prosa
Posts: 5389
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2001 3:24 am

Harry Potter's Popularity

Mon Aug 30, 2004 11:12 am

Take this theory with a grain of salt, as I've only read two of the Harry Potter books (Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets), but I've got a theory as to why they're so hugely popular with readers of all ages. It's not J.K. Rowling's writing skill, as excellent as it may be, or the adventures Harry encounters, or the spells and supernatural creatures we meet. It's something much more mundane - the way that most of the children and young adult characters are like people most of us really know.
Consider some of the major ones: the loyal buddy who'll stick with us through anything (Ron); the smart, teacher's pet-ish girl who just barely manages to avoid being an obnoxious know-it-all (Hermione); the spoiled brat (Dudley); the superjock, who lives and breathes sports (Oliver, the let's-practice-at-dawn Quidditch captain); the kid who gets a bit of authority and becomes slightly drunk with power (Percy the prefect); and the archenemy who just hates our guts (Draco). And let's not forget Harry himself, a super-capable achiever who's bewildered by his abilities.
I've been out of school for years yet can picture kids who fit squarely into most of those categories. I'm certainly not alone. And that, in my opinion, is the secret to Harry Potter's huge popularity.
"Let me think about it" = the coward's way of saying "no"
 
scottieprecord
Posts: 1208
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2004 5:38 am

RE: Harry Potter's Popularity

Mon Aug 30, 2004 11:38 am

I'm going to have to agree with you on that one. That makes it easy to picture yourself in the book as Harry or one of the others. When I was reading the books a few years ago, I seem to remember doing that... Embarrassment
 
Klaus
Posts: 20649
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2001 7:41 am

RE: Harry Potter's Popularity

Mon Aug 30, 2004 11:41 am

I don´t think so... That formula is used by writers everywhere. You´d find very similar characters in fiction of any kind.

At least for me, 90+% of the appeal is in the world she creates, filled with references, absurd and satirical, still "realistic" in many ways. It´s a great combination. And, of course, ironical humour always helps...  Wink/being sarcastic
 
prosa
Posts: 5389
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2001 3:24 am

RE: Harry Potter's Popularity

Mon Aug 30, 2004 11:07 pm

At least for me, 90+% of the appeal is in the world she creates, filled with references, absurd and satirical, still "realistic" in many ways. It´s a great combination. And, of course, ironical humour always helps...

Those things are important, for sure. Even so, the child characters with whom we can identify are a major part of the books' appeal. Other fiction writers may try to use characters of that sort, as you note, but J.K. Rowling simply does so far better than almost anyone else.
"Let me think about it" = the coward's way of saying "no"
 
Klaus
Posts: 20649
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2001 7:41 am

Prosa

Tue Aug 31, 2004 1:09 am

No, I don´t think it´s in the characters. They´re too generic for that. Even the more lively ones.

They´re a good and solid part of the scenery, though. And that´s the indispensable part of the books.

Good characters are necessary, but they´re not enough. And not really central, in this case.
 
ConcordeBoy
Posts: 16852
Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2001 8:04 am

RE: Harry Potter's Popularity

Tue Aug 31, 2004 1:40 am

I'd say for some, it's the taboo-concept of the series:

Seen sooooo many kids with fundamentalist-Christian parents who smuggle around Harry Potter books when they can get away with it... ya know, the types (when you were growing up) who were never allowed to join you at Trick-o'-Treating?
Faire du ciel le plus bel endroit de la terre c'est impossible sans Concorde!
 
MD11Engineer
Posts: 13916
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2003 5:25 am

RE: Harry Potter's Popularity

Tue Aug 31, 2004 1:50 am

Concordeboy,

This might be true in the US, but e.g. my daughter, who grew up in Germany in a no very religious enviroment (now living in the US within a pragmatic, but Roman Catholic family) just loves those books. Nobody banned her from reading them. One thing though, even though she speaks fluent English and attends an American junior high, she always wants me to get her the German version. I think she wants something that is truly hers and she doesn´t have to share it with anybody else.

Jan
Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
 
mt99
Posts: 6166
Joined: Wed May 26, 1999 5:41 am

RE: Harry Potter's Popularity

Tue Aug 31, 2004 2:19 am

I agree, good characters help the story. IMHO the younger readers go for the characters, while most of the adult go for the story. So i think its a combination of both

Apart from that, i think that the books are indeed very very well written.
Step into my office, baby
 
prosa
Posts: 5389
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2001 3:24 am

RE: Harry Potter's Popularity

Tue Aug 31, 2004 2:30 am

Apart from that, i think that the books are indeed very very well written.

The fact that the books are popular with both children and adults in a sign of writing quality. Not too many other books have such a broad appeal.
"Let me think about it" = the coward's way of saying "no"
 
mt99
Posts: 6166
Joined: Wed May 26, 1999 5:41 am

RE: Harry Potter's Popularity

Tue Aug 31, 2004 2:54 am

The fact that the books are popular with both children and adults in a sign of writing quality. Not too many other books have such a broad appeal.

Yep. I have never laughed outloud when reading a book- usually i see "punch lines" comming a mile away, but Mrs. Rowing has made me laugh outloud several times. Dont know if i should credit her or her editor.
Step into my office, baby

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