Pro & Contra

All night thousands of people armed with English dictionaries queued at book shops to be among the first to read a book about a young wizard in the original language. Why do these novels touch the Russian soul?

"The Russian yearning for order is finally realized in Rowling's novels"
Dmitry Bykov
Writer


In the Harry Potter books, the plot may be badly drawn but the setting - background, characters, place, atmosphere - is brilliant. That's why Russians like them. We're good at plot and bad at setting. Our actions and passions are positively Shakespearean, but the setting for our lives is rather flat and unappealing. Maybe that's why we like role-playing games. Live-action roleplaying games have taken off in Russia like nowhere else on earth. Kids take the setting of Rowling's novels and act out their own plots, which are much more interesting than hers. In the Harry Potter novels, everything is logical, orderly, and clear-cut. There are spells they need to make their potions, and thousands of practices to master before the wand will work - plus the guiding principle that good must triumph over evil.

"There is something unchristian in the obsession with Potter"
Father Maxim
Ootodox Priest


When a work of literature that is not first-rate or even tenth-rate becomes so popular and so easily flogged to millions of readers, it's a certain indication of poor taste. First, I don't share the general opinion that this is good literature. Second, the books are rather elitist: an attractive and cultured boy in glasses stands up to the rabble. There is something unchristian in that. And finally, it's not a magic fairy tale at all. In fairy tales, the magical world and the real world intersect, but they don't merge. It's hard to think of a single classical fairy tale where the hero is a wizard - and especially a tale where you can't tell if he's a good wizard or a bad one. In these books, the real world merges with the virtual world. Given modern uncritical thinking, influenced by atheism and without ethical standards, these kinds of obsessions lead to moral apathy.

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