I know that I am cheating this month on the classics challenge a little bit. I do. I don’t know where I am with this challenge at the moment to be honest. I’m all muddled up over what counts as a classic, and I’m spending so much time umming and ahhing over it every month that when I choose something, I’m already entirely worn out of enthusiasm for it. I’m thinking about what to do about that, I promise. I’m coming up with a plan. But Harry Potter could hardly be denied as a classic of children’s literature – a modern classic, I absolutely grant you, but it definitely counts. The series has had a huge impact on a generation of young readers, adult readers, film-goers of all ages.
WHEN I Discovered This Classic
My first experience of Harry Potter was watching the film in the cinema. In 2001, I was eight years old. I was enchanted by that film, but still fonder of Disney. The second film came out and I left the cinema as soon as Harry and Ron entered the Forbidden Forest surrounded by spiders.
My stronger memory is of finally watching both films months later on VHS with my sister. Someone made a comment about accuracy between film and book (I think to do with what the Boa Constrictor says after Harry sets it free) and I tried to pretend that I knew. I had not, in fact, read the books at this point – I don’t think so anyway. If I had, I was read to rather than reading independently. This was when I decided I would actually read the books, on my own, because I needed to become a proper critic of how accurate the films were.
My relationship with all six of the later films is very different, and I’ve never been clear on how much of this is about the big directorial changes that were made between Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azakaban, and how much of it was because by then I had read the books and was making my own assessment of how this story I was so in love with was being brought to the screen.
WHY I Chose to Read It
I missed it. Every so often, I get little Hogwarts pangs, and I just have to go back. I am completely confident that I share this with a lot of other Potterheads!
WHAT Makes It A Classic
The things I rattled on about above – it has defined a generation of young people, is still enchanting new readers with new illustrated editions and expansions to the story via Pottermore, Fantastic Beasts and The Cursed Child. It’s quite difficult to avoid Potter – even if you aren’t a fan, you are likely aware of its existence. It holds a place in the collective imagination of so many people, and is such a broad cultural reference point that it could hardly not be considered a classic.
WHAT I Thought of This Classic
Very likely very obvious from all of the things I have to say about it. I adore this book, and this series, from my head to my toes.
WILL It Stay A Classic
Definitely – I can’t tell you how long for, but I hope certainly through another few generations of young readers who will dream about going to Hogwarts.
WHO I’d Recommend It To