Harry Potter, the American translation

Lana Whited, ed., The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter (2002)In remembrance of a great university press, I’m posting:

  1. my essay, “‘You Say ‘Jelly,’ I Say ‘Jello’?: Harry Potter and the Transfiguration of Language,” and
  2. a full list of each difference between the Bloomsbury (UK) and Scholastic (US) editions of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books — well, to be accurate, the first three Harry Potter books, and part of the fourth.  (Only four had been published at the time I wrote the essay.)

My essay appeared in The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter, edited by Lana Whited and published in 2002 by the University of Missouri Press. In late May, University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe announced the closing of the press, a non-profit enterprise which operated with a $400,000 annual subsidy — which, to place that in perspective, is $2.1 million less than the head football coach’s annual salary.  (For further perspective, the university last month announced a $72 million upgrade to its athletic facilities.) Mr. Wolfe fired the staff, and — following public outcry and authors leaving the press — said that no, he wasn’t really closing the press, but reinventing it … without consulting any of the current staff (who had been fired).  So, until Mr. Wolfe invents another rationale for shutting it down, an organization named “the University of Missouri Press” will exist.  The name and geographic location are all it shares with the entity that published The Ivory Tower and Harry Poter. In its belated announcement (in a release thick with corporate doublespeak), the faux University of Missouri Press seems an afterthought designed to minimize all the negative PR that met the original press’s closure. (Mr. Wolfe seems to be saying: Did I say closing the press?  No, not closing, exactly — er,… reinventing!  I meant reinventing!  See!  The press is stil here!)

However, in reality, the publisher of works by Langston Hughes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Mark Twain is closing.  The future of any book under the “University of Missouri Press” imprint (or “brand,” as the organization now calls it) is doubtful.  So, I thought I would make my sole work published by this press available for free, right here.  (A pdf is below.)

Since that piece has been in print for a decade, of greater interest may be this page-by-page comparison of the UK and US editions of the first three Harry Potter books, a comparison I am here making publicly available for the first time.  My hope is that others may benefit from this without having to go through the labor that I did — treating the texts like variants of a medieval manuscript, and making careful notes on the differences.

I intended to do a complete page-by-page comparison of the first four (book five didn’t appear until the year after the article’s publication), but my side-by-side readings of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire found far fewer differences — indeed, some words changed in earlier books were not changed in Goblet of Fire‘s US edition.  As this was proving less interesting (and Goblet is much longer!), I did not make a complete list of the differences between the editions of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

A note on my notes: “in verse” means that the text was formatted as verse, but not that it is in fact poetry.  The books used are the original UK and US editions of the Harry Potter books (corrections have been made in subsequent editions).


Harry Potter and the Transfiguration of Language:

Comparison between UK and US versions

BLOOMSBURY

SCHOLASTIC

Philosopher’s Stone Sorcerer’s Stone
“neighbours” (7) “neighbors” (1)
“get-ups you saw on young people” (8) “getups you saw on young people” (3)
“buy himself a bun from the baker’s opposite” (9) “buy himself a bun from the bakery” (4)
“normal cat behaviour, Mr. Dursley wondered”(10) “normal cat behavior? Mr. Dursley wondered” (6)
“Dudley had learnt a new word (‘Shan’t’)” (10) “Dudley had learned a new word (“Won’t”)” (6)
“realise he was being watched” (12) “realize he was being watched” (9)
“swapping rumours” (13) “swapping rumors” (10)
“sherbet lemon” (13 twice, 14 twice) “lemon drop” (10, 11 thrice).
“sounding half-exasperated, half-admiring” (14) “sounding half exasperated, half admiring” (11)
“motorbike” (16 X4, 17, 19, 24 X3) “motorcycle” (14 X4, 16, 19, 25 X3)
“he had hands the size of dustbin lids” (16) “he had hands the size of trash can lids” (14)
“Young Sirius Black lent it me” (16) “Young Sirius Black lent it to me” (14)
“wearing different-coloured bobble hats” (19) “wearing different-colored bonnets” (18)
“on a roundabout at the fair” (19) “on a carousel at the fair” (18)
“frying pan being put on the cooker” (19) “frying pan being put on the stove” (19)
“held together with a lot of Sellotape” (20) “held together with a lot of Scotch Tape” (20)
“asking his Aunt Petunia how he had got it” (20) “asking his Aunt Petunia how he had gotten it”(20)
“a cine-camera, a remote-control aeroplane” (21,28) “a video camera, a remote control airplane” (22, 31)
“and a video recorder” (21) “and a VCR” (22)
“hamburger bars, or the cinema” (22) “hamburger restaurants, or the movies” (22)
“Sellotaped glasses” (23) “taped glasses” (24)
“revolting old jumper of Dudley’s (brown with orange bobbles)” (23) “revolting old sweater of Dudley’s (brown with orange puff balls)” (24)
“a glove puppet” (23) “a hand puppet” (24)
“jump behind the big bins outside” (24) “jump behind the big trash cans outside” (25)
“gigantic beetroot with a moustache” (24) “gigantic beet with a mustache” (25)
“a cheap lemon ice lolly” (24) “a cheap lemon ice pop” (26)
“had a tantrum because his knickerbocker glory wasn’t big enough” (24) “had a tantrum because his knickerbocker glory didn’t have enough ice cream on top” (26)
“and crushed it into a dust-bin” (25) “and crushed it into a trash can” (27).
italics for writing on snake’s sign (26) no italics for writing on snake’s sign (28)
“Smeltings stick” (30 X2, 33 X2) “Smelting stick” (33, 34, 38 X2)
“who was holidaying on the Isle of Wight” (30) “who was vacationing on the Isle of Wight” (34)
italics for letter (34, 36, 43) handwriting for letter (34, 42, 52)
“cine-camera” (32) “video camera” (37)
“favourite programme” (32) “favorite program” (37)
“small window in the downstairs toilet” (34) “small window in the downstairs bathroom” (40)
“speeding towards the motorway” (35) “speeding towards the highway” (41)
“video” (35) “VCR” (41)
“a packet of crisps each” (37) “a bag of chips each” (44)
“yer mum’s eyes” (39) “yer mom’s eyes” (47)
“mint humbugs” (49) “peppermint humbugs” (62)
“Harry had learnt from Uncle Vernon” (51) “Harry had learned from Uncle Vernon” (64)
“hamburger bars and cinemas” (53) “hamburger restaurants and cinemas” (67)
“looked like a gummy walnut” (54) “looked like a toothless walnut” (68)
“a dustbin and a few weeds” (55) “a trash can and a few weeds” (70)
“in the wall above the dustbin” (55) “in the wall above the trash can” (71)
italics for items on sign (56, 63) no italics for items on sign (71, 72, 82)
“look at yer mum!” (61) “look at yer mum!” (79) [remains the same]
“apothecary’s” (62) “Apothecary” (80, 81)
“He Who Must Not Be Named” (65) “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” (85)
“realised where they were” (66) “realised where they were” (86)
“Harry’s trunk on to a trolley” (68) “Harry’s trunk on to a cart” (90)
“Harry pushed his trolley after them” (69) “Harry pushed his cart after them” (92)
“Mum, can’t I go” (70) “Mom, can’t I go” (92)
“woman, call yourself our mother?” (70) “woman, you call yourself our mother?” (92)
“Er — OK” (70) “Er — okay” (93)
“smash right into that ticket box” (70) “smash right into that barrier” (93)
“leaning forward on his trolley” (70) “leaning forward on his cart” (93)
“his trolley was out of control” (71) “his cart was out of control” (93)
“where the ticket box had been” (71) “where the barrier had been” (94)
“Harry pushed his trolley” (71) “Harry pushed his cart” (71)
“Mum” (72, 73 — several times each page — 75) “Mom” (95, 96, 97 — several times each page –99)
“Anything off the trolley, dears?” (76) “Anything off the cart, dears?” (101)
“Famous Witches and Wizards” (77, 78) “famous witches and wizards” (102, but not 103)
Albus Dumbledore card in verse (77) Albus Dumbledore card, different format (102-03)
“had a bogey-flavoured one once” (78) “had a booger-flavored one once” (104)
spell indented a normal amount (79) spell italicized, very indented (105)
“Maybe…get a rabbit out of it” (87, plain text) “Maybe…get a rabbit out of it” (117, italicized)
“chips” (92) “fries” (123)
“mint humbugs” (92) “peppermint humbugs” (123)
“jelly” (93) “Jell-O” (125)
“Me dad’s a Muggle.  Mam didn’t tell” (93) “Me dad’s a Muggle.  Mom didn’t tell” (125)
“a cosy, round room” (96) “a cozy, round room” (130)
Dear Harry, (it said, in a very untidy scrawl)” (101) “It said, in a very untidy scrawl:Dear Harry” (135, handwriting)
“about football” (107) “about soccer” (144)
“West Ham football team” (107) “West Ham soccer team” (144)
note from McGonagall, in verse (122) note from McGonagall, with signature (164)
“about the size of a football” (124) “about the size of a soccer ball” (167)
“Hallowe’en feast” (127) “Halloween feast” (172)
“jacket potato” (127) “baked potato” (172)
“Urgh — troll bogies” (130) “Urgh — troll boogers” (177)
Potter for President” (136) “Potter for President” (184)
            “Down in the stands, Dean Thomas was yelling, ‘Send him off, ref!  Red card!’‘This isn’t football, Dean,’ Ron reminded him.  ‘You can’t send people off in Quidditch — and what’s a red card?’” (138)             “Down in the stands, Dean Thomas was yelling, ‘Send him off, ref!  Red card!’‘What are you talking about, Dean?’ said Ron.‘Red card!’ said Dean furiously.  ‘In soccer you get shown the red card and you’re out of the game!’‘But this isn’t soccer, Dean,’ Ron reminded him.”  (188)

 

“had been looking for a fortnight” (146) “had been looking for two weeks” (198)
“bread, crumpets, marshmallows” (146) “bread, English muffins, marshmallows” (199)
“Happy Christmas” (147) “Merry Christmas” (200)
“Sellotaped to the note” (147) “Taped to the note” (200)
“mum” (147) “mom” (200)
“Weasley jumper,” “hand-knitted sweater,” us a jumper” (147) “Weasley sweater,” “hand-knitted sweater,” us a sweater” (200-201)
“present also contained sweets” (147) “present also contained candy” (201)
italicized note (148) handwritten note (202)
“Weasley jumper,” “Harry’s jumper,” “lumpy jumper,” “forced the jumper,” “by his jumper” (149) “Weasley sweater,” “Harry’s sweater,” “lumpy sweater,” “forced the sweater,” “by his sweater” (202-203)
commas in list of food items (149) semi-colons and commas in list of food items (203)
“These fantastic crackers” (149) “These fantastic party favors” (203)
“flimsy paper hats” (149) “flimsy paper hats inside” (203)
“on a silver Sickle embedded in” (150) “on a silver sickle embedded in” (203)
“grow-your-own-warts kit” (150) “Grow-Your-Own-Warts kit” (204)
“her eyes are just like mine” (153) her eyes are just like mine” (208)
“‘Mum?’ he whispered.  ‘Dad?’ (153) “‘Mom?’ he whispered.  ‘Dad?’ (209)
“is the only known maker of the Philosopher’s Stone!” (161) “is the only known maker of the Sorcerer’s Stone!” (219)
description in verse (161) description in prose (220)
Philosopher’s Stone” (161 X2) Sorcerer’s Stone” (220 X2)
“Philosopher’s Stone” (161, 162 X2, 165, 166, 167, 169, 189, 195) “Sorcerer’s Stone” (220 X2, 221, 226, 227, 228, 231, 259, 267)
“snuff-box” (191) “snuffbox” (262)
“Alas!  Earwax!” (218) “Alas!  Ear wax!” (301)
“impressed at how mad his hero was” (218) “impressed at how crazy his hero was” (302)
“Dumbledore’s barking, all right” (219) “Dumbledore’s off his rocker, all right” (302)
“D’yeh like it?” (230) “d’yeh like it?” (304)
“Thanks for the fudge and the jumper” (223) “Thanks for the fudge and the sweater” (308)
Chamber of Secrets Chamber of Secrets
“top-of-the-range Nimbus Two Thousand” (8) “top-of-the-line Nimbus Two Thousand” (3)
“house Quidditch team” (8) “House Quidditch team” (3)
“never given him a proper present” (9) “never given him a real present” (5)
“Of course, he thought bitterly, Uncle Vernon was talking about the stupid dinner party” (10) Of course, he thought bitterly, Uncle Vernon was talking about the stupid dinner party” (5)
“Happy birthday” on same line (11) “Happy birthday” at new paragraph (7)
            “‘Jiggery pokery!’ said Harry in a fierce voice.  ‘Hocus pocus … squiggly wiggly …’” (13)             “‘Jiggery pokery!’ said Harry in a fierce voice.  ‘Hocus pocussquiggly wiggly –’” (9)
“‘Wish they could see famous Harry Potter now,’ he thought savagely” (13) Wish they could see famous Harry Potter now, he thought savagely” (10)
“fruitbats” (22) “fruit bats” (22)
“a bowl of tinned soup” (22) “a bowl of canned soup” (22)
“stone cold” (22) “stone-cold” (22)
“You Know Who (27 & passim) “You-Know-Who” (29 & passim)
“one man ended up in hospital” (29) “one man ended up in the hospital” (31)
“Dad’s mad about everything to do with” (29) “Dad’s crazy about everything to do with” (31)
“peering through the windscreen” (29) “peering through the windshield” (31)
“jumble of wellington boots” (29) “jumble of rubber boots” (32)
“‘It’s brilliant,’ said Harry” (29) “‘It’s wonderful,’ said Harry” (32)
“I sleep at the –” (30) “I sleep at the — at the top –” (32)
quotation marks for items on clock (31) Italics for items on clock (34)
“at the washing-up in the sink, which began to clean itself” (31) “at the dishes in the sink, which began to clean themselves” (34)
typo: “Geoge groaned” (32) “George groaned” (35)
“Mum fancies him” (32) “Mum fancies him” (36)
“little fat Father Christmases with fishing rods”(33) “little fat Santa Clauses with fishing rods” (36)
“nothing like Father Christmas” (33) “nothing like Santa Claus” (37)
“shaking it off until –” (33) “shaking it off — until –” (37)
“of frogspawn on the window-sill” (35) “of frog spawn on the windowsill” (40)
“still in their pyjamas” (38) “still in their pajamas” (43)
“And mind you get out at the right grate” (41)throughout, ellipses (41-42) “And be sure to get out at the right grate” (41)throughout, dashes (49)
“and felt his glasses shatter” (42) “and felt the bridge of his glasses snap” (49)
“pulled the doors to” (42) “pulled the doors closed” (50)
“business elsewhere today.” (44) “business elsewhere today –” (52)
“Come, Draco!” (44) “Come, Draco –” (53)
“Molly’s frantic — she’s coming now.” (46) “Molly’s frantic — she’s coming now –” (55)
Brilliant!” (46) Excellent!” (55)
“second-hand robe shop” (47) “secondhand robe shop” (57)
“strawberry and peanut butter ice-creams” (48) “strawberry-and-peanut-butter ice creams” (58)
“broken wands, wonky brass scales” (48) “broken wands, lopsided brass scales” (58)
“mind the books, now” (48) “mind the books, now” (59) [stays the same]
“He and his school fellows” (50) “He and his schoolmates” (60)
“to pay for that lot” (50) “to pay for all those” (61)
“opened the boot” (53) “opened the trunk” (66)
“trolleys for their trunks” (54) “trolleys for their trunks” (67) [stays the same]
“‘if it’s a real emergency, section nineteen or something of the Restriction of Thingy …’Harry’s feeling of panic turned suddenly to excitement” (56) “‘if it’s a real emergency, section nineteen or something of the Restriction of Thingy –’‘But your Mum and Dad…’ said Harry, pushing against the barrier again in the vain hope that it would give way.  ‘How will they get home?’‘They don’t need the car!’ said Ron impatiently.  ‘They know how to Apparate!  You know, just vanish and reappear at home!  They only bother with Floo powder and the car because we’re all underage and we’re not allowed to Apparate yet….’”Harry’s feeling of panic turned suddenly to excitement” (69)
“wheeling his trolley around” (56) “wheeling his trolley around” (69) [stays the same]
“villages with tiny toy churches and a great city alive with cars like multi-colored ants” (57) “a great city alive with cars like multicolored ants,  villages with tiny toy churches” (72)
“pulled off their jumpers” (57) “pulled off their sweaters” (72)
“Harry pulled his jumper back on” (58) “Harry pulled his sweater back on” (73)
“windscreen wipers” (58) “windshield wipers” (73)
“MIND THAT TREE!” (59) “WATCH OUT FOR THAT TREE!” (74)
“crumpled bonnet” (59) “crumpled hood” (74)
“he had hit the windscreen” (59) “he had hit the windshield” (74)
“luggage from the boot” (60) “luggage from the trunk” (75)
“‘Brilliant!’ yelled Lee Jordan” (66) “‘Brilliant!’ yelled Lee Jordan” (84) [stays same]
“Good on you” (66) “Good for you” (84)
“Post’s due any minute” (68) “Mail’s due any minute” (86)
“My Gran sent me one” (69) “My gran sent me one” (87)
“ENQUIRY” (69), “enquiry” (70) “INQUIRY” (88), “inquiry” (89)
“telephone box by a werewolf” (73) “telephone booth” (94)
“Spellotaped wand” (76) “Spellotaped wand” (97) [same in both]
“double portrait, can’t say fairer than that” (76) “double portrait, can’t do better than that” (98)
“diagram of a Quidditch pitch” (83) “diagram of a Quidditch field” (108)
“back on the Quidditch pitch” (84) “back on the Quidditch field” (109)
“walking on to the pitch” (85) “walking on to the field” (110)
“But I booked the pitch!” (85) “But I booked the field!” (110)
today on the Quidditch pitch” (85) today on the Quidditch field” (111)
“A pitch invasion” (86) “A field invasion” (111)
“Common blood.  It’s mad” (89) “Common blood.  It’s ridiculous” (116)
“Oh no — can’t I go and do the trophy room” (91) “Oh n — can’t I go and do the trophy room” (119)
“Harry didn’t fancy his shepherd’s pie” (91) “Harry didn’t enjoy his shepherd’s pie” (119)
“Ah, here’s the scallywag!” (92) “Ah, here’s the scalawag!” (119)
“pulled on his pyjamas” (93) “pulled on his pajamas” (121)
“Took ages to shift the slime” (93) “Took ages to get the slime off” (121)
“who had been looking peaky” (94) “who had been looking pale” (122)
“shooting through the air like jump jets” (94) “shooting through the air like missiles” (123)
Kwikspell letter (97) Kwikspell letter in cursive (127)
“he spluttered” (98) “he sputtered” (128)
“Hallowe’en” (100 & passim) “Halloween” (131 & passim)
“trying to go to the loo” (101) “trying to have a pee” (133)
“You’ve missed out ‘spotty’” (103) “You’ve forgotten pimply” (135)
“yelling, ‘Spotty!  Spotty!’” (103) “yelling, “Pimply!  Pimply!” (135)
“remove his hairnet” (108) “remove his hair net” (142)
“the copies of Hogwarts: A History” (112) “the copies of Hogwarts, A History” (147)
quotation marks for italicized words of SH (116) italicized words of Sorting Hat (153)
“into a dirty great spider” (117) “into a great big filthy spider” (155)
“doors to the cubicles” (118) “doors to the stalls” (155)
“floating on the cistern of the toilet” (118) “floating above the tank of the toilet” (156)
“we’ve got what we needed.” (123) “we’ve got what we needed –” (163)
“student in the year” (123) “student of the year” (163)
Madam Pince sentence at top of 124 Madam Pince sentence part of same para (163).
“in her cubicle” (124) “in her stall” (164)
“But not toenails, OK?” (125) “But not toenails, okay?” (166)
“crowd to speed them upwards” (126) “crowd to speed them upward” (167)
“careering out of Harry’s way” (129) “careening out of Harry’s way” (171)
“Harry a pair of pyjamas” (131) “Harry a pair of pajamas” (174)
“He Who Must Not Be Named” (133) “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” (178)
“squeezing into the cubicle” (138) “squeezing into the stall” (183)
“Bicorn horn and the Boomslang skin” (139) “bicorn horn and the boomslang skin” (186)
“faster than you could say ‘unfair’” (140) “faster than you could say ‘Unfair’” (186)
“stopping a dirty great snake biting Justin’s head off” (147) “stopping a massive snake from biting off Justin’s head” (196)
“‘Sherbet lemon!’ she said.  This was” (152) “‘Lemon drop!’ she said.  This was” (204)
“brass knocker in the shape of a griffon” (153) “brass knocker in the shape of a griffin” (204)
“put him in the right house.” (154) “put him in the right House –” (206)
“in the high-backed chair behind the desk” (156) “in the high chair behind the desk” (208)
“there isn’t anything, Professor.” (157) “there isn’t anything, Professor….” (209)
“a new, hand-knitted jumper” (159) “a new, hand-knitted sweater” (212)
“Crabbe and Goyle-sized feet” (161) “Crabbe- and Goyle-size feet” (213)
“of the bubbling, treacle-thick potion” (161) “of the bubbling, glutinous potion” (215)
“the khaki color of a bogey” (161) “the khaki color of a booger” (216)
“ENQUIRY AT THE MINISTRY” (165) “INQUIRY AT THE MINISTRY” (221)
“bearing its Out Of Order sign” (171) “bearing its out of order sign” (229)
“before I came down hard on them” (176) “before I came down hard on him” (235)
“seemed to have come over rather giggly” (176) “seemed to have been overcome with giggles”(236)
“ink bottle smashed over the lot” (177) “ink bottle smashed over everything” (237)
“OK” (180) “OK” (242) [stays same b/c of previous line]
“… If it all stopped …” (182) “– if it all stopped –” (244)
“who asked him to grass on Hagrid” (185) “who asked him to squeal on Hagrid” (250)
“if he was rubbish at them” (187) “if he was lousy at them” (252)
“Headmaster was here” (194) “headmaster was here” (262)
“There’ll be killin’s next!” (195) “There’ll be killin’ next!” (263)
“any — ah — ‘killin’s’” (195) “any — ah — killins.” (264)
“about a fortnight after Dumbledore” (198) “about two weeks after Dumbledore” (266)
“and off they went, crocodile fashion, with Harry, Ron, and Dean” (198-99) “and off they marched, with Harry, Ron, and Dean” (267)
“swallowed hard and looked sideways” (200) “swallowed hard, and looked sideways” (270)
“its headlamps ablaze” (203) “its headlights ablaze” (274)
“worst scene he had ever clapped eyes upon” (204) “worst scene he had ever laid eyes on” (276)
“but from respect of Hagrid” (206) “but out of respect for Hagrid” (278)
“Harry saw the wing mirror snap off” (207) “Harry saw the side mirror snap off” (280)
“nearly thrown into the windscreen” (207) “nearly thrown into the windshield” (280)
“and I trust you are all revising hard” (210) “and I trust you are all studying hard” (284)
“close your eyes straight away” (222) “close your eyes right away” (302)
can carry round in my pocket” (228) can carry around in my pocket” (310)
“forbidden forest” (230) “Forbidden Forest” (311)
Riddle’s screams italicized (235) Riddle’s screams italicized & in all caps (319, 320)
“You were brilliant, Fawkes” (236) “You were fantastic, Fawkes” (321)
“There has been no lasting harm done” (243) “There has been no lasting harm done, Ginny” (330)
“I said, come!” (248) “I said, come” (338)
Prisoner of Azkaban Prisoner of Azkaban
“Owl Post” (7) “Owl Post” (1) [same in both]
“a torch in one hand” (7) “a flashlight in one hand” (1)
“(A History of Magic, by Adalbert Waffling)” (7)[typo -- see page 52, book 1] “(A History of Magicby Bathlida Bagshot)” (1)[Bloomsbury has a typo -- see page 66, book 1]
“moved his torch closer to the book” (7) “moved his flashlight closer to the book” (1)
“summer holidays” (7, 8) “summer holidays” (1, 2) [same in both]
“at the start of the summer holidays” (8) “at the start of the summer break” (3)
“already in a bad mood with him, all because he’d received a telephone call from a fellow wizard one week into the school holidays” (8) “already in an especially bad mood with him, all because he’d received a telephone call from a fellow wizard one week into the school vacation”(3)
“opposite ends of a football pitch” (9) “opposite ends of a football field” (4)
“The row that had followed” (9) “The fight that had followed” (4)
“put the torch” (10) “put the flashlight” (5)
“hid the lot under a loose” (10) “hid the lot under a loose” (5) [same in both]
“had come face to face with him since at” (11) “had come face-to-face with him at” (6)
“Muggle Artefacts” (12) “Muggle Artifacts” (8)
It’s brilliant here in Egypt” (13) It’s amazing here in Egypt” (9)
typed names for signatures (13-14) actual cursive signatures (10-11)
“to clip onto your broom for long journeys” (15) “to clip on your broom for long journeys” (12)
“at the newsreader on the television” (18) “at the reporter on the television” (16)
“A special hotline has been set up” (18) “A special hot line has been set up” (17)
“The newsreader had reappeared” (18) “The reporter had reappeared” (17)
“staring furiously at the newsreader” (18) “staring furiously at the reporter” (17)
“presents whilst glaring at Harry” (24) “presents while glaring at Harry” (25)
“he’d better skip pudding and escape” (25) “he’d better skip dessert and escape” (26)
“and a bit more … that’s the boy” (26) “and a bit more … that’s the ticket” (27)
“wrenched up the loose floorboard and” (27) “wrenching up the loose floorboard, and” (30)
“for the catch on the door” (28) “for the latch on the door” (30)
“nervously flattened his fringe again” (32) “nervously flattened his bangs again” (35)
“lamp posts, letter boxes, and bins” (32) “lampposts, mailboxes, and trash cans” (36)
“’Arry Potter put paid to You-Know-’Oo” (34) “’Arry Potter got the better of You-Know-’Oo”(39)
“Harry nervously flattened his fringe down again” (34) [in same paragraph] “Harry nervously flattened his bangs down again” (39) [new, one-sentence paragraph]
“scattering bushes and bollards, telephone boxes and trees” (35) “scattering bushes and wastebaskets, telephone booths and trees” (41)
“eat whatever he fancied” (42) “eat whatever he fancied” (49) [same in both]
“from the left above the dustbin” (42) “from the left above the trash bin” (50)
“outside cafés” (42) “outside cafes” (50)
“player’s face when they lost a point” (43) “player’s face when they lose a point” (50)
FIREBOLT ad (43) FIREBOLT ad complete with logo and font! (51)
“of 0-150 miles an hour in ten seconds” (43) “of 150 miles an hour in ten seconds” (51)
“paid for their ice-creams” (48) “paid for their ice cream” (58)
“‘Er –’ said Ron.  The truth was that” (49) “‘Er –’  The truth was that” (59)
“and then scarpered for the door” (49) “and then scampered for the door” (60)
“your Rat Tonic” (50) “your rat tonic” (61)
“as they tucked into a sumptuous chocolate” (52) “as they dug into a sumptuous chocolate” (63)
“Good job too” (52) “Good thing, too” (64)
“to know he’d heard them rowing” (53) “to know he’d heard them arguing” (65)
“You-Know-Who” (54) “You-Know-Who” (66) [same in both]
“an unmoving queue for the traffic lights” (57) “an unmoving line at the traffic lights” (71)
“Next moment, they had fallen sideways” (57) “In a moment, they had fallen sideways” (71)
“joined them, Harry and Mr. Weasley led the way to the end of the train” (58) “joined them, Harry and Ron led the way to the end of the train” (72)
“the witch who pushed the food trolley” (59) “the witch who pushed the food cart” (74)
“Get out of it!” (62) “Get out of here!” (78)
“large stack of cauldron cakes” (63) “large stack of Cauldron Cakes” (79)
“taking the cauldron cake Harry had passed” (63) “taking the Cauldron Cake Harry had passed” (79)
“Crabbe was the taller” (63) “Crabbe was taller” (80)
“long, gorilla arms” (63) “long, gorilla-ish arms” (80)
“to take any rubbish from Malfoy this year” (64) “to take any crap from Malfoy this year” (80)
“sped yet further north” (64) “sped yet farther north” (80)
“into the folds of the black material” (66) “into the folds of its black cloak” (83)
“a great scramble to get out” (68) “a great scramble to get outside” (86)
“staircase which lead to the upper floors” (69) “staircase that lead to the upper floors” (88)
“each of the long house tables” (71) “each of the long House tables” (90)
“in the nature of a Dementor to understand” (72) “in the nature of a dementor to understand” (92)
Dementor always capitalized dementor in lowercase (unless initial word)
“leaving their frames to visit each other, but he always enjoyed watching them” (77) “leaving their frames to visit one another, but he always enjoyed watching it” (77)
“Everyone went quiet” (78) “Everyone got quiet” (101)
“Professor McGonagall broke off” part of same paragraph (84) “Professor McGonagall broke off” begins paragraph (109)
“right, well, I’d better pop my clogs then!” (85) “right, well, I’d better kick the bucket then!” (110)
“just don’t like being rubbish at something” (85) “just don’t like being bad at something” (111)
“That lesson was absolute rubbish compared to my” (85) “That lesson was absolute rubbish compared with my” (111) [“rubbish” same, preposition different]
“or clamped them together with bullclips” (86) “or clamped them together with binder clips” (112)
“the grey Hippogriff away from his fellows and slipped off his leather collar” (88) “the gray hippogriff away from his fellows and slipped off its leather collar” (115)
“glad not to meet anybody on their way” (92) “glad to meet nobody on their way” (120)
“But ’sonly a matter o’ time” (92) “But ’s only a matter o’ time” (120)
“he whirled right way up” (100) “he whirled upright” (131)
“I once met one that had lodged itself” (101) “I’ve even met one that had lodged itself” (133)
“So the Boggart sitting in the” (101) “So the boggart sitting in the” (133)
“Neville’s small splutter of terror” (101) “Neville’s small sputter of terror” (133)
“Red Caps” and “Kappas” (107) “Red Caps” and “kappas” (141)
“the Quaffle (a red, football-sized ball)” (108) “the Quaffle (a red, soccer-sized ball)” (143)
“‘Cracking Keeper,’ said Fred” (109) “‘Spanking Good Keeper,’ said Fred” (144)
“didn’t talk to each other all lesson” (112) “didn’t talk to each other for the whole class”(149)
“a mad urge to knock the goblet out of his” (118) “a crazy urge to knock the goblet out of his” (157)
“‘He’s barking mad,’ said Seamus” (125) “‘He’s a complete lunatic,’ said Seamus” (167)
“trifles such as thunderstorms” (131) “trifles like thunderstorms” (174)
“to stop Crookshanks sneaking up” (131) “to stop Crookshanks from sneaking up” (174)
“the changing room” (131) “the locker room” (175)
“walked out onto the pitch” (131) “walked out onto the field” (175)
“told Harry, in a hollow, dead sort of voice, that he” (137) “told Harry (in a hollow, dead sort of voice) that he” (183)
“they only knew half of what was” (137) “they knew only half of what was” (183)
“For Harry knew who that screaming” (138) “Because Harry knew who that screaming” (184)
“jerking awake only to dwell again” (138) “jerking awake to dwell again” (184)
“It was a relief to return on Monday to the noise and bustle of the main school” (138) “It was a relief to return to the noise and bustle of the main school on Monday” (184)
“Ron finally cracked, flinging a large” (138) “Ron finally cracked, and flung a large” (185)
“Harry amongst them, but –” (139) “Harry among them, but –” (186)
Italics for Marauder’s Map (144) Beautiful font for Marauder’s Map (192)
“against the wall opposite” (146) “against the opposite wall” (196)
“a jar of Cockroach Cluster” (147) “a jar of Cockroach Clusters” (197)
“Happy Christmas!” (149) “Merry Christmas!” (201)
“You know that the Dementors have searched my pub twice?” (151) “You know that the dementors have searched the whole village twice?” (203)
“that flyin’ motorbike he used to ride” (153) “that flyin’ motorbike he used to ride”(206)[same]
“twelve years which would make him” (158) “twelve years that would make him” (212)
“down the front of his leather waistcoat” (161) “down the front of his leather vest” (217)
“under an arm and heaved him, Harry helping, back into the cabin” (161) “under an arm and heaved him back into the cabin” (217)
“After a brief pause, Hermione said timidly” (163) “After a pause, Hermione said timidly” (220)
“urgh, look what they did to it” (164) “ugh, look what they did to it” (222)
“Another jumper from Mum” (165) “Another sweater from Mum” (222)
“had sent him a scarlet jumper” (165) “had sent him a scarlet sweater” (222)
“walking round and round the Firebolt” (166) “walking around and around the Firebolt” (223)
“by this news” (167) “by the news” (225)
“if that stupid great furball” (168) “if that big stupid furball” (226)
“offering the end of a large silver one to Snape” (169) “offering the end of a large silver noisemaker to Snape” (227)
“‘Tuck in!’ he advised the table” (169) “‘Dig in!’ he advised the table” (228)
“still wearing their cracker hats” (170) “still wearing their party hats” (230)
“collected his Firebolt” (171) “collected the Firebolt” (231)
“Lessons started again next day” (174) “Classes started again next day” (235)
“the shortest life-lines she had ever seen” (174) “the shortest life line she had ever seen” (235)
“Rune dictionaries” (180) “rune dictionaries” (244)
“She — er — got a bit shirty with me” (181) “She — er — got a bit shirty with me” (244)
“They drank the Butterbeer in silence” (182) “They drank the butterbeer in silence” (246)
“Close to, Harry saw that she looked almost” (185) “Close-up, Harry saw that she looked almost”(251)
“have a go on the Firebolt” (188) “have a ride on the Firebolt” (253)
“for the Quidditch pitch together” (188) “for the Quidditch field together” (253)
“Only we need to practise” (188) “We need to practise” (254)
“Patronus and wishing it was stronger” (189) “Patronus and wishing it were stronger” (255)
“Ron wants a go on the Firebolt” (189) “Ron wants a go on the Firebolt” (255) [same]
“set off for the changing rooms” (191) “set off for the locker rooms” (258)
“prepared to leave the changing rooms” (191) “prepared to leave the locker rooms” (259)
“Snitch was glittering way above the pitch” (193) “Snitch was glittering way above the field” (261)
“sprinting onto the pitch, Ron in the lead” (194) “sprinting onto the field, Ron in the lead” (262)
“‘Good on you, Harry!’ roared Seamus” (194) “‘Good for you, Harry!’ roared Seamus” (263)
“acting like Scabbers has gone on holiday or something” (196) “acting like Scabbers has gone on vacation or something” (265)
length of AAARRRGGHHHH shorter, presumably for typesetting (196) length of AAARRRGGHHH longer, presumably for typesetting (265)
“Disorientated in the total darkness” (196) “Disoriented in the total darkness” (266)
“Sir Cadogan had been sacked” (199) “Sir Cadogan had been fired” (269)
“and then I yelled, and he scarpered” (200) “and then I yelled, and he scampered” (270)
“Why did he scarper” (200) “Why did he run?” (270)
“‘Brilliant, you can help me!’ said Neville” (204) “‘Great, you can help me!’ said Neville” (277)
“SPLAT!” (206), “SPLATTER!” (207) “SPLAT.” (280), “SPLATTER.” (280)
“horrible slimy things in jars” (208) “slimy horrible things in jars” (282)
“talent on the Quidditch pitch” (209) “talent on the Quidditch field” (284)
Italics for words of Moony et al (211) different font for each of Moony et al (287)
Hagrid’s letter italicized (215) Hagrid’s letter handwritten and tearstained (291)
“whose mind was so hopelessly Mundane” (220) “whose mind was so hopelessly mundane” (298)
“their houses was at breaking-point” (222) “their houses was at the breaking point” (301)
“called Cho Chang.  Harry felt” (224) “called Cho.  Harry felt” (304)
“Wood paced the pitch” (224) “Wood paced the field” (305)
“rest of the school spill onto the lawn” (224) “rest of the school spilling onto the lawn” (305)
“‘Changing rooms,’ said Wood tersely” (224) “‘Locker rooms,’ said Wood tersely” (305)
“They walked out onto the pitch” (225) “They walked out onto the field” (305)
“of Slytherin tearing up the pitch” (225) “of Slytherin tearing up the field” (306)
“she’s streaking up the pitch” (226) “she’s streaking up the field” (307)
“the dirtiest match Harry had ever played in” (227) “the dirtiest game Harry had ever played in” (309)
You do not attack” (228) — italics “YOU DO NOT ATTACK” (309-10) — all caps
“zoomed back into the middle of the pitch” (229) “zoomed back into the middle of the field” (312)
“pouring over the barriers onto the pitch” (230) “pouring over the barriers onto the field” (312)
“trying to cram in a bit of last-minute revision” (236) “trying to cram in a bit of last-minute studying” (321)
Trelawney’s prediction in italics (238) Trelawney’s prediction in small caps (324)
Hagrid’s note in italics (239) Hagrid’s note handwritten (325)
“yeh here … go on, now …” (242) “yeh here…. Go now….” (329)
“it looked like it ends up in Hogsmeade” (247) “it looked like it was heading for Hogsmeade” (336)
“fastened over Black’s wasted wrist” (249-50) “fastened over his wasted wrist” (340)
“Then Lupin spoke in an odd voice, a voice that shook with some suppressed emotion” (252) “Then Lupin spoke, in a very tense voice” (343)
“‘Professor Lupin,’ Harry interrupted loudly, ‘what’s going–?’” (252) “‘Professor,’ Harry interrupted loudly, ‘what’s going on –?” (344)
“I haven’t been Sirius’s friend for twelve years, but I am now … let me explain …” (253) “I haven’t been Sirius’s friend, but I am now — Let me explain….” (343)
“‘Then it’s time we offered you some proof,’ said Black.  ‘You, boy — give me Peter.  Now.’” (266) “‘Then it’s time we offered you some proof,’ said Lupin.  ‘You, boy — give me Peter, please.  Now.’” (362)
“Peter for what he was straight away” (267) “Peter for what he was right away” (364)
“your parents’ house straight away” (268) “your parents’ house straight away” (365) [same]
In Chapter 20, “Sirius” used instead of “Black” In Chapter 20, “Black” almost always used
“‘Are you mad?’ said Harry, his voice easily as croaky as Sirius’” (278) “‘Are you insane?’ said Harry, his voice easily as croaky as Black’s’” (379)
“‘Run,’ Sirius whispered.  ‘Run!  Now!’” (279) “‘Run,’ Sirius whispered.  ‘Run.  Now.’” (380)
“Sirius, he’s gone” (279) “Sirius, he’s gone” (381)  [same]
“of his paws was fading to silence” (279) “of his paws faded to silence” (382)
            “Face down, too weak to move, sick and shaking, Harry opened his eyes.  The blinding light was illuminating the grass around him … The screaming had stopped, the cold was ebbing away …Something was driving the Dementors back … it was circling around him and Sirius and Hermione … the rattling, sucking sounds of the Dementors were fading.  They were leaving … the air was warm again …” (282) “Facedown, too weak to move, sick and shaking, Harry opened his eyes.  The dementor must have released him.  The blinding light was illuminating the grass around him…. The screaming had stopped, the cold was ebbing away….Something was driving the dementors back … it was circling around him and Sirius and Hermione…. They were leaving…. The air was warm again….” (385)
“saw an animal amidst the light” (282) “saw an animal amid the light” (385)
“into Buckbeak’s fierce orange eye once more” (293) “into Buckbeak’s fierce orange eyes once more” (400)
“fumble with the rope tying Buckbeak to the fence” (293) “fumble with the knot of rope tying Buckbeak to the fence” (400)
“‘I know it sounds mad,’ said Harry” (298) “‘I know it sounds crazy,’ said Harry” (407)
“bouncing along the corridor in tearing spirits, laughing his head off” (304) “bouncing along the corridor in boisterous good spirits, laughing his head off” (417)
“Says he can’ risk it happenin’ again” (308) “Says he can’t risk it happenin’ again” (422)
“Last night … I thought it was my dad” (311) “I thought it was my dad” (427)
“So you did see your father last night, Harry … you found him inside yourself” (312) “You know, Harry, in a way, you did see your father last night…. You found him inside yourself” (428)
In Chapter 22, “Sirius” is used In Chapter 22, “Sirius” remains “Sirius” [same]
“could increase, but it certainly had done” (313) “could increase, but it certainly had” (429)
“carrying a letter which was much too big” (314) “carrying a letter that was much too big” (431)
Sirius’ letter in italics (315-16) Sirius’ letter in italics (243-33) [same]
in case this falls into the wrong hands” (315) in case this owl falls into the wrong hands” (432)
some doubt about the owl’s reliability” (315) some doubt about his reliability” (432)
from Gringotts vault number seven hundred and eleven — my own” (315) from my own Gringotts vault” (433)
“bottle of hot Butterbeer in one go” (316) “bottle of hot Butterbeer in one gulp” (433)
“‘What d’you reckon?’ Ron asked the cat” (316) “‘What do’you reckon?’ Ron asked the cat” (434)
   
Goblet of Fire [a partial list] Goblet of Fire [a partial list]
“great bullying git” (51) “great bullying git” (53)  [same]
“‘Oh,’ said Ron, cottoning on.” (51) “‘Oh,’ said Ron, cottoning on.” (54) [same]
“a group of middle-aged American witches sat gossiping happily beneath a spangled banner stretched between their tents which read: The Salem Witches’ Institute” (76) “a group of middle-aged American witches sat gossiping happily beneath a spangled banner stretched between their tents that read: the salem witches’ institute” (82)
“he heard an intruder in his yard.  Says they were creeping towards the house, but they were ambushed by his dustbins” (142) “he heard an intruder in his yard.  Says he was creeping toward the house, but was ambushed by his dustbins” (159)
“What did the dustbins do?” (142) “What did the dustbins do?” (159) [same]
“what are exploding dustbins worth?” (142) “what are exploding dustbins worth?”(160) [same]
“Spotted dick, look!  Chocolate gateau!” (162) “Spotted dick, look!  Chocolate gateau!”(183) [same]
“through the doorway to the girls’ dormitories” (169) “through the doorway to the girls’ dormitory” (191)
“of West Ham football team” (169) “of the West Ham football team” (191) [“football” remains same; “the” is added]
“smelled strongly of petrol” (172) “smelled strongly of petrol” (195) [same]
“down to the Quidditch pitch tonight” (477) “down to the Quidditch field tonight” (550)
“walked out onto the pitch” (477-78) “walked out onto the field” (550)
“The Quidditch pitch was no longer smooth” (478) “The Quidditch field was no longer smooth” (550)
“you’ll have your Quidditch pitch back” (478) “you’ll have your Quidditch field back” (551)
  “‘Sher-sherbet lemon!’ he panted at it” (483)  “’Sher–sherbet lemon!’ he panted at it”(557) [same]

 

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Harry Potter, Seriously

J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997): coverChildren’s literature is literature. Intelligent adults already know this. However, as those of you who study or write or teach children’s literature are well aware, the world is full of alleged grown-ups who insist on spreading the myth that children’s literature is not literature, and (thus) cannot be studied as such.

A week or so back, journalist Alison Flood reported on a conference alleged to be “Billed as the world’s first conference to discuss Harry Potter strictly as a literary text.” Presumably, that’s a swipe at the fan-organized conferences, the first of which was (I believe) Nimbus 2003: The Harry Potter Symposium, held nearly 9 years ago. While fan conferences do discuss the books as literary texts, it’s also true that they cover other, less traditionally “academic” subjects.  (Full disclosure: I’ve been an invited speaker at two of the fan conferences, including Nimbus 2003.)  However, it seems a bit of a stretch to say that this was “the world’s first conference to discuss Harry Potter strictly as a literary text.” It was not.

Ms. Flood also seems unaware of the vast body of scholarship on Rowling’s series — which Cornelia Remi has for years diligently tracked on her exemplary bibliography.  While Potter scholarship does vary in quality, the ignorance of Professor John Mullan — who is quoted in the article — is truly exemplary. There’s a rare purity in his empty prejudices, shaped without knowledge or reflection. According to Flood’s article, Mullan said, “I’m not against Harry Potter, my children loved it, [but] Harry Potter is for children, not for grownups…. It’s all the fault of cultural studies: anything that is consumed with any appearance of appetite by people becomes an object of academic study.” Professor Mullan concludes that the academics attending the conference “should be reading Milton and Tristram Shandy: that’s what they’re paid to do.”  In one sense, it’s apt that a poorly informed article would be supported with a quotation from a poorly informed academic.  In another sense, one might pity Mullan and Flood for being ill-equipped to complete their tasks — in his case, intelligent commentary, and, in hers, responsible journalism. As Clementine Beauvais noted in her report on the conference, “It isn’t just careless, or uninformed, to dismiss the Harry Potter series as a serious object of analysis; it is intellectually dishonest.”

One suspects that Mullan and Flood would be surprised to learn that — in addition to the scores of books and articles about Rowling’s series — a portion of the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Sorcerer’s Stone for American readers) is currently on display in the British Library, alongside works by Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, William Blake, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ted Hughes, and George Eliot.  Indeed, the exhibit — Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands — does not segregate children’s literature from “adult literature,” a decision which would likely distress Professor Mullan. In addition to Rowling, the British Library’s exhibit features Kenneth Graham’s Wind in the Willows, A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Arthur Ransom’s Swallowdale, Susan Cooper’s Greenwitch, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (the book which, in revised form, became Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland).  It also includes comics by Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore.  It’s a fascinating, well-curated exhibit.

Rowling’s manuscript pages (written in longhand) display an earlier version of Chapter 6’s first page (67, in the Bloomsbury edition).  In the published chapter, the second paragraph begins, “Harry kept to his room with his new owl for company.  He had decided to call her Hedwig, a name he had found in A History of Magic”  After another three sentences, the paragraph concludes:

Every night before he went to sleep, Harry ticked off another day on the piece of paper he had pinned to the wall, counting down to September the first.

On the last day of August, he thought he’d better speak to his aunt and uncle about getting to King’s Cross station next day, so he went down to the living-room, where they were watching a quiz show on television. He cleared his throat to let them know he was there, and Dudley screamed and ran from the room.

‘Er — Uncle Vernon?’

Uncle Vernon grunted to show he was listening.

In Rowling’s handwritten manuscript, the second paragraph begins, “Harry spent most of his time in his room with Widdicombe his owl.”  Then, there’s some crossed-out material that’s hard to read with added harder-to-read tiny new material above it, after which Rowling writes:

            He pinned a piece of paper on the wall, thinking of the days before he went to September the first marked on it, and he ticked them off every night.  On the thirty first of August he thought he’d better speak to his uncle about getting to King’s Cross next day. So he went down to the living room, where the Dursleys were watching a quiz show on television.

Harry cleared his throat to tell them he was there, and Dudley screamed and ran from the room.

“Er — Uncle Vernon?”

Uncle Vernon grunted to show he was listening.

The revisions to the above offer a glimpse into Rowling’s creative process.

Three items stand out.

  1. First, the original name for Harry’s owl was not Hedwig, but Widdicombe.  Hedwig was a medieval saint. Widecombe-in-the-Moor is a town in Devon, England.  Ann Widdecombe is a British Conservative Party politician; however, given the distance between Rowling’s views and hers, as well as the close relationship between Harry and his owl, the socially conservative former member of Parliament is likely not the inspiration for the character of Harry’s owl. The town is the most likely source because Rowling collects words she likes, including those from street signs — Snape’s surname came from an English town. The new name for Harry’s owl offers stronger thematic resonances with the character, a noble owl who endures much suffering on Harry’s behalf. The change to the original name also reminds us how carefully Rowling considers her characters’ names. As is the case with Dickens’ names, Rowling’s names often telegraph a key trait of the character.
  2. Second, based on this selection, Rowling struggles more with descriptive passages than she does with characterization. The books’ sentences — which combine vivid detail with fast-paced narrative — derive from Rowling’s diligent editing. “He pinned a piece of paper on the wall, thinking of the days before September the first marked on it, and he ticked them off every night” becomes “Every night before he went to sleep, Harry ticked off another day on the piece of paper he had pinned to the wall, counting down to September the first.” Though only two words shorter than the earlier version, the published sentence is more sharply constructed. Its opening clause establishes place and time of day, allowing us to visualize where Harry is: “Every night before he went to bed” tells us that he’s in his bedroom, formerly “Dudley’s second bedroom” (32).  It also establishes this ticking-off-days as a repeated behavior, occurring “Every night.”  Where the original version begins by directing our attention to the paper on the wall, the new version first sets the scene before bringing in the subject of the sentence (our title character) and his nightly activity:  “Harry ticked off another day.”  It does not need to tell us that he is “thinking of the days before” school begins because the nightly counting-down clearly conveys that the subject is on his mind.  The new sentence also ends with “September the first,” placing emphasis on the day Harry awaits, and providing an effective transition to the next sentence, which begins with “the last day of August.”
  3. Third, I say that characterization comes more easily to Rowling (based on this admittedly limited sample) because she makes very few changes to the descriptions of the Dursleys. In both, they are “watching a quiz show on television,” which (for Rowling) signals their shallowness.  Always rude to his nephew, “Uncle Vernon grunted to show he was listening” (in both).  Still spooked by his recent encounter with magic, “Dudley screamed and ran from the room” (in both). How apt that Rowling should have greater facility with character. Though she has a fully imagined secondary world, key to readers’ enjoyment are characters to whom they can relate. Rowling’s debt to the mystery genre helps make her books page-turners, but she has such avid fans because she’s able to make people care about Harry, Hermione, Ron, Sirius, Ginny, Dumbledore, Neville, and others.

I concede that my off-the-cuff analysis of a few textual differences could be more robust. But my larger point here is that of course Harry Potter can be — and often is — the subject of academic analysis. Indeed, for roughly a dozen years, it has attracted a great deal of attention from literary critics. If we are interested in the craft of the most popular and influential writer of her generation, then it’s worth taking J. K. Rowling’s work seriously. If we care about the adults today’s children will become, then we need to take children’s literature seriously. Stories provide children with their earliest ideas about how the world works, and about what literature is and why it matters. Professor Mullan should care about books for the young because the children who enjoy reading are the ones most likely to grow into adults willing to read Laurence Sterne and John Milton. But we all should care about children’s books not merely because they help create literate grown-ups. We should care about them, study them, hold conferences on them, and write them because they are Art.

Links of interest:

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Potter in Pittsburgh, Johnson & Krauss in Normal

I’ve managed to schedule two invited talks within three days of one another.  I believe both are open to the public.  The Johnson-Krauss talk (Normal, IL, 26 Mar.) definitely is open to the public, and the Harry Potter talk (Pittsburgh, PA, 23 Mar.) offers no indication that public needs permission to attend.  So, if you’re in the area, stop on by!  Here are more details.


March 23, 2012

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

I’ll be speaking on “Harry Potter: A Cultural Biography” at 1:30 pm, in 324 Cathedral of Learning.  This is part of a day-long Harry Potter conference attended by University of Pittsburgh students.  Karin Westman is also giving a lecture, “Harry Potter and the Object of Art,” in the same location at 3:15 pm.  You can learn more about the event on this University of Pittsburgh webpage.


March 26, 2012

Illinois State University, Normal, IL

I’ll be speaking on “Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature” at  7 p.m., in 138 Schroeder Hall.  This is the spring’s Lois Lenski Lecture, and it will allow me to premiere what will be the “book talk” for my biography of Johnson and Krauss (which, not incidentally, has the same title as the talk).  You can learn more about the talk here.  They’ve got a spiffy poster for the event, too!

Philip Nel: Lois Lenski Lecture, Illinois State University, 2012

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Harry Potter’s Library

J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanNine years ago, I started teaching a course I called “Harry Potter’s Library: J.K. Rowling, Texts and Contexts.”  This coming fall, I’ll be teaching it for the seventh time (eighth, if you count the semester I taught two sections).  The course has been so popular that Kansas State University uses it in its promotional materials. Faced with a high demand for the class, the English Department offers at least one section each year.  Thankfully, my colleagues Karin Westman and Naomi Wood have also been teaching it (freeing me to teach other courses).  Indeed, our current syllabus is a collaborative effort — and will likely change further before the term actually starts.  I’d like to incorporate some PotterMore, and arrange for a guest lecturer on Wizard Rock.

When I began teaching the class, on the first day I asked “How many people have read any of the books or seen the first film?” About half of the class raised hands.  On the first day of class now, all thirty students answer that question in the affirmative.  Indeed, on the first day of class, 27 or 28 students have read the entire series at least once.  These students have grown up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione as their contemporaries.  These students are the “Harry Potter generation.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (movie)It’s tempting to claim that the release of the seventh (and final) film next month will be a kind of milestone for this generation — the last dramatic adaptation of their beloved series.  And it might be that.  But such a claim suggests that it (the film) will serve as a sort of “concluding chapter” to a phase of their lives, and I don’t think that’s strictly accurate.  A more accurate claim would be to say that, for many of this generation, the Harry Potter series constitutes a key portion their shared culture.  In increasingly fragmented media world (websites! videogames! Facebook! Twitter! movies! TV!), Harry Potter is one thing that they have in common — or most of them do, anyway.  Even if they’re not fans of the series, they’ll know the basic references.

The closest analogue that my generation has is Star Wars, and yet Harry Potter feels bigger than Star Wars.  I haven’t studied this subject closely, but my sense is that the appeal of Harry Potter is broader than that of Star Wars.  Fans of each are comparably devout, fond of dressing up in costumes, collecting memorabilia, having conventions.  But I cannot think of anything comparable to, say, Wizard Rock in the Star Wars fan community.  For a variety of reasons, Harry Potter has permeated the culture much more thoroughly than just about anything else.  What the Beatles are to popular music, Harry Potter is to children’s literature — and, indeed, to popular culture.  In the first chapter of the first Harry Potter book, Professor Minerva McGonagall predicted that the infant Harry Potter “will be famous — a legend — … there will be books written about Harry — every child will know his name.” Rowling could not, then, have known how prophetic that statement would turn out to be.

Well.  Back to the course.  The structure, each time, has been roughly the same.  Part I: Antecedents and Influences.  Part II: The Harry Potter series (plus some critical articles on it).  Part III: Contemporary British Fantasy.  But the particular texts have varied.  Sometimes, for Part III, we’ve done the entire His Dark Materials trilogy.  Diana Wynne Jones and Eoin Colfer have also made appearances in Part III.  Lately, we’ve been doing Pullman’s book 1 (The Golden Compass) with book 1 from Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus trilogy.

The class pulls in people from all over the university — we’ve had students from just about every major.  Since the total number of credit hours already taken determines when a student gets to enroll, most of the students are seniors — many of whom, they tell me, have been waiting to take the class since they were freshmen.

Lest readers of this blog post imagine that the course is “light,” take another look at the syllabus.  The Potter novels themselves run a total of 4,195 pages.  When you add in the other novels and additional critical texts, that’s a lot of reading.  Sure, most of the reading is fun.  But it’s also work — the rare work that is also enjoyable.  Happily, students who enroll in the course tend to be dedicated and (thus) do not complain about the heavy reading load.  And, over the course of the semester, they come to understand that it’s fun to take children’s literature seriously.

It is fun.  And showing people the fun of taking children’s books seriously is one of the reasons I do what I do — teaching and writing about literature for young people.

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Mischief Managed: Harry Potter Bathroom Graffiti

From the Olmstead Building bathroom at the University of California Riverside:

Harry Potter: bathroom graffiti. Photo by Valarie Zapata

I think Moaning Myrtle would agree.  Don’t you?

Photo by Valarie Zapata, English Professor at Moreno Valley College.  Used by permission.
Thanks to Greg Eiselein & Karin Westman for the tip, and to Professor Zapata for granting permission to post this.

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Harry Potter and the Two-Part Finale

In advance of the film’s release, Kansas State University’s Media Relations asked us to talk about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  We did.  They taped us, and edited the results down to 3 minutes.  Karin is on the right.  And that’s me on the left.

They also put out a news release on Friday of last week. And no, we have not seen the new film yet either.  Looking forward to it, though!

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