Harry Potter Links

July 30, 2007 @ 11:53 am | Filed under: Books

Our beloved Virginia pals, the Jones girls, will be pulling into our driveway any minute for a delirious, delightful week-long visit. My girls are beside themselves. Rose has been stationed at the door for the past half hour and may well combust from sheer excitement if they don’t arrive soon.

I thought I’d get a Harry Potter post up during the weekend—a delusional notion, since this was San Diego Comicon weekend and Scott had to work long, late hours every day since the middle of last week. I’ve enjoyed some good discussion about the book, though, in the comments of this Studeo post and also at Kelly Herold’s GoodReads review. Spoiler alerts apply in both cases.

I also wanted to share the link to this very interesting take on the Harry Potter books by another of our former Virginia neighbors, Steve the Llamabutcher (posted before he read Book 7). Steve’s a big fan of the HP books but sees a failing in the wizarding world:

The bone I have to pick with J.K. Rowling—or maybe it’s
intentional, and therefore something to credit her with—is the
complete absence of the humanities from the course of education at her
magical school. The wizarding world as she presents it is completely
bereft of art and music of their own creation which is not derivative
of the creations of the non-magical world. In many respects the
wizarding world—or, at the very least, wizard Britain—is a world
which never really left the medieval: they never went through the
Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the revolutions of capitalism,
industrialism, and Darwinism. Now, I can see how a number of our
readers would probably say a combination of the last three aint bad
(and certainly the Shire of Tolkein was Rousseauian presentation of
Britain minus the last three), how many of us would want to live in a
world without the humanism and individualism and rationalism and
science that were the crowning achievements of the first two? Not me,
for one.

The first book—and I have a gut hunch the last book—pivots on the character never actually met by the reader of Nicolas Flamel,
a historical figure with a long history of being used by authors as a
representative of the obsession with alchemy. To me, the series rises
and falls with the fate of another obsessed alchemist born several
centuries after Flamel lived: Isaac Newton. Newton turned away from
alchemy in the end and embraced science and the scientific method, and
with it the principles of rationalism and free inquiry. Rowling’s
wizards remain profoundly uncurious about the nature of their world,
and the small few who inquire are kept hidden away within the
Department of Mysteries, their work kept secret. The Wizards, from the
fragments that Rowling provide, turned within themselves in Europe at
least at exactly the time the Europeans reached out to understand the
world, the universe, and the place of human beings within it.

Whether intentionally or not, Rowling has shown us a world within a
world free from imperialism, nationalism, capitalism, religion and
industrialism—yet it is a society racked profoundly with racism and
slavery, governed oppressively without any pretense of due process, the
rule of law, equality, or democracy, and in a world without great art,
sculpture, literature, poetry, dance, or music of its own.

They have Dumbledore.  We have DaVinci, Newton, Smith, Darwin, Einstein, Watson, Dickens, and Neil Armstrong.

Compelling perspective, and I’d love to comment but can’t just now because Rose is chanting "Aretheyhere? Aretheyhere?" ad nauseum and I can’t hear myself think. Posting will probably be light this week because we will be running around town keeping up with the Joneses!


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Comments

7 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. Very interesting! I have come to HP late in the game (our Catholic circle had LOTS of HP book burners!) We (dh and myself) decided to read the series to see what we thought….

    I have just finished book 4 and I have really enjoyed them. They are very fun, clever, delightful, books. That being said… I will make the unfair comparison to LOR and Narnia to say that it’s not that kind of great lit. To me, the books read like a movie- fast and furious.

    There isn’t any room in the books to sit and chew on the events until the end of each book… But that’s OK, just more modern, I guess.

    We will wait until our kids are teens before we give the HP ok. They need to have their critical thinking skills better developed to catch some of the… er… humanistic morals that are in the books

    just my .02- I can’t wait to read the rest!!

  2. Thanks Lissa! I’m writing a very long response to Scott’s problems with the Harry/Dumbledore relationship, on the issue of trust and faith. Plus, Scott’s just wrong about the Dumbledore/Grindelwald relationship, and is not buying my Dumbledore & John Stuart Mill, Grindelwald and Nietzsche angle. Oh well.

    Have fun with the Jonesez. I keep running into David at odd places around town.

  3. Give those Joneses a big hug from me.

    Oh yeah, Lisa may not have recovered from the last one she got.

  4. Great blog! I enjoy the interesting insights you have here.

    I was wondering, if you have the time, if you would look at my website… http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/homeschooltees/

    I’ve started making designs focused on homeschooling and I was wondering what you thought and if you have any suggestions for designs that I could make.

    Thanks for your time!

  5. I have thought similar things about the wizard world. Why do they still use candles when they could easily enchant glass globes to create light? Why do they still have old wireless sets instead of more technological devices? Why use quills and parchment instead of pens and pencils? However, the medieval feel seems to fit the stories.

    The wizard world does create their own music, though. Mrs. Weasley has a favorite singer named Celestina that she listens to on the wireless, and the kids had The Weird Sisters play at the Yule Ball. Apparently the wizard world only has show tunes and rock and roll 🙂

  6. “Why do they still use candles when they could easily enchant glass globes to create light? Why do they still have old wireless sets instead of more technological devices? Why use quills and parchment instead of pens and pencils? ”

    Cause they’re basically a medieval people living in modern times. Much like the non-European races living without machines while the Europeans are busy building cities and machines.

  7. Why couldn’t Ron (or Hermione) have poofed him up a modern set of formal robes for the dance so he wouldn’t have to wear the frilly old-timey one that smelled like his great aunt?