Friday, 11 December 2009

J K Rowling, The Harry Potter Novels

Magical Molesworth (orthographically corrected).

The school cellar is out of bounds.

Nicholas Nickleby's Dementheboys Hall.

Hot cup.

The Order of the Four-Times-As-Long-As-It-Needs-To-Be.

Tom Brown's Crueldays by Thomas Horcruxhes; Maloryfoy Towers; The Chal-die School Stories; Goodbye Mr Snapes; Billy Buntledore of Grayliars School. Look, I've got loads of these. Honestly, I could go on all day.

Hallows. You keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

So, so, you read through all this stuff (and there's a lot of this stuff) assuming that the salient syllable in 'Voldemorte's name is the deathly morte one. But to finish the final vol. is to realise that that's not it. The crucial portion of his name is the old part. That's the unforgiveable sin in the Potterverse: aging. This book, despite its barely-there epilogue, equates aging with either evil or expiration, which is, deep-down, a pretty mendacious thing.


Rich Puchalsky said...

Hi Adam. I may perhaps possibly be done with the huge amount of work I've had to do and be able to comment on blogs again.

But a short comment on this: yes, you're right. But that's not the worst thing that could have happened to the Potterverse, or whatever it's called. The message of the books is: don't trust anyone over 30. Which is silly, yes, but when you get to be 30, you grow out of it. Meanwhile, there's a whole lot of heroic-fantasy hero-worship that it short-circuited. The politician who seems like he's being built up into a sort of Churchill turns out to be a lying bastard and, worse, helpless to resist the death squads. The various adults who promise to help or save Harry either cause more trouble for him, lie to him, or at best are kind of ineffectual. His parents are the only ones to not be demystified, and that's because they aren't old, they're actually dead.

So, all in all, not as bad as any of the many fantasy series in which good equates to a return to the good adults being put back in charge, a return to the antique status quo.

Adam Roberts said...

Good to hear from you again, Rich. I had wondered whether you'd got bored of the internet, and done a Dr Manhattan on us all.

I agree. Another way of puting it would be to say: it's Lord of the Rings with hobbits and dwarves siding with Dumblegandalf, and all the other adults (Aragorn, Legolas, Boromir etc) on the side of eee-vil.

Adam Roberts said...

Hmm: would 'Gandaldore' be better than 'Dumblegandalf', I wonder?

Rich Puchalsky said...

I prefer Gandaldore myself. Dumblegandalf is too long; Dumbledalf a bit too comical.

But Dumbledore himself isn't really an unequivocal hero either. Yes, the kids side with him, but they side with all sorts of adults who are a lot more feckless than they are. Harry spends a good chunk of some of the books being mad at him, and it's not all teenage angst. He has a lot of excuses for why he keeps Harry in the dark about so many things, but they never seemed that convincing to me. (The late-in-the-series implication / authorial assertion that he's a closeted gay person was inspired. As I've written elsewhere, somewhere, it provides psychological plausibility for his secretiveness and general withdrawal from adult life.) Dumbledore doesn't really become a hero until he's *dead* -- until he's sacrificed himself to save Harry.