Harry Potter is a series of seven epic fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The series, named after the titular character, chronicles the adventures of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story arc concerns Harry’s quest to overcome the Dark wizard Lord Voldemort, who aims to become immortal, conquer the wizarding world, subjugate non-magical people, and destroy all those who stand in his way, especially Harry Potter.
|The Harry Potter logo was first used for the American edition of the novel series (and some other editions worldwide), and then the film series.|
|Author||J. K. Rowling|
|Genre||Fantasy, young-adult fiction,mystery, thriller, bildungsroman,magical realism|
|Publisher||Bloomsbury Publishing (UK)
Arthur A. Levine Books (US)
|Published||29 June 1997 – 21 July 2007 (initial publication)|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)
E-book (as of March 2012)
|No. of books||7|
Since the release of the first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, on 30 June 1997, the books have gained immense popularity, critical acclaim, and commercial success worldwide. The series has also had some share of criticism, including concern for the increasingly dark tone. As of July 2013, the books had sold between 400 and 450 million copies, making them one of the best-selling book series in history, and had been translated into 73 languages. The last four books consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history, with the final instalment selling approximately 11 million copies in the United States within the first twenty-four hours of its release.
A series of many genres, including fantasy, coming of age, and the British school story, (with elements of mystery, thriller, adventure, and romance), it has many cultural meanings and references. According to Rowling, the main theme is death. There are also many other themes in the series, such as prejudice and corruption.
The series was originally printed in English by two major publishers, Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom and Scholastic Press in the United States. The books have since been published by many publishers worldwide. The books, with the seventh book split into two parts, have been made into an eight-part film series by Warner Bros. Pictures, the highest-grossing film series of all time. The series also originated much tie-in merchandise, making the Harry Potter brand worth in excess of $15 billion.
The novels revolve around Harry Potter, an orphan who discovers at the age of eleven that he is a wizard, living within the ordinary world of non-magical people, known asMuggles. His ability is inborn and such children are invited to attend an exclusive magic school that teaches the necessary skills to succeed in the wizarding world. Harry becomes a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and it is here where most of the events in the series take place. As Harry develops through his adolescence, he learns to overcome the problems that face him: magical, social and emotional, including ordinary teenage challenges such as friendships, infatuation and exams, and the greater test of preparing himself for the confrontation in the real world that lies ahead.
Each book chronicles one year in Harry’s life with the main narrative being set in the years 1991–98. The books also contain many flashbacks, which are frequently experienced by Harry viewing the memories of other characters in a device called a Pensieve.
The environment Rowling created is completely separate from reality yet also intimately connected to it. While the fantasy land of Narnia is an alternative universe and the Lord of the Rings‘ Middle-earth a mythic past, the wizarding world of Harry Potter exists in parallel within the real world and contains magical versions of the ordinary elements of everyday life. Many of its institutions and locations are recognisable, such as London. It comprises a fragmented collection of overlooked hidden streets, ancient pubs, lonely country manors and secluded castles that remain invisible to the Muggle population.
According to Rowling, a major theme in the series is death: “My books are largely about death. They open with the death of Harry’s parents. There is Voldemort’s obsession with conquering death and his quest for immortality at any price, the goal of anyone with magic. I so understand why Voldemort wants to conquer death. We’re all frightened of it.”
Academics and journalists have developed many other interpretations of themes in the books, some more complex than others, and some including political subtexts. Themes such as normality, oppression, survival, and overcoming imposing odds have all been considered as prevalent throughout the series. Similarly, the theme of making one’s way through adolescence and “going over one’s most harrowing ordeals—and thus coming to terms with them” has also been considered. Rowling has stated that the books comprise “a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry” and that also pass on a message to “question authority and… not assume that the establishment or the press tells you all of the truth”.
While the books could be said to comprise many other themes, such as power/abuse of power, love, prejudice, and free choice, they are, as Rowling states, “deeply entrenched in the whole plot”; the writer prefers to let themes “grow organically”, rather than sitting down and consciously attempting to impart such ideas to her readers. Along the same lines is the ever-present theme of adolescence, in whose depiction Rowling has been purposeful in acknowledging her characters’ sexualities and not leaving Harry, as she put it, “stuck in a state of permanent pre-pubescence”. Rowling said that, to her, the moral significance of the tales seems “blindingly obvious”. The key for her was the choice between what is right and what is easy, “because that … is how tyranny is started, with people being apathetic and taking the easy route and suddenly finding themselves in deep trouble.