I’m presently 2/3 the way finished with the final Harry Potter book. Here are some thoughts on The Deathly Hallows as well as the rest of the Potter enterprise (absolutely, positively no spoilers).

James Dobson has joined other Christian leaders in denouncing Potter, saying “given the trend toward witchcraft and New Age ideology in the larger culture, it’s difficult to ignore the effects such stories (albeit imaginary) might have on young, impressionable minds.” This is the kind of thing that when some Christians see themselves portrayed doing they complain about anti-Christian bias. It’s beyond absurd. It’s the product of little minds that see anyone whose minds might expand beyond their narrow focus as something of a threat. I knew that there were some conservative family groups taking an anti-Potter stand, but I didn’t know that it was people as influential as Mr. Dobson. Good thing for the publisher that Dobson doesn’t seem to actually speak for very many Christians, or else they wouldn’t have such a success on their hands.

As with the other novels, I am actually listening to this via audiobook. The first five were loaned to me by a friend. The sixth, however, had a very different guy reading. I came to discover that I had previously been listening to the British version but had inadvertently switched to the American version for book six. You wouldn’t think that they would need two versions since both readers speak with a British accent, but I guess some of the words are changed up a bit (besides the Philosopher/Sorcerer Stone bit).

Jim Dale, the voice for the American series, has won praise and awards for his work, but Stephen Fry of the UK reading is ridiculously better. Dale does the sinister voices very well, but he has a tendency to make all of the voices sound sinister, even sweet little fifteen year old girl characters. At the very least they sound like 50-year smokers. Fry, on the other hand, has much more balance and his readings for some characters (Luna Lovegood and the House Elves in particular) are simply outstanding. I made sure to track down a British version for the last book.

While ripping and preparing the audio for my Pocket PC, I had to test the various tracks to make sure that they worked. I wasn’t that worried about spoilers because how much can you really learn in five second snippets. A lot, as it turns out, I swear that I stumbled upon one recap scene after another. It went like this (though here I am totally making up the spoilers): FFWD “Sargon has been killed and Voldemort has taken the east castle, Harry, what are we going to do?” FFWD “With Mildred, Hildemas, and Syer all dead, Harry had no idea to whom to turn.” FFWD “You mean Voldemort’s been under the control of Fred Weasley this entire time, Harry?!” FFWD “So the white dove’s clue was that I needed to go to Hogwarts and steal the portrait of Hufflepuff! It’s so clear now!” FFWD “Drat! Drat! Potter has just killed me with the candlestick in the basement!” Voldemort lamented…. anyhow, you get the idea. I know way more than I should having only listened to ten or so chunks of five or ten second tidbits.

A couple logistical things:
Estimation of the magic population
The genetics of magic-users
Ideology and Fictitious Evil Overlords

Category: Theater

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4 Responses to Non-Spoiler Potter Sundry

  1. logtar says:

    I have read the book several times, and I have the audio for 1-4. I have not listed to them all yet but now I am curious as to what version I have.

    I am going to get the whole series from Great Britain eventually. I know about the difference, or rather have read about them and would like to see if they change the experience at all. I finished the book last Monday and thought it was a fantastic way to end the series.

    Happy listening.

  2. Peter says:

    Now there are complaints that the stories are anti-Semitic.

  3. trumwill says:

    I’ll have to check to be sure, but I think the American version gives Jim Dale’s name at the very beginning and the British gives Fry’s at the end. The American version also opens with a little music in the background in the introduction. The American version also refers to the Sorcerer Stone and the British the Philosopher Stone. Those are the differences I know for sure.

  4. trumwill says:

    I can honestly understand the accusation. My initial impression of the Goblins was the Swiss because they were bankers that were steadfastly (and amorally) neutral in a battle between good and evil. Listening to them in this one, it’s definitely the Jewish that come to mind. Of course, one of the reasons that this stereotype is used is that Shylocks are compelling characters and I can understand the temptation to try to use when you think that it can be safely separated from anti-semitism. I think that’s the case with Rowling, whom I doubt really intended this to be ethnic commentary. I can understand why it might make Jews squirm, though, and I can’t blame them for it if they do.

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