Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Reckoning of a Childhood Hero

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone CoverToday is Harry Potter’s (and his author’s) birthday, and I want to start this post with a quote from a scrapped draft I had written for the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone a few years ago:

19 years ago, Christmas Day, I opened a present from my aunt. It was a hard cover children’s book with a boy and a train on the cover. I didn’t know what it was, and when I spoke to her on the phone later that morning she said “Everyone’s talking about it, I think you’ll like it.” I was 9 years old at the time, a heavy reader and not very discriminating in taste, so I shrugged and started reading. It’s now been 20 years since the UK publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I’m approaching my 28th birthday, and I’ve got plans to tattoo a Harry Potter quote somewhere on my body. As you can probably infer, J.K. Rowling’s generation-defining series has never lost a place in my life. So as the world celebrates #HarryPotter20, I sat down and thought about these books, what they mean to me (and to all of us), and what stands out about them 20 years later.  

For me, the defining lessons in Harry Potter are of loyalty, friendship, tolerance, and standing up to oppression. The last book may have published 10 years ago, but don’t those sound like lessons we can still use today? 

Like just about everything in 2020, looking back on this in our current situation just seems so quaint. So innocent. Better days. What we have now is that proverbial loss of innocence—in truth as in fiction, nothing gold can stay. Especially not when a beloved childhood figure has 24-hour access to Twitter and a desire to burn her empire to the ground. I’m referring, of course, to the media firestorm one JK Rowling has created by not only tweeting openly transphobic views, but digging her heels in when criticized. She brazenly picked up a shovel, and now all we can do is watch aghast as she digs her own (professional) grave.  

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“No human face is exactly the same in its lines on each side, no leaf perfect in its lobes, no branch in its symmetry. All admit irregularity as they imply change; and to banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality. All things are literally better, lovelier, and more beloved for [their] imperfections…”

– John Ruskin

Image result for harry potter booksToday is July 31st, the birthday of the famous Harry Potter! I was very lucky to have grown up with Harry as the books came out. Until recently, I took it for granted that readers from 1997 to 2007 got to be a part of Harry Potter hype while the books were still rolling out; generations from now, the story will be just as incredible and just as magical, but at only one point in history did we get to be the ones to read it first. It got me to thinking about other works of children’s literature, and what it would have been like to be the first children to read The Hobbit or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. As wonderful as it must have been, nothing beats Hagrid banging down the door of that forlorn shack in the middle of the sea, a slightly squashed birthday cake in one of his enormous pockets.

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