Claire’s 5-Cents: No Love for ‘New Magic In North America’ Stories

Rowling has made headlines once again for including more background and stories to Pottermore on the magic world outside of British borders. She has, however, managed to stir some controversy. Below is Claire’s 5-Cents on the topic.

I will preface this by saying that while I’ve read the story and a few of Rowling’s ajoining tweets, I’ve not delved into the topic too much. I have some mixed feelings about the expansion of her world to which I’ve written a Pro and Con list of this:

Pro

  • You get to learn more about how magic is different in countries and cultures around the world.
  • The history of magic is expanded so it isn’t a one-sided story.
  • You get to hear more about how magic is taught (they can’t all be boarding schools right?).
  • There is more information on magic creatures and the moves that wizards and witches will go to to conceal themselves.

Con

  • People are starting to question what is cannon and what isn’t cannon now- what is real in the magic world and what isn’t? What is interpretation by some (is the play cannon? the films aren’t in my opinion. I’ve got no idea on the play yet)?
  • How will myth and religion weave into this?
  • What the hell is with no-maj?

My 5-Cents:

One: Now I get to my central point: I really didn’t like Rowling’s depiction of the history of magic in North America. The biggest issue? She wove religion, real religion, people’s actual beliefs into her stories. In a nutshell this is called appropriation and in my opinion, a big no-no.

Two: When reading the stories I just felt that they were so uninspired. They felt shallow and I know it’s just Pottermore but she really could have gotten into more detail there- she noted that Native American witches and wizards specialised in plant and animal magic. What about this kind of magic? It’s so general and boring! What made the Harry Potter series so great was that everything was so new and different. These stories fit too neatly into her world and she hasn’t revealed anything new about magic- she just gave a continent of magic a few attributes that we already knew about. It felt like scrabble, a reshuffling of bits and not true invention.

Three: And another gripe: why the heck are so many of the cultures/continents/countries mentioned so adept at wandless magic. How is it that European wizards were the only place to invent wands and then it flowed outwards? I’m very sure that other places managed to invent some kind of magical conduit that not only harnessed their magic but also assisted in directing it. This quote aptly sums it up:

Rowling may say that great things can be done without a wand, but it doesn’t offset the implications—that Native Americans may have raw power, but it’s refinement that only comes from Europe. Implications that she, with her background, was completely blind to.

Four: A little bit of confusion here on my part and I really, really would like someone to explain this to me. I know in Harry Potter we learned that there were a few witches and wizards that allowed themselves to be caught my anti-witch peeps so that they could feel the “tickle” of the frozen flames. A few other actually caught witches and wizards also just froze the fire and left. So… what happened to Salem? What was that that Scourer bit?

Five: What the heck is British “speciality” I’d like to know how an entire country can specialise in something and if they can- what is the British speciality?

I’d recommend reading J.K. Rowling’s History of Magic in North America Was a Travesty From Start to Finish by Katharine Trendacosta. She basically sums up most of what I feel.

NameClaire

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About Claire (BWB)

It's Claire (aka Quirky) from Bitches With Books, an online book blog that serves up a healthy dose of book reviews, lists + literary madness.
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3 Responses to Claire’s 5-Cents: No Love for ‘New Magic In North America’ Stories

  1. moosha23 says:

    Haha, I agree with the whole “what is canon these days?” sort of thing. I think it’s great that there’s so much more on the Harry Potter world from the author but yeah, on the bookish side entirely the author is almost unnecessary. The key thing with the Harry Potter world I think is that it’s been years since the books have been finished and that whole community feeling of reading Harry Potter has totally taken the backburner compared to the “old days”. And so the author’s views on so much of the HP stuff is jaded by the tons and tons of interpretations, investigations and strong opinions of the masses who explore their own answers to their inquisitions. No longer is it up to Rowling to be the be all and end all of what goes in the HP world or not.
    And in the literary criticism approach – reading Harry Potter and engaging with the source material is entirely personal. And because it’s so famous and spread out, it’s a sort of ‘personal’ experience that pretty much has its own intellectual property rights (e.g. sort of how blogging and blogs work I guess). What I’m trying to say is that on some level it’s no longer Rowling’s right to say what goes or not (even though it feels good when she confirms what we’ve all been thinking etc). With books there’s been a great shift from literary criticism to literary interpretation in which instead of critics trying to examine their experiences of the source material against what the author intended the book to portray there’s a wide belief that whatever an author publishes is up to the reader to determine what is what – so long as they can justify themselves.

  2. I somehow missed that Rowling had written ANY of this… is it weird that I like the idea of the HP universe as rather ‘closed’ and finished? Like we know all we’re ever going to find out? It’s so familiar and nostalgic, I don’t really want it to change.

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