Pico the Great (pico_the_great) wrote,
Pico the Great
pico_the_great

potter reread - first book of the new year

Wow. Just finished a back-to-back-to-back Harry Potter readthrough. Three weeks or so, including holidays. Three weeks of these books.

I have a lot of thoughts on these books. I reread them primarily because of of a quote, somewhere on the vast interwebs, of someone saying: "J.K. Rowling didn't change my life, she shaped it." She didn't mine - I shaped myself through other books - but I wanted to see: how? How did these books do this? I was too young first time around to appreciate it. How did these books come to matter to people so much?

I can see right now how. It's to do with a lot of things:

+ with wish-fulfillment: "you're a wizard, Harry!"
+ with fun: think of those candies, the joke-shop, the silly spells
+ with eagerness for the world: trips to Diagon Alley, exploring Hogwarts; the forest
+ with archetypes: the ease and directness of knowing people in this world, and the simplicity with which they can be understood

I think it also has to do with a child's view of the world: the world is so huge, complex, and ridiculous, that of course they don't understand, and of course they take the weird for granted - even as they learn the rules, the rules are based in self-referential absurdity, with no science nor logic behind them, but rather emotion and archetypes and Old Magic and Right And Wrong. These rules are the rules of fairy tales, at heart.

And for a child to read from that view: well, that only makes sense. But for an adutl to read from that view: oh, there - I think people underestimate what a powerful draw nostalgia and wish-fulfillment have. After all, anyone reading this can name what House they'd want to be sorted into, which character(s) is/are their favorite(s), what kind of wand they'd want, what subject they'd study at Hogwarts. The world is silly, and weird, and straightforward at heart - it's based in excitement and fun and adventure and friendship and family and love, and while this society we're in talks about those about as childish, moralistic, or maudlin, squishy things, it can't be denied that they're also yearned for - as evidenced by the fact that Rowling was able to become a billionaire.

There's a lot, sure, in these books I don't agree with. I think James was a smug jerk, Sirius was an overworshipped twat, Luna got the short end of the stick, and Severus over-vaunted after his big revelation of love. I think book seven could've been edited down quite a good bit - it got navelgazey and mediocre-prosed at times, for sure.

But I also think these books are an excellent set of achievements, and on the whole I applaud Rowling, because she's created a world that a whole generation wants, if not to live in, at least visit, and characters that are just as engaging each time you reread them.

Children born in the last three years will have grown up in a world where Harry Potter always existed - front to back, all the books, all the movies. But when they get old enough to read, or to be read to - won't they have the same sense of discovery that we have known?
Tags: !finished, also: enjoyment, awesome, books, delightful!, for the win!, in which pico reviews things, pico contentment, pico has opinions, pico likes this, pico the critic, ps: i'm a writer, the march of time!, thoughtflinging, thumbs-up'd!, today is a good day, yay!,
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