This isn’t a new conversation, but Return to Hogwarts and responses from fans past and present on social media invite us to revisit the question: Is it possible to separate the art from the artist?
The answer, of course, is complicated and nuanced. Except for the moments when it’s pretty straightforward. The idea that we can separate the art from the artist hinges on a form of privilege and a misunderstanding of how creators can put themselves and their beliefs into their work. French philosopher Roland Barthes’ essay “Death of the Author” is used as a way to explain that it’s “just art” and can be consumed without any input from the creator, making the creator someone whose shouting doesn’t impact the narrative or your understanding of it. Unfortunately, when it comes to bigotry, that’s not necessarily an approach that works.
So this modernism, deconstruction, teaches that what the author meant, even what they said, doesn’t matter and isn’t the point. We each construct the story ourselves as we read/watch.
This is true until we find an author we want to criticise, when it’s not true.
Beethoven liked cotton socks. Which meant he had Links to the Slave Trade. Cancel him.
Interesting that the art can be easily separated from the artist in the case of incestuous child rapist Eric Gill. But then his work adorns the front of BBC Broadcasting House, so that’s all right then.
BiW: I was thinking Roman Polanski. Call him a child rapist, and all the goodthinkful people suddenly start dissembling about how dare you let his personal life interfere with your view of his art.
So you’re supposed to feel guilty if you enjoyed reading a school-kids-with-magic story when you were young!! The mind boggles.
I was just glancing through a few ERB stories. Edgar’s opinions on class are not exactly mine, although I’d guess the woke feel exactly like he did about about the loathsome plebs. Does this mean I should feel guilty about reading his Tarzan or Mars—-oops Barsoom stories.
Fiction is read for pleasure. If you enjoy it, you should go ahead and read it. If you’re interested in the author’s opinions about something, find them out. You can boo and hiss if you like. (I must admit by the way that Rowling’s opinions about trannies are pretty close to mine. Though I’m probably more right wing.)
I still remember when the mob in the office started having a ‘serious’ discussion about Harry. I’d dug one of the books out of the library because everyone was raising such a fuss about them so I just said ‘It’s only a school kids with magic story.’ Dead silence. They then ignored this crude interruption and went back to deploring the decay of modern youth.
Having just read my first Teen Vogue article, I find myself thinking the the death of the author might be a good idea.
Being a too-old Bloke in the Wash I never read any Hogwarts books. But in a contrarian reaction to the woke MGB-GT crowd I’ve bought and read a couple of books by “Robert Galbraith”. Most enjoyable, and with the added satisfaction of increasing the author’s sales figures while making a two-fingered gesture at her detractors.
I read the first of the HP books & took away the same as you. She’d just rewritten the classic “school” stories for boys & girls from the interwar years with magic instead of sport being the central interest. It actually surprised me it was so popular with modern kids. It’s the “public school” model, where school & what occurs there is the central focus of the characters’ lives. I’m more a product of the Just William mindset where school’s just an inconvenience you get locked in for several hours a day with no apparent purpose. Which must be typical for anyone educated much after the early 60’s. I can’t remember “identifying” with anything went on in the building. Real life was was what went on outside, when you managed to escape.
I think that you don’t need to go to a boarding school to enjoy books that are set in one. I remember reading and enjoying Jennings books when I was young.
Whether it’s Rowling’s repeatedly stated views on trans people (her transmisogyny is especially pointed and painful to witness) and support of other aggressively transphobic people on main, the racism in the Harry Potter series, or casting choices across the Fantastic Beasts series, there are plenty of reasons for fans to pull back from Harry Potter entirely.
I never knew JK Rowling was so based.
Wonder if these gendermonged spastics would stroke out and shit themselves if they read George Macdonald Fraser’s Flashman series, particularly the earlier ones where Flash was a lot less niggardly in sharing his views on coloured chappies and Jews.
When I see stuff like this I can’t help thinking, “Welcome to my world, Lefties”. I’ve been ignoring the idiotic politics of my favourite actors, musicians, and authors for nigh-on forty years now. It’s rather telling that many people of roughly my age never seem to have encountered this phenomenon before.
“Interesting that the art can be easily separated from the artist in the case of incestuous child rapist Eric Gill. But then his work adorns the front of BBC Broadcasting House, so that’s all right then.”
“The idea that we can separate the art from the artist hinges on a form of privilege”
Oh, of course it bloody does. The Left got a new toy a few Christmases ago, and it’s still rampaging around the house annoying everyone with it.
The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh on Friday night was suspended from Twitter over tweets he posted recognizing biological realities and not so-called “gender identity.”
“The greatest female Jeopardy champion of all time is a man,” Walsh posted to Twitter — a tweet the left-wing site has now censored. “The top female college swimmer is a man. The first female four star admiral in the Public Health Service is a man. Men have dominated female high school track and the female MMA circuit. The patriarchy wins in the end.”
After his ban ended:
I would like to sincerely apologize for the reckless comments that got me suspended. I now realize that biology doesn’t exist, science is a myth, men are women, women are men, penises are vaginas and vaginas are penises. It all makes sense to me now. I regret the error.
Sam: why??? I know our host has a gig that requires it, but what’s your excuse?
As for JKR, the Cormoran Strike series are a really good read. It’s as though she cut her teeth on kids’ fiction and then worked out how to write really good novels in the Private Eye genre for adults.
Forgot to say, and Holliday Grainger is definitely a sight for sore eyes!
bloke in spain,
“I read the first of the HP books & took away the same as you. She’d just rewritten the classic “school” stories for boys & girls from the interwar years with magic instead of sport being the central interest. It actually surprised me it was so popular with modern kids.”
My own take is that kids mostly just like the magic *stuff*. JK Rowling did a pretty great job of world building, and little kids love that. But when you get older and start looking past that stuff and into narrative, character and meaning, there’s nothing there.
And people should understand that kids are mostly an undiscerning bunch. They don’t know what good stuff is yet. It’s how boy bands work, and how every few years you get a new one. Same thing happens with kids fiction. Sometimes, kids get something great, like Pixar films. Those pretty much stand up when watched as adults, but a lot of kids stuff doesn’t.
I think they have a point, actually. I can’t separate the content of this article from the fact that it’s published in fucking Teen Vogue.
Well given Transmisogyny isn’t a real world concept and it’s only by threat of being cancelled that anyone other than a small minority of either extreme Sexual deviants and various elitists, whose ulterior motives remain opaque, can agree to condemn Rowling, she stands totally vindicated. Just as the Dark Web had petitions during the ISIS era for Owen Jones to be kidnapped ans sent to ISIS, I think the author should be kidnapped and sent to A Boko Haram stronghold where he can explain why ‘Trans Women’ are women…
BoM4: “But when you get older and start looking past that stuff and into narrative, character and meaning, there’s nothing there.”
Actually, there’s a lot there. The HP world is dark, dangerous, and pretty unforgiving to Meddlesome Kids. Hogwarts ( and the other schools ) are a Safe Haven because the HP world is so dangerous to begin with. JKR borrowed a lot from 1984 and other rather dystopian works for parts of her setting and characterisations. Obvious to us adults, not so much for kids (or “adult” kids) who haven’t read or actively avoided such stuff.
The Potterites, who are generally the main target audience for stuff like Teen Vogue, loudly and agressively ignore all that and just want to happily wave wands in robes and play fake broomstick-rugby.
For the target market the books are surprisingly useful. Find another set of popular pre-teen/teen books where you can simply turn on the news or pull up a newspaper and go : “Yes, people like that exist. Welcome to the Real World, kiddo.”…
My ten year old nephew is slowly working his way through my collection of Enid Blyton and Biggles books, so I’m hopeful he will grow up with a healthy distrust of swarthy foreigners………despite having had the misfortune to have been born in Wales.
WE Johns- who wasn’t actually a captain – did actually fly in WWI. Bombers. Got shot down behind lines, pilot killed, he survived. Was about to be shot by pissed off German soldiers but was rescued by the German pilot who had just shot him down. Spent rest of war as POW. There’s actually quite a lot of darkness in the early stories. Biggles is on the point of break down – getting through by drinking too much. As was often the case in real life.
Johns was writing from experience.
As someone who read loads of Biggles and Just William as a child, I really should go back and re-read as they were intended at least the earlier works for adult audiences.
@andrew c – i’d recommend reading Goshawk squiadron by derek robinson for ww1 flying fiction
What does “on main” mean? Is it a well-known Americanism meaning “in the main” (if so, it seems an odd concession) or something else?
The left seem very keen on telling everyone that they just ‘Love Science!’, except when science tells them something that doesn’t conform to their ideology.
“On main” isn’t an Americanism (at least not one I’ve heard of), unless you’re talking “on Main Street”. You Brits live in the middle of the street and we Americans live on top of it.
In Britain the main (“High”) street is a row or, more usually, two rows of houses/shops/public buildings not just the thoroughfare. We don’t live in the middle of the street but on one or other side of it.
As for Biggles, I can only remember the Python sketch: “Si Señor Bigles”…