The final part of the Harry Potter movie series is set to be released this summer. The novel series has undoubtedly been a cultural landmark of the last decade but how did it get that way? English professor and Harry Potter aficionado Carol Peters has more:
What makes the Harry Potter novels different from other young adult novels? In other words, what made them so successful?
I think it was really her style that made the books so successful. They are extremely accessible; Rowling is the queen of capsule description. She will give you the idea of a new object or character in a few lines and go back to the story, whereas other writers will spend pages talking about, say, one scabbard.
Another important aspect of her style is that she is a cliffhanger writer. You can never stop reading at the end of a chapter because it’s always a cliffhanger, you just have to keep going! The plot is always moving and this is, I believe, what makes young kids blaze through these 700-page books.
In your experience, is this a new thing for kids to be doing?
What’s really new is children, teenagers and their parents getting dressed up and waiting in a store until midnight for a book. I had never seen that happen before.
What is your opinion of the movies?
I thought they were generally really well done. Much of the dialogue is taken word-for-word from the books. The books are obviously far too long to include in their entirety, but the directors did a good job of slimming them down.
Would you describe the Harry Potter books as “literature”?
That’s an interesting question, because the definition and criteria for a work to be called “literature” is subject to much debate. By my criteria: yes, it is literature. The novels are multi-layered: there are sub-plots, literary devices, secondary messages. There is much to analyze in these novels. There are classic literary techniques: Happy Potter had a very Dickensian childhood, the underdog orphan escaping his “captors” for a better world. Predestination vs. fate and, of course, good vs. evil are prevalent themes. I think these books will have incredible longevity, and will be handed down for some time.
-Joe Aultman-Moore ’12, Juniata Online Journalist