Archive for September 13th, 2005

The Latest Harry Potter

I meant to mention this a while back: I’ve read the most recent installment of the Harry Potter series, and pronounce it the best so far. The first book had, as my wife put it, a cartoonish quality, and while Rowling’s prose remains so-so at best, each book has had more depth. The reviewers keep using the word "darker" with every release, and while that’s not inaccurate I think it’s a bit aside from the more important point, which is that the story becomes richer and deeper by including elements of loss, death, and betrayal. Harry and his friends are growing up; they are learning the sorrows of life.

I’ve gone from having some misgivings to having none at all about the general moral import of the work. The debate about whether the use of magic is wrong seems a little academic in light of the overarching theme, which, as someone, I think David Mills of Touchstone, said, is sacrificial love. There is absolutely none of the Niezchean lonely superman, above mundane moral considerations, about Harry: that kind of pathology is the province of the villains.

In this book the writing seems tighter–I thought book 5 could have been about 100 pages shorter. And it’s now clear that, whatever shortcomings the prose style may have, this is the work of a master craftsman of plot.

No, it’s not on Tolkien’s level. But if I step back a little and view it in comparison to the horrid parade of Judy Blume-style children’s books, to say nothing of TV and movies, it’s a treasure–if not gold, then silver.

Maclin Horton

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