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Harry Potter, fantasy or children's literature?

Discussion in 'Booktalk' started by Silverwolf86, Jun 30, 2003.

  1. iLLusioN' Gems: 16/31
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    IMHO harry potter is for people 10 & under. I am only 14 and i had no intrest in them even though ive read them all they were so boring to me that i cant remember anything about them
     
  2. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    You should take language into account as well. Tolkien's English is hard - especially for kids. Many of the words he used were not commonly used when he wrote LoTR, and fewer are today. To me, this just gives a book extra value (and in the case of LoTR, makes the book feel more "legendary"). Every word I need to look up in a dictionary makes a book worth more in my opinion. But for kids it would mostly be an annoyance - there's no instant gratification in Tolkien. You need patience to enjoy it.
     
  3. Rallymama Gems: 31/31
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    Then "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" must be invaluable, eh Tal? ;)
     
  4. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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  5. Splunge

    Splunge Bhaal’s financial advisor Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Yeah, Thomas Covenant was definitely great. Didn’t have to look up any words, either (but I looked up “indubitably” just to be sure I knew that one :lol: ).

    But I don’t think the original question has been answered yet – ie. What defines fantasy? For me, fantasy is an alternate version of reality. It is not overly concerned with the laws of physics as they apply in our own universe, which allows for the existence of some version of magic. With that definition, HP would definitely be fantasy. This contrasts with science fiction, which to me is a view of what might be possible in our universe given the right technology but within the constraints of our laws of physics (or some extension thereof).
     
  6. Silverwolf86 Gems: 6/31
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    [​IMG] Oh hey! I just had a friend who summed up exactly what I more or less feel is the very subtle difference in fantasy vs. well, anything else -- in particular Harry Potter. Fantasy can't be the same story in a different setting. For instance you can't take the Hobbit's plot and put it in NYC with guns and gangs instead of magic and dragons. It doesn't work. And although Harry Potter has magic and dragons if you think about it you actually can take the Harry Potter plot and put it in NYC. Harry Potter, little kid, family died in a gang war, mafia's out to get him. Now that he's a teenager he seeks to stop the leaders and put an end to it.... See what I'm saying? The Hobbit only works in Tolkein's middle Earth. I think that may also be why R.A. Salvatore feels that Star Wars isn't so much sci-fi as fantasy. The Star Wars stories only work well in the Star Wars galaxy. (Though some sci-fi fits into that mindset and others don't) And maybe that's why some fairy tales can be considered almost fantasy but not really. Because the stories can still have the same message/theme in different circumstances.

    And @ Lokken, I def. agree about the child barrier in some cases. Like the Recluce series. And even the Spine of the World (Salvatore) is a bit too adultish for kids. And I agree with your cousin. Some books I like to be serious but Harry Potter was better when it wasn't quite so serious -- which is where it started to lose it's childish aspect.

    Thank you so much you guys for defining all of this for me! Continue with the messages though. I want to see if you agree with Steve's (my friend) take on it.
     
  7. Rallymama Gems: 31/31
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    I very much disagree with the assessment that a fantasy novel has to center around a story that can't happen anywhere else. For a book to really resonate, the reader has to be able to relate to the characters and what they're going through. If the situations or emotions are too alien, you'll end up with a well-told series of actions that never gels into a real, engrossing tale. The overriding theme of LOTR is pretty basic stuff - good v. evil, little guy discovering inner strength, fellowship, etc. Those themes can be found anywhere in literature, whether they're implemented with magic or bullets or blasters.

    For a long time, that's been my beef with most of the dreck that comes out of Hollywood in the name of fantasy. It's usually a lame story that general audiences (i.e., non-SF/F afficianados) can't relate to, so it flops.

    I'd be willing to bet that someone with a better background in literature than I could come up with a non-fantasy equivalent (meaning a book with a similar theme) for just about any classic of fantasy you can name.
     
  8. JSBB Gems: 31/31
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    @Silverwolf86 - That is the silliest damned argument re. the difference between fantasy and non-fantasy that I have ever seen. I completely agree with Rallymama on this one.

    You could just as easily rework the Hobbit as a modern gang story about how the Dragon gang invaded the Dwarf gang's turf as you could relocate the Harry Potter books and remove the magic elements. (Just imagine the finale with the "Rumble of Five Gangs :p ")

    As far as Tolkein's works in general only working in Middle Earth, it seems to me that The Sword of Shannara sold pretty well for a story that "couldn't work". Sure, this is retelling a fantasy story in another fantasy setting but it could just as easily have been a science fiction or contempory setting.
     
  9. Rallymama Gems: 31/31
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    Another case in point, JSBB: What is Star Wars but a retelling of LOTR in space?
     
  10. dmc

    dmc Speak softly and carry a big briefcase Staff Member Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    My take on the definition of fantasy as a genre has always been: fiction, with at least one major element depending on an assumption that the recognized laws of nature (this includes, but is not limited to, physics), do not operate in the same way in the "world" of the book as on the earth.

    This can be translated as simply as Harry Potter (i.e., set in relatively present day society, no laws of physics have been necessarily changed, but there is an element of magic that cannot be explained by science as we know it) or as completely as LOTR (different world, physics abrogated -- sailing of the end of the world and not able to reach the west unless you're an elf -- magic works, etc.).

    This may be compared to science fiction, which I have always defined as: fiction, with at least one major element depending on an assumption that scientific progress has allowed for processes that cannot readily be conceived as probable in the present day, but which generally will fit within scientific parameters as being possible (this rules out straight magic). May be set in our own "universe" with earth as a centerpiece, but is not necessarily so, as long as it is consistent with a potential past/future.

    In this case, Star Wars fits (although it somewhat pushes the envelope with the "Force" concept) based on the theory that humanity on earth derived from humans in the Star Wars series based on some lost colony theory or similar notion.

    p.s. Whether something is children's literature has nothing to do with whether it is fantasy or sci-fi. There are plenty of children's books that would also qualify as sci-fi or fantasy. Lloyd Alexander's Black Cauldron series - kids' fantasy, any of Chistopher's books (I forget his first name) - kids' sci fi, Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising Series - kids' fantasy, Patricia McKillip's Riddlemaster books - kids' fantasy, Alan Garner's books - Elidor, Moon of Gomrath, etc. - kids' fantasy, etc. In my opinion, children's literature is a label given to books that are written with a vocabulary accessible to children of the target age, with fewer plot twists, and with no or limited adult themes (sex, violence at a graphic level, etc.).

    As is obvious from this post, I have been reading sci fi and fantasy since I was a kid and I am a geek. Oh well, know thyself. . . .
     
  11. Shrikant

    Shrikant Swords! Not words! Veteran

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    Ofcourse its fantasy. The Lord Voldermot charecter itself ensures that. Storing your soul in anothers' body is definately an absolutly fantasy world idea. Aaisac Asimov did try that with some alien robot technology fluff, but he dared not stretch it to over a short story.
    Yes, it is a childrens book with 1 Dimentional charecters and a plot as straight as all the people in that book. But that does not mean that it be consecrated as a fairy tale type work.
    Why should LOTR being one of the most widely acclaimed fantasy works be a reason to banish HP from the realm of fantasy?
     
  12. Lokken Gems: 26/31
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    Shrikanth, I'm rather sure everyone agrees that harry potter is fantasy of some extent. I mean, hello, magic? ;)

    The thing is the various definitions people have of fantasy. I consider it fantasy, but I also think it is a childrens book, however, the longer you get into the book(s) the more mature I feel the content of the story is getting.

    While on harry potter, I have to praise teh books :D
    I've finally started the fifth book today which I'm halfway through already, and I'm absolutely spellbound and I'm 20 years old! I doubtfully think that I've previously read any other books that has been able to hold my attention till I was passing in exhaustion from reading into the night.
     
  13. Alcyone Gems: 1/31
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    I know this post has been left alone for a while now but I was just checking it and it motivated me to register and respond.
    I think perhaps the question asked by the thread starter is what is causing the problem. "Fantasy, or children's literature" how about both? (well at least it started that way). To me the question is like saying "sports car or Chevrolet" it can be both or neither. HP has many fantastical and mythical aspects so , yes it is a fantasy. The target market for HP books was an age somewhere around ten. I say was because IMO the books have "grown" with her readers. I've read them all and the first one seemed much more childish than the last one. (that and the last one had some serious weight to it :D )

    I will say this. I personaly had written anything HP off until a year ago when after enough people prodding me to I watched the first movie. This of course caused me to pick up the book for comparrison, and from that point on I became a 26yr old, big fan.

    For the people who have made the LoTR comparisons. The Hobbit was to an extent marketed as "childrens literature". Also if you dig a bit you'll find that while tolkien did write the LoTR as a follow up to the Hobbit, he also wrote them as a way to express his anti-industrial views, So is LoTR a political piece or a fantasy? For the record the first time I read the Hobbit I was in 4th grade, 5th grade for LoTR. I had no trouble following or understanding the book.


    My last thought should go without saying, but here goes. A more complex book does not a better book make, no matter how good you are at describing poop it still stinks.

    Oh by the way, I'm Shane, pleased to meet all of you.
     
  14. kemanmaldea Gems: 12/31
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    My comment on this is, are fantasy and childerens book as genre mutually exclusive. My opinion is that they are not and as such HP is a childs fantasy book.
     
  15. Kovalis Darkfire Gems: 13/31
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    Neither, Harry Potter is children's fantasy.
     
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