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The Boy Who Lived Lives

The 31st of July, 2016, the birthday of the protagonist in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series, marked the release of a new addition to her franchise. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a script of a play by Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany, broke sales records and became the fastest selling book since the last Harry Potter title. That the book managed to achieve this despite being hardly more than sloppy fan-fiction with a weak, ridiculous plot and badly written dialogues is a testimony to the strength of the magic that J.K. Rowling has woven and the ardour of the following that it still has.

Despite the success of the seven Harry Potter books, the magical world created by J.K. Rowling is far from perfect. It lacks the attention to detail, self-consistency, and depth of other fantasy worlds, such as those of Tolkien or George RR Martin, and has the general feel of stuff having been made up on the fly and when convenient to the plot. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to find plot holes in the story or absurdities and inconsistencies in the world of magic.

Despite all this, the fact remains that the books were a success- an unparalleled one that brought about a revolution in young adult literature. They’re the best selling book series in history with more than 500 million copies being sold worldwide. The Deathly Hallows, the final instalment, sold around 11 million copies in the United States in the first twenty-four hours of its release.

Even this commercial success, however, is not the most remarkable thing about the Harry Potter series.  J.K. Rowling deserves credit not for creating the perfect fantasy world, which she hasn’t. She deserves credit for a narrative so immersive and a story so compelling that a large portion of the teenage audience that the books were aimed at never outgrew the Pottermania. Perhaps it is only because it was such an integral part of their childhood that adults still cling on to the fandom, but the fact is that from Harry Potter theme parties to fan-fiction, they do still cling on to it.

This is J.K. Rowling’s legacy and what she deserves credit for – the creation of a series that, for whatever reasons, has generated an almost religious cult of followers that will not let the culture die. A particularly striking characteristic of these fans is that they can often put in much more thought into things that perhaps even Rowling originally did. This or denial is a necessary coping mechanism to keep the Pottermania alive, owing to the plot-holes and occasional lack of planning. Sometimes the created must protect the creator, and the fans come to Rowling’s aid with quite intelligent and amazing theories and explanations to cover up for the author. Other issues, like the whole underage magic thing that it appears Rowling never got a hold of, are easier to ignore.

While not getting the Hogwarts letters at the age of eleven might have been crushing, a little analysis would make it clear that there really isn’t much that the wizarding world, stuck as it is in the 20th century, offers over today’s way of life. But despite adulthood and nitpicking critics who’d rip apart anything just to hear the fabric tear, Potterheads will endure, as is evident from the mostly adult audience that flocked to see the 2016 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie. As they would say, Always.

Featured Image: Aditya Sriram

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