Why are shity writers like J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer and E. L. James so famous? Are crappy authors who pander to the uneducated a historic normality or is this a recent phenomenon?
What's happening is part of a phenomenon I wrote about a couple of years ago when I was asked to comment on Rowling. I went to the Yale University bookstore and bought and read a copy of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." I suffered a great deal in the process. The writing was dreadful; the book was terrible. As I read, I noticed that every time a character went for a walk, the author wrote instead that the character "stretched his legs." I began marking on the back of an envelope every time that phrase was repeated. I stopped only after I had marked the envelope several dozen times. I was incredulous. Rowling's mind is so governed by cliches and dead metaphors that she has no other style of writing.
But when I wrote that in a newspaper, I was denounced. I was told that children would now read only J.K. Rowling, and I was asked whether that wasn't, after all, better than reading nothing at all? If Rowling was what it took to make them pick up a book, wasn't that a good thing?
It is not. "Harry Potter" will not lead our children on to Kipling's "Just So Stories" or his "Jungle Book." It will not lead them to Thurber's "Thirteen Clocks" or Kenneth Grahame's "Wind in the Willows" or Lewis Carroll's "Alice."
Later I read a lavish, loving review of Harry Potter by the same Stephen King. He wrote something to the effect of, "If these kids are reading Harry Potter at 11 or 12, then when they get older they will go on to read Stephen King." And he was quite right. He was not being ironic. When you read "Harry Potter" you are, in fact, trained to read Stephen King.
Our society and our literature and our culture are being dumbed down, and the causes are very complex. I'm 73 years old. In a lifetime of teaching English, I've seen the study of literature debased. There's very little authentic study of the humanities remaining. My research assistant came to me two years ago saying she'd been in a seminar in which the teacher spent two hours saying that Walt Whitman was a racist. This isn't even good nonsense. It's insufferable.
Wow. I don't think I've had an answer that well put together in a long time. I completely agree. I just finished a collection of Ernest Hemingways short stories and I felt more fulfilled than reading whatever I got through with the Potter series. I'm trying to understand the phenomenon on a group psychology level and I still can't seem to grasp it. I'm not saying there are no good authors anymore but there definitely has been a large shift in what society is reading. It leaves me wondering if there is any historical precedence for it.
>re crappy authors who pander to the uneducated a historic normality or is this a recent phenomenon?
It's normal. As long as there has been literate populations, there have always been crappy books written for idiots. Since the 1830s anyway.
>Since the 1830s anyway.
Way earlier actually, a lot of renaissance novels are parodies of crappy chivalry stories that were immensely popular in late medieval times.
Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais is one of those parodies, Don Quijote is another
>putting Rowling in the same boat with Meyer and James
Also, EL James shouldn't even qualify as an author.
The harry potter cancer is coming back in full force boys
you better batten down the hatches because this board is going to be flooded very soon