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20 years of Potter

June 26, 2017

So, Harry Potter is 20 years old today. So, how did it become such a global phenominon? Well, if I knew the answer, I would be as rich as Midas. But, I can give my personal opinion. Firstly, I would say that there are better children’s books than Harry Potter, but literature is cyclical, and these books have been forgotten and largely left unread by the Harry Potter generation. Twenty years ago there was somewhat of a magic-shaped gap in children’s literature. Things like Dahl’s The Witches, Susan Cooper’s Earth Sea books, Alan Garner and Ursula Gwynn, having seemingly lost their appeal. Rowling managed to capture some classic elements, borrowing from other writers, she created a magical world that was immersive and inviting. The first book was enchanting, exploiting all the classical elements of the boarding school romp, and the spirit of magic. Sadly, in my opinion, the books slowly went down hill, Rowling constantly writing herself into corners, and having to create sprawling and rather meandering plot devices to get herself out of trouble. This said, there is no debate, Harry Potter is a phenominon, and a very successful franchise. There is no doubt that Rowling is a good story teller, able to set a good pace and keep the pages turning. However, Harry is never in real danger, as the reader knew way in advance that there were to be sequels. This meant that whatever jepardy he was in, there was no real tension, because we knew he would always survive. But, Rowling created accessible characters, giving most readers someone to associate with; be it swatty Hermione, poor Ron, outsider Nevil or bullied Lunar. Characters that children identified with and grew to love Rowling made magic fashionable, she made school interesting, and made the fantastical real. Well done Jo, and most of all, well done Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who cemented Harry into the consciousness of millions. 

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