Monday, December 20, 2010

Harry Potter: False Messiah- Update

I just read an article by George Orwell about the "boys' weeklies" in his time which strikes an excellent parallel imho to my post on Harry Potter a week or two back. Read "Boys' Weeklies" here. Some highlights include the use of old stone schools in the boys weeklies since 1900 as a way of introducing privilege fantasy into the story. And that many boys read several 12-15,000 word fantasy stories every week, and didn't read anything but the newspaper later in life. I'll quote one paragraph from the essay, where Orwell describes the background to every story in the two most famous boys weeklies:

The mental world of the Gem and Magnet, therefore, is something like this:
The year is 1910 — or 1940, but it is all the same. You are at Greyfriars, a rosy-cheeked boy of fourteen in posh tailor-made clothes, sitting down to tea in your study on the Remove passage after an exciting game of football which was won by an odd goal in the last half-minute. There is a cosy fire in the study, and outside the wind is whistling. The ivy clusters thickly round the old grey stones. The King is on his throne and the pound is worth a pound. Over in Europe the comic foreigners are jabbering and gesticulating, but the grim grey battleships of the British Fleet are steaming up the Channel and at the outposts of Empire the monocled Englishmen are holding the niggers at bay. Lord Mauleverer has just got another fiver and we are all settling down to a tremendous tea of sausages, sardines, crumpets, potted meat, jam and doughnuts. After tea we shall sit round the study fire having a good laugh at Billy Bunter and discussing the team for next week's match against Rook-wood. Everything is safe, solid and unquestionable. Everything will be the same for ever and ever. That approximately is the atmosphere.

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