Sunday, January 30, 2011

Comparative Literature: Harry Potter & The Book of Three

Ask a well-read 10 year old to start thinking about her free reading choices and interesting things develop. First of all, she's DRIVEN to read the assigned reading (which she helped select) because she wants to get to that free reading. Secondly, she's paying a lot more attention to details. She's also finding similarities between these books and titles she's read in the past, but were not assigned nor required in the discussion. Case in point: The Book of Three (The Chronicles of Prydain Book 1) (Lloyd Alexander)

While the title was cited as analogous to Harry Potter, we found it MUCH more similar to Tolkien's favorite series (J.R.R. Tolkien Boxed Set (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings). E read Tolkien's "Rings" series last year and returns to them now and again like returning to old friends. She selects her favorite chapters and reads them without the frills of the rest of the book. Or she may just hunt down a few passages. Still, this project wasn't about Tolkien; or was it?

Turns out both Tolkien and Alexander had a thing for Northern Mythology, particularly Welsh Mythology. (You can read more about Tolkien and his literary studies and influences here.)  And the similarities on the two author's stories, styles and characters are discussed here. Alexander, who published The Book of Three in 1964, was said to have been inspired by Tolkien, whose books were penned from 1937-1949 with the series' publication complete in 1954.

I've also read that JK Rowling was interested in and inspired by various mythologies. Clearly, she is well read and knowledgeable about a variety of mythological beasts and tales. Still, E found little of Alexander in Harry Potter. Here's her take:

Harry Potter and The Book of Three are very different. The Book of Three is more like  The Lord of the Rings than anything.

Gurgi in The Book of Threeis a lot like Dobby, the house elf in Harry Potter. Eilonwy is like Hermione. Fflewddur Fflam is a lot like Lockheart because both tend to exaggerate.

These books are different partially because of the settings. The Book of Three is set in an imaginary land, and the characters travel around a lot. Harry Potter is set in England at a wizards' school, and, for the most part, stays put.

The story lines are very different. They are both good-and-evil themed. In Harry Potter the main character is a wizard. In The Book of Three  the main character has no magic.

Basically, I like Harry Potter better. (I like Harry Potter better than almost any book.) But both of these books were very good. They were very different, but also alike in some ways. They are both for older readers, maybe about nine and older.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog featured with: