What is it with left-wing British writers and filmmakers and their war on the village. For conservative authors like Agatha Christie, the village symbolized the perfect miniature England. For left-wingers it’s the source of all evils, of ignorance, reactionary politics and racism.
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books were shamelessly unoriginal and her post-Harry Potter books are determined to be third rate versions of the same kind of Harold Robbins meets Social Welfare politics that are already piled on every shelf in every bookstore from London to Sydney to New York.
Here are some tidbits of her next book, which you’ll be hearing about almost as incessantly as Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, over the next few months, from the notoriously controlling author’s profile in the New Yorker
“I think there is a through-line,” Rowling said. “Mortality, morality, the two things that I obsess about.” “The Casual Vacancy” is not a whodunnit but, rather, a rural comedy of manners
What kind of morality does J.K. Rowling obsess about? Here’s a hint.
Her nonfiction canon adds up to just a few thousand words, and includes a single book review—she praised the letters of Jessica Mitford, the British writer and left-wing activist, for whom Rowling’s older daughter is named
So yes it’s a shrill left-wing screed.
The story is driven by the long-standing frustration that some of Barry’s disagreeable and right-wing neighbors have about the town’s administrative connection to the Fields, an area of public housing and poverty on the edge of a larger, nearby town. Historically, children from the Fields have had the right to attend primary school in Pagford, a place of flower baskets and other middle-class comforts, and the town has also supported a drug-treatment clinic that serves the neighborhood. In the absence of Barry’s righteous influence, the anti-Fields faction sees an opportunity to rid Pagford of this burden.
This is a story of class warfare set amid semi-rural poverty, heroin addiction, and teen-age perplexity and sexuality
How dare they! Don’t they know that heroin treatment clinics are an ornament to any English town. I bet they hate Pakistani immigrants too.
She said, “In my head, the working title for a long time was ‘Responsible,’ because for me this is a book about responsibility. In the minor sense—how responsible we are for our own personal happiness, and where we find ourselves in life—but in the macro sense also, of course: how responsible we are for the poor, the disadvantaged, other people’s misery.
Speaking of responsibility, how much has the woman with 900 million dollars given away to charity for the poor and disadvantaged?
But Rowling also seems profoundly connected to her own teen-age self. (“What does that say about my arrested development, I wonder?” she asked.)
What it says about her politics is even more predictable. Leftist politics are fossilized immaturity.
She was suddenly among privately educated girls, in pearls and turned-up shirt collars. Paraphrasing Fitzgerald, she said that she reacted to Exeter “not with the rage of the revolutionary but the smoldering hatred of the peasant.”
Yes being in a posh boarding school is exactly like living as a peasant in a feudal society.
After graduating, in 1986, she worked for a while at Amnesty International
Useless non-profit work. Check.
Rowling’s empathy can feel like condescension. But there’s no doubt that she has an understanding of the extremes of British poverty, from sources that include her husband’s experience as a general practitioner in an Edinburgh drug-addiction clinic. (He now practices elsewhere.)
It can feel like condescension because it is. It’s the usual shameless poverty porn that the left devours with a spoon. And that requires a certain amount of fake working class credentials.
Rowling has mocked journalists who, in her view, overdramatize her period of hardship—“I laughed myself stupid,” she has said, after a reporter suggested she couldn’t afford to buy writing paper—but she has contributed to this confusion. In 2008, while in a New York courtroom to oppose the publication of an unauthorized Harry Potter encyclopedia, she testified that there had been times when she was “literally choosing between food and a typewriter ribbon.”
Meet J.K. Rowling, the British Elizabeth Warren.
in retrospect: she was a middle-class graduate, poised to start a teaching career, who claimed modest state benefits while she finished a novel, which she partly wrote in an upscale café owned by her sister’s husband. (Such state benefits—for housing and living costs—were then more easily accessible to young British graduates at the start of a professional career than they have ever been in the United States.) This is hard to classify as abject poverty
But… but she had to eat her typewriter ribbons to stay alive. Didn’t she?
And like all leftists, her sense of being oppressed has to be sustained even when she has a fortune bigger than the net worth of some nations.
her public posture is often that of someone wronged: she has described buying herself a big aquamarine ring as a “no one is grinding me down” gesture made in response to tabloid coverage, and has characterized moving from an apartment to a very large house as being “driven out” by the press
And yes her book is every bit as sophisticated and innovative as you would expect.
The book’s political philosophy is generous, even if its analysis of class antagonisms is perhaps no more elaborate than that of “Caddyshack.”
And no… no one edits her.
Rowling does not widely distribute her unpublished manuscripts, and her publishers seem to have processed them with little intervention.