I’ve returned from a brief hiatus (I’ve been rather ill) to find the ask box full of input for this discussion!
I’m posting this one (and not many of the others…apologies, but I do not want to spam people’s dashes) because I really like this response.
I think the idea of a “classic” and even of what merits the label of “literature” is in many ways extremely subjective. Some may consider classics only to be things that are very old and still widely read, thus having withstood the test of time. Others may say that a classic is something which has profoundly influenced other artists. Still others may claim that a classic really can only be something from the Greek or Roman “classical” period.
Remember that the books you see on the “Classics” rack at Barnes and Noble are really just works that are out of copyright and can thus be published by the company themselves at lower costs and higher profit.
Personally, I consider Harry Potter to be a modern classic and very much within the realm of literature. Just because something is intended for a young audience does not mean it cannot have a profound influence on a culture and be well-crafted and enduring. Those are the requirements that qualify something as “classic literature” to me and Harry Potter fulfills them.
As I said, it’s all a matter of opinions.
Fun fact. We discussed a definition of literature on the FYEMA forums and decided, I believe, that it is impossible to get a definition which holds true for everyone. Except tomato. We all agreed that a tomato was literature. I think.
Point being, when I say “literature,” I have my own, limited definition. There is a definition which is extremely broad, but that isn’t what I think of when I say literature.. My idea isn’t as narrow as some would have it (for example, I consider both Alice in Wonderland (YAL) and Stranger in a Strange Land (sci-fi) to be literature. And I still wouldn’t call Harry Potter literature. I do love the series, but… no.
I am the Harry Potter generation. I was in first grade when the first book was published, read it then, and continued to read every single one within a month of its release. And I stand by my statement.
I’m kind of with you on this. Yes, it was a major touchstone for most of our generation, and I think that Harry Potter will be cherished for many years to come (not just a few), but I don’t really consider it “literature.” And I think the idea of holding it against someone from the previous generation is a little ridiculous. The Harry Potter series did something fantastic, but it was fantastic for a target audience, and our teachers simply were not part of that audience. Hell, I don’t mind that my boyfriend has only read the first, because I realize that by the time the second came out, he had outgrown it (he’s a wee bit older than I am).
Harry Potter is a great series, and while it has certainly surpassed the standards for children’s/YA lit, I don’t think it’s on the same level as The Odyssey or The Lord of the Rings or Brave New World.