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  1. #16
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Yes, but thankfully the Ivory Tower sways to a left wind. And, I don't think conservatives really mind the books - just radical religious zealots.
    You mean unfortunately it sways left. I find too often people's politics get in the way of their scholarship, and makes otherwise intelligent people into brainless Leftist robots that miss so many obvious things because of their political biases. I think the same would happen to right-wingers if they entered High education more often, but since that isn't the case I can only judge my Leftie peers. I am extremely suspicious of claims that seek to prove particular work of art X is left-wing or right-wing.

    I found that my best teachers were the moderate/liberal lights (i. e. Conservative/classic liberals) because they took their scholarship seriously and gave an assortment of perspectives, while the other group was too often spending their time trying to convert us to their pet theory or get the Marxist revolution started.

    As for my particular comment, I was thinking today about what it is that I want to do with my writing, and that seems to be a reoccuring desire for my own work.
    Last edited by Drkshadow03; 10-20-2008 at 12:38 AM.
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  2. #17
    Asa Nisi Masa mayneverhave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SirRaustusBear View Post
    Why isnt the Great Gatsby by Francis Scott Fitsgerald? I wonder why any authors choose to abbreviate their names, and it is an open question but we can't assume it was a sexist move.
    If my full name was Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, I'd abbreviate it too

  3. #18
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    No, left leaning people are more likely to look beyond "traditional values" which is almost always a good thing. Neo-con critics are quite dry really, whereas a radical critic such as someone like Camile Paglia is often quite interesting to read, even if you don't agree with her work.

    The political bias you speak of, only really seems to apply to contextualization, and only in limited forms on the reading of the text.

    As for Christian values in Harry Potter, well, as you haven't read the last one, I'll just say that at least Aslan was a lion - that took perhaps a little creativity. The whole thing is a Chirstian morality tale, between good and bad, and making the right moral choices, and what-not in a traditional English perspective. The Merry Old England virus runs deep within those books.

    As for me, well, the culture wars don't really apply the same way to my field of research as to others, but I will say, there are stronger writers out there and betters ways for one to spend their money.

    When I buy a book, I don't buy it just to read it. I can read virtually all books for free at the library, either or public or my universities (which has every book imaginable). When I buy a book, I buy it so that I can flip through to my favorite passages when I want to. Can trace back that memorable chapter or short story, or reread the great lines of a poem or essay. I don't quite think Harry Potter offers that same feel. I don't think I can reread Potter the same way as I can reread Jane Austen (ironically both me and Rowling's favorite novelist).

    That being said, the argument always seems to drift to the question of age group. Well, I would think that the last 4 books or so are geared to adolescents around 15-16 based on marketing strategy, and the rest around 10-13 based on marketing as well, and when I think about it, first of all the 15-16 bracket is artificial and created completely by publishers (I see no reason why people shouldn't be reading Austen, or Dickens, or Twain at that age) and in the 10-13 bracket I can think of far more memorable work. There's more thrill and magic in Rossetti's Goblin Market, I would think, than in all 7 Potters put together.

    Someone like Ursula K. Le Guin seems to offer in her Earthsea a much stronger children's fantasy (and 1000x more original one) than Rowling. Her works are stronger, better written, and overall far more interesting and complex. She manages to, with limited vocabulary and stylistic tropes, to convey far more than most adult writers. If we hold that up, as a series verses Rowling, I cannot see why Rowling is still persisted upon. But then again, we must keep in mind how long Earthsea has been here for a little while, and seems somewhat cemented in the canon.

    That being said, I don't say you shouldn't read Rowling, but I do say you shouldn't study, discuss, and reread Rowling as seems (or seemed 3 years ago anyway) to be the trend. I know some of that has ebbed, and with the publication of the 7th novel, most of the fans have grown up and buried their costumes, but it still pains me to see people preaching the Potter, when the Potter has nothing to preach that seems to be of lasting value.

    Feel free to preach Lewis Carrol, or the great Edward Lear, or even the wacky Dr. Seus. But the Potter leads to nothing great, and only more Potteresque stuff, like that Eragon dribble which has now moved on to become a 4 volume (and counting) work, which may hit 10 volumes by the end if we aren't careful.

  4. #19
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mayneverhave View Post
    If my full name was Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, I'd abbreviate it too
    from Wikipedia, if you can credit their sources:

    Although she writes under the pen name "J. K. Rowling", pronounced rolling (IPA: /ˈroʊlɪŋ/),[8] her name when her first Harry Potter book was published was simply "Joanne Rowling". Before publishing her first book, her publisher Bloomsbury feared that the target audience of young boys might be reluctant to buy books written by a female author. It requested that Rowling use two initials, rather than reveal her first name. As she had no middle name, she chose K. for Kathleen as the second initial of her pseudonym, from her paternal grandmother. The name Kathleen has never been part of her real name.[3] Following her marriage, she sometimes uses the name Joanne Murray when conducting private matters.[9][10] She calls herself "Jo" and says, "No one ever called me 'Joanne' when I was young, unless they were angry."[11]


    Tolkien's name actually had his real initials, as did Lewis's (though I wouldn't credit any of them as being great authors, though Tolkien had some good ideas, but horrible delivery). H.D. actually was Hilda Doolittle, which makes sense, yet the K as Wiki suggests, was stuck there so she wouldn't need to publish under Joanne, and therefore reveal her sex to potential male buyers. Hello? Isn't that pathetic? But yeah, she went along with it, and even came up with the K all by herself.
    Last edited by JBI; 10-20-2008 at 01:17 AM.

  5. #20
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    No, left leaning people are more likely to look beyond "traditional values" which is almost always a good thing. Neo-con critics are quite dry really, whereas a radical critic such as someone like Camile Paglia is often quite interesting to read, even if you don't agree with her work.

    The political bias you speak of, only really seems to apply to contextualization, and only in limited forms on the reading of the text.
    Who would you consider to be a Neo-con critic?

    Also, I find your example of Camile Paglia to be downright puzzling, if not ironic. Most the Leftist critics I know loathe Paglia; many even consider her views to be reactionary and right-wing, despite how she defines herself.

    I personally love Paglia BECAUSE she defines herself with complete disregard to everyone else's opinions, and where she seems to stand via the so-called "Culture Wars," is similar to my own views.

    It may be true that you can get some interesting works by going beyond "traditional values" (whatever the heck those happen to be), but too often Leftist criticism turns into this gibberish:

    New Criticism has a "concealed political agenda" that "sustains . . . charactistic bourgeois concern[s]"; and Lynda Boose refers to "the overtly apolitical, though inherently (if blandly) conservative, practice of 'New Criticism.'" For Terence Hawkes, "traditional criticism pretend[s] to be politically neutral"; for Jonathan Dollimore, "traditional literary criticism" is "a politically conservative way of doing criticism" that is "spuriously impartial"; for David Margolies, "traditional character-imagery-plot [analysis] is reactionary" and "helps preserve the status quo"; and for Frank Lentricchia, "interpretation according to traditional humanism," with its " 'disinterested' ways of reading," really "is not . . . apolitical; in the strict sense it is politically conservative" and "shores up things as they are." (Levin, 459).

    Now to put the quote into context, I am referring to the quotes of the various critics that Levin references as gibberish, not Levin's essay itself. Levin himself is actually challenging their comments as downright ridiculous with a very sophisticated, but still based on commonsense argument. His essay is excellent. It's the people he is challenging that are ridiculous. This of course only hammers home my point about Paglia.

    1) Leftist criticism often becomes more about labels than saying anything significant about literature or even an opponent's position. Interpretation according to traditional humanism is politically conservative? Seriously? Too often this is what happens to leftist criticism, it turns downright reactionary. Oh no, you want to talk about Ovidian allusions in Shakespeare, you wife-beater you!

    2) it tries to argue from ridiculously abstract philosophical claims that can't be proven (i.e. the world is socially constructed), which is fine to believe in if that's what you think, except it becomes a problem when they start intellectual witchhunts against someone who doesn't buy into that idea and is so quaint as to believe in human nature (or a combination of the two). In other words, we have blatant group-think going on.

    3) They tend to project their own faults on others, hence the litany of, "no, no you're really the biased ones, not us. Nothing to see here, folks." No, you're the ones with group-think not us.

    4) Not to mention these attitudes contribute to downright unoriginality and repetitive essays more or less saying the same things in extremely jargonesque terms that prevent you from actually understanding literature.

    It's point # 4 that's really the issue for me. I don't know what criticism you've been reading, but the majority of Leftist criticism I had to read, especially in my grad classes, said mostly the same sorts of things over and over again just in slightly different ways, usually about the holy trinity of race, gender, and class. I am not saying these aren't important issues and certainly original work can be written about them, but too often most of this sort of criticism ends up being extremely derivative, plus there is far more going on in literary works than race, gender, and class issues. So I really don't understand why you think most Leftist criticism is so interesting; it's so repetitive and boring.

    I personally think the best criticism is the one that doesn't explicitly concern itself with politics and just tries to find something new and interesting to say about a book or poem or whatever. I also would suggest no politics is needed to accomplish such a task, just a good critical eye.


    Work Cited


    Levin, Richard. "Silence is Consent, or Curse Ye Meroz!" Theory's Empire: An Anthology of Dissent. Ed. Patai and Corral. New York: Columbia UP, 2005.
    Last edited by Drkshadow03; 10-20-2008 at 12:50 PM.
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  6. #21
    Registered User miyagisan's Avatar
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    I haven't read any of them, nor am I planning to. By the time these hit the scene I was already beginning my love affair with classics. I think as youth fiction they're probably fine books and seem to get a lot of kids into reading. However, I have a problem when people try to pass them off as adult literature. As I said, I haven't read them, but I put Harry Potter books in the same category as the Narnia books.

  7. #22
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    But you see, those are general statements on context. Those analyze context, not texts. They aren't talking about specific works, but works in general. All criticism of that sort seems a little wacky. But when it comes to reading a work, a feminist reading, or a queer reading, or a marxist reading, or even a post-colonial reading is far more interesting than the traditional school of criticism - explaining and restating what has already been said, and refusing to move on.

    Paglia may be loathed by many feminist critics, but there is certainly no hyper-right gene in her work. She clearly comes from a left tradition - if one could apply such a term.

  8. #23
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    But you see, those are general statements on context. Those analyze context, not texts. They aren't talking about specific works, but works in general. All criticism of that sort seems a little wacky. But when it comes to reading a work, a feminist reading, or a queer reading, or a marxist reading, or even a post-colonial reading is far more interesting than the traditional school of criticism - explaining and restating what has already been said, and refusing to move on.
    Marxist critcism has been around for ages now. So I fail to see how one can claim "traditional" schools of criticism have gotten stale, while Marxist criticism is still fresh. Unless one is going to appeal to the various flavors of Marxism and the added seasonings of Postmodernism. But seriously Marxism is rather old hat.

    Post-Colonial Readings and Queer Theory are certainly vibrant and brillaint the first time you read them, but again they get pretty old quickly, not to mention rely on questionable philosophical premises, and often (especially in the case of Queer Theory) manipulate the text to fit the reading rather than the other way around.

    The point of literary criticism, in my opinion, is to get at a reasonable understanding of the text's meaning and think about how that relates to the reader's own life. Not to butcher, manipulate, and reshape the text so you can fit it into your pet methodology, thus transforming literature into a fun little meaningless puzzle (ooo, look what I can do with the text). Also, I think your assumption that traditional schools of criticism restate the same things over and over again is flat-out wrong. There is always something new to find in a literary text, some little sub-textual element or unexplored character or symbol.

    But whatever, I just do what works for me, and I think I have been fairly successful in finding something new to say in a lot of my formal papers.

    Paglia may be loathed by many feminist critics, but there is certainly no hyper-right gene in her work. She clearly comes from a left tradition - if one could apply such a term.
    Like I said I love Paglia. Nothing I've been saying thus far is really all that out of line with things she herself has said. I am clearly a moderate/classical liberal in my political leanings.

    Like I said my best professors were the ones who put their own political views to the side for the most part, and just taught their classes. Those were the ones I learned the most from because you always got a lot of diverse perspectives.
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  9. #24
    Registered User DapperDrake's Avatar
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    I see a lot of fairly irrational criticism thrown at the Harry Potter books, I can understand a backlash against the popular, there's not much I like about pop culture myself, but is it really necessary to be so negative?
    What we're talking about here are children's books! What does Enid Blyton have that J k Rowling doesn't? Why aren't you all bashing Blyton?
    Last edited by DapperDrake; 10-20-2008 at 03:02 PM.
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  10. #25
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DapperDrake View Post
    I see a lot of fairly irrational criticism thrown at the Harry Potter books, I can understand a backlash against the popular, there's not much I like about pop culture myself, but is it really necessary to be so negative?
    What we're talking about here are children's books! What does Enid Blyton have that J k Rowling doesn't? Why aren't you all bashing Blyton?
    The books aren't marketed at children (I try to draw the line at 11-12 for that category), well, at least the last 4 aren't. The publicists are feeding the books to teenagers, and older people. Even the movies verge on a PG 13 rating, because they are openly violent, when traditional children's work is not. The books also, have more non-children readers than children readers. They have ceased to be children's literature, yet still refuse to be piled with the Stephen Kings and Robert Jordans. They still refuse so, because marketers refuse to reclassify them. The reason? They sell, and they will sell more like this and (judging on what they are charging per book) it makes sense financially. IF they keep playing them off as quality literature, as they have been doing, or as children's books as they seem to be doing, then they can tap into the international market, and stick even more mediocre books on the shelves of other nations. After all, readers want to read what is the best from other countries, as a way of staying current, and if they are told Potter isn't too bad, they may say, "well, it is a translation, perhaps the original was stronger."


    Back on the subject of criticism - I think there is a clear distinction between theorist and critic. Theory is rarely useful, with the exception of the starters of the trends, such as Derrida, who is one of the greatest literary theorist of the modern age, yet still theory has its limits. It it used as a backdrop for criticism, and how that is applied can be quite strange.

    We live in a different time than when the texts were written. It is essential for the texts to adapt or be read in light of our time, and if they fail to do as much, then they no longer are relevant to our time. What new forms of criticism do is provide this, so we no longer toy over finding the "meaning" of a text, but rather find A meaning of a text.

    Either way though, I work with Canadian literature mostly, and that is a much shorter tradition, where politics doesn't seem to take the same form as in the states, being that our infrastructure and views on politics are drastically different in our literature. You have a degree in American literature, so you probably no far more about culture criticism than I do, and I want to leave it at that to return to the topic, and specifically this idea of Harry Potter Generation, which I find so upsetting.

  11. #26
    Ditsy Pixie Niamh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mayneverhave View Post
    You are all a lost generation
    I'm sure many other generations have heard that said before, and the books that were criticised are probably still read. who knows.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leabhar View Post
    At least they're reading something. They could just be watching TV.
    That is true. there happens to be more crap storylines on tv than there is in literature. well thats my opinion anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    The very name J. K. Rowling was designed to trick book buyers into thinking she was a man, and therefore to buy the book. If that isn't problematic, I don't know what is.
    And what is wrong with that? George Elliot (Mary Ann Evans) did the same thing. And Bloomsbury were right for suggesting it. There is a lot of influence in a name. I work in a very busy booksellers, and especially with kids books, whether the author is male of female does dictate who would by the books. I rarely see a girl by an Artemis Fowl book By Eoin Colfer and its because they automaticly think its a book for boys. By having it as J.K.Rowling the name that dictates the sex is eliminated and therefore opens is easier to see to both sexes.

    As for the whole generation bit, I think that's the problem. They are a generation, and like all generations, they end. I don't see the same Harry Potter craze occurring now as I did 5 years ago (though this could be just that I am older and around quite literary people most of the day) and it seems the books are already on the way to the recycling bin.
    It probably is because you are "around quite literary people". Those books are still in demand. Kids that were very very young when they first came out, are now part of the groups buying the books, and there are still a lot of adults and children alike that waited for it to come out in small paperback which it has only been out in since july gone.

    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    I think the problem is, that T.V. isn't worse than Harry Potter. They both are rather meh, at least T.V. doesn't pretend to be something else.
    I totally disagree with this statement. There is seriously a lot of rubbish on tv, plus a lot of programmes that just cant grasp the same reality as novels do, especially not for childern and young adults. I think it is tv that has a lot to answer for they change that was seen in your generation. Harry Potter was a frenzy and it wasnt just your generation, it was my generation, the generation above me and so on so forth. Now the twilight series, thats seems to be staying within a certain age bracket. More than likely that is because it is not being marketed at the adult reader the same way Potter was by having adult edition covers.

    Quote Originally Posted by DapperDrake View Post
    I see a lot of fairly irrational criticism thrown at the Harry Potter books, I can understand a backlash against the popular, there's not much I like about pop culture myself, but is it really necessary to be so negative?
    What we're talking about here are children's books! What does Enid Blyton have that J k Rowling doesn't? Why aren't you all bashing Blyton?
    If people only stopped trying to over analyse the Harry Potter books, they may see them to be entertaining books. Also they are incouraging a generation influenced by tv, cheesy z class celebs like jordon, and trashy gossip mags to read and thats a tough thing to do, especially when media stereotypes readers and reading as unsocial, nerdy, and generally goofy looking people. If it wasnt for books like Potter creating this encouragement, books, and the telling of stories through books, would be deminishing even quicker than it is because of film and tv.

    It does generally annoy me that so many people who read classics look down on these books. Its not literary enough for them. To me, in order to understand and enjoy literature to its fullest, you have to show, understand and appriciate it in all forms not just classics.
    Last edited by Niamh; 10-20-2008 at 03:50 PM.
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  12. #27
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    The Bronte Sisters, George Eliot, Francis Burnett, etc. All published under a male name because they had to. I would think in this century, when it seems the best names in children's literature are female, that to do such a thing is a little regressive. I would think, in terms of the authors credibility as an author, and as a "moral guide" as people seem to judge her, it says a lot. It says quite frankly, that she and her publishers decided that it was more important to sell copies than to encourage female writers to be just that, female writers.

  13. #28
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    IF they keep playing them off as quality literature, as they have been doing, or as children's books as they seem to be doing, then they can tap into the international market, and stick even more mediocre books on the shelves of other nations. After all, readers want to read what is the best from other countries, as a way of staying current, and if they are told Potter isn't too bad, they may say, "well, it is a translation, perhaps the original was stronger."
    As far as criticism sub-discussion goes: fair enough!

    As for the quoted comment, I am pretty sure Harry Potter has been translated internationally. As have King and Jordan. So I'm not sure why you are presenting the scenario as something that may happen in the future as it has already occurred, unless I'm misunderstanding what you're trying to get at.
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  14. #29
    Ditsy Pixie Niamh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    The Bronte Sisters, George Eliot, Francis Burnett, etc. All published under a male name because they had to. I would think in this century, when it seems the best names in children's literature are female, that to do such a thing is a little regressive. I would think, in terms of the authors credibility as an author, and as a "moral guide" as people seem to judge her, it says a lot. It says quite frankly, that she and her publishers decided that it was more important to sell copies than to encourage female writers to be just that, female writers.
    As i've said above, the name does influence the sale. I've had to deal with many people looking to buy books, who look frown when i try to promote or recommend a book written by the opposite sex, and no matter how much i tell them about them and they say they that they do sound interesting, will eight times out of ten approach the till with a different book by an author of their sex.
    "Come away O human child!To the waters of the wild, With a faery hand in hand, For the worlds more full of weeping than you can understand."
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  15. #30
    liber vermicula Bitterfly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niamh View Post
    It does generally annoy me that so many people who read classics look down on these books. Its not literary enough for them. To me, in order to understand and enjoy literature to its fullest, you have to show, understand and appriciate it in all forms not just classics.
    I totally agree with you. I loved all the Harry Potter books, waited for them anxiously to come out and had a lovely time not only reading them but re-reading them. What do they provide: a wonderful escape from reality, simply, and that's probably why most adults who read them enjoy them. There's nothing intrinsically awful in that - it doesn't stop me enjoying very good books as well.

    And I agree it's snobism that encourages people who've never even read the books to look down upon them. Why speak abot something you haven't read in the first place! It's intellectual dishonesty.

    And, speaking as someone who hates TV and who's never owned one and who never will, there's nothing comparable with the imaginative activity going on in one's brain when one reads one of those books with the passivity that accompanies TV watching.

    Who cares, also, what the motivations of authors are, JBI? Balzac for one was obsessed with money! it didn't stop him from writing good books...

    Quote Originally Posted by Niamh View Post
    As i've said above, the name does influence the sale. I've had to deal with many people looking to buy books, who look frown when i try to promote or recommend a book written by the opposite sex, and no matter how much i tell them about them and they say they that they do sound interesting, will eight times out of ten approach the till with a different book by an author of their sex.
    Of course it does. You have to be naive to think that sexism is dead in literature. Studies still show, alas, that women are taken less seriously when it comes to intellectual matters. And are also less taken into account (less heroines, especially in films) possibly because they're not seen as the main consumers - or they are believed to be more adaptable when it comes to identifying with a main character...

    That said, I also was disappointed that Rowlings didn't have the guts to choose a female hero. There have been good heroines in the past - Pippi Longstocking, Nancy Drew... - but apparently they do appeal more to girls than to both sexes.
    Last edited by Niamh; 10-20-2008 at 04:06 PM.

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