Sunday, November 05, 2017

The Annotation Project: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

So let’s try something new: I’m thinking it would be fun to annotate famous books with my thoughts as to why the writing works. I wish I could post these bigger so they were actually readable here, but instead you have to click on every one (and it’s not going to be very readable on people’s phones.) I’ll also include all twenty pages as a downloadable word document if that’s easier. We’ll start with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Actually, the only version I could find for download was the American-ized version, so I guess we should say Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

We’ll do this like the checklists, with a big document dump on the first day, followed by follow-up pieces for the next two to three weeks. See you then!


Anonymous said...

What an awesome project. Thank you very much for your philanthropy, you're a saint. Do you foster blind children as well?

Matt Bird said...

That's the kind of comment I like to get!

Unknown said...

Thanks so much!

James Kennedy said...

This is great stuff, super helpful!

Harvey Jerkwater said...

Privet Drive's population of Roald Dahl grotesques makes a lot of sense, yeah. The contrast Rowling creates isn't between the boring, mundane world of regular people versus the magical land of allakazam, it's between being loathed and being loved. For kids, generally the world feels threatening and insane rather than boring and predictable. To them, the real world is already well stocked with monsters. Pushing the "everything was boring until BA-BAM! HOGWARTS!" wouldn't resonate nearly as well.

And also, Harry's embracing of Hogwarts would feel a little dickish if the only sins of his family were that they were boring and unimaginative. Because they're cartoonish villains, his escape feels right and proper. The Dursley comedy gives Harry's ascent more than a hint of revenge. Kids love revenge. Hey, who doesn't? [side-eyes my well-read unabridged copy of The Count of Monte Cristo]

Reading the books to my young'uns, I was surprised at how many times Rowling used the "said [adverb]" construction, but again, it makes sense when the audience is taken into account. "Said -ly" is considered redundant; the writing should make that clear enough already. But for kids, that may not be true. They may not infer subtleties from dialogue because they haven't read enough books to recognize the contexts. Adult rules don't always apply for the kids.

Jason said...

Some terrific insight here. Thanks. Good practice to help train our brains to read books like writers instead of coasting along like oblivious consumers.

Paul Worthington said...

Book editor Clark Chamberlain did a long video analysis of the first Potter book here:


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