Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

The Rowling books and movies are attracting their share of interpretation. This Slate article reaches a bit in its argument that former welfare mom J. K. Rowling is using her bestsellers and films to critique the anti-welfare Thatcher years: “Thatcher was certainly a witch to many of her critics, using her power with Voldemort-like ruthlessness.” (Jesse Cohen, “When Harry Met Maggie,Slate, November 16, 2001). Author John Granger, by contrast, thinks this is a misreading: The “repetition of stories in the media of her having been on welfare obscured her intelligence in most people’s minds,” he argues, suggesting in The Hidden Key to Harry Potter that Rowling is, despite the reaction of fundamentalists, actually creating a Christian fantasy story. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets . . . is the most explicitly Christian of the series and the most didactic about the dangers and delights of reading books” (John Granger, “Harry Potter and the Inklings: The Christian Meaning of The Chamber of Secrets,” CSL: The Bulletin of the New York C. S. Lewis Society, December 2002). Ambitious, certainly. Persuasive? Surprisingly. Accurate? Time will tell.

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