Zipes, Jack. “The Phenomenon of Harry Potter, or Why All the Talk?” Sticks and Stones:     The Troublesome Success of Children’s Literature from Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter.        1. New York: Rutledge, 2001. pp. 170-189.

 

Zipes begins his article with the lens “phenomenon” with which he chooses to critically analyzes Rowling’s Harry Potter. Referring to the books immediately as “formulaic and sexist” (171), Zipes continues to wonder “why such a conventional work of fantasy has been fetishized” (172). Zipes’ first response to his idea of “phenomenon” is to engage in the various myth’s: Rowling’s rags-to-riches story, the rejection of the first novel by several publishers, the astonishing appeal of the “postmodern whiz kid” (174), and the strange conservative controversy. Zipes goes on to discuss the four tedious and grating repetitive story lines: prison, the noble calling, the heroic adventures, and the reluctant return home which define at least the first four Harry Potter books and finishes with the following criticism regarding the literary quality of Rowling’s novels: “The field of children’s literature did not need, nor does it now need these books to become more visible. Do these books prove the quality of children’s literature? Certainly not. Books of quality—including those for young adults—are unfortunately not being read as wide as the ‘phenomenal’ books… This reminds me of the old argument that it does not matter what children read as long as they read. (We want them functionally literate. That is all that matters)” (188).

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