Harold Bloom, writing in The Wall Street Journal seven years ago, showed us a flash of a better approach to sneering at Harry Potter:
The ultimate model for Harry Potter is “Tom Brown’s School Days” by Thomas Hughes, published in 1857. The book depicts the Rugby School presided over by the formidable Thomas Arnold, remembered now primarily as the father of Matthew Arnold, the Victorian critic-poet. But Hughes’ book, still quite readable, was realism, not fantasy. Rowling has taken “Tom Brown’s School Days” and re-seen it in the magical mirror of Tolkein. The resultant blend of a schoolboy ethos with a liberation from the constraints of reality-testing may read oddly to me, but is exactly what millions of children and their parents desire and welcome at this time.
You know what? That’s interesting! Unfortunately, instead of continuing in that vein of saying interesting things about the relationship of JK Rowling’s books to the English boarding school genre, we get a predictable rant about the sad state of things.