Friday, December 5, 2008
THE TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD by J. K. Rowling
The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a 2008 book written and illustrated by J. K. Rowling. Set in the Harry Potter world (although it features none of these characters), it includes five fairy tales about witches and wizards. These are nothing special, and some are blatant adaptations of old fairy tales. This is hardly enough to make a book, so Rowling has added Professor Dumbledore’s commentary (which is just as long or longer than the stories) following each tale. This is an attempt to humorously add moral and sociopolitical significance to these stories. This doesn’t work as well as it should have, in large part because it doesn’t feel tongue-in-cheek enough. Rowling did the illustrations here herself, but she’s no great artist, to put it kindly.
The cumulative effect of this is the distinct feeling that Rowling thinks very highly of herself, and can do whatever she wants. Which she has done, and by doing so created a very so-so work. It’s remarkably short, too – yes, it’s 100 pages, but that includes illustrations, double-spacing (at least) and vast margins. Most people will read this entire book in 30 to 60 minutes. It’s not for the tiniest children, either – Rowling uses an adult vocabulary, and several of the stories are fairly violent (much like many classic Grimm tales).
Proceeds from the sale of this book benefit Rowling’s charity, the Children’s High Level Group. Which is well and good, but the way Rowling has written her introduction, the reader might well think this charity is fictional.
Ultimately, on many levels, The Tales of Beedle the Bard is nothing short of mediocre.
TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT