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Harry Potter - Popular, but never to be a Classic
#1  leebase 08-31-2020, 12:47 PM
Yes...this is an opinion piece. But it's written by a fan of the Harry Potter series.

To me, the appellation "Classic" is given to books to form a common foundation of understanding, myth and imagery for society. Classics aren't just the popular books that "were read"...but books that gained enough distinction in being presented as "books you should read" in school.

I just don't think there is anything of merit to the Potter series that "kids will be elevated in their humanity and education by reading this book".

Now, Potter books are a great "gateway book" that has prompted many kids to learn to love reading. And I think it will always have a place as a popularly loved book. But that's the same play you'd put comic books or any book from a popular movie. Gateway books are valuable...but they aren't classics.

Rasin in the Sun? Classic. Hunger Games? Gateway book
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#2  Sirtel 08-31-2020, 01:53 PM
I agree. I'm not a fan of Harry Potter, but there are many, many science fiction and fantasy books I love which will never be classics. Most of them will probably not be remembered in 50 years, let alone hundreds.
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#3  John F 08-31-2020, 04:04 PM
Quote leebase
Yes...this is an opinion piece. But it's written by a fan of the Harry Potter series.

To me, the appellation "Classic" is given to books to form a common foundation of understanding, myth and imagery for society. Classics aren't just the popular books that "were read"...but books that gained enough distinction in being presented as "books you should read" in school.

I just don't think there is anything of merit to the Potter series that "kids will be elevated in their humanity and education by reading this book".

Now, Potter books are a great "gateway book" that has prompted many kids to learn to love reading. And I think it will always have a place as a popularly loved book. But that's the same play you'd put comic books or any book from a popular movie. Gateway books are valuable...but they aren't classics.

Rasin in the Sun? Classic. Hunger Games? Gateway book
I tend to agree with this.

But I also tend to think that children and YA can be classics.

On the other hand, I tend to think of The Hobbit and LOTR as classics. If ERB can be a classic (common foundation for imagery), why not Harry Potter?
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#4  hobnail 08-31-2020, 04:06 PM
I agree. What also makes it difficult determining a classic these days is that there are so many more authors cranking out books that it's a lot of work to separate the wheat from the chaff, to use a trite saying.
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#5  Sirtel 08-31-2020, 05:05 PM
Quote John F
I tend to agree with this.

But I also tend to think that children and YA can be classics.

On the other hand, I tend to think of The Hobbit and LOTR as classics. If ERB can be a classic (common foundation for imagery), why not Harry Potter?
The Hobbit and the LoTR are certainly classics. The LoTR is one of the founding books for the whole modern fantasy genre.
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#6  haertig 08-31-2020, 05:28 PM
Many classics that I have read (or tried to read) are incredibly boring and tedious to read. It has been decades since I read a classic. I doubt I will read more than one additional in my remaining lifetime. LOTR maybe - can you believe I have never read that?

Everybody has different tastes. Classics just aren't mine. Usually I find books to be so much better than movies made from them. But not for the classics. I enjoyed "The Count of Monte Cristo" movie (the version with Jim Caviezel - the only one I have seen). The book ... I was asleep before page two ended.
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#7  Uncle Robin 08-31-2020, 05:32 PM
There's also the complicating factor of culture and background - how much does part does universality play in determining a work's status as "a classic"? For example, all my education was in English, and I am now middle-aged, but until this thread I had never heard of "Raisin in the Sun". Clearly in the English-medium education system I experienced, it was not considered one of the "books you should read in school". I have never read and will never read any of the Harry Potter series, but seeing how pervasive references to the series are across language and cultural divides, they seems much more likely to "form a common foundation of understanding, myth and imagery for society" than many candidates suggested from a more traditional Anglo academic perspective.
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#8  Sirtel 08-31-2020, 05:42 PM
Quote haertig
Many classics that I have read (or tried to read) are incredibly boring and tedious to read. It has been decades since I read a classic. I doubt I will read more than one additional in my remaining lifetime. LOTR maybe - can you believe I have never read that?

Everybody has different tastes. Classics just aren't mine. Usually I find books to be so much better than movies made from them. But not for the classics. I enjoyed "The Count of Monte Cristo" movie (the version with Jim Caviezel - the only one I have seen). The book ... I was asleep before page two ended.
I haven't read a classic in decades and probably also will read no more than a few in my remaining lifetime, but I've enjoyed many classics, including LoTR and Monte Cristo (have read both 3-4 times). Also Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Pride & Prejudice, Les Miserables and many others. OTOH there have been many classics I have found to be exceedingly boring (Hemingway, to name only one. Most of Balzac I've tried, with the exception of The Courtesans).
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#9  Sirtel 08-31-2020, 05:52 PM
Quote Uncle Robin
There's also the complicating factor of culture and background - how much does part does universality play in determining a work's status as "a classic"? For example, all my education was in English, and I am now middle-aged, but until this thread I had never heard of "Raisin in the Sun". Clearly in the English-medium education system I experienced, it was not considered one of the "books you should read in school". I have never read and will never read any of the Harry Potter series, but seeing how pervasive references to the series are across language and cultural divides, they seems much more likely to "form a common foundation of understanding, myth and imagery for society" than many candidates suggested from a more traditional Anglo academic perspective.
Yes. Some books are only classics in the author's native country. Others are considered classics worldwide.
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#10  JSWolf 08-31-2020, 06:04 PM
I do think the Harry Potter series is a classic series. But I do agree that just because a book is read a lot does not make it a classic. The Bible is not a classic.

Then there are some books that are called classic that aren't such as Rendezvous with Rama. It's the best of the series and that is not saying much as the rest is awful and RwR is rubbish.

The problem with a lot of classics (the old ones written before I was born) is that I don't think most would be classics if they were written (exactly the same way) today. Some would be considered racist and a lot would not be all that well reviewed.

IMHO, a classic is a book that stands the test of time or could stand the test of time. And if published now (any now you want to pick in the future) would still be a good book.
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