Finally checking out the Philosopher’s Stone

With the new Har­ry Pot­ter movie out, I decid­ed that I would final­ly get around to read­ing the books and see­ing what all the fuss is about. I under­stand that the lat­er books aren’t quite as light­weight as this, but one must start at the beginning.

Thanks to my friend Erik I was able to read it in the orig­i­nal Eng­lish, mean­ing the Queen’s Eng­lish rather than the Amer­i­can Eng­lish. I like Amer­i­can Eng­lish just fine, but I want­ed to read it as it was orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten, with train­ers rather than sneak­ers and so on.

I find it vague­ly insult­ing that the title was changed for Amer­i­can audi­ences, as if to say that Amer­i­cans won’t know what a Philoso­pher’s Stone is. It had to be dumb­ed down and called the Sor­cer­er’s Stone? Real­ly? I don’t know that there are any oth­er sub­stan­tive changes between the edi­tions but it’s prob­a­bly bet­ter that I not find out.

Har­ry Pot­ter and the Philoso­pher’s Stone was writ­ten for chil­dren, of course. While it was a quick read and not very com­plex, I have to give Ms Rowl­ing cred­it for writ­ing a book aimed at chil­dren but which was not (Amer­i­can title notwith­stand­ing) dumb­ed down for chil­dren. It was writ­ten in plain, direct Eng­lish but it con­tained nei­ther the stilt­ed prose one finds in «young adult» lit­er­a­ture nor the entire­ly pre­dictable sto­ry­lines in the same. 

Over­all I found it to be a com­mend­able book which I’d be hap­py to see chil­dren read­ing. Did it grab me as an adult? Not real­ly, but it did­n’t bore me either, which means it would be suit­able for an adult read­ing aloud. Though I’ve not been drawn into the Har­ry Pot­ter craze, I can see why the line has been so successful.

3 Replies to “Finally checking out the Philosopher’s Stone”

  1. The neat thing about the

    The neat thing about the Har­ry Pot­ter series is that it ages up with its pro­tag­o­nist (and with its intend­ed audi­ence). So the first book, when Har­ry is ten (if I’m remem­ber­ing that right) is writ­ten for ten year olds, but the next book (when Har­ry is eleven) is writ­ten for *the same kids one year lat­er*. Which is kind of cool. So the series gets pro­gres­sive­ly more adult as it goes on.

    1. That is neat

      But I still main­tain it’s even neater that it’s writ­ten for ten-year-olds with­out talk­ing down to ten-year-olds. That’s what makes it read­able for a forty-one year old.