Defending Potter


While I wait for the mailman to bring me my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows I've had some time to consider the views of my roommate and highbrow arts critic on the great Potter controversy:

On the millions of copies that will be purchased at midnight by readers seeking the final say, Charles observes: “There’s something thrilling about that sort of unity, except that it has almost nothing to do with the unique pleasures of reading a novel: that increasingly rare opportunity to step out of sync with the world, to experience something intimate and private.” Too true. Slicing an apple affords none of the benefits of peeling an orange.

But his argument has a tinge of disingenuousness to it. After all, he asks, “How could the ever-expanding popularity of Harry Potter take place during such an unprecedented decline in the number of Americans reading fiction?” Why should he care? Charles privileges a private, reader/author relationship—but then laments that it isn’t shared by all. He strenuously objects to the thing that’s popular, but not to popularity on principle.

It does sound a lot like a high-school narrative—the sort you shouldn’t want to read.

I think I may be too lowbrow to understand that.