One thing I’ve noticed as a common denominator in the writing department at my university is this: the black disdain for J.K. Rowling.
From year one my professors have, individually and at separate occasions, voiced snarky, demeaning, derogatory comment about this one (in my opinion) genius, and one of my absolute inspirations.
It’s gone so far as to become something of a sign of idiocy to admit that you like her fiction in a public place. I committed this crime a while back, but no, I won’t take it back.
Today showcased the latest in such a line of raving criticism. “If she can be called a novelist” were his exact words.
Let me help.
Yes, yes, she can be called a novelist. She wrote novels, see.
But apparently there is, as it was in Dickens’s time, some kind of huge gap between ‘high’ and ‘low’ literature, and Rowling obviously doesn’t qualify for the former – and not even the latter, according to this particular person.
Interestingly, she has indeed been called ‘Dickensian’.
I read that one critic says she writes in cliché and tired metaphor; another that she has simply patched together conventions of past children’s literature.
Well, here’s what I think: there is a petty elitism, and an arrogant sense of what ‘literature’ should be, still lingering on in the writing world, and much according to the same haughty opinions as in the nineteenth century, and which was voiced against Dickens.
‘High’ art cannot be popular; popular art cannot be ‘high’.
Rubbish. I’m not saying all popular literature is brilliant and of the highest quality, but there is something about it that captures people, even if it’s the glimmering chest of a sexy vampire. I’m no fan of the Twilight saga (and I certainly don’t level it with Harry Potter), but that, Fifty Shades of Grey, and other ‘low’ art, has something within it relating to our time which George Eliot would not be able to replicate if it was republished today.
I won’t go into all the brilliancies of the Harry Potter series, as that would both be futile and take up too much space, but I won’t succumb to this expected dislike for it that seems to contaminate the ‘finer’ rooms of writing.
The series is, in writing myself, an inspiration, and one of those almost-deities of fantasy, whose absolute success is both bringing awe and admiration for the creator herself: J.K. Rowling.