General studies asked me ‘Is Harry Potter a Classic?’

First thing Tuesday morning. The bell rings and next hour will consist of me trying to keep awake and constantly looking up at the clock. Why did I choose general studies I ask myself. This subject doesn’t give me anything ‘general’ nor any knowledge. However, today a question arose and most of the class was suddenly alive, biting at each other. My teacher had asked, ‘Is Harry Potter a classic novel?’ I expected all the class to agree, assuming that they did not really understand the concept of a ‘novel’ or even ‘classic.’ But, there was one person who faced the growling animals and insisted that it was NOT a classic. He then started listing novels such as, Jane Eye, Wuthering Heights, Emma…basically any Bronte novel ( We all had our doubts that he had actually read these). So he was then interrogated about why he thought this, his reasoning was that these reads were a challenge and the language used is complex. Furthermore, he suggested that Harry Potter was an easy read and it’s the films which made the novel one which people wanted to read.

So, I came to the point which I myself had to ask myself whether Harry Potter can be called a classic. But, firstly I had to think why I considered The Great Gatsby and Great expectations to be classics. Sure, the language can be a struggle and they present ideas which are complex, but what makes them a read we still aspire to get through?

Harry Potter for me does have the potential to be a classic, but I don’t think it will ever live up to any of the classics I have mentioned. For me, it is not a classic in it’s own right. The story-line itself may be ‘clever’ but I don’t think any one novel in the whole Harry Potter collection can stand by itself. They all need each other to be *that* must read. Whereas, most classics are usually just the one book.

Maybe it’s just me but when I read Wuthering Heights, I was not wanting more nor needed more. J.K Rowling left her readers wanting more for the profits. So for me, a classic also is about the writer. I always like a writer who doesn’t milk it.

5 thoughts on “General studies asked me ‘Is Harry Potter a Classic?’

  1. This is an interesting post. I think that Harry Potter has the potential to be a classic, but a classic is something that will stand the test of time, and we don’t currently know if it will. It’s also something that can be reinterpreted as time goes on, which we also don’t know and can’t know until the time does, in fact, pass. To many people who grew up with the books, they seem like a classic because we can’t imagine that they won’t pass that test.

    The Harry Potter was always intended to be a series of seven books, even before JKR was picked up by publishers. The series is similar to JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (often seen as a classic when there isn’t an anti-fantasy bias), where the books are intended to be read as a whole. Warner Brothers milked it, but she never extended the series after it blew up. The unplanned books (the two school books, Beedle the Bard, and the prologue) went to charity.

    I hope I don’t come off judgmental or anything. I don’t think the books can be considered classics, but I think they could be. At one point Austen and Bronte and Dickens were common reading. Dickens and Poe and Twain were considered low-brow, even. It’s a children’s book, it’s fantasy, and it’s a book series rather than a stand alone book, but those don’t disclaim them from being one day considered classics.

    • Not at all judgemental. I can see the point here, classics are those that are able to ‘survive’. I think that the Harry Potter collection did have a huge jump in sales once the films started reeling out. I know that as a child, the books I read were by authors I cannot even remember, but maybe if I could visually see it in a moving picture the book may have been a greater significance. But, with the films I think that people are able to attach their experience of the books with the visual presentation and this has made most people a lot more keen ( in my class) to fight that it is a classic. Also, it is questionable whether the books are more successful due to this factor. The thing with Wuthering Heights or Jane Eye, is that the films were never ‘a hit’ so these books are seen as unreadable to my generation in my opinion. For me I think that these books will not be read down the line, due to literature changing. As i’ve witnessed in my classes, people are not as keen to read books with words that they have not heard about, but a Twilight book would soon get picked up. It could be the fact that literature is not as widely read in the 21st Century by a younger generation, which challenges them.

      I also know that the ‘classics’ mentioned may not actually be legitimately a classic, due to only having been told that I MUST read these for my literature A-level exam. So again, I think this term ‘classic’ may be labelled onto books which are from decades ago. It could be that the true meaning of a classic has either weakened or broadened.

      • Well, to be a classic, the books have to have been around for a while, so it has to be able to withstand the changes in taste. I think it was Fitzgerald who said that you must write for this generation’s young people, the next’s critics and the next’s schoolteachers.

        The HP books can be (and have been) taught and they do display most literary devices that you can learn about in advance lit classes. The bigger question is if the themes presented in the books will last, and if the characters will still seem real in ten, twenty, fifty, etc. years.

        You seem a little younger than I am (I’m in my early 20’s), so your experience with the Potter books is different. The books came out in the US when I was in the 4th grade (8-9 yrs) and the movies didn’t come out until I was 11. In those years the books were hugely popular. Most kids had read the first three well before the movies came out and most of the fans I know are fans of the books, not the movies. The movies are just a nice addition to the canon (not-so-nice for some).

        The generation that grew up with the movies, not the books, and the generation that missed out on both might not be as interested in the books. A good test will be if those who grew up loving the books (like me) can pass on that love to their kids, and if the HP books still are taught in class or considered (at least) a SpecFic classic.

        From what I’ve seen with the kids I’ve tutored and the kids in my mom’s Jr. High (ages 9/10-13/14) the “smart” kids who do a lot of reading have read the Potter books, or enjoy them once they’re recommended. I think that’s a promising sign that the books are here to last. I don’t know if it’ll be studied in high schools (the last two books are probably advanced enough), but it will likely be a standard for middle schools.

        (I think the “classics” term you’re referring to is “Western canon,” which is when certain books are considered “musts” for class or by TIME or whoever is considered an authority. There is a lot of crossover with what are considered “classics.”)

  2. I think the way inwhich I view these books can be seen as restricted. I may be only 18, so I only talk of my generation and from what I have personally seen. True, I cannot guarantee any of my points are secure in their validity and some (most) of my points can be opposed. However, I think you can put holes in both sides of the arguments, in terms of whether the novels can ever be a classic.

    I very much think the books are just a craze for now and it will be the films which will outlive them. Also, looking at your blog I can see that you are rather fond of the Harry Potter books. Therefore, you may have a bias towards them. I talk about them as an outsider, as such, I am viewing it from a perspective that may be a little naive, but we cannot forget that these are purely opinions.

    I can see that there is a posibility that the novels may just get by and be intoduced into the younger generations. But, in England I can not see these books being introduced into schools. Especially, with the recent changes of the school syllabus. As such, I think that a couple of generations will miss out on these books.

    Futhermore, I think technology is also going to impact the amount of books children read, with the additon that teenagers really do not have the time anymore. Especially with the tightening of exams and the pressure of results, I don’t think that getting through seven (quite lengthy) novels can even be put into their crammed timetables.

    Well, thats my opinion on the matter. Yes, the first few books may be read by children in Primary Schools. It’s when these children going into Highschool when priorities become fixed onto social events and school. So, only time will tell whether generations will continue to have the same amount of interest in the adventures of HP.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s