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:
- 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.
- 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?
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.