Friday, 12 November 2010

No more Harry Potters, please

Last night (Thursday) was the premiere of the latest Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. In an interview on BBC Radio 5Live, Daniel Radcliffe said he hoped that there wouldn’t be any new Harry Potter books. His interviewer said his statement would break the hearts of Potter fans. I think it’s easy to forget that Radcliffe, Grint and Watson, among the many others, have give 10 years of their young lives to Harry Potter; pretty much the same as JK Rowling herself gave to the writing of it.
I’ve been a fan of the Harry Potter books since the beginning. I remember reading Harry potter and the Philosopher’s Stone sitting on a terrace in Trapezaki, Kefalonia, and wondering how JK Rowling had managed to capture not just the hearts and minds of children but also of very astute and usually sceptical publishers who shelled out their money in an act of faith that JK would actually produce the goods and that the Harry Potter stories would be an unprecented success. As someone who aspires to write, I admired the way Joanne Rowling tells her story, how she set up story elements from the beginning to be the foundations of future story lines and, most of all, how she absorbed and adapted familiar story traditions, the British boarding school, the orphaned hero, the elder mentor, etc., to a deep and highly imagined saga.

I especially enjoyed reading the analysis books with their (mostly inaccurate) predictions of what would happen in the next books; I queued for the midnight release of deathly Hallows and even bought my own presentation copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard in its own velvet bag and mock volume packing.

What I took most pleasure in was waiting – waiting for the necessarily postponed pleasure of each new book, the anticipation, the speculation and the wild rumours. No other generation will have that slightly perverse pleasure of having to wait months, years, to find out how the story unravels and concludes. It’s actually a pleasure I miss in all the classic stories I love so much from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Mozart’s (and Da Ponte’s) Marriage of Figaro, Swan Lake, Lord of the Rings – I could go on for a very long time and, while I love all these stories, I know how they come out and what the denoument is. I sometimes wish I could pick up my copy of, say Porterhouse Blue without knowing that Skullion will end up a Master of the college, albeit after suffering a debilitating stroke (a Porterhouse Blue) himself (sorry if you haven’t read it – you should have). This applies to so many books on my shelves – how wonderful to embark on that journey without the knowledge of where it will lead. I suppose this is why I continue to buy such quantities of books.

All this might lead you to think that I would be excited by the prospect of more Harry Potter books but not a bit of it. I think every story should have a beginning, a middle and an end; that’s what makes them different, and often better than, real life. I also think that we’ve had a satisfying ending to the Harry Potter saga and it’s time to move on. I can’t believe that a writer like JK Rowling has no more (different) stories within her though, if she chooses never to write another, I shall always be grateful for what she has already given us.

Meanwhile, Radcliffe, Grint and Watson can be allowed to grow up and get on with the rest of their acting/modelling or whatever, lives.

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