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Critics come in for criticism

July 22, 2007

Re "The masses aren't asses," Opinion, July 18

As a teacher of sixth-grade Latin and English, I'd like to add a couple of points to Charles Taylor's piece. Literary critic Harold Bloom writes, "Why read if what you read will not enrich the mind or spirit or personality?" The Harry Potter books have definitely enriched the intellectual landscape for kids.

The idea of archetypes and of Joseph Campbell's "hero's journey" is explored in every book. The Harry Potter books are full of classical allusions, and every year students come to class excited about having discovered Latin-derived words in the wizards' spells.

By characterizing the Potter series as intellectually devoid, Bloom reveals more about his own prejudiced notions of literature than he does about what makes good writing.

A.J. Webster

Winnetka

The same criticisms of the so-called arbiters of taste could be applied to other areas of art as well. The so-called critics attempt to limit our taste to what they alone find to be good. I for one do not believe that art must be ugly to bring joy to the eyes, that poetry need not be obscure to create peace in the heart, nor does a book need to be full of existential gibberish to develop magic in the mind.

The "masses aren't asses"; the masses are people who achieve joy from contact with art that can touch their souls and imaginations.

George H. Morris

Upland

Re "Despite leaks, Harry's fans await witching hour," July 18

I am outraged that your article about Harry Potter spoilers included pictures of some of the material that was being circulated, effectively making The Times guilty of being one of the most appallingly effective spoilers. I will make sure to keep my kids from looking at your paper whenever you do an expose on pornography.

Phil Wimer

Los Osos, Calif.

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