Unless you’ve just returned from a round trip to Alpha Centauri, you know that the last installment in the Harry Potter series has been released to much fanfare (see our review). With the story finally at an end, you’d think everything would be wrapped up neatly. But you’d be wrong. Harry Potter fans still have questions. Lot’s of questions. That’s 120000 questions submitted during an online chat with J.K. Rowling. Rowling gives more details on life after Voldemort and fleshes out the stories of some of the other characters (too bad that didn’t make it into the book). If you’re interested, and haven’t seen it yet, you can read the full chat transcript over on MuggleNet.
With all this attention on Potter after the last book’s release, The Meadville Tribune wonders whether Harry Potter has what it takes to be a classic? And by classic they are referring to things like The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord Of The Rings, and Winnie The Pooh, among others.
Now this is a very interesting question. I’d say from a purely writing standpoint that the Potter series doesn’t stand up too well to those other books. Certainly Rowling has become a better writer, but I don’t think Potter has the depth of Chronicles or LotR. Yes, the Potter series is full of interesting, fantastical ideas, but it’s really a pastiche of ideas and themes that already exist, from mythology to modern day fantasy. Woven into an enjoyable tale, yes, but really nothing terribly new.
The interesting thing to me is: Will Potter achieve classic status by virtue of its immense popularity? I’d say this is almost a certainty, if by classic we mean something that will be read and re-read by generations to come. I’d bet that the younger set who’ve read Potter will read the books and share the stories with their children. And since we’re talking millions of readers, that’s a lot of kids. I’m sure we’ll see that Potter books in print for a long, long time, and the Potter franchise will still be in the public’s eye with the last two films to go.
So, I think Potter has a decent chance to be regarded as a ‘classic’ but due more to its popularity than to how good of a story it is.