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Harry Potter: Guardian's Icon of the Decade

Books
Posted by: Edward
December 21, 2009, 08:12 PM

As 2009 comes to a close, newspapers continue to take stock of the decade, compiling lists which look back the past ten years.  Tonight, the Guardian has such a list, naming the Harry Potter series as one of their "Icons of the Decade."  In this profile, the newspaper goes through the history of the series, noting its impact on the world of publishing, presence in Hollywood, and influence in literature.  Calling Harry Potter "the first new global superhero of the 21st century," the Guardian highlights the decision of author J. K. Rowling to have her characters age throughout the series.  It goes further, mentioning the universal popularity of the books among different age groups.  Quoteage:

Admittedly, this concession to nature also caused problems. Readers who joined the hero with The Philosopher's Stone were probably close to the school year he was in. But, by the time Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published in 2007, the core audience for the series stretched from 8 to 21, with original readers now joined by primary schoolers who had caught up late with the early books and films. But because Rowling intentionally deepened and darkened the sequence as the cast met adult appetites, the later stories were not suitable for the boy wizard's youngest new fans, leading to tears at bedtime.

Rowling's decision to let her characters grow up is one of the most fascinating aspects of the project. The movies followed this model by having the major characters played by the same actors across what will be eight films by 2011 (the last is a two-parter), the changes in their voices and bodies regarded not as continuity errors but dramatic realism.

The recommended age-range of the stories also introduced another controversy. Until the 21st century, a fully educated adult seen reading juvenile literature on public transport would expect to receive pitying stares and possibly even a visit from social services.

However, Harry Potter was responsible for the common sight of people between their 20s and 70s sitting on trains or lying on beaches gripped by fiction that they would previously have bought only as gifts for children or grandchildren. To reduce the stigma, Rowling's publishers introduced the practice – later extended to Philip Pullman as well – of the novels being produced in two different jackets: kiddie-garish, wrinkly-pastel. My personal view is that older readers should pick on something their own size, but this vivid evidence of the universality of Rowling's appeal is a major reason that she and Harry Potter will stand as one of the most remarkable phenomena in the history of popular fiction.
The article goes on to take stock of the ways in which the series lead change throughout the decade, particularly changes in the publishing industry.  The paper continues, 'Harry Potter was able to rewrite so many rules of publishing: leading the New York Times to introduce a separate children's bestseller list and bookshops to open at midnight on publication day, selling 11m copies of the final volume within 24 hours in Britain and the US.'

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42 Comments

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4056 Points

Thank you for everything HP, Jo! You’re imagination is amazing!

Posted by fifi ~::~ ıɟıɟ {WBM!} {ITC!} on December 23, 2009, 04:15 AM report to moderator
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245 Points

This is a series that I will read to my future grandchildren. All of my children have read the series and have their own complete set. Thank you, Jo, for creating characters and a world that show what is truly important in life. Friendship, loyalty , love and standing up for what you believe in, even when no one else will believe you.

Posted by hrhgnl on December 23, 2009, 04:28 AM report to moderator
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80418 Points

Very very good article…

Posted by Won_Two on December 23, 2009, 07:49 AM report to moderator
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2421 Points

Another article to make my day. And proof that HP is worthy (for those who claim it is not) Take that haters! XD

Posted by Mr. Brightside on December 23, 2009, 08:05 AM report to moderator
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23699 Points

So very well deserved!
Harry Potter changed a lot of things in my life. So if there was any “icon of the history” for Harry Potter, I’d be in! I’m in love with the books! They’re fascinating, you grow up and every time you read the books instead of feeling bored, you feel more excited and you find more things in them.
HP is magic and Jo is a witch!

Posted by Maxtina Potter (Aty) on December 23, 2009, 10:52 AM report to moderator
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49 Points

A very interesting, balanced and non-sensationalist article. The last two paragraphs were particularly interesting, with their speculation as to what might happen next. Quoteage – “It seems improbable that Hollywood will be happy to let such a profitable character go after eight blockbusters”.
One slight concern here, if I understand the legalities correctly, is that Hollywood (i.e. Warner) might if they wish be entirely at liberty to do more Potter stuff with NO input whatsoever from JKR – the copyright page of my (UK adult) copy of DH asserts copyright in favour of JKR in respect of the book itself, but goes on to state “Harry Potter names, characters and related indicia are copyright and trademark Warner Bros”.
Ok, I don’t see (or don’t want to see) Warner contracting another writer to write more HP stories, but…Hollywood’s a strange place. Any thoughts from anyone else?
[Of course we in the public domain don’t get to see all the small print in all the contracts between author and studio. I hope

Posted by SpellWraith on December 23, 2009, 11:36 AM report to moderator
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1420 Points

she is awesome and the 1st thing that i am going to think of in this decade was harry potter

Posted by alicia00 on December 23, 2009, 02:30 PM report to moderator
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6941 Points

Very nice article! Harry Potter has been a major influence on our culture in the past decade.

Posted by harrypotter1991{ROAR} on December 23, 2009, 03:11 PM report to moderator
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730 Points

Harry Potter WAS my decade. I started reading the books in July of 2000, and they’ve become my life. Jo Rowling is my hero, and I hope I can thank her in person someday.

Posted by RavenclawDancer on December 23, 2009, 04:04 PM report to moderator
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3455 Points

‘as one of the most remarkable phenomena in the history of popular fiction.’
What a great line! Your books have truely changed the world Jo!

Posted by Catherine ( *SQUEE!*) on December 23, 2009, 04:08 PM report to moderator
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1317 Points

Jo and Harry deserve all the accolades that are forth coming! Jo did something for me that at one point in my life I thought impossible – the love of reading. Bad eyesight and all I love the stories but the films leave alot to be desired. While it is enjoyable to put a face to a character some of the scenes that are added to the movies do not track well at all. One can only hope that Jo has something in her contract with WB that there will be no more trashing of the characters and plot lines just to make more money. But then SpellWraith is correct – Hollywood is a STRANGE place and a greedy one to boot. Harry has been apart of the 68 year old grandmothers life for the last ten years and will be for many more to come. GO JO!!!!!!

Posted by hewy on December 23, 2009, 06:44 PM report to moderator
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49 Points

…oops, I hit submit on my last post before it was done, so here’s the final bit. I hope JKR has some sort of legal tie-in so that Warner couldn’t get anyone but her to write more HP stories, even though Warner have bought the names and characters from her.

Posted by SpellWraith on December 24, 2009, 03:45 AM report to moderator
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