Before I start Iâ€™d like to note that I have not read any of Prachettâ€™s books except “Good Omens” with Neil Gaimen. I have him on my to-read list though. I have read all of Rowlingâ€™s books.
Of course that has no bearing on this story.
This is about how people who do not live in the SF mindset perceive Fantasy/SciFi and just plain get it wrong. First the Time article.
First of all Iâ€™m not sure what Lev Grossman was trying to do. It seems that he is trying to ground Rowling in the real world (because a fantasy Rowling would be boring, where did he get that stupid image any way and how is the smoking and drinking version better?).
He then goes on to paint Rowling as shoddy looking but the forgives her because of giving birth and writing the new book. He calls her handsome, with a crooked nose and hooded eyes.
This is the point where Iâ€™d smack this idiot in the face if I were the one the article was about. He goes on about how she looks bad. I suppose this is his version of normal. He is painting a human portrait even if heâ€™s doing it as if he were insulting some one.
He then goes on about how much she detests Fantasy (Contrary to many previous interviews). He even uses the comment about Susan being dropped from the last novel in the Narnia series as proof. I seriously doubt that this stopped Rowling reading Narnia, her favorite series according to other interviews, as it is a complaint many had in the books which didnâ€™t stop me or many others.
Of course then we degenerate into sex. It seems Grossman though the last comment about Susan needed to be toned out. Rowling comes off as crass. But wait thereâ€™s more as then we are treated to Grossmanâ€™s worst line.
“The genre [Fantasy] tends to be deeply conservative–politically, culturally, psychologically. It looks backward to an idealized, romanticized, pseudofeudal world, where knights and ladies morris-dance to Greensleeves.”
Right there you know that heâ€™s never read a fantasy novel. Perhaps he never watched a fantasy show or movie either.
Right there, you know that Lev Grossman is not qualified to write this piece.*
He continues to compare Rowling to Lewis, despite the fact that he canâ€™t seem to make an accurate comparison. Of course then he gets to the brighter image of Rowling but even that description is riddled with jabs.
Now in comes Prachett.
The consensus is that Prachett is not swiping at Rowling but at bad journalism, bad marketing and idiots who wouldnâ€™t know fantasy from a hole in the wall. I tend to agree with Gaimenâ€™s assessment. His description of the outsiderâ€™s view of fantasy is pretty apt thought I would extend it to the literary world as well
Which brings me back to college in a bad way.
But back to the BBC article which in itself is bad reporting. Take this comment from Pratchett:
“‘Ever since The Lord of the Rings revitalised the genre, writers have played with it, reinvented it, subverted it and bent it to their times,’ he wrote.”
He doesnâ€™t mean the movies but the article neglects this.
So letâ€™s move back to a more innocent time. Terry had the same opinions in 2001 when he gave a speech after winning the CILIP Carnegie Medal.
Hereâ€™s is speech of a bewildered man trying to cope with the fact that genre=bad, literary=good to most people while gasping at the further fact they these selfsame people apparently donâ€™t know that that they overlap, intertwine and canâ€™t be pigeon-hold as such.
So back to the media which canâ€™t seem to grasp that this is not a Robin Williams vs. Disney feud.
They took it as an attack on Rowling and Tolkien rather than realizing that they were missing the point:
That there is more to fantasy than Rowling and Tolkien and that there has been for many years. Too bad you only just noticed because you missed some great ones along the way.
The literary genre, the genre of dead grandmothers and broken relationships, has been too full of itself forever. It really is too bad that they canâ€™t see above their own nose to see that they are a genre as well.
Of course genre is a problem in its own right. Just because a novel is literary doesnâ€™t mean it isnâ€™t Sci Fi or romance. Just because it is a mystery novel doesnâ€™t mean it isnâ€™t a western or psychological thriller. I know publisherâ€™s use this to easily filter the flood of manuscripts, including my own.
However I think some of it is lost in translation.
*For those of you that missed out on why Lev Grossman is not qualified let me just point out:
Of course there is more to it than that but I think I made the point. I kind of got stuck on his picture of morris dance.
Iâ€™ve updated my web design page under graphics. Some new recipes will follow later today.