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Old 08-31-2020, 12:47 PM   #1
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Harry Potter - Popular, but never to be a Classic

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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Old 08-31-2020, 01:53 PM   #2
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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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Old 08-31-2020, 04:04 PM   #3
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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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Old 08-31-2020, 04:06 PM   #4
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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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Old 08-31-2020, 05:05 PM   #5
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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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Old 08-31-2020, 05:28 PM   #6
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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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Old 08-31-2020, 05:32 PM   #7
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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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Old 08-31-2020, 05:42 PM   #8
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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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Old 08-31-2020, 05:52 PM   #9
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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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Old 08-31-2020, 06:04 PM   #10
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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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Old 08-31-2020, 06:07 PM   #11
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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).
LotR 17-18 times for me (Silmarillion twice), Monte Cristo twice (though I'm in the mood for re-read atm), most of Austen (hated Emma), probably half of Shakespeare's plays (which ofc were never meant to read). I'd rather read Hawking than Hugo, Dumas than Dickens. I have always resisted being told what to read, even in school, and am grateful to the teachers who indulged me by providing alternatives I found interesting and enjoyable. I empathize with those who find the "canonical classics" unappealing, even while enjoying some of them myself - an earlier mention of Ivanhoe has me now wanting to check it out, and I'm going to add C18/19 English poets to my TBR alongside the Urdu masters I'm haphazardly wading through now. Reading should be a joy, not a chore, and if it is a joy, the learning derived will be greater too, I think.
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Old 08-31-2020, 06:11 PM   #12
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LotR 17-18 times for me (Silmarillion twice), Monte Cristo twice (though I'm in the mood for re-read atm), most of Austen (hated Emma), probably half of Shakespeare's plays (which ofc were never meant to read). I'd rather read Hawking than Hugo, Dumas than Dickens. I have always resisted being told what to read, even in school, and am grateful to the teachers who indulged me by providing alternatives I found interesting and enjoyable. I empathize with those who find the "canonical classics" unappealing, even while enjoying some of them myself - an earlier mention of Ivanhoe has me now wanting to check it out, and I'm going to add C18/19 English poets to my TBR alongside the Urdu masters I'm haphazardly wading through now. Reading should be a joy, not a chore, and if it is a joy, the learning derived will be greater too, I think.
I think they way they teach in English class makes a lot of people turned off to reading. hey pick some really awful books and Shakespeare should never be read in school. Most of the books read are irrelevant to the lives of the students and they aren't allt hat enjoyable anyway.

If I wasn't already into reading for pleasure, school could easily have turned me off from reading. Chaucer and Shakespeare really not good to make kids read.
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Old 08-31-2020, 06:16 PM   #13
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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 don't equate "classic" with "tops in entertainment". Classics should and do cover a wide set of genre's. I doubt anybody will like them all. But if we "all" read them, then it forms a commonality in society.

Most all of the books I read are "trash". Sci Fi, Spy Thrillers and the like. I read many of the classics in school...which is the point of having classics.
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Old 08-31-2020, 06:18 PM   #14
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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.
Of course no school has you read every book that is considered a classic. But I'd bet, in the USA, the set of books assigned to read in schools across the nation have a large commonality.

Of course, Classical Education ORIGINALLY was about reading the Greek classics that were rediscovered in the rennaisance.
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Old 08-31-2020, 06:20 PM   #15
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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.
The problem with that opinion is that many books considered classics were foundations and originals the subsequent authors built upon and/or imitated. The LoTR mostly founded the modern fantasy genre, for example. Sherlock Holmes did the same with detective genre. They were pioneers, forerunners. Without them those genres would not exist in the same form as we know them today. So how could you take them out of their time and reimplant in some future time period? That future time period would no longer be the same without their predecessors. Moreover, many original works seem like cliches today exactly because thousands of other authors have imitated and copied them. They were original when they were written. You cannot take them out of that context.
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