Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/499/3070
Potty about Potter
With over 325 million copies of all seven books sold worldwide, the last four books have also been, consecutively, the fastest selling in history. They have been translated into over 65 languages and JK Rowling has amassed an estimated £545 million. In short Harry Potter is a worldwide phenomenon.
Suzanne Beishon asks: Why?
They are not stunning literary creations, the writing is average at best, and yet they have set alight the imaginations of children and adults across the world.
The key is the huge attention to detail. Treading that fine line between convincing and far-fetched that so many fantasies fail in, it comes out on top. The last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, does not disappoint.
The sixth book built up to a stunning finale and while, when I picked up the final book I thought 'this is too thin to be able to tie up all the loose ends' it achieves it magically (excuse the pun!).
So, with the close of Harry Potter (although there are still two more films to come), we can ask what relevance does Harry Potter have for socialists?
JK Rowling has called herself 'left-wing' and has also said that within the books there is a certain amount of "political stuff".
Of this there is evidence throughout, such as the three 'unforgivable curses' being killing, torture and enslavement.
There are comments on slavery with the oppression of the house-elves whose cause is taken up by Hermione who sets up the Society for the Protection of Elvish Welfare.
As I have mentioned in previous reviews, there are comments on the education system, testing, the curriculum and the virtues of the Baccalaureate over A-Levels or in Hogwarts' case, O.W.L.S.
Racism and discrimination are a theme throughout. The fight for a multicultural society is borne out in the battle against Lord Voldemort's dream of a world dominated by the 'superior' pure-blood wizards.
In the story all the mainstream media is used by the state to discredit the anti-Voldemort movement. It is only the small independent press and pirate radio that is able to put the truth out to the wizarding world (if ever there was a more appropriately bizarre time to mention the Socialist Party's print-fund campaign I will not believe it!).
Why does Harry Potter deserve a review in the socialist? Not only does it have positive political comments throughout and has been so incredibly successful, it has also achieved where governments have failed for years, in getting hundreds of thousands of children that do not normally read, reading.
In The Socialist 24 August 2007:
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news