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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter has become such an institution is hard to believe that the first of the books was only released July 1997. Time drags when normally sane adults are discussing a kids’ book.

Harry Potter owes his existence to the staggering ineptitude of British Rail. The idea came to JK Rowling on a train journey in 1990 from Manchester to London (181 miles apart for you yanks) that ended up lasting 4 hours. Four years of writing and three years of whoring it around agents and publishers later and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was finally released by Bloomsbury. The book was later released in the USA under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (don’t you Americans ever get sick of being treated like morons?).

Much more interesting than the books themselves was the foaming mouth reaction from Christian fundamentalists. Numerous websites sprung up (this is my favourite) declaring Harry Potter to be satanic, spreading witchcraft or sending a godless pagan message (those pagan bastards with their reverence for the life force and its ever-renewing cycles of life and death). But it wasn’t just the raving nut-jobs on the fringes that got their cassocks in a twist; it was also the raving nut-jobs at the centre. The current Pope, back when he was plain old Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Dean of the College of Cardinals, expressed his distaste for the half blood prince along with the Vatican’s official exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth (yes, really).

At the last count the Harry Potter series has clocked up sales of over 300 million worldwide and Rowling is richer than the Queen.

Buy Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Read twelve reasons not to watch the Harry Potter movies. Not one of which is ‘Because it’s for twelve year olds; grow up and watch something proper’.

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