Thursday, May 8, 2014

Living in a Harry Potter World

A Facebook friend, a woman who I know only through the Internet, from the old Poem Kingdom poetry boards, wrote this on her timeline.
Do not let Muggles (or those who do not understand Time Lords) influence you or sway you from your belief in magic. . .do not let Muggles lead you to forget. . .that you are not a Muggle. . .use those sonic screwdrivers and wands. . .
To which I replied:

Salvio hexia. Repellum Muggles.
It's only in the last six or seven months that I learned what she's talking about. For those of you who've read the Harry Potter books, or even just part of them, you know that Muggle is the name for a non-magical person. There are witches and wizards, and Muggles. My friend is using it in a slightly different way, of course. She's using the term to refer to those who don't believe in magic, in witches and witchcraft, wizards and wizardry. Judging by her FB posts, she's into astrology and a number of similar things.

My reply comes from the last of the books, The Deathly Hallows. The three protagonists are on the run from those who have perverted magic for evil purposes. At each new place they must conjure protective charms around their camp. Those are two of their protective enchantments. I'm not quite sure what they mean (well, the second one is kind of obvious), but it's to ward off the forces of evil magic.

Then, just the other day, also on FB, on a writers group, someone made a reply to a thread, "Well said! Five points for Gryffindor!" Again, Harry Potter readers will recognize the word and the context.

All of which leads me to think about what an amazing thing J.K. Rowling has accomplished with these books. She has created a world, making it a fantasy, yet it is within our own world and parallel to it. The worlds intertwine; they struggle against one another. Those who live in one world know little about the other, unless they go out of their way to study it. Harry Potter, the protagonist, knew only the Muggle world before he learned, on the day he turned 11, that he was a wizard, and into that world he plunged. It seems, some of our world has plunged right along with him.

Is there any parallel to this in literature? I realize that we are still only ten to twenty years removed from the publishing of these books. Time hasn't run its course as far as the popularity of these books. Will people still be talking about Muggles, wands, Hogwarts, and horcruxes forty years from now? The closest thing I can think of in my lifetime is the Star Wars movies (May the force be with you), which has entered our culture in a fairly big way. Tolkien's Middle Earth didn't have this effect. And nothing seems to have carried through from prior generations. I don't recall my parents, both of whom were readers, having dwelled on literary worlds.

So Rowling has set the bar very high for all future writers: to make your work become so ubiquitous that it seeps into the culture at large. There will never be another Harry Potter. But there might be another Star Wars. Or a world so completely captivating as the one in the Dune series (although those books don't seem to have enduring qualities such as the Potter books).

Me? I don't have that high of expectations. Well, perhaps in my very wild dreams, which even I won't acknowledge. I'd settle for a few sales.

1 comment:

vero said...

Interesting post.