With over 325 million copies of all seven books sold worldwide, the last four books have also been, consecutively, the fastest selling in history. They have been translated into over 65 languages and author JK Rowling has amassed over $1 Billion (US). In short Harry Potter is a worldwide phenomenon.
Suzanne Beishon from the Socialist Party asks why?
They are not stunning literary creations, the writing is average at best, and yet they have set alight the imaginations of children and adults across the world.
The key is the huge attention to detail. Treading that fine line between convincing and far-fetched that so many fantasies fail in, it comes out on top. The last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, does not disappoint.
The sixth book built up to a stunning finale and while, when I picked up the final book I thought ‘this is too thin to be able to tie up all the loose ends’ it achieves it magically (excuse the pun!).
So, with the close of Harry Potter (although there are still two more films to come), we can ask what relevance does Harry Potter have for socialists?
JK Rowling has called herself ‘left-wing’ and has also said that within the books there is a certain amount of “political stuff”.
Of this there is evidence throughout, such as the three ‘unforgivable curses’ being killing, torture and enslavement.
There are comments on slavery with the oppression of the house-elves whose cause is taken up by Hermione who sets up the Society for the Protection of Elvish Welfare.
There are also comments on the education system, testing, the curriculum and the virtues of the Baccalaureate over A-Levels or in Hogwarts’ case, O.W.L.S.
Racism and discrimination are a theme throughout. The fight for a multicultural society is borne out in the battle against Lord Voldemort’s dream of a world dominated by the ‘superior’ pure-blood wizards.
In the story all the mainstream media is used by the state to discredit the anti-Voldemort movement. It is only the small independent press and pirate radio that is able to put the truth out to the wizarding world.
Why does Harry Potter deserve to be reviewed by socialists? Not only does it have positive political comments throughout and has been so incredibly successful, it has also achieved where many governments have failed for years, in getting hundreds of thousands of children that do not normally read, reading.