Shut. The. Fuck. Up. You. Smug. Bitch.

by Dan H

Dan deals with That Woman again
~

A quick mea culpa, added 20.09.09:

A random anonymous troll picked me up yesterday on the title of this article - okay they actually picked me up on "whining" so I suspect they were just an outraged fanboy, but they were actually quite right that reaching for gender-specific insults as a first recourse in an argument with a woman, even one you're not actually talking to, is not okay.

I'm leaving the title as it is, because I don't think you should try to cover these things up, but I do actually regret the choice. It's a rather nasty silencing tactic, and it shouldn't have been my first instinct.


While Kyra was writing her review of the insestimably worthy On The Jellicoe Road, a genuinely moving book about love and pain and hope, I was reading The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a genuinely infuriating book about what a great writer JK Rowling is.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a mercifully short collection of “stories” the sole function of which is to provide JK Rowling with a vehicle to have Albus Dumbledore suck her children's book cock.

Want to hear more? Here's a quick summary of the stories:

The Wizard and the Hopping Pot

Summary: Good Wizard helps Muggles with magic. When he dies, his bad son decides not to help the Muggles, the good Wizard's magic pot starts jumping up and down and annoying the crap out of him, so he eventually gives in and helps the Muggles.

Cheap point scoring: Notice that while the hero of this story is the Good Wizard who helps Muggles with magic, and that the villain is his selfish son who refuses to help Muggles with magic, that in fact the Wizards in the world of Harry Potter never so much as think about using their magic to help anybody with anything (often including themselves – see “but why didn't they cast ...” moments passim ad nauseam).

Favourite Lines: “'Begone,' cried the son. 'What care I for your brat's warts!'”

Dumbledore Apologia: Rowling uses the first set of Dumbledore's notes to introduce us to two straw men who will remain with us throughout the book. The first is Brutus Malfoy who (along with many other “Muggle Haters” tried to suppress the story of the Wizard and the Hopping Pot because it was “Pro Muggle”. Because these books are about tolerance get it? The second figure that Rowling invents to make herself look good is Beatrix Bloxom who “believed that The Tales of Beedle the Bard were damaging to children because of ... their unhealthy preoccupation with ... death, bloodshed, wicked magic ... and eruptions of the most disgusting kind”.

Do you see? Because JK Rowling writes really dark, books where dark things happen in dark ways, and some people just can't take that.

The Fountain of Fair Fortune

Summary: Three witches and a Muggle knight travel to the Fountain of Fair Fortune, which can reverse all your misfortunes. One of the witches is terminally ill, the other is extremely poor, the last is heartbroken. The Knight is just a Great Big Loser. They face perilous quests, get to the top of the hill, and discover that It Was The Journey That Was Important. It turns out that The Fountain Isn't Magic After All. The knight marries the heartbroken witch.

Cheap Points Scoring: What the fuck? One of those chicks was suffering from an incurable fucking illness. You don't just make that sort of thing go away with positive thinking.

Favourite Lines: “The sky was rent with the first ray of the sun.” “The crowd surged forwards, each of them shrieking their claim for the Fountain's benison.”

Dumbledore Apologia: The Muggle-Haters tried to have it banned again! (Lucius Malfoy this time, because a witch marries a Muggle at the end). But Dumbledore was like, no way man, because people should totally be allowed to marry Muggles if they want to. I'm so glad that JK Rowling is presenting these thoughtful, incisive comments on the nature of racism to the British youth.

The Warlock's Hairy Heart

Summary: Actually this one's alright, because it's essentially ripped off from other, better fairytales and doesn't have anything to do with the Harry Potter mythos. Warlock cuts out his heart, tries to marry a hot chick for prestige, she asks him to put his heart back in, he does but it's gone TOTALLY EVIL and he kills her, then himself.

Cheap Point Scoring: Not from the text of the story, but Rowling takes pains to note in her introduction that the maiden in this story is the one exception to the rule that “Beedle's witches are much more active in seeking their fortunes than our fairy-tale heroines”. Becaues JKR is a FEMINIST. You can tell by the huge numbers of well realised, empowered female characters who get things done on their own behalf in the Potter books.

Favourite Lines: “Though many a maiden was intrigued by his haughty mein, and employed her most subtle arts to please him, none succeeded in touching his heart. The warlock gloried in his indifference and the sagacity that had produced it.”

Dumbledore Apologia: Dumbledore first of all tells us that the whole “removing your heart” thing isn't possible in the Harry Potter world. We had already worked this out because it was kinda cool, and Harry Potter magic sucks donkey balls. Then of course he goes on to tell us that this story is all about love love love love love love love. Because I don't know if you caught it, but the power of love was what the Harry Potter series was all about. That and tolerance. And death. Gosh they were a profoundly complex series of books.

I should also add that Dumbledore's explanation of this story is particularly heavy handed: “And sure enough in seeking to become superhuman this foolhardy young man renders himself inhuman. The heart he has locked away slowly shrivels and grows hair, symbolising his own descent into beasthood. He is finally reduced to a violent animal who takes what he wants by force, and he dies in a futile attempt to regain what is now forever beyond his reach – a human heart.”

Okay I know I was keeping these summaries short but what the fuck. I mean, I know JKR was always keen to have people interpret her work correctly, but even I never thought she'd be this blatant. I mean she is literally, literally having Albus Dumbledore tell you how to interpret the story. Literally. Fuck.

Babbitty Rabbity and her Cackling Stump

Summary: Stupid king wants to learn magic. Hires a conman to teach him. Conman gets Babbitty Rabbity to do magic so that the King thinks it's him doing it. This all goes wrong when the King tries to use magic to bring back a dead dog, because death is srs bzns in Harry Potter, oh yes. So Babbitty Rabbity runs away, and then threatens the King with a curse which makes everything better. Oh by the way, witches are being persecuted in this story because it is teh burnining tiemz!

Cheap point scoring: Babbitty Rabbity and her Cackling Stump is mentioned in Deathly Hallows. Were I feeling cheap, I'd suggest that Rowling wrote this completely fucking nonsensical story because having stuck herself with the title, she couldn't think of a remotely sensible way to make it work. I mean really “Babbitty Rabbity”.

Favourite Lines: “Seeking a vent for his fear and anger, the charlatan approached the window of Babbitty the washerwoman.”

Dumbledore Apologia: Dumbledore, of course, insists that this pile of nonsense involving stupid kings, fraudulent magicians and the like is all about the tragic and irreversible nature of death. This set of Dumbledore Apologia is particularly hilarious because it's basically a venue for JK Rowling to say “death is totally irreversible in my books, even though you can talk to dead people, and they can come back as ghosts, and portraits of them possess all the features which they had in real life, and are capable of experiencing all the feelings and emotions that person would in real life, death is still totally overpoweringly important in this world”.

I'm going to digress again, but the more JK tries to explain the whole death thing, the more stupid it sounds. No magic can bring somebody back from the dead. Okay, the mirror of Erised can show you your dead parents, but that's not bringing them back. Okay, your dead parents can appear out of a wand, and talk to you and give you messages from the other side, but that's still not bringing them back. And okay the dead literally watch over you in this world. And okay, magical artefacts exist which allow you to literally see the dead people who are literally watching over you. And okay, there are ghosts. And okay, if a portrait is made of a dead person you can talk to that person exactly as if they were still alive, and they'll have all the thoughts, feelings, and memories of the dead person, and you can talk to them every day, and they can express pride in your triumphs and console you in your failures, and they can make independent decisions, but that doesn't mean you can bring people back from the dead, oh no. Death is final in this world. So final that once you're dead you certainly can't show up and have long conversations with people in imaginary train stations. Oh wait.

Basically the prohibition against bringing back the dead in the Potterverse is like that business with the British Sausage in that episode of Yes Minister. You can have your dead relatives about talking to you and walking around all you like as long as you don't say they're back from the dead, it's okay. The moment the “B from the D” label gets put on somebody, they become a hideous twisted abomination created by a man's foolish desire to cheat nature.

The Tale of the Three Brothers

Summary: See here.

Cheap point scoring: See here.

Favourite Lines: “It was only when he had attained a great age that the youngest brother finally took off the Cloak of Invisibility and gave it to his son.”

Dumbledore Apologia: See here and here.

Conclusion

In short, The Tales of Beedle the Bard sucks whatever unfortunate item or items you might care to present to it. It's written in this faux-Brothers Grimm style which sounds like a nine year old's first attempt at creative writing. Of its hundred and eight pages only fifty-six are taken up with the actual stories (including illustrations) the rest being Rowling's self-serving introduction and “Dumbledore's notes”.

Like everything JK Rowling wrote after Prisoner of Azkaban, The Tales of Beedle the Bard fails on pretty much every level. It's not a book of children's stories. Fairytales and folklore can't be deliberately created, not even by the world's best-selling novelist. No child is actually going to grow up listening to the story of the Fountain of Fair Fortune.

Ultimately, TToBtB is not about the tales themselves, it's about Dumbledore's notes. It's about providing with yet another way to tell her readership, directly, what they are supposed to think about love, death, the relationship between Wizards and Muggles, and of course about Albus Dumbledore and the Harry Potter books.

I rather suspect that her next published work will simply be a single note saying “having read this, you feel that you better understand the nature of love, sacrifice, and mortality.”
~

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Comments (go to latest)
Wardog at 18:17 on 2009-02-05
Quite frankly anyone who uses the word "benison" in cold blood deserves everything they get.

Seeking a vent for his fear and anger, the charlatan approached the window of Babbitty the washerwoman

Hello there, I'm seeking a vent for my fear and anger...
Arthur B at 19:45 on 2009-02-05
Happy Christmas!!!!!!!
http://rudecyrus.livejournal.com/ at 22:26 on 2009-02-06
Man, Rowling really loves alliteration and rhyming words.

Can Dumbledore just go away already? We've spent more than enough time with the old coot.
Isabel at 16:19 on 2009-02-07
I think Dumbledore has just moved into my top spot for Most Reviled Literary Character. President Roslin from Battlestar was creeping up there but think this book has secured Albus in top spot for a while...

why cant he and That Woman please go away...
Wardog at 10:53 on 2009-02-09
Y'know, I think it says something about the nature/quality of your Xmas present to your good friend, Dan, that you had to also give him a fighting fantasy book to make up for it. =P

By the way, Rudecyrus, I've noticed a couple of comments from you scattered around the place - welcome :) I think an over-reliance on alliteration and rhyming words are yet more evidence of a mediocre author struggling to replicate a fairytale style in most superficial way way possible. Sigh.

Isabel, I'm so sad about President Roslin - spoiler spoiler spoiler

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When I thought she was dying of cancer, I was actually really into her - in that context, her semi-saintly and infalliable moral compass actually worked really well for me. For the first season and a half of BSG she was actually one of my favourite female characters on TV, like, ever - I loved the fact she was strong and vulnerable, compassionate and ruthless, and generally just a strong women in a position of power and responsibility. But then she kind of didn't die and from that moment on I completely lost faith in BSG as a whole, and the character alongside it. BSG still really upsets actually because until that exact episode (Epiphany - it is branded on my memory) I thought it was one of the best shows I had ever seen. There were problems associated with it than just Roslin, of course, but the conclusion of that arc was indictative to me.

Generally I start to hate characters when they stop being characters and start being mouth pieces for the author - like Dumbledore and, I have to say, Sam Vines and Vetinari by the latter Discworld books...
Arthur B at 10:59 on 2009-02-09
The FF book was for Dan. Beedle the Bard was really for FB. :D
Sister Magpie at 17:03 on 2009-02-11
The Muggle-Haters tried to have it banned again! (Lucius Malfoy this time, because a witch marries a Muggle at the end). But Dumbledore was like, no way man, because people should totally be allowed to marry Muggles if they want to.

Oh man, really? For some reason of all the notes this is the most egregious. Too bad it wasn't a Wizard who married a Muggle man. That would get left out for not having anything to do with the story.

Isn't there also a thing that says these were supposed to have been translated from the ancient runes by Hermione? Which makes me think Hermione's a really poor translator, but also wonder why fairy tales were ever supposed to be written in ancient runes. But I only heard that second hand, so maybe I'm wrong there.
Arthur B at 18:35 on 2009-02-11
Isn't there also a thing that says these were supposed to have been translated from the ancient runes by Hermione? Which makes me think Hermione's a really poor translator, but also wonder why fairy tales were ever supposed to be written in ancient runes. But I only heard that second hand, so maybe I'm wrong there.

Given that she did the translation (if I remember right) in the middle of Deathly Hallows, this would imply that Dumbledore either:

a) Wrote his annotations in ancient runes for shits and giggles, rather than producing a proper translation himself - which you'd think he'd do, given that he seems to think it's important that these stories are told.

b) Dictated his commentary from beyond the grave.

c) Secretly survived the series and rode to the Moon on Hagrid's motorbike waving a middle finger at the audience and yelling Fuuuuuuuck yoooooooou suckeeeeeeeeeeeeeers, leaving behind reams of commentary on the writings of the Great Rowling.
Dan H at 11:35 on 2009-02-12
Isn't there also a thing that says these were supposed to have been translated from the ancient runes by Hermione?

Yes, they were. A poster on Death to Capslock did point out that this actually makes the really awful style make more sense (because if *anybody* would use the word "benison" in cold blood, it'd be Hermione). And of course since "Hermione" is really JKR's self-insert, it sort of fits anyway.

As for the runes: surely you know that *everything* was written in Runes in Olden Times.
Rami at 16:38 on 2009-02-13
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the entire point of runes was that they were easy to carve into solid surfaces like stone or metal? So were these tales supposedly engraved into stone slabs, like the Ten Commandments Of Worshipping The Great Rowling?
http://miss-morland.livejournal.com/ at 23:16 on 2009-02-19
At this point, I'm mostly interested in the HP books as source material for fanfiction. Alas, BtB doesn't seem to have much potential in that respect...
Wardog at 12:37 on 2009-02-20
Well, not unless you want to ship Albus Dumbledore / JK Rowling
Isabel at 13:22 on 2009-02-20
"Well, not unless you want to ship Albus Dumbledore / JK Rowling"

Oh god. The mental place I just went to was not a good one...

http://miss-morland.livejournal.com/ at 13:24 on 2009-02-21
Hee. I wonder if anyone has ever written that...
Arthur B at 00:19 on 2009-04-07
JK Rowling reads Beedle the Bard at the spouses of world leaders.

What I want to know is what terrible ransom the G20 paid Rowling to get her to let the hostages go. Are we looking at the world's first fantasy author with a nuclear arsenal?
Hm I don't think guys who are ruthless enough to become leaders care for their spouses wellbeing that much.
Viorica at 01:57 on 2009-11-23
Having stumbled upon this article by the miracle of the random generator, I do have to defend Rowling on one point. The crazy woman who thinks that these stories are unsuitable for kids due to their darkity dark darkness is probably a parody of Laura Mallory and her ilk as much as it is an advertisement for JKR's infinite wisdom.

I actually read a series of (fanfic) stories about Hermione telling Ron about Muggle fairytales, and Ron trying to puzzle out their logic. Unfortunately, I've lost the link . . .
Rami at 06:09 on 2009-11-23
probably a parody of Laura Mallory and her ilk
Er, Laura Mallory? Who's that?
Dan H at 11:01 on 2009-11-23
The crazy woman who thinks that these stories are unsuitable for kids due to their darkity dark darkness is probably a parody of Laura Mallory and her ilk as much as it is an advertisement for JKR's infinite wisdom.


Like Rami I've never heard of Laura Mallory, but yeah, I do get that the HP books have come under attack from people who insist that The Children Must Be Protected.

The problem is that Rowling *also* likes to deny (implicitly rather than explicitly) the existence of other works of children's literature which are *far* darker, *far* more mature and *far* more disturbing than her own. There's a kind of recieved wisdom grown up in the last few years that JKR is some kind of benchmark for the handling of serious themes in Childrens' books.

I actually read a series of (fanfic) stories about Hermione telling Ron about Muggle fairytales, and Ron trying to puzzle out their logic. Unfortunately, I've lost the link . . .


Oh come on, how OOC is that. Since when has Hermione *ever* shown an interest in her Muggle heritage...
Arthur B at 13:56 on 2009-11-23
Google tells me that Laura Mallory is the person who claimed that the culture fostered by Harry Potter books pressures people into joining Wicca and causes school shootings. Best sources I can find for her views are a carefully-written Daily Mail article of the "we're giving this person coverage because she's crazy, but we're not going to call her crazy to her face" variety, and an Encyclopedia Dramatica writeup (watch out, potentially NSFW banner ads).
Rami at 16:35 on 2009-11-23
Oh come on, how OOC is that

Just want to confirm -- I'm guessing OOC == Out Of Canon?

Best sources I can find for her views are a carefully-written Daily Mail article

Hehehe, carefully written Daily Mail article.
Arthur B at 16:38 on 2009-11-23
Just want to confirm -- I'm guessing OOC == Out Of Canon?

I'm guessing either that or Out of Character...

Hehehe, carefully written Daily Mail article.

Well, written with sufficient care to make sure she doesn't notice they're making fun of her. Not written with sufficient care to make the reader not feel talked down to. ;)
Rami at 16:55 on 2009-11-23
I'm guessing either that or Out of Character...

Seriously, people, the TLA namespace is crowded enough already ;-)
Hi there, hope you don't mind a late and admittedly ranty comment. I only just got around to reading Beedle, and by god you're right: it is so smug and sanctimonious and badly-written and just plain infuriating.

I actually detested The Warlock's Hairy Heart a bit more than the others. In all her gushing and spewing about how wonderful and almighty Love is, through this story (maybe not so much in the actual HP series) JK seems bent on specifically endorsing the heterosexual, happy-ever-after 2.3 kids and a white picket fence kind.

It seems so because, at the outset, this baddie does nothing remarkably bad beyond deciding that the life and duties of a husband and father are not for him. But by the story's logic, this points him towards the Dark Arts and *wham* - he has become a SERIOUSLY EVIL WIZARD.
Later in the story when the Warlock reinstalls his heart and cosies up with the witch, his feelings are described in unmistakably sexual terms - like his being suddenly aware of the witch's smooth, silky skin and all that. This is what the reader is expected to recognise as Love.
But of course there's no change possible for Dark Wizards: he goes and kills the girl, because of course he was just repressing himself all these years, and everyone knows that abstinence turns people into the most horrible sexual deviants.

While Dumbledore's commentary on this story is as unenlightening as usual (his powers of literary analysis do not impress me, and neither does his deep familiarity with a single quote by Alexander Pope), it does perhaps become a bit interesting when you consider it against Dumbledore's own non-heteronormativity and brush with the Dark Side. As you've pointed out elsewhere, it seems quite clear that the two go hand in hand in Rowlingland. It also becomes apparent that Dumbledore is a flaming hypocrite.

We might make concessions for Beedle himself, who was writing in a different era, and for all we know maybe wizards traditionally had no role for celibates in their culture. But for Dumbledore to esteem Beedle's late-Medieval values as some sacred, universal truth frankly boggles the mind. Jodel on the Red Hen website writes viciously about the gaping lack of a sense of history in the Potterverse, and to me it shows here very starkly indeed.
Dan H at 15:26 on 2010-08-27
I was okay with the Warlock's Hairy Heart as a fantasy archetype (although you're right that in the context of Rowling's wider worldview it's annoying).

What're Jodel's articles? There's a whole lot of stuff on the Red Hen and I thought I'd take a look, but can't find the article you mention here.
Yeah, I see what you mean. I guess what gets to me is that the whole hairy heart thing ought to be recognisable as a fairy tale archetype, but instead it comes across as Family Values being hammered over the reader's head.

The article I'm referring to is The History of Magic. Rather long, but very interesting stuff.
http://ipslore.livejournal.com/ at 00:54 on 2011-06-03
'Fairytales and folklore can't be deliberately created, not even by the world's best-selling novelist.'

'Oh,' says Neil Gaiman. 'A challenge.'
Arthur B at 08:29 on 2011-06-03
Neil Gaiman, creating folklore? I think you need to look again. ;)
Michal at 00:42 on 2011-10-13
Fairytales and folklore can't be deliberately created, not even by the world's best-selling novelist.

Ahem, Ruth B. Bottingheimer disagrees. So does Suzanne Magnanini. (On whether fairy tales can be deliberately created, that is. I don't think either would give much merit to J.K. Rowling). Both books were assigned for my Fairy Tale & Folklore class back in uni.
Shimmin at 07:24 on 2011-10-13
I'd be interested to know what fairy tales are actually discussed (the only one I saw mention of was "Puss in Boots", which I'm not sure I quite consider a fairy tale for some reason.

Anyway, without reading the books I'm not sure if they do actually disagree, but if they did I would disagree back. I mean sure, many traditional stories, including many fairy tales were deliberately invented out of whole cloth, rather than developing from fragments through many different storytellers. But when those authors were writing them, were they actually deliberately creating fairy tales, in the sense we think of them, or just writing stories? I mean a fairy tale to us is quite a specific thing and a bit hard to define; they're fantastical but not just fantasy, they have certain types of characters and roles... lots of things written around that time are probably not considered fairy tales (bet there's loads of stuff in Grimm's nobody cares about). And I'm not convinced the category of "Fairy Tales" existed in the same way at in the 16th century. I would expect that they were really just writing stories, and somehow some of those stories came to be what we now call Fairy Tales. It's a case of evolution over centuries. Whereas someone sitting down now, in a completely different literary environment, where authorship is known and protected, and you can't easily reuse someone else's material and change it about, and it hasn't had a few hundred years to get filtered and adapted... surely they're just writing a story. It's like the old "mythology as fantasy" "Beowulf as fantasy" thing.

It just strikes me as being like trying to invent a national pastime or traditional song. You might invent something popular, but the way things achieve those particular statuses is arbitrary, mysterious and impossible to control. Also it takes a long time.
Orion at 07:59 on 2011-10-13
But the flaw with the "Beowulf as Fantasy" meme isn't just that Beowulf is old; it's that it's largely uninterested in the things fantasy books are interested in and not addressed to the same audience. You can point to a great many differences in function between a quasi-oral poetic epic and a strictly literary prose fantasy.

I'm not confident a similar gap exists between "stories about fairies written for print by individual Europeans from a few centuries ago" and "stories about fairies written for print by individual Europeans today"
Arthur B at 08:59 on 2011-10-13
But fairy stories created by authors for print are an exception, the likes of Andersen and Morris arising as a response to collections like Grimm's which collected together stories originally recounted as an oral tradition. And only a very few fairy stories cooked up from whole cloth for print - most of them Andersen's - ended up feeding back into the oral tradition. (Chances are you didn't read Andersen's original text when you were little, you listened to someone paraphrasing them.)

And the point that I think Dan was trying to make in the article is that you can't artificially design something specifically to make that jump from being a story printed in a book to a part of an oral tradition retold and paraphrased and adapted by storytellers for generation after generation. The fact that Andersen's stories managed it was in many ways an incredible fluke; the prospect of Rowling's stories doing it is remote, not least because there's very little reason to be interested in them unless you've already got hooked on Potter.
Michal at 18:31 on 2011-10-13
Shimmin, I hate to say "now that you put it that way", but...now that you put it that way, I'm not sure those books disagree, either. The audience for Straparola and Basile was not the same as the perceived audience for fairy tales in the 19th century, though you could argue that they were at least attempts at imitating oral traditions (namely, the 1001 Nights). I think we can blame hyperbolic book-jacket blurbs for this one, since both books contest the original source of what would become fairy tales read to children; neither claims that this was what the authors deliberately set out to write.

(In regards to authorship, Wikipedia surprisingly has a good list of what made it from Straparola's Facetious Nights into Grimm's Fairy Tales. For anyone who cares, the entirety of Facetious Nights is available online. And if you want to see what fairy tales are discussed in Fairy Godfather and Fairy-Tale Science, Google books has a partial preview you can take a look at.)

The point about fairy tales today is also a good one, since the term is pretty ill-defined. I hauled out my Spells of Enchantment collection (edited by Jack Zypes, who's the big name in fairy tale scholarship and all) and its got stuff from Aurelius to Straparola to Voltaire to George Macdonald to Lord Dunsany (and even Jane Yolen!), which seems maybe a bit too large a net.

I hae no desire to read Beedle, since I didn't even like Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone back when I was 11 and I don't submit myself to books I know I'll hate. Maybe someone could fill me in: what does J.K. Rowling claim? Is it just a background book going "here's the folklore traditions of a world I created", or is she actually deliberately saying "this is a book you should read to children, with helpful notes in case your kid misinterprets what I wrote?"
Michal at 18:34 on 2011-10-13
Side note: despite the title of her book, Magnanini seems to prefer the term "wonder tale"for what she's talking about.
Dan H at 18:57 on 2011-10-13
Maybe someone could fill me in: what does J.K. Rowling claim? Is it just a background book going "here's the folklore traditions of a world I created", or is she actually deliberately saying "this is a book you should read to children, with helpful notes in case your kid misinterprets what I wrote?"


I'm not sure she claims anything, which I think is sort of the problem.

When I said "Fairy-tales and folklore can't be deliberately created" (which was, I freely admit, a poor choice of words - as a couple of pointed out Hans Christian Andersen managed to do exactly that, and a lot of fairy stories do in fact have a specific author) I think what I meant (and it was a long time ago now) was that you can't sit down in the present day and write an original story which will be read by a modern audience in the same way that they would read a story passed down to them as traditional, unless you deceive your audience about the story's origins (what I actually said implies something stronger - that no consciously authored story can become traditional, and that clearly isn't true).

Beedle the Bard doesn't work as children's stories, because the stories only make sense in the context of the Harry Potter books, and the Dumbledore's Notes sections are as much part of the text as the actual stories (this also raises questions about how the book is supposed to be read - a book of fairy tales can be read in any order, whereas ToBtB seems designed to be read straight through).

The book is probably best viewed as a simple tie-in. It's not supposed to be enjoyed for itself, it's supposed to be enjoyed as a companion to the series, the pleasure of reading it comes almost entirely from recognition of familiar concepts from the Potter books. It's like Quiddich Through the Ages and Magical Beasts and where to find them, it's all about the novelty of somebody producing a "real" version of an in-world text.
http://gx1080.livejournal.com/ at 21:59 on 2011-10-13
That "History of Magic" article seems like a very long way of saying:

"The protagonists do the exact same shit that the bad guys do and they are never are called on their hypocrisy"

Which sounds like yet another fall of hack writing.
Sunnyskywalker at 22:41 on 2011-10-13
There is certainly a lot of that in the Potter books and the Red Hen article. That, and "the wild guesses the protagonists make about some people a thousand years ago based on a few scraps of hearsay should be considered factually correct and not missing any essential details." Mixing up what the characters could reasonably be expected to know and understand accurately with what the author knows about the backstory, and expecting readers not to notice the difference: also hack writing.
Andy G at 23:51 on 2011-10-13
Anyone else noticed how angry the RSS feed looks with this title repeated over and over again on it? ;)

There was a big thing in Romanticism of artistically re-creating nature and hiding your own artistry, and I guess the same thinking was behind fashioning fairy tales that were more Volks-y and authentic than the real thing.
Janne Kirjasniemi at 20:10 on 2011-10-15
Anyone else noticed how angry the RSS feed looks with this title repeated over and over again on it? ;)


Yes. Now I have a feeling that I shouldn't comment on anything and also a slight sadness over my unintended smugness and the hate it has inspired in the RSS feed.

On subject, like said, a traditional story or fairy tale or the very wide strata of literature discussed here is considered a part of story-telling heritage because several generations have upheld that tradition. So, for a modern author to write stories which in form or other qualities resembles this, it is not in any ways a bad thing and if they are succesful enough, well, they will beome traditional stories or whatnot in the future. But I suppose the problem is that J. K. Rowling did not just make up new tales as a new project, but rather made up some storytelling mythos for the Potterverse which feels like further milking of the success of Harry Potter in a rather cynical way. It seems like just a way to make parents and assorted other people to buy more of the same stuff, with the illusion that this is something new and special. Instead of writing new stories altogether perhaps?
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