Till Deathly Hallows Do Us Part
by Robbie Fischer
Should we be saddened by how the Harry Potter phenomenon is almost over?
Suppose, for a moment, that this is really going to happen when the seventh Harry book comes out. Why should we be saddened by reality? I, for one, have had plenty of experience in leaving good things behind. I never thought it would be possible to outgrow being a Star Trek fan, but I managed it. I never thought I would get over moving away from certain best friends and losing touch with them, but I made new friends and lost touch with them in turn – many times over since then.
Reality I can handle. I’ve been handling it. If Harry Potter could no longer be part of my life, for some reason, I would learn to live with it. I would find something to fill the hole it would leave behind. And one day, going back to it, rediscovering it, might be that much sweeter.
But is that, after all, reality? Why does the advent of the seventh book have to be the end of Harry Potter fandom? In the short run, there are, after all, movies 6 and 7 to look forward to, even after this summer’s release of movie 5 and book 7. But what about the long run? Did the publication of all of the Narnia books put an end to readers’ enthusiasm for them? Did the release of the first edition of The Return of the King end the cult status of The Lord of the Rings? Heck no! Why, even Star Trek still has some life in it, nearly 40 years after the original series was canceled, and some 5 years since I personally stopped following it.
The reality is, the only thing that is ending is the anticipation of each new release in the series. We have been privileged to be part of that. In fact, I think the Harry Potter following has been one of the most thrilling popular movements of the past decade, one of the defining fandoms of the present generation. It has played a role in historic changes in publishing and communications. It may even be a cultural watershed on the level of The Lord of the Rings, which spawned the whole fantasy genre. It isn’t nearly over; it has only just started. The only difference is that, once Book 7 is out, the phenomenon will be mature.
Readers will now be able to enjoy the whole story, from start to finish. The time will come when many people will find it hard to imagine the series not being complete and available for all to read. Scholarly fans and fanatical scholars will turn their energies from speculation, toward interpretation. Perhaps the next thing J.K.R. writes will even surpass her achievement in the Harry Potter series; what a waste of her gift if she does not try! Can you imagine a world in which Harry Potter is only a part, perhaps not even the most significant part, of the author’s body of work?
Perhaps we could be saddened by how quickly people are willing to give up something they love. Or by the idea that, perhaps, they don’t really love it, but they have kept up with it out of a sense of obligation to follow the latest fad. How sad it would be for J.K.R., after all her years of work and success, to be come a has-been overnight as all her fans collectively say, “Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, bye.” That’s their loss, not mine. It doesn’t worry me at all.