My take on the Harry Potter situation comes straight from Fitzgerald: "'A classic,' suggested Anthony, 'is a successful book that has survived the reaction of the next period or generation. Then it's safe, like a style in architecture or furniture. It's acquired a picturesque dignity to take the place of it's fashion.'"-The Beautiful and the Damned
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.
Olive, I hate to disagree with you, but something you said regarding Harry Potter kinda upset me. You said you don't regard it as "literature," and I think that there's a definition of literature much broader than the classics and great modern novels found in the "literature" section of the book stores. YAL, sci-fi, graphic novels and films can be considered literature, since they can be analyzed using the same theories and lenses as traditional lit analysis. So yes,I consider HP literature.
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'd just like to say that for the generation that was raised with Harry Potter, it's not just a gateway to literature. It's been a series that has influenced us our entire lives and presented us with perspectives on life we wouldn't have otherwise been acquainted with until much later (and in many cases, ever). Older people (although I'm not sure how old you yourself are!) may discount it as not on the same level as "literature classics" however for the Harry Potter generation, it absolutely is.
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 didn't really know how to send this properly, but the meme with the whole not taking a teacher seriously for not having read Harry Potter is ridiculous. There's a difference between influencing the general public, and influencing actual literature. Few authors of actual literary merit would list Harry Potter as an influence. Maybe many of the authors of the tripe that pervades the shelves of bookstores, yes; but anything that will be remembered for more than a few years; no.
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.
I'm a German major (in a German country (not Germany though)) and a great many of your posts apply to me (even posts concerning literature, but that's due to my general interest in English literature). I like to think English Major Armadillo applies to anyone who majors in their country's main language, there are certain traits shared by us all (orthography nazi-dom, grammar police, etc.). So while I'd follow a German Major meme I'd still consider myself an armadillo first.
I never thought of it this way! That’s great! Thanks for the comment! :D
About the whole debate over Hemingway: just the other day, a friend of mine argued that she found it very strange for a girl to be into Hemingway, as strange as a boy being into Jane Austen. I think she meant it "personality-wise" more than "gender-directed", and quite a few agreed with her. What do you armadillos think?
Hmmm, I’m not sure I agree…
I’ve actually met more women who were Hemingway fans than men! And I know more than a few male Austen fans.
Personally, ignoring the aesthetic of it for a moment, I don't think it's really a big deal. I'm sure people can just ignore it. It's hardly garish. At least it's not blinking or playing obnoxious music.
Oh believe me, I would kill it with fire if it started doing that. O_O
Some of you may already have noticed that there is now an ad bar at the top of the FYEMA page. I know it doesn’t look very pretty….but since the blog gets over 1,000 hits per day I thought it may be worth trying out. If anyone really hates it just let me know and I’ll take it down. :)
To the person wondering about Hemingway: I would absolutely recommend starting with The Sun Also Rises. It's shorter and more optimistic than A Farewell To Arms (actually, I just wrote a paper about that...), and it's wonderfully easy to get into. I completely agree with wasgolden; it was heartbreaking to see Hemingway bashed in an armadillo meme. Even if his style is sparse and simplistic, every sentence is imbued with so much meaning. Grandiloquence isn't always a good thing!