Harry Potter and fantasy

cedarlibrarian talks about why she loves Harry Potter but doesn’t love fantasy.

Along the way, I think she’s explained why I love fantasy but don’t love Harry Potter. It boils down to the same basic idea: Harry Potter is not, at its heart, fantasy.

It has the trappings, but the more I think about it … it doesn’t have the things I read fantasy for. I don’t feel transported to someplace Other when I read the books; and so I also don’t get reflections onto and insights into this world; or the unique sort of character transformation that can occur in both literal and figurative ways from encounters with magic.

Harry Potter is transformed, of course, slowly over the books–but it’s the transformation of getting out of an abusive household, and I don’t think that transformation would be significantly different if the magic weren’t there, or that the magic really facilitates it. (Though the magic may turn transformative by the climax of the final book–and I think for me, that hope is the main thing that keeps me reading–and the main thing that may wind up making me throw the last book across the room, if it doesn’t.)

Put another way: the magic lies lightly on the world, rather than being deeply woven into it. The trappings are all altered; but the world is much the same as ours, for all the sense by Harry of how different it is.

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