Read The Complete Harry Potter Collection by J.K. Rowling Free Online
Book Title: The Complete Harry Potter Collection|
The author of the book: J.K. Rowling
Edition: Pottermore Limited
Date of issue: March 27th 2012
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 629 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.1
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But, despite the above, I have decided on mature consideration that I will attempt an experiment: I am reinstating the original review, hiding the dangerous and inflammatory content inside a spoiler tag. If you are a person easily offended by negative comments about Harry Potter and still decide to click it, then you have only yourself to blame. You have been warned.
(view spoiler)[I got into an argument the other day with an articulate 17 year old Harry Potter fan - let's call him D - who wanted to know why I was being so nasty in my review of Deathly Hallows. What was wrong with it? I offered various structural criticisms: the ending is abrupt and unconvincing, the subplot with the Horcruxes has not been adequately foreshadowed in the earlier volumes, and the book as a whole is overlong and boring. D expressed surprise that I could call Deathly Hallows boring, when I'd given five stars to Madame Bovary and Animal Farm, both of which he considered far duller. The discussion continued for some time. In the end, I said I would write a review summarising my objections to the series as a whole. Here it is.
As I said to D, it's not the books or the author. The early Potter books are cute and entertaining, and J.K. Rowling seems like a nice person - if someone's going to scoop the literary Powerball jackpot, why not her? What I very strongly object to is the way the books have been marketed. About 10 years ago, it seems to me, some clever people figured out a new marketing strategy, which they first applied to Potter; when that came to an end, the same methods were used for Twilight. Both series have enjoyed a level of success which is utterly disproportionate to their quality, and which is also unprecedented in literary history. Twilight clearly follows Potter; I've had several discussions about what preceded Potter, and the answer, everyone seems to agree, is that there was no earlier success story of this kind. Before Potter, there was no YA series of dubious merit that absolutely everyone read.
I think it's uncontroversial that Potter, in terms of literary quality, is better than Twilight, but Twilight has been even more successful. At one point, the four volumes occupied the top four spots in the New York Times bestseller list. On Goodreads, nearly half of the top 50 reviews are of Twilight books. This is an absurd and unnatural state of affairs. Even though Twilight may not be quite as bad as is sometimes made out - I'm one of many people who have tried to defend it - there's no way it deserves this level of attention.
So why is everyone reading it, and why, before that, was everyone reading Potter? As I said, I think it's primarily about the marketing, though I wish I was more sure about the details. Here, at any rate, are some thoughts. First, the publishers are aggressively using economies of scale and deals with third parties. They print very large numbers of copies, and they work together with movie studios, game companies and merchandisers to cross-promote them. I think it's particularly important that a large proportion of the books are sold, not at bookstores, but at normal supermarkets. It's well known that the cover price is usually marked down to the point where the supermarket is not in fact making any profit; they have discovered that they can successfully treat it as a loss leader. This is causing great pain to independent bookstores. Some of them, I have read, have adopted the desperate expedient of buying copies at supermarkets and then reselling them.
Second, let's look at the content and style. Even though Potter and Twilight are fairly different in some ways, they also have many strong similarities. Above all, they are extremely easy to read, at every level. The vocabulary is unchallenging; the sentences are short and simple; most characters are one-dimensional stereotypes; the story is uncomplicatedly plot-driven; there are few references to other works of literature. You can read these books if you're tired, if you're sleepy, if you have poor reading skills, if you've never read anything else. They consequently have a very large potential audience.
Third, they describe a comforting, emasculated world in which most of the things that make our own world so difficult and unpleasant have been removed. Most strikingly, there is no sex; in Harry Potter, which is supposed to be about fairly normal teens, no one masturbates, no girls get pregnant, none of them are labelled sluts because they've had sex with more than one boy (sometimes one is enough, for that matter), no one gets their heart broken and drops out of school or starts taking drugs as a result, no one is stuck in a dead-end relationship that they wish they could escape from, but can't. The worst thing that happens in either series is the sequence in New Moon where Edward temporarily leaves Bella. Meyer notoriously doesn't describe Bella's feelings at all, but just leaves several pages blank. Once, in fact not so long ago, most adults would have been embarrassed to be seen reading YA literature of this kind; to start with, the comforting word "YA" hadn't been invented yet, and they would have been reading children's books. Somehow, there's been a shift in standards. You look around you on a bus to see what people are reading, and you can be pretty sure you'll see at least a couple of people over 20 engrossed in Potter or Twilight. It's odd that this has happened, and I wish I understood why.
In conclusion, I couldn't help being struck by the two books D chose to contrast against Potter. D, Madame Bovary is going to outlast both of these authors because Emma is a real person who experiences the crazy and contradictory emotions that real people experience when they are very unhappy, and as a result she behaves in a crazy and contradictory way; also, Flaubert, unlike Rowling and Meyer, took a great deal of trouble over his prose, and created some of the most beautiful and ironic passages in world literature. There aren't many books I'd call masterpieces, but this is one of them. And finally, Animal Farm is indeed an allegory of the Russian Revolution. More importantly, though, it's about how smart, unscrupulous people manipulate trusting, weak people. Tens of millions of people are reading Potter and Twilight, not because the books are well-written or interesting, but because the readers have been manipulated into buying them by the Napoleons and Squealers of this world. That's what I'm objecting to. Think about it for a moment.
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Read information about the authorSee also: Robert Galbraith
Although she writes under the pen name J.K. Rowling, pronounced like rolling, her name when her first Harry Potter book was published was simply Joanne Rowling. Anticipating that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers demanded that she use two initials, rather than her full name. As she had no middle name, she chose K as the second initial of her pen name, from her paternal grandmother Kathleen Ada Bulgen Rowling. She calls herself Jo and has said, "No one ever called me 'Joanne' when I was young, unless they were angry." Following her marriage, she has sometimes used the name Joanne Murray when conducting personal business. During the Leveson Inquiry she gave evidence under the name of Joanne Kathleen Rowling. In a 2012 interview, Rowling noted that she no longer cared that people pronounced her name incorrectly.
Rowling was born to Peter James Rowling, a Rolls-Royce aircraft engineer, and Anne Rowling (née Volant), on 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England, 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Bristol. Her mother Anne was half-French and half-Scottish. Her parents first met on a train departing from King's Cross Station bound for Arbroath in 1964. They married on 14 March 1965. Her mother's maternal grandfather, Dugald Campbell, was born in Lamlash on the Isle of Arran. Her mother's paternal grandfather, Louis Volant, was awarded the Croix de Guerre for exceptional bravery in defending the village of Courcelles-le-Comte during the First World War.
Rowling's sister Dianne was born at their home when Rowling was 23 months old. The family moved to the nearby village Winterbourne when Rowling was four. She attended St Michael's Primary School, a school founded by abolitionist William Wilberforce and education reformer Hannah More. Her headmaster at St Michael's, Alfred Dunn, has been suggested as the inspiration for the Harry Potter headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
As a child, Rowling often wrote fantasy stories, which she would usually then read to her sister. She recalls that: "I can still remember me telling her a story in which she fell down a rabbit hole and was fed strawberries by the rabbit family inside it. Certainly the first story I ever wrote down (when I was five or six) was about a rabbit called Rabbit. He got the measles and was visited by his friends, including a giant bee called Miss Bee." At the age of nine, Rowling moved to Church Cottage in the Gloucestershire village of Tutshill, close to Chepstow, Wales. When she was a young teenager, her great aunt, who Rowling said "taught classics and approved of a thirst for knowledge, even of a questionable kind," gave her a very old copy of Jessica Mitford's autobiography, Hons and Rebels. Mitford became Rowling's heroine, and Rowling subsequently read all of her books.
Rowling has said of her teenage years, in an interview with The New Yorker, "I wasn’t particularly happy. I think it’s a dreadful time of life." She had a difficult homelife; her mother was ill and she had a difficult relationship with her father (she is no longer on speaking terms with him). She attended secondary school at Wyedean School and College, where her mother had worked as a technician in the science department. Rowling said of her adolescence, "Hermione [a bookish, know-it-all Harry Potter character] is loosely based on me. She's a caricature of me when I was eleven, which I'm not particularly proud of." Steve Eddy, who taught Rowling English when she first arrived, remembers her as "not exceptional" but "one of a group of girls who were bright, and quite good at English." Sean Harris, her best friend in the Upper Sixth owned a turquoise Ford Anglia, which she says inspired the one in her books.
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