Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Nicholas Lezard is a cock.

What a big, big surprise: someone is complaining about Harry Potter and the quality, or lack thereof, of the way it is written, blah blah blah.

An even bigger surprise: the commentator in question is Nicholas Lezard who is writing for The Guardian. I loathe every word that comes out of this Harold Bloom wannabe's mouth (with the exception of what he says about buying books from independent bookstores instead of chains, which is surely par for the course).

The Harry Potter books aren’t the best written books in the world but neither are they the worst. The language isn’t particularly amazing, it’s frequently over descriptive and stuffed full of unnecessary adjectives but who cares? As far as I’m aware nobody’s claiming it’s more than a very well plotted and hugely entertaining series.

Literary snobbery is a real pet hate of mine, maybe because I’m a huge genre slut - I’ve been a big fan of fantasy and sci-fi since I was a kid but I also like books that would be, I suppose, classified as literary fiction or ‘classics’. I remember once being savaged for reading an Ursula LeGuin fantasy on holiday with a friend (Ironically LeGuin is actually a fantastic writer who has really set amazing literary standards in fantasy and science fiction writing, but anyway…). “But you’re studying English” the friend in question said. Balls. So long as a book engages me in some way - either its language grabs me or the plot does - I don’t care much about why I like it or whether it’s well written, I just keep reading.

Some books are entertaining, some are though provoking and some inspiring. Either way so long as they motivate the reader to turn the page I think they qualify as ‘good’ books.

People who complain about Harry Potter are the sort of vile people who agree with everything Harold Bloom has ever said, deride anything popular as populist and probably have to force themselves to read the books on their bedside table because they’re so fucking dull.

When Lezard says…
“I think it was Verlaine who said that he could never write a novel because he
would have to write, at some point, something like "the count walked into the
drawing-room" - not a scruple that can have bothered JK Rowling, who is happy
enough writing the most pedestrian descriptive prose.”
…I think he’s missing the point, and being kind of an arse. It’s all very well for a writer to sit at home and wank about what a fantastic book he would write if he could be pedestrian enough to write at all but writing books is bloody hard work. Writing books that engage millions of readers across the world is amazing. Not everyone has to like the same books but if Lezard had his way everybody would be sitting around with a copy of Howl.

Not only are you showing what a complete pleb you are by reading Harry Potter, he goes on to say, if you actually enjoy it it’s practically a miracle you’re reading a newspaper at all, you’re clearly such a moron.

“But if you have the patience to read it without noticing how plodding it is,
then you are self-evidently someone on whom the possibilities of the English
language are largely lost.”
Oh fuck you, Lezard. If you’re such a fucking dicksnap that you can read what is a very engaging book and see nothing but things to criticise then you are achingly dull, which is worse than being a pleb any day.

10 comments:

Lindsay said...

At least he's not writing for our Guardian. We just have shiteful columns about how great it is to have a boyfriend. Did I mention my boyfriend?

Anonymous said...

i hate the pretentious cocks that try and lord their education over the general masses, all that can be said is that he must feel awfully inadequate about something (small penis, his face looks like a mashed pea, being a social leper, failed literary career etc). Maybe you should track down a picture of him and a bio of his life ...that might be interesting. While we're at it whats his address, perhaps a little hate mail is in order.

my name is kate said...

Too true, both of you. Oh who is posting under the cloak of anonymity? Don't hide little one, come into the light...

Bolton said...

Well I'm reading my first Potter book at the moment and I was quite surprised by the simplicity of the writing.
After a few chapters I realised, "okay, so this is how it is" and reminded myself it was a children's book and was not aiming to be literature.
Surely the Dan Brown experience reminds us all that popularity and literary merit do not go hand in hand?
For a children's book it is hugely entertaining. So what if the language is simple. Get over it. If it was arty-farty it probably wouldn't be so popular.

my name is kate said...

When I first picked them up I didn't know anything about them (I think my Dad had bought it on the recommendation of the book seller and I was thinking 'but isn't this a kid's book?') but now I barely notice the simplicity because I'm so invested in the story and the characters. I can't see myself suitably inspired by the writing to make a 'Harry Potter' range of cards but the books are hard to beat for readability and a cracking good story.

Anonymous said...

I have no clue who Harold Bloom is, but Nicholas Lezard is right. Overhyped, mediocre, derivative rubish. I thought that when I gave up half way through the first Potter book & I still think it when I read that Neil Gaiman is getting hate mail for ripping off Rowling in his comic book series about a young, dark haired, bispectacled wizard, which was written a good 10 years before the first Potter book. I find it hilarious that Rowling's work is being defended against crtiticism by a fan of Ursula K LeGuin, the author of Wizard Of Earthsea... another work heavily mined for Rowlings' derivative money-spinner.

my name is kate said...

Harold Bloom is a famous literary critic, anonymous. He is very good in a lot of ways but very pompous and up his own arse in others.

I don't think any work is above criticism but I think criticising the Harry Potter books for being poor literature is missing the point. As I said, they're not the best written books in the world but they're not the worst either and if you don't get lost in either the hype or up your own arse they're very enjoyable.

I also disagree that Rowling has ripped off LeGuin's Earthsea books - the two series have almost nothing in common, in my opinion.

The Potter books are there to be enjoyed so if you don't enjoy them, as you clearly don't, I wouldn't waste any more time thinking about them.

Dave said...

And stop being anoynmous!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a cock, I'm a cunt. And I don't want everyone to read Howl. And if you hate every word I say, what would you do if I said I thought you were rather interesting?

Yours

Nicholas Lezard

my name is kate said...

Well sadly "Nicholas" (If that episode of Buffy where a demon impersonates a high school boy online (shut up) has taught us anything (and I think we all know that it has) it is that behind every fake screen name is a 58-year-old masturbator in a toupee), I'd say it's only further proof you have no idea what you're talking about. I like your eyebrows, though.