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Book Note: J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

I read this book about 8-Nov-2001. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 1997. This note was last modified Monday, 01-Mar-2004 11:28:02 PST.

This note does not contain major spoilers for the book.


The copy I'm reading is the American edition (you can tell from the title). I believe it's a stupid hack job; even when I was a kid I read lots of children's books with British backgrounds, not watered down. But that's what we seem to have; Pamela thought we had a copy of the British edition, but this turns out not to be the case. "Sorcerer's Stone" is a stupid name, and it's especially stupid to rename the existing standard stock concept, the "Philosopher's Stone". This isn't even an American / British usage difference, it's just dumb. The publisher seems to be committed to thinking of the audience as ignorant and parochial.

I had a series of "not now" bounces off the first few chapters, which are spent showing how awful his Aunt and Uncle and especially their vile child are. (I'm wondering if this sort of vile child is a British stereotype; I find myself recognizing Fraser's godson from the Modesty Blaise books in Dudley.) But I got past that this time; at the moment, Hagrid has taken Harry shopping for Harry's wand in Ollivander's on Diagon Alley.

I'd rate it as quite a lot of fun. I do feel the stereotypical public school environment is kinda unbelievable—but then I hear it existed for generations. Luckily I never got near it. The degree of disdain for the kids matchs lots of stereotypes, British and American, that I was lucky enough to not encounter. I do wonder if it is good to continue to present them as normal. And it bothers me that Dumbledore apparently intended the kids to deal with the problem themselves. Seems like far too serious a problem for that to make any sense at all. But of course the rules of wizardry are arcane (and not explained anywhere), so maybe it was necessary. That explanation isn't even hinted at, though, I had to invent it myself.

Quidditch is an amazingly magical game. Not only is flying around a requirement for the players, but at least two of the classes of balls involved appear to have free will. Given that, I'd think trying to influence their behavior (by something more subtle than beating them with sticks) would be a vital part of strategy, but no mention is made of such a thing. Silly wizards.

Anyway—that was fun!

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David Dyer-Bennet