Saturday, 23 February 2013

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

(In case you didn't see my last post, I'm re-reading the Harry Potter series for the first time in at least five years and posting my thoughts/observations about the books here. This is not going to be a full review, as I've read the books before and honestly, my feelings about the books are splashed all across the internet anyway)

1 - I'd never realised how short this book is. It's a tiny book and I read 200 pages in one sitting without batting an eyelid. And that was at one o'clock in the morning, when I can usually only manage 20 or so pages before deciding to go to bed. I was worried I wouldn't enjoy the books as much now as I did before, but this is a promising start (although I'm reading the second book now and not really enjoying it all that much. I've never been a fan of the Chamber of Secrets)

2 - The only real observation/criticism/complaint I have to make is a small one, and one that my mother has already tried to explain away, but it's still bugging me. It is strongly implied that Quirrel has already taught at Hogwarts before Harry's first year at the school. Since later in the series we learn that, since Dumbledore refused to hire Tom Riddle as a teacher, no Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher has lasted longer than a year, this bugged me. Quite a bit, in fact.

I've also been thinking about the fact that the name of the book, and subsequently the film, was changed for the US market. Over there, it's known as Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone. Now, this bothers me on principle, but I can't help thinking that actually it might have given the books a bigger audience over here to begin with. To the best of my recollection, people didn't start getting really excited about Harry Potter until the third book, and I've wondered whether the fact that the first book had the word philosopher in it had something to do with that. What kid knows what a philosopher is? I didn't, and for years it bothered me that it was never explained in the book why it was called the philosopher's stone (I may not have been the brightest of children, but still.) I was opposed to reading the books for years before I actually caved and did, mostly because there was a picture of a train on the front cover, but I really do think I might have been more inclined to give them a try if it had been called Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone. After all, I actually knew what a sorceror was.

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