Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Partnership & Trust

I burst out laughing, with delight, to see an HP6 thread at The Washington Monthly - lots of brains and heart in there - and Michael Bérubé has a fine one going, too (to which I have contributed, which is not saying a whole lot). But all of a sudden it strikes me that, whatever tricks J.K. Rowling has up her sleeve, we readers have confidence in her playing fair with us, and that is something, in this moment of Rove/Plame/Bolton/&c., that is all too rare in our world. There is real good, and real evil, in the parallel Wizarding world, but "moral clarity" is at a premium (as it is in our own); triumphalism, arrogance, misplaced loyalties, flawed wisdom, denial, fear leading to oppression - these are everyday aspects of the HP universe. Rowling may have the great arc of her story laid out to the end from years ago, but she is alert to (and tactful about) the anxieties of the here and now, in her readers' lives.
At the turn of the 20th century, James and Conrad wrote, respectively, The Princess Casamassima and The Secret Agent. Both featured anarchist plots, terrorist cells, and I long wondered why and how, because I grew up in an atmosphere and received memory of state responsibility for everything bad. Now we all know that isn't necessarily the case. Rowling is much more plain-spoken (and whimsical and funny) than those lapidary masters, but I think she is just as serious, in her own way, about where we are now as they were about where they were then. If you want a counter-argument for the hi-falutin idea that these books just aren't good enough, don't have the lift of exalted fantasy, well, tough shit - try Tom Clancy. I'm sure he has the answers, and they're working, they're working....

No comments: