Thursday, July 28, 2005

Peculiar analogies

I am reading "Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince," which my children of course devoured immediately upon its publication and were eager to share with me, not that I resisted. (Too bad for Ian MacEwan's "Atonement," which I kept finding myself reluctant to pick up and keep reading even though I liked or at least respected it.)

Somehow volume 6 of Harry Potter is reminding me of Anthony Powell's "Dance to the Music of Time," of all things, relating to how you get glimpses of a given character at different times, when he or she is at very different stages, and it builds a composite portrait. Somehow I doubt that many other readers, even of both J.K. Rowling and Anthony Powell, have considered this an apt analogy.

The Potter books are undeniably a compulsive read, however one rates them ultimately, and they certainly have considerable virtues as well as limitations. I was amused a couple of years back by a pompous and ponderous essay by Harold Bloom, basically, "the great man of literature reads Harry Potter to tell us whether it is any good." Somehow that essay made me think of Emil Jannings in "The Blue Angel."

By the way, has anyone heard about the upcoming sequel to Bloom's recent best seller? It's called "Where to Read and When."

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