Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Harry Potter and Isaac Bashevis Singer

Ed Cohn has a pointer to a New York Times article on Harry Potter scholarship that includes a discussion of human rights violations in the wizarding world, among other things. I couldn't help but think of Harry Potter when I recently read Isaac Bashevis Singer's speech at the 1978 Nobel Banquet:

"Ladies and Gentlemen: There are five hundred reasons why I began to write for children, but to save time I will mention only ten of them. Number 1) Children read books, not reviews. They don't give a hoot about the critics. Number 2) Children don't read to find their identity. Number 3) They don't read to free themselves of guilt, to quench the thirst for rebellion, or to get rid of alienation. Number 4) They have no use for psychology. Number 5) They detest sociology. Number 6) They don't try to understand Kafka or Finnegans Wake. Number 7) They still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff. Number 8) They love interesting stories, not commentary, guides, or footnotes. Number 9) When a book is boring, they yawn openly, without any shame or fear of authority. Number 10) They don't expect their beloved writer to redeem humanity. Young as they are, they know that it is not in his power. Only the adults have such childish illusions."

Words of wisdom, perhaps, for some the the HP critics. Incidentally, I'm finding Singer's work to be rather interesting, and will have Satan in Goray finished before I go to sleep tonight. After I also finish The Magician of Lublin, expect a post on the subject.


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