Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You Are What You Read

Although this article makes the Harry Potter comparison , I'm still very interested in the underlying idea that when you read, you"psychologically become part of their world and take away emotional benefits."


Forget wizards, let's talk Shakespeare. Isn't this describing exactly what we've always known Shakespeare to be great at? We love the Henry V speech because *we* take our own personal motivation from it. We get all deep and existential with Hamlet because hey, it's not like we know any more about the undiscovered country than he did, and we're still just as consumed by it.


A fairly obvious question would be, "Doesn't all fiction do this?" and I suppose the answer is "Yes...to an extent." Sometimes to an extent so small that you don't even notice. It takes a master to build universes. Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and yes even Harry Potter. For every "classic" (forgive me for calling Harry Potter a classic already), there are hundreds of knockoffs and wanna-be's that tried to paint an almost identical universe, and came up short.



8 comments:

Sharky said...

"Forget Wizards, Let's Talk Shakespeare" doesn't work. "The Tempest" exists.

Duane said...

How about, "Forget treating Harry Potter like it's the defining work of modern English literature" and start applying psychological theories about reading fiction to a broader set of examples? I cringe to note that the article's other example is ... Twilight.

Sharky said...

Well, I don't know about "defining work," but Harry Potter was certainly instrumental into getting youngsters (and adults) into considering reading as something that was actually cool to do. As for Twilight...I've read worse. Far, far worse.

Duane said...

"Harry Potter was certainly instrumental into getting youngsters (and adults) into considering reading as something that was actually cool to do. "

So was Ender's Game. And Wrinkle in Time. And Lord of the Rings. And The Black Cauldron. And Sherlock Holmes. And the Hardy Boys. Kids have always had good stuff to read.

Unless by "cool" you mean "because it used to be nerdy" or something, which is probably not an avenue we want to go down.

"As for Twilight...I've read worse. Far, far worse."

If you compare Twilight to generic young adult romance novels I'm sure it's fine. What I don't understand are all the 40something moms out there who got way, way, *way* too into it.

Ok, so, what we've learned is that somebody needs to write a young adult version of Shakespeare, with magic and broody vampires. Who's up for it?

Sharky said...

Actually, there are a lot of well-written YA novels out there (e.g. Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games") that are engaging without the use of broody members of the undead.

The Harry Potter series was/is very accessible to youngsters because the characters are their age, which made it "cool" for them to read. Also, I can't believe you didn't mention Nancy Drew, who was far cooler than the Hardy Boys.

As far as making Shakespeare a good read to a broader audience without giving them High School English PTSD, the graphic novel "Kill Shakespeare" is a good way to go.

...as for the 40-something moms who are Twilight-obsessed, I will quote a friend of mine: "This is what happens when daddy stops touching mommy."

Duane said...

>without the use of broody members of
>the undead.

True, but I'm pretty sure that it was precisely his broody member that kept all the cougars interested.

*badump*

Had to be done.


I wish I could plug Kill Shakespeare, I really do. I appreciate the press they've gotten. But, and I hate to say this in case they're listening, I just did not like it. Naming a character in your comic book after a character in Shakespeare and then doing what you want with him is no more Shakespeare than the guy that just got voted off Dancing with the Stars is supposed to be the actual Romeo.

Sharky said...

Well, that's the thing about Kill Shakespeare. Not everyone will like it, but the graphic novel promotes INTEREST in the source material, much like Alan Moore's "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" got people interested in the works of Robert Stevenson, Oscar Wilde and Jules Verne.

Alexi said...

I'm not sure the comparison holds. LoEG is one of the most interesting and acclaimed graphic novels of all time. Kill Shakespeare...isn't. And as it has nothing to reccomend it but the namechecks of Shakespearean characters, who'd want to read it besides Shakespeare geeks? The very same geeks who can't take the story seriously when Richard III and Falstaff show up in the same land (but it's NOT England, nosiree) while Lady Macbeth betrays Macbeth. I'll repeat that: Lady Macbeth betrays Macbeth. Juliet as Princess Leia would be less out-of-character. Oh wait, they do that too...