crumpets & muffins (ON HARRY POTTER)

Your Name Lina.Hawkins at BERLITZGLOBALNET.COM
Thu Jan 18 21:10:56 UTC 2001

The following article appeared in "Teachers in Focus" magazine.


        Parents in South Carolina, California, Nebraska, Georgia and
Minnesota have complained to public school administrators about the Harry
Potter series's inclusion of gore, evil and death. Among the concerns about
the first installment, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone:


         The book's main characters engage in occultic and Wiccan-style
exercises. Harry and his colleagues routinely practice sorcery, cast
spells, fly on broomsticks and talk with spirits of the dead.

      Gruesome Imagery

       Author J.K. Rowling incorporates graphic depictions, including
a professor whose leg is mangled by a three-headed dog; a mysterious figure
who is caught drinking blood from a unicorn carcass; Lord Voldemort's
horrific appearance as a ghastly face on the back of a professor's head;
and Nearly Headless Nick-a ghost whose head is barely attached.


    Harry frequently-and unapologetically-lies, breaks rules and
disobeys authority figures, including the professors at Hogwarts. He
specifically disregards a direct order from one of his teachers and takes
off on a broom. Instead of being punished, Harry is honored for his riding


    Harry resents his cruel relatives and-rather than extending
forgiveness-is eager for retribution. Upon returning to family members at
the end of the school year, Harry is pleased at the opportunity to torment

   Family Friendly Libraries (FFL), which keeps parents informed
about questionable content in popular books, has a detailed analysis of the
Harry Potter series available on its Web site ( In
response, the American Library Association has denounced FFL's supposed
efforts to "ban" Harry Potter. At presstime, the ALA reportedly had plans
to laud Rowling at an upcoming meeting in San Antonio.

     For her part, Rowling doesn't believe her books should be off
limits to anyone.

    "I don't think you should censor kids' reading material," she
told reporters. "It's important just to let them go do what they need to

        John Andrew Murray is Headmaster at St. Timothy's-Hale in
Raleigh, N.C.

        This article appeared in Teachers in Focus magazine.

-----Original Message-----
From: Baker, John [mailto:JBaker at STRADLEY.COM]
Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2001 1:04 PM
Subject: Re: crumpets & muffins

        In the Harry Potter books, men and boys with magical ability,
including Harry, are called wizards, while magical women and girls are
called witches.  Non-magical people are called muggles.  The original book,
published in the UK, was entitled Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,
in reference to the mythical substance that alchemists believed would
transmute base metals into gold.  When the American publisher, Scholastic,
brought the book out in the U.S., it changed the book's name to Harry Potter
and the Sorceror's Stone in the belief that American children would be
confused by the apparent reference to philosophy.

        The controversy over the Harry Potter books is a bit bizarre,
considering that the books are simple fantasies that have nothing to say
about Christianity, pro or con.  Religion plays little role in the books and
the characters do not seem to be particularly observant, but the wizards and
witches do celebrate Christmas.  Other children's fantasies take
non-Christian or even anti-Christian approaches (notably Philip Pullman's
His Dark Materials trilogy), but those somehow attract little attention.

John Baker

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Your Name [SMTP:Lina.Hawkins at BERLITZGLOBALNET.COM]
> Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2001 1:42 PM
> Subject:      Re: crumpets & muffins
> I am astonished to find out that the UK edition calls Harry Potter a
> philosopher and the US edition calls him a sorcerer.
> Not too long ago, I received a letter from a Christian Orthodox priest
> saying not to buy Harry Potter's books because they are evil and they
> promote Satanism.
> There have been a lot of arguments on this issue!
> Lina Barbara Hawkins
> Project Coordinator
> Berlitz GlobalNET
> Translation and Localization Services
> 525 Broadway
> Santa Monica, CA 90401
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tony Glaser [mailto:tonyglaser at MINDSPRING.COM]
> Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2001 7:03 AM
> Subject: Re: crumpets & muffins
> >I was in the train station today, reading my US-bought Harry Potter and
> >came across Harry and Ron eating English muffins.  I thought "I wonder
> >whether the original version had 'muffins' or 'crumpets'."  So, went to
> the
> >newstand, picked up the UK edition, and found the answer:  crumpets.
> Train station? So you must have been in the US, surely! :)
> >
> >Now, why the editors at Scholastic Books think that "sorcerer" is the US
> >translation of "philosopher"...well, that's another matter.
> I read somewhere (Newsweek or Time, I think) that this was done to
> defuse potential protests from Christian fundamentalists and others
> who would perceive "sorcerer" as suggestive of Satanism etc. etc.
> Tony Glaser

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