedback. The first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone won the attention of Scottish newspapers, such as The Glasgow Herald, which said that the book was a “Magic stuff” (Eccleshare, 10) and The Scotsman newspaper, which announced that it had “all the makings of a classic” (Eccleshare, 10). Some time later the English newspapers started to compare it with work of Roald Dahl’s The Mail on Sunday, and called Harry Potter “the most imaginative debut since Roald Dahl” (Eccleshare, 10).

When the book “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” was being finished, a lot of representatives of literary schools started to give critical reviews. So, Harold Bloom, who is the professor in Yale and literary scholar and critic, said “Rowling’s mind is so governed by clichés” and that her dead metaphors were not the proper way of the writing style (Bloom, 2003).

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban got a critical observation from the critic Anthony Holden in 1999. His opinion about the book was not positive – “the Potter saga was essentially patronising, conservative, highly derivative, dispiritingly nostalgic for a bygone Britain”; he also mentioned the “pedestrian, ungrammatical prose style”. At the same time Ursula Le Guin said, that she didn’t have great opinion about it. She added that when many adult critics were talking about the rare originality of the first book, she read it and remained somewhat puzzled. She understood it as a lively kid’s fantasy mixed with a novel about school, good fare for its age group, but it was ordinary in stylists, imaginatively derivative, and ethically rather mean-spirited.

The author Fay Weldon, admitted that the series of books was not what poets expected, but nevertheless it was not a poetry, but it was readable, saleable, it was for every day.

The movie critic Charles Taylor (Salon Columnist. 2000) doesn’t agree with Byatt’s criticisms in some point. He agrees that she may have “a valid cultural point-a teeny one-about the impulses that drive us to reassuring pop trash and away from the troubling complexities of art” (Taylor, 2003). But at the same time he doesn’t agree that the books are lacking in serious literary merit. Charles Taylor pointed out the progressively darker tone of the books, which we can see in the killing of a classmate and a friend. He is also sure that that Philosopher’s Stone, which is considered to be the most lighthearted of these seven books, disrupts the childhood reassurances (Taylor, 2003).

The well-known Stephen King called the books “a feat of which only a superior imagination is capable”. He thinks that the book is “a good one”, but he feels boring to read the beginning of every book, which starts with description of Harry at home with his terrible uncle and aunt (Wild About Harry. 2000). He has also joked that “Rowling’s never met an adverb she did not like!” (Heilman, 112).

Beatles and Harry Potter.

Russian critic Vladimir Alexandrov compares Harry Potter with the Beatles. He drew attention to the fact that the morning after the first performance of “The Beatles”, the Herald Tribune reported that they consist of: 75 % of advertising, 20% of hairstyles and 5% of music sobs (Giselle, 45-48).

Meanwhile, for all subsequent years, no one has achieved the same fantastic success. They were still are a social phenomenon with a pronounced the world-historical significance. Indeed, thanks to “The Beatles” in the 60’s the entire planet has taken a unique attempt to unite not motivated by the ideas of permanent revolution or Islamic fundamentalism, but on the basis of music. Millions believed in “Beatles”, and were ready to go after them. This, of course, was a utopia.

Joan Rowling may be the same phenomenon. Today, a lot of people compare Beatlemania and Potteromania. Reasons for this are easily seen: deafening world popularity; the almost complete rejection of the original highbrow critics, and the continuing attacks from religious leaders and organizations.

Especially revealing is a third reason. The increased anathema to Rowling clearly demonstrated the recognition of her popularity. Recently, “Book Review” reported about the demonstration burning books about Potter. The Pastor Fletcher Brothers, the creator of the site with the eloquent title “Village of Liberty”, has supplied its antipotter comments links to Gospel. In the 19 states of the USA there were attempts to prohibit by law the books of Rowling. They were understood as the propaganda of paganism and Satanism.

Harry Potter the Urban Mowgli.

The Books about Harry Potter have unbelievable success. The authoritative opinion of Western criticism tells that a phenomenon explained by the fact that book is about the most important children’s fears – fear of being abandoned, fear of loneliness, fear not to meet the expectations of parents. The Books of Rowling convince children that they can cope with all the difficulties.

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If to go through the history of the series, we see that the first book “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” tells about the boy who miraculously survived after the tragedy that took the lives of his both parents, one year old Harry is in a completely alien to his environment. He lives with strangers in a strange world of Maglov. This world is the “stone jungle” which tries to devour the child, teach him to live by the laws of most jungles.

It sounds like the story of Kipling. He leaves his hero on the threshold of adulthood. The same happens to Harry Potter. The miracle finds him on the threshold of adolescence. He gets the invitation to wizards school Hogwarts, when, he should lose faith in magic. Every kid has his Hogwarts.

Little children read Harry Potter with excitement, because they feel that the story is dear for them. For them, Hogwarts is something that is in the neighborhood. They will not strive to get there, because they are already there. For young people Harry Potter is a sort of potent tranquilizer-antidepressant. Alone with him, they feel quite comfortable, despite all the trickery of age.

As long as a child lives in the soul of an adult, he will believe in Potter. He will believe in the triumph of good over evil. May be it is not inconclusive, but temporary, as is the case with Rowling.


Starting from the 30th of June 1997, when the first book “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was published, the series became very popular and got positive criticism from all over the world.

Some critics think that there are book that are not appropriate for children, such as “Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows”.

By the June 2008, it was sold more than 400 million copies of the books all over the world and it has been translated into 67 languages (Allsobrook, 2003), and the last four books successively set records as the fastest selling book in the whole history.

Nice story Joanne Rowling, which combines the attractiveness of fairy tales, detective, thriller and role-play, would have no reason to still be a literary event and would not be worth ships gossip, if not unexpected dimensions of success.


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