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Pratchett vs Rowling – or is it?

on July 31, 2005

I just came on to write about the BBC article about Pratchett and JKR.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/4732385.stm
Anyone who knows me knows these are my two favourite authors, I’ve read everything by both of them, so here are my thoughts on Pratchett’s comments

When I heard Pratchett was “angry at Rowling’s rise” I was annoyed because I don’t see why authors have to complain about each other’s success like that. This was, I hasten to add, before I read the BBC article.

But having read the article, to be fair I think he does have a point. Time magazine claimed that JKR “reinvented fantasy fiction” – but actually, Pratchett has been writing completely non-standard fantasy for over 30 years, it’s decidedly more subversive than JKRs – in fact, I don’t think hers is very subversive at all. You still have knights, ladies and dragons, they’re just under different names with HP. Whereas with Pratchett he really does change all the preconceptions, and makes very good points, whilst being very witty and amusing too. There literally is no other fantasy writer in the same league as him for that sort of thing.

So I can see why he’s ticked off, but I think it was the way Time reported about it in the first place that’s to blame, and I actually think that’s more the point he was making. He didn’t say she didn’t deserve the fame, he said that the media was focusing on her whilst ignoring other fantasy writers – can anyone honestly say that isn’t the case?
He also did not say that it was her fault that the media were doing this, as far as I can see, although obviously I’d have to see his original letter to be sure.

It’s not her fault if the media idolise her above other fantasy writers and act like all other fantasy is just geeky, and it’s not her fault if Time stupidly assume no one else has ever subverted the fantasy genre. That’s just Time being dense and not doing their research properly – and Pratchett didn’t say otherwise.

In fact it looks like the only comment Pratchett actually directed at JKR herself was the one about her not realising it was fantasy; probably she just hadn’t thought about what it was but it’s hardly a great insult even so is it? He hasn’t exactly said that she’s an evil cow who hasn’t got a clue – unlike certain elements of her fan-base, I might add. 😉

ETA: having now read the full text of the letter (see Mugglenet for details), I’m still of exactly the same opinion I was. He has not said that she should not be elevated, he has merely said that other writers also deserve recognition (he doesn’t even mention his own track record) – and he is absolutely right. And to all those on Mugglenet, and presumably elsewhere, who are now thinking and posting “oh I will never read a Pratchett book ever” or “I shall burn his books the second I get chance”… guess which JKR-haters you sound just likeGET A GRIP!

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