Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Harry Potter and the Fables of Modern Age

I had an eventful weekend. I started my journey on Friday night and found the world was a gloomy place… and good people were getting killed. There was a coup and secret societies were functioning to fight the rule of dark forces. There were killings and misadventures all through Saturday and Sunday. But by the Sunday evening there was again some hope and happiness…..and finally at 6 PM the Dark Lord was defeated by the gutsy teenagers and “ All was well!!” Yes with these three magical words I finished my journey with Harry Potter and his friends.

And even I, never an obsessed fan of the series, am strangely contented. Can’t say I am elated .Neither am I sad that the series has come to an end and that perhaps there will be nothing more. I’m just content. Content that I’ve finished a rollicking good read. Something that I was not expecting to say as I plodded my way through the first few chapters of the 7th book of the series , through ordinary prose and middling dialog. But from that point on the book picked up like a beast unleashed. And I found myself getting caught up with the events hurtling towards their singular conclusion. Who had time to pay attention to the language then? Who had time to stop and raise eyebrows at the derivative ideas that drove the story forward, when the horcruxes were to be found and destroyed, dark forces were to be defeated and Hogwarts was to be saved? I must say that the success of the series is very well deserved. Rowling deserved every penny she earned on it (and probably deposited in a vault at Gringotts!). She excelled herself with each new book and finally managed to gave a fitting and cinematic end to the series Even if the end is to be expected and perhaps mocked at she brought it to a close with confidence and without resorting to mawkishness.

I deliberately waited for the euphoria to end after the release of the 7th book. This cooling period was needed so that I can make my own opinion about the book , without getting reviewers’ prejudices. And my verdict is 10/10 for the books and the writer. The books deserve a place in the list of modern classics and they are fables in the true sense of the word.
Yes..I said fables….It hardly matters that they talk about the world of witches and Wizards..of magic and charms..spells and flying on a broom. And no, there are no high sounding morals given at the end of the story “ So the moral of the story is ….” . The morals and the teachings are there nevertheless. They are so well intertwined with the story that any careful reader will sense them even without finding them in words. And the teachings….they are in tune with the times…very much for the reader living in the age of Osama Bin Laden and Pepsi Cola. The books talk about things we need to realize in the modern world- that things may not be as they appear in the first instance. Even the heroes are fallible. The biggest fights are fought with guts and not sophisticated weapons. Even friends have differences. Relationships break…and love at first sight may not be everlasting.And most importantly, itI talks about trust and friendship, about love and courage. Though most of these you may not find in the text…you’ll be able to feel them alright. Very unlike any fairy tale, the hero of the series was far from being the perfect good boy . He made mistakes…a lot of them…misjudged people, broke rules and was even defeated. He was hardly any match in skills to his friend Hermione and yet he was the “chosen one”. In the very first book the reason came from the mouth of headmaster Dumbledore : “It’s our choices Harry, who make us who we are far more than our abilities”. On another occasion the same Professor says: “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends."
And how true is this lesson for each one of us who are finding survival strategies in the world governed by peer pressures and books dictating what is “in” and what is “ not so cool” . That is perhaps the reason why so many people, young and not so young were glued to the books. And how wrong were the critics who thought its just about magic and some fantasy world of imagination. Of course there is magic and fantasy coupled with brilliant imagination …but it is much more than what you can find in the text. They are delightful books by any standards and I rate them at par with the all time favorites like 'Alice in Wonderland' or 'The Little Prince'—though these are of a different genre .
Yes, read the book…even if you are not a fan (I resist calling you a 'muggle' ) and even if you are one of those who look down their long noses and wrinkling brows at a world gone crazy in the grip of Potter mania, get off your high horse and immerse yourself for a few hours for a broomstick ride of the world which while inevitably simple is very very exciting. I can bet you will forget your reservations once you have read few pages. After all there will be hardly any time for the doubts so 'muggle-worldly' once you are hooked to the world of Harry Potter.

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