Anybody who knows me knows that I love the works of JK Rowling, and even though I felt slightly let down by the last book of the series, her books still gave me more hours of pleasurable theorising than most others. I also respect her as an astute businesswoman, and first met many of the people I now consider friends while discussing Potterverse, so maybe I am not the most dispassionate of critics. But even so the attack left me stunned.
"Bland amalgam of more interesting work by more imaginative authors"? Will someone please tell me who those other authors are so I can pick up all their work? And even if the plots are episodic, isn't that necessarily true of any series set in a school? What I love most about the books is the way Harry Potter grows as a person - in OotP, he is so full of (teen?) angst you almost start hating him, and then in HBP, he swings to the other end of the spectrum - I could re-read the books to track the growth of Harry Potter alone.
The writer of the piece is entitled to his own opinion, but I can't agree with him.
Had he stopped at that, I would have just agreed to disagree and dismissed the article from my mind. But the man then proceeds to go off on a complete tangent, and loses any credibility he may otherwise have had. "Of all Britain’s celebrated children’s authors", he pontificates, "JK Rowling is among the least deserving of this honour. Off the top of my head, I can think of half a dozen better candidates — Beatrix Potter, AA Milne, Kenneth Grahame, CS Lewis, Richmal Crompton and Roald Dahl. A hundred years from now, children will still be reading those authors and Harry Potter will be a distant memory."
Frankly, apart from the fact that they are all British, I don't see anything in common with those writers and JKR. Beatrix Potter, AA Milne, Kenneth Grahame, and Richmal Crompton all wrote for young children. They are authors I either enjoyed as a child, or discovered later in life and kept aside to introduce to my children. I see my six year old starting to read and enjoy all those authors in the next 18 months. They are each very good writers, but they cater to an age group much younger than that targeted by JKR.
CS Lewis and Roald Dahl write for audiences not different from the ones that JKR writes for, and while one of the other is a "favourite author", I do not know a single person who likes any of the three and doesn't think both the others are also good. Nobody except Toby Nobody.
Not for a moment am I saying JKR is perfect, but the fact is that she has virtually defined and created a genere. People who never read "fantasy" read Harry Potter, and none of them even consider it "fantasy". The Harry Potter series got people to connect with it in a way few other series did, and JKR could not have done that without being a good writer.
The problem though is that she is alive, and enjoying the money she made. And maybe that is the reason why people tear into her the way they do. Maybe, for Toby Nobody and his ilk, you need to be dead, to be considered "good".