After Potter

Of course it is happening in your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it isn’t real?  –   Albus Dumbledore

The fact that everyone is weighing in on Harry Potter stands as a tribute to the impact the saga has had on us all.  There’s no doubt the release of the final movie is most poignant for those who grew up with the series; a span of 13 years for the books or 10 for the movies is huge when you are young.  Some of those who picked up The Sorcerer’s Stone in grade school have finished college.

Annie Ropeik, an intern at NPR suggests three adult fantasies for the “Hogwarts Grad.”  She calls one of them, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, a cathartic examination of the nature of magic and our relationship to the stories we wanted to live in as kids — required reading for anyone trying to recover from a lifelong love affair with a fictional world.

Note the language Ropeik uses, especially the word, “recover,” which suggests that a love affair with a fictional world is something we should fight the way someone “in recovery” uses the 12 steps to fight for freedom from an addiction.

I’ve been sensitive to this kind of nuance ever since one of my psychology professors, a colleague of James Hillman and Joseph Campbell, recommended The Neverending Story by Michael Ende with the comment that, “It’s about our culture’s war on imagination.”  Can we graduate from the fictional worlds we have loved and lived in?  Should we even want to?  According to Hillman, our greatest danger is literalism, the mind that is closed to fantasy, or rather, refuses to see the fantasy in all our realities and the reality of our fantasies.

Today may be a day to mourn the end of an era, but it is also a day to celebrate the gifts we have received from Rowling, the young actors, and everyone who worked on the movies.  They have given us an unforgettable world of imagination and dreams where courage and friendship matter, even when the odds are bad, in the struggle of good against evil.

9 thoughts on “After Potter

  1. I love my fantasy books. I just ordered the Harry Potter series a couple days ago (package should be in tomorrow) but the biggest series that I’ve been reading for years is Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. I’m also greatly looking forward to the continuation of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive which is the first big series that I’m getting into with the first book which came out last fall.

    As much as I appreciate all types of books, there’s something special about a fantasy book that a book set in our world just can’t capture.


  2. Ok, now that I’ve looked at the list of books for Hogwarts Grads I can say that I’ll definitely check out The Magicians, and I might look for The Secret History. Ender’s Game is a science fiction book, not a fantasy, but it’s still an absolutely brilliant book, so is the second book in the series Speaker for the Dead. Xenocide (the third book in the Ender series) is still good if not as brilliant as the first two, and I just bought Children of the Mind (fourth Ender book) earlier today and I’ll probably read it in the next couple of weeks.


    • I know I am late to this party, because for a long time I was simply not paying attention to adult fantasy, but I just started George R.R. Martin’s, “A Game of Thrones,” and I can’t put it down. I discovered it because of a review in “Time” of the 5th book in that series which just came out.

      And also, though I have recently said a lot of YA seems stale these days, “The Hunger Games,” is really superb and original – deserving of all the acclaim it is getting. This is the first of a three book series and I have not read books 2 and 3. It is set in a near-future world but distinct enough that it seems quite “other.”


  3. I’m not a big fan of fantasy, but some of it is so good it can’t be missed. Hunger Games is in that category, but my personal favorite series is the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riorden. The Lightning Thief is the first of the five book series. My grandson introduced me to them. Very smart and clever, characters based on Greek mythology. I do love that fantasy engenders imagination in readers. it’s just so damn healthy for young minds.


  4. I love a good fantasy too but Harry Potter had me bored rigid after the second movie.I saw the last movie in Imax last night and I wanted to stick a dagger in the neck after the first half hour. They could easily have combined the last 2 movies into a single 1.5 hour movie in my view. I think the whole thing got overly self indulgent. I’m more of a star trek person than silly kiddie wizards. I won’t regret the demise of the Potter franchise one little bit.


    • Everybody is different along these lines. The first Star Trek movies had some gems – The Wrath of Khan and the whale movie. I also liked the most recent prequel: Young Spock – “You lied!” Old Spock – “I implied.”


  5. I just stumbled onto your blog and as someone who grew up with the Harry Potter series, from grade school to college, I couldn’t agree more. I posted an entry very similar to yours after seeing the movie, great choice of an opening quote!


  6. I’m picky about my fantasy literature. Loved The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Likewise the Potter series.
    It really does take a long time to emerge from the worlds you immerse yourself in, and it’s great while it lasts.
    But you’re right….why should we have to ‘recover’ from it when it is something we embrace wholeheartedly?
    I just watched Deathly Hallows part 2 in 3D day before yesterday and can’t stop thinking about the awesomeness of it. My heart still breaks when I think of Snape…


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