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The Harry Potter Saga: Its Life and Death MAG
A fleeting wisp of glory, a Camelot in its own realm ... unutterable, ungraspable, indefinable, like mist on a wintry morning or music that brings you courage though you can’t explain why ...
I am going to make an assumption: Any teenager reading this magazine knows and loves the Harry Potter books. We’ve been there for every single twist of every single volume. We were there in the first one, when Harry stood in front of the mirror of Erised ... we were there in the second, when Harry hissed in parseltongue; we were there when he collapsed because of dementors, were there when Mrs. Weasely held him after he witnessed Voldemort’s return to power and the death of his schoolmate ... We were there when Harry shouted at Dumbledore, when he wept for Sirius ... and we were there in the sixth book, where we at last glimpsed the man Harry is becoming, where we watched him, haggard with despair, roar curses at a traitor.
These books are alive to us. During their reign, people have wondered why they are so popular. What is it that brings us flocking to bookstores, that keeps us reading into the night? There are standard explanations, of course: believable characters, a fleshed-out setting, a good adventure story. But I have thought long and hard on this mystery and concluded that we like the Harry Potter books for other reasons.
It comes to you in a few radiant, breathtaking, bittersweet moments: when you get this book, open it, hold it with relish and realize that every child for miles around is doing the same thing. When you start to read, when you are swept into the world of magic and have thrills of excitement and foreboding and happiness that rival those of a roller coaster; and when, at last, you reach the end, and not only read but also feel the heart-wrenching losses and defeats that darken the last pages ... then you feel it, once and never again: life, palpable, in your hands, dripping through your fingers even as you grasp at it.
Life, liquid as blood, liquid as tears ... and you know, even as a sob escapes you, for love of it, for pain of it, for sheer, momentary understanding ... it’s gone. Like a dream you know you had but cannot remember, that shattering moment of truth flits away.
And that is when you cry in earnest: at that breathtaking moment of pain, the wound of living fades and the only memory it leaves is that it hurt, that you felt it. But you know, even as you clutch your fingers around that indefinable substance and try to recall your dream ... it’s gone. Nothing can bring it back. You have forgotten it, and will never remember.
That is what these books bring to me, that is what they mean. Ghostlike trails of emotions so strong, so humid with life, that mere remembrance sears my heart: first, because I remember how they hurt, and second: because I know I’ll never feel such a hurt again. The Harry Potter novels will never again be novel to me. I will only be able to re-read them.
The series is drawing to a close. The seventh and final installment is coming and when it does, children, teens and adults alike will gather in bookshops at midnight for the last time ... and the great, roaring, triumphant tide of Harry Potter fans will diminish into the nothingness, the reminiscing elders we have despised for their Beatles, their Elvises, their Bob Dylans. Harry Potter, the huge, unanticipated reading movement will cease to be. We will all read, our breath collectively held, the final book: the opening pages, in which our gasps will be of delight, to be transported to our familiar world again, for the last time ... then to feverish addiction as we race through the middle, giddy for answers ... and then, the climax, which we’ll read with blurred eyes, so scared to know what happens.
We’ll shed our tears, we’ll choke our laughs, and we’ll close our books, knowing as we do that never again will we be able to read a Harry Potter book for the first time. Never again will we experience the stabs of loss, pain, sadness, fresh and unwarned: those precious cupfuls of humanity that Rowling has tipped into our outstretched hands will not be proffered again. We’ll be left grasping at leftovers, we’ll be left poring over the old, often-read texts, trying in vain to reconjure those emotions.
Oh, woe unto us, when we close the last of the series! Woe unto us who will be left empty, even though we have been at last fulfilled! Woe unto us, we idiots, we idealists, we gullible sheep: we set our hearts on someone, something, mortal and finite, and at last, we reached its finish, the end has come, and we, empty-handed, still crave more of that which will never come again, must live on.
These books are so alive now. Something to argue about: Do you think Regulus Black is R.A.B.? Do you think Snape is good or evil? What was Dumbledore moaning about in that horcrux cave? But I wonder, almost ruefully, what Mugglenet.com will look like in twenty years. We bask in the sheer life of these books, of the inexplicable truth that comes from Rowling’s simple prose. But when the mysteries unfold, I wonder, will the Harry Potter books still be alive?