Harry Potter And The Aftermath

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.

5 thoughts on “Harry Potter And The Aftermath”

  1. A story can be helped to become a classic by translation to other media. The Wizard of Oz is at least as famous because of the movie as because of the original book.

    The success of the Potter films is a good start, and the videogames don’t hurt. If the theme park is successful, that would be a strong indicator. And the Potter stories lend themselves to a future TV series covering a year at Hogwarts per season.

  2. >> Will Potter achieve classic status by virtue of its immense popularity?

    Yes, but that might have less to do with quality than the desire to keep the Potter money train rolling — which is fueled by reprint after reprint for decades. That continual availability is what makes a classic.

  3. I think that the quality of writing in HP is as good as Narnia, but then again, I think that Lewis was at his poorest in the Narnia tales vs. the “Space Trilogy” or “Screwtape Letters” or any of his essays (all stuff that I prefer over the Narnia tales).

    So, given enough time, it may attain “classic” status.

    What? No mention of Pullman? Is he not a classic? Careful, he’ll accuse you of being part of some vast conspiracy involving the organized religions…

    :-@

  4. Have any of you read the stories of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne lately? I have, and I’m convinced the only reason this is a ‘classic’ now is because of Disney. Personally I love the writing in here and in A.A. Milne’s other writing’s, but my kids had a harder time with it. The language of the 20’s is different than today.

    I bet Lord of the Rings will be similar – the movies will end up propelling it more than the books, although they will last too.

    And I agree with John that the Potter licensees will work hard to keep the name alive (witness that theme park!)

  5. Harry Potter is likely to last many years as a children’s favorite but U think it less likely to be considered a “classic” than other works. I think it will last for reasons already given as well as the fact that for some Harry Potter fans are not big readers and these will likely be among the first books they think of when buying books for their own children tears from now. (Though I could be completely wrong and the Harry Potter books will be this eras Jonathan Livingston Seagull.)

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