Friday, March 09, 2012

Some Literary Unpleasantness From The Past

Someone is always complaining about something in the literary world, and the children's lit world is no different. In this post from 2003, I cover the buzz surrounding an attack on two writers popular with young readers and mention the Readerville website, where I wasted many hours I should have been working back before the blogosphere exploded and I could start wasting time there, instead.

September 25, 2003 And None of You Readers Know Anything, Either!

Lots of talk at Readerville (and other litty sites, I'm sure) about Harold Bloom dumping on Stephen King. Since Stephen King is popular with YA readers--and since Bloom took this opportunity to moan and groan about J. K Rowling, as well--I think it's appropriate for me to talk about it, too.

First, who is Harold Bloom? The short answer is, an old guy who doesn't like anything and enjoys saying so. The long answer is he's a highly educated academic and literary critic who is well regarded by some. I wouldn't know about that, not having read anything he's written. He's well-known for promoting something called "The Western Canon," the western canon being literary works believed to have value. Most of them just happen to have been written by white, European males. Dead ones, often, too.

So he hates J.K. Rowling, saying she is a terrible writer whose readers will go on to read other terrible writers, such as Stephen King. Whom Bloom hates even more then he does our Jo.

Now, I don't necessarily think Rowling is the greatest author who has ever walked our globe, either. And I've never read anything by King, so I can't comment one way or the other. However, Bloom's "commentary" becomes nasty and personal in the article that is making noise right now. He moves away from critiquing the work to attacking the person.

In addition, the tone of the article in question suggests (at least to me) that most of the readers in the world are not educated enough to make decisions about literature, to understand and recognize quality writing. The elitist attitude is both offensive and scarey.

Notice that in he above paragraph I was writing about the tone of the article? I didn't attack Bloom, himself? That is how this lowly reader with only a mere college education believes criticism should be written.

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