http://www.sina.com.cn 2008年03月18日 09:55
By now you're asking: "What's he got against these books, they're just a bit of escapism, just a great fantasy?" First, let me make it clear, I'm not here to criticise or praise the quality of JK's prose or inventiveness. They may indeed be the best children's novels ever written. But I'm sure JK would be the first to agree that they are children's books, that they are successful precisely because they appeal so directly to the childish imagination, address the problems and questions of childhood, enact the hopes and dreams of childhood. Now this is a completely different set of questions from those that mesmerise us in adult life. A child is free to wonder about magic, to believe in the clear purity of the struggle between good and evil, to bask in simple, unquestioning friendships. As adults, we deal with the constantly muddled nature of good and evil, we carry a responsibility for the safety of others, we crave success and fear failure, we confront the reality instead of dreams.
And this is why different books are written for these two tribes. When I read a novel, I look to it to tell me some truths about human life--the truths that non-fiction cannot reach. These might be moral, sexual, political or psychological truths and I expect my life to be enlarged, (however slightly, by the experience of reading something fictional.) I cannot hope to come closer to any of these truths through a children's novel, where nice clean white lines are painted between the good guys and the evil ones, where magic exists, and where there are adults on hand to delineate rules. Adult fiction is about a world without rules.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: "Does everything we read somehow have to improve us? Does even a novel have to 'enlarge' us? Isn't there room for a bit of escapism?" Of course there is! But there is such a thing as escapism for adults. There are plenty of books that have little or nothing genuinely to say about the human condition, but at least they are constructed from the building bricks of adult experience--there are sexual tensions in the evil, there is a dubiety between the good guys and the bad, there is an understanding of complex human psychologies. Even the flimsiest of science fiction or the nastiest of horror stories or the most intricate of spy novels uses this as the mortar to bond together its narrative. There is no such psychological understanding in children's novels: it would be foolish for any children's writer to hope that a child reader would understand, let alone enjoy, such a level of plotting. To read a children's book is not escapism--it's evasion, it's retreat, it's surrender.
So how do all these grown-ups manage to get through it? Of course, we have all read similar books out loud to our children and enjoyed the experience, possibly enjoyed the book itself--only because we were vicariously enjoying it through them. This is one of the few untouchable pleasures of parenting; to live and relive experiences through your children, whether book or film or music. This is no different from taking them to see the latest Disney--you'll laugh, you'll get into it, you may even have a good time. But would you actually book a ticket to go and see it on your own? Of course not; it might be seen as rather sad, if not downright suspect.
So why do you read Harry Potter on your own? When the adult crossover first began, I remember a friend who works in the City covering his embarrassment by saying he had got so wrapped up in it while reading to his kids that he had to finish it alone in bed that night. At least, in those early days, he knew it was shaming to read a kids' book. Now we have the appalling spectacle of City brokers and merchant bankers block-booking seats in cinemas for their staff outings. God save us.
Is it just nostalgia? For those of us old enough to have been brought up in a largely literary age, where child escapism existed mainly on the page, Potter might be seen as a return to Narnia and Dolittle and Streatfield. It seems as though there has been nothing quite as good since--but that's only because you're supposed to grow out of children's books.
只是怀旧吗？我们的年纪使我们得以成长在一个文学风行的年代，儿时幻想主要寄托在书本上。对我们来说，波特也许是拿尼亚(英国作家C. S. Lewis的小说《狮王、女巫与衣橱》里的动物王国)、杜立德(英国作家Hugh Lofting 的小说《杜立德医生故事》里的人物)和斯特雷特菲尔德(Noel Streatfeild，英国儿童作家)的复归。从那时起似乎就再也没有能和它们媲美的书了——不过这也可能只因为人们不让你再读儿童书籍了。
For others, no doubt, brought up in the Star Wars age, it is yet another nostalgic return to England-land. There is no denying that Rowling has gone out of her way--maybe not cynically, maybe by genuine heartfelt choice--to place Potter-land in the traditional English milieu, all green fields and mossy stone quads, something more English than anyone under 80 has ever known.
Sure, maybe Harry Potter does have all these side values; it's safe, it's England, it's like something we used to read. But get real, please, there is so much good fiction out there, written specifically for your adult age group, written with you in mind. Please, next time, choose that. Don't keep running away from life.