Works of literature become more popular in time, not less. Harry Potter, ever since the movies and book series have been completed, has been in rapid decline. Decades from now, people won’t know what the heck ‘Harry Potter’ is. Literature profs will look back at the time and acknowledge that Harry Potter was a collection of popular fantasy cliches of the time which might have suggested why it was popular. However, things that endure through time reflect Human nature. This is also a reason why no one will know what the heck the ‘Da Vinci’ code is decades from now either (already, people haven’t heard of it). This is what happens when a book depends on the sand of cliches instead of substantial Human and historical nature.
A better candidate of a fantasy work to become literature would be Lord of the Rings. It was published in 1955 and people still talk about it, and the work has massive influence within fantasy fiction as well as fantasy movies and fantasy video games.
From my observation, it wasn’t the critics who were elitist. Nothing is immune to criticism. Nothing. But these critics were literally shouted and screamed off the stage by Harry Potter fans. Usually, when one tells the other side to ‘shut up’, that is the sign of the loser in the argument.
People going bonkers over criticism to Harry Potter, such as say Harold Bloom’s critique, makes me suspect the critic may be correct if so many people get worked up. Incorrect critics are ignored. The ones that hit the mark tend to be responded to with a passionate intensity.
One thing I can say is that American Poetry once existed as a commercial medium. Everyone used to know who Robert Frost is (and people still do today). Poems used to be published in magazines. Today, I don’t think anyone is capable of even reading them. I once knew a student who said, “I just can’t get into Shakespeare. I don’t understand Old English.” But Shakespeare is Modern English. What Shakespeare consists of is a poetic rhythm which is Iambic Pentameter. It is perhaps the easiest of poetry meters to read. But not even students in literature classes are taught what a poetic rhythm is. They are unable to read any form of actual poetry. Yet, they are given a degree that says they can. It’s not just sad but tragic.
“These are old fuddy duddies who cannot contemplate the new.” I don’t think the critics of the critics understand the criticism or have the capability to understand it. The critics are acting under what Ezra Pound once said when he warned:
Good writers are those who keep the language efficient. That is to say, keep it accurate, keep it clean. It doesn’t matter whether a good writer wants to be useful, or whether the bad writer wants to do harm. . . .
If a nation’s literature declines, the nation atrophies and decays.
And this is why Orwell wrote his 1984 which I am sure people still recognize. I shudder to think I will likely live to an age where I mention Orwell and people go, “Who is that? What is 1984? Oh, I can’t read that. It is written in old English.”
I honestly don’t think people can read anymore. The Internet proves it everyday.
But there is one thing I find interesting. Harry Potter will not lead people to Alice in Wonderland but Super Mario Brothers did! It is not so much that one medium is being removed as people interact with video games not unlike how people once interacted with poetry and other arts. Not one gamer would argue that a game shouldn’t be ‘clean’ and ‘efficient’ no matter what that game is. Whether Pound knew it or not, he was talking up the need for better engineering in writing in the same way gamers talk up the importance of good engineering in video games.