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Our Fantastic Week Ahead: July 11

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A Dance With DragonsCan you feel it?  The excitement?  The anticipation?  The sense of thousands, if not millions, of fantasy fans holding their breath, waiting for the next installment in their favorite series?

The release of the final Harry Potter movie would be enough in and of itself to cause quite a stir, but this week also marks the release of the long-awaited next installment in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series--A Dance with Dragons.  Needless to say, it's going to be quite a week!

Of course we're excited about both of these events, but we're particularly interested in the final Harry Potter  movies because it feels like the end of something significant.  Many people can use these books as a marker in their lives--"I grew up with Harry Potter."  "Harry Potter saw me through grad school."  "I raised my children with Harry Potter."  And now that period of time is over.  Finished.

Harry Potter seriesWe will be reminiscing about our favorite moments from the series this week, but we will also be looking at some of the many ways the Harry Potter series has branched out.  Jen Parrish will be joining us this week, and she talks about some of the jewelry she has designed--including one piece that can be seen in the movie Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix!  There is now a Harry Potter-themed amusement park in Orlando, which we will get a look at, too.  And Clare Flesch has written an essay about how it's important to look past the fun and excitement of the Harry Potter series to see how these books speak to some of the more serious issues in our lives.

Interestingly enough, it's also been exactly 11 years since Harold Bloom's (in)famous critique of the Harry Potter series in the Wall Street Journal, in which he wrote, "One can reasonably doubt that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is going to prove a classic of children's literature."  As you might expect, Bloom's article sparked quite a debate, and I think this comment in particular still leads to a legitimate question--Is the Harry Potter series a classic work of children's literature, or is it just a pop culture phenomenon that will be forgotten in 20 years?  We'd love to know what you think, and we'd encourage you to weigh in on our forums over here.

But before all the Harry Potter craziness gets started, we have one more thought about fairy tales, inspired by our discussion of re-told fairy tales from last week.  This afternoon, Kat Howard writes about Pamela Dean's Tam Lin, and her essay is the perfect example of how important these stories can be in our lives.  So make sure you stop back, both this afternoon and later this week, to get in on the fun!



I will respond to your question in the forums but one thing I wanted to point out was the end of the Harry Potter movies feeling "like an end of something significant." I have, in fact, picked up that vibe from several people I've seen commenting online--but I also get the feeling their average age is a little younger than mine. As the movies are derivatives (and not, in general, significant improvements), on the books, I think it's giving the movies a bit too much credit to call this week the end of an era vis-a-vis the release of the last book. I'd be interested to see what proportion of people who consider this the end of an era were old enough for the midnight releases of the book, compared to those who don't.

One thing I found really interesting was this fall when I taught the first Harry Potter book my class was full of students who were Harry's age when the book first came out, and so were old enough for the midnight releases by the time the last one did, talking about how the release of this movie was a huge deal for them, and felt like the end of their childhood. It was surprising to me, because - as I think you do - I have always loved the books more. I went to a midnight release for Deathly Hallows, but while I'll certainly see the movie, it doesn't have the emotional impact for me that the book release did.

For what it's worth, Madeline, I agree with you--the release of the final book was much more significant for me than this upcoming final movie installment.  And your question is also an interesting one--do the books or movies mark a more significant ending for most people? 

But the thing is (and the reason that I phrased things the way that I did), this is still the last installment of the HP series, book or movie, the last midnight release party with people in costume, the last summer or holiday season marked by something HP related.  The movie might not be as big of a deal, because it's not the original source of things, but since the movies were an integral part of the promotional and marketing strategy of the whole Harry Potter deal, it seems that the "Harry Potter era" doesn't really end until this last movie is out.

When I logged off shortly after posting that and went to lunch, I met someone who made this exact point. And I argued with her about it! Good news is I now have a ride to a midnight showing. The point I brought up is that there are (and will be newly in the future) other spinoffs (the theme park and web site come to mind), so to me the movies are in that category.