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Ten years, it all ends

Peking University, Oct. 20, 2011: On the evening of October 15, as invited by PKU Association for Cinema,Professor Dai Jinhua from Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Peking University (PKU), presented a wonderful lecture at Classroom 105, Classroom Building Two. This lecture was titled “Dai Jinhua’s Dialogue with Harry Potter - Ten Years, It All Ends”. Partly due to the students’ enthusiasm for Harry Potter series, and partly due to their admiration for Professor Dai, the 300-seat classroom was full of excited students even before the scheduled time.


It has been a decade since the Harry Potter serial books and films swept over the world with overwhelming popularity. Now that it has ended, its fans begin to look back on their childhood or youth that is stamped with Harry Potter memories. It was interesting to know what Dai, an expert in films and literature, would comment on this topic.


In the very beginning, Dai pointed out that “Harry Potter Phenomenon” is not simply a branch of children’s literature, but has crossed the boundary between children and adults. The amazing part of Harry Potter series lies in the fact that the author of these lasting best-sellers - J.K Rowling, merely adopted traditional techniques of one single hero and one single thread in achieving the success. “Among the three different endings of traditional novels - the hero’s enthronization, the hero’s burial and the hero’s wedding - Mrs. Rowling obviously chooses the last one.” Dai stated humorously. This witty opening won the audience’s laughter and applause.


Professor Dai then analyzed the reasons of Harry Potter’s popularity. In her opinion, Harry Potter’s global success was inseparable with J.K Rowling’s rich imagination, touching humor, and sensitive writing. What she envisions for us is a magic world embedded in the real one, with all impossibility realized in that specific nation. Faced with this magic world, people become willing to open their heart and listen to the clichés they reject in the real world. In this way, people living in the consumerism era get a new understanding of value and life, and receive spiritual consolation from this process.


Besides, Dai also introduced to the audience the cultural source and clues of these European novels. The cultural signs date back to European Celtic culture (as well as its derivative tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table), dark secrets (alchemy and alchemists), as well as Gothic culture.


Dai regards Harry Potter as a rather heavy story than a sweet one, which is exactly one of the reasons why she likes it. The threading topic of Harry Potter is “death and love”, and the expression of these two ingredients is intertwined with that of good and evil. The evil of the demon Voldemort lies exactly in his desire to master and even go beyond death. “Death is the natural ending of every life. The subtraction begins with the birth,” commented Dai.


After an analysis of the conflicts of Harry Potter and its cultural significance beneath the surface, Professor Dai concluded the ending of the series as a peaceful acceptance of death, an expectation to return to ordinary life, and a respect to the world’s order and natural laws.


Written by: Yan Binghan
Edited by: Arthars
Source: PKU News (Chinese)