Wednesday, 29 April 2009
The Decline of British Civilization
I'd like to welcome back onto the blogosphere Chris Schuler, the Independent journalist and literary critic, who after a pause of a few months has resumed his wonderful blog, Notes on the Margin, a blog about books. I should point out: a blog about real books.
In one of his latest blog entries, talking about the London Book Fair, he says:
'...Perhaps the prize goes to the Russian author Dmitri Bykov who, in a discussion about the future of the Russian novel, praised that “great seven-volume work” that is "the best realistic novel about the decline of British civilisation – you know it, the one by JK Rowling.” I think he might actually have been serious.'
In the same talk, Bykov said that the best literature is produced during periods of great social and political decline, so I am not quite sure how to interpret his comment either – I just hope he was joking! He's known to have a taste for paradox.
I personally think that Rowling's books are nothing more than the froth of our times, a cultural product rather than a work of any intellectual value. Pope, in his Rape of the Lock famously had the lock-cutting Baron say:
As long as Atalantis shall be read…
So long my honour, name, and praise shall live!
When he wrote those lines almost three hundred years ago, Pope was sure that Atalantis, a bestselling scandalous novel of the time, would be totally forgotten by posterity.
I think that the same will happen to JK Rowling and a great many other celebrated writers of today, and that the Harry Potter series will be one day remembered as the Varney the Vampire of the Twentieth Century.
Posted by Alessandro Gallenzi at 20:00