It seems an idle question, I suppose. But Hawke Robinson raised this question recently as we were talking about the Harry Potter books in comparison to Tolkien’s Middle-earth mythology. Tolkien’s legacy has come close to establishing itself in a longeval niche much like the works of older writers from previous centuries.
If I recall correctly, I think Hawke was suggesting that Tolkien may now be given as much value as Shakespeare as a literary genius — or soon may be. The idea that in 500 years people will still find Tolkien as relevant as Shakespeare teases the imagination into thinking that Tolkien succeeded in creating an “English” novel (exemplifying what he felt might have been the style of some English books had the invasion of 1066 not happened).
This is an example of the kinds of topics we can meander into at Middle-earth Talk Radio but it’s one that deserves attention from other people, including fans of both Harry Potter and Middle-earth. Will J.K. Rowling’s legacy match Tolkien’s? I suppose another interesting question is whether Tolkien’s legacy should match Shakespeare’s, but there is no poll for that (yet).
You can take the poll on the new Middle-earth Radio Website.
Unfortunately, old user accounts at the previous incarnation of Middle-earth Radio could not be brought forward into this site redesign. If you had a user account you will have to sign up again. Please make an effort to do that. Hawke and I appreciate all the feedback we have received for the Middle-earth Talk Radio show.
As for Harry Potter vs. Lord of the Rings, I think they will both enjoy considerable longevity. I feel the Harry Potter story is relevant to every generation. It’s not really locked into the timeframe in which it was written (the 1990s to 2000s) so much as it is set in a “Harry Potter timeframe” in the same way Middle-earth is set in the Third Age.
The Harry Potter books follow the lives of almost ordinary young protagonists who grow up during a very dark and frightening time. It is a sad statement about human nature that today we have dark lord-like evil Satan-serving enemies of humanity like Osama bin Laden, but the War on Terror does in some way resemble those classic fictional struggles between good and evil.
Please do visit the site and vote in the poll. It’s a simplistic poll but I think it’s worth your time and attention. I hope you agree.