Since you didn't ask about Harry Potter

But yes, Azra read the new book and so did I. It may be a sign of the diminishing isolation of the Balkans that the first copies were available in Belgrade (at the Akademac bookstore) at midnight on the same day they were available everywhere else, apparently for the first time. In any case, it is a bit of a poor benefit, as the books are expensive and a translation is not promised until September.

Some of the local commentary on the book had to do with the approach to identity in the fictional wizards' world -- national-chauvinist insistence on "purity of blood" is definitely looked down upon, and the view of multicultural pleasure as drawn by the amused fascination with non-wizard conveniences seems a little bit trivial and market-based (however, the slinky French stereotype that is set up at the beginning of the story is demolished at the end -- something there about emotion?). The approach to authority in the stories remains conditional: teachers and ministers are to be respected if their motivations are in order. The American and European commentators who see the books as a "liberal" story may be right on that point, and the image of a harried but professional officialdom struck a nice contrast for some Balkan commentators. The only figures in the book interested in power for profit or its own sake do get interests on their side, but are thwarted (in one passage, Dumbledore says, by "love," but that may be beside the point).

There is an interesting reflection by Mika LaVaque-Manty over at Left2Right looking at the Harry Potter universe as one of disenchanted modernity, with all the obligatory references to Weber and Kant. It is followed by an equally interesting discussion at their comments site. Most of it turns on the interpretations of morality in the books and whether the stories can be taken as any kind of serious moralno štivo.

For me, I've discussed it a bit with my daughter. We have both read the whole thing but not yet made it through the joint reading aloud. I appreciate that the morality business is not too heavyhanded (check Oscar Wilde's heavily laden childrens' stories for a comparison). On the other hand, our discussion of the whole "love" business has been limited to a categorisation of the varieties in the book of what is described in Ms Rowling's fine British parlance as "snogging."

No comments: