Monday, July 18, 2005
Hurry up 'Arry
The hype surrounding the launch of the latest Harry Potter novel has left many book critics and cultural commentators in a quandary, not sure whether to praise a publishing success or disdain the populism.
It is a global phenomenon - Saturday evening's French TV news reported the publication of the latest 'Arry Pott-air as a major news item, even though the French translation will not be available until October.
Gordon Brown may have gone over the top when he declared "I think JK Rowling has done more for literacy around the world than any single human being". And David Blunkett's enthusiasm is beyond reason. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that Harry Potter - whatever one thinks of its literary merits - is doing a service by encouraging children to read.
The hope must be that curiosity will lead these children to try something else. Harry Potter is the literary equivalent of Blue Nun, Hirondelle and Le Piat D'Or - a few people still drink these beginners' wines 25 years after their heyday, but most soon moved on to something more adventurous.
The one group I cannot understand is adults who read Harry Potter. This is regressive behaviour for which there is no excuse. The fact that you can buy the books in a 'grown up' edition with a more sober cover design doesn't make it any better.
However, if you don't finish your Harry Potter book in one sitting, you can always use your anti-poverty wristband as a bookmark.
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