So I have finally managed to start reading the Harry Potter series again and it’s simply wonderful to step back into Harry’s world. But it’s not just a step back into the wizarding world, but also a trip down memory lane. Harry Potter, in various incarnations, has never really left me and I’ve been watching the films, browsing (the old) Pottermore or visiting the WB Studios in London. But reading the first book again really takes me back to when I first read it around 2000.
(This review contains spoilers for this and later books in the series.)
Going back and reading this book, which has brought so much life and imagination into my childhood and teenage years, is something very special. On the one side I clearly remember the time when I read it for the first time. I enjoyed the story with its brilliant wit and narrative twist at the end. There was so much in there and I was at once captivated by the world that J.K. Rowling had conjured up. On the other side, when reading the story now, you somehow bring “baggage” with you.
I am not the young girl anymore I used to be and I have read many books in between and seen many films, so that my perception of storytelling and writing is changed. I still think it’s a brilliant book. Now I appreciate the clever and sometimes quite cheeky wit of the books even more and I also like analysing the narrative structure, comparing it to the film and its script and – of course – I know where the whole story is going. And I couldn’t help but notice quite a few instances in Philosopher’s Stone that would become important much later on.
One thing is the dragon in Gringotts. There is quite a bit of foreshadowing here. Also the fact that Harry will have to die in the end is already vaguely mentioned. The centaurs allude to this and according to them it has to happen – and we see the prophecy fulfilled in Book 7. I don’t think that J.K. Rowling planned every small detail from the beginning, but it is very obvious, that she knew where the last book would end. I find it simply amazing that she had the energy and drive to write such an amazing series over such a long period of time with details for the final instalment already planned from the beginning. I would never have the patience – if I have an idea I need to shout about it in the script or story I’m writing. How could I possibly wait many years to reveal all? But that makes Rowling an incredibly special writer.
What else can I say about the book? The characters are so vivid and well-written, it’s always a pleasure to go back and read all the stories, just to meet some of the quirky cast again. I’m already looking forward to Gilderoy Lockhart – what an idiot 😀 Brilliant! Philosopher’s Stone is maybe the simplest story, but I love the flow of the whole book and everything fits neatly together. We are introduced to the ways of the wizarding world and we have grown fond of the main characters – this opens up space for the next book. And I love it how each book logically follows after the other and gets more complex and grown up – yet in the end all links together. So Philosopher’s Stone is a perfect start for this exceptional book series.
So to come back to my point in the beginning – every time you read Harry Potter again, it will be a bit different. Because we change over time. And thus our perception of things changes as well. So for me it creates a feeling inbetween mentally going back to that time when I first read it and a strong sense of nostalgia, because I can never actually go back there. Well, all I can do is enjoy the books again from time to time to be reminded of the good old times. And that is already worth a lot. Thank you, J.K. Rowling!