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Week 1: Philosopher's Stone, Ch. 1 - 9

Discussion in 'Bookclub' started by Taure, Oct 31, 2016.

  1. Peter North

    Peter North Dark Lord

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    Is celebrating Halloween, Chrismas, or any other holiday like that culturally Christian, when your not celebrating Jesus' birth or All Souls Day?
     
  2. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    I would say celebrating Christmas without celebrating Jesus' birth is the archetype of cultural Christianity. If you were celebrating Christmas as Jesus' birth then you would just be a Christian, not a cultural Christian.
     
  3. Samuel Black

    Samuel Black Minister of Magic

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    Random thoughts:

    I forgot just how obsessed Harry was with the mirror of erised.

    I love the mental image of Harry and Dumbledore sitting on the floor in front of the mirror for some reason.

    My image of how Harry acted as a 11 year old was extremely distorted by fanfiction.

    The small hints of what the war was like and the pure joy there was when it ended really paints a picture of how bad it must have been. Has anybody ever found a good fanon telling of it?
     
  4. IAmJustAnotherGuy

    IAmJustAnotherGuy Seventh Year

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    Always thought of Vernon as a salesman not a director. It is amusing how he had a higher paying job than I imagined.
     
  5. Darth_Revan

    Darth_Revan Secret Squirrel Prestige DLP Supporter

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    I always got the feeling that that job title was deliberately ironic. Gunning never sounded like a big firm.
     
  6. Warlocke

    Warlocke Prisoner

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    Ugh. Page 12: "They're saying he tried to kill the Potter's son."

    "Potter's." Singular. Possessive.

    I guess James shot Harry out of his wedding tackle, fully formed. Thank goodness for pain relief potions. Too bad about Lily dying childless, though.

    FML.
    --

    As I've pointed out before, and anyone could find out by reading only nine pages of the book, Minerva's hair is black. Not gray, 'because movies.' Not red, 'because Maggie Smith.' Black.
    --

    From reading a lot of fan fiction, it's easy to see that a lot of people have a perception of Mrs. Figg living right across the street from the Dursleys, but she actually lives two streets away!

    I'll admit I'd forgotten that detail.

    How the heck was she ever supposed to be effective at keeping an eye on Harry? If it hadn't been for his relatives dumping him on her once a year when they went out for Dudley's birthday, she'd have scarcely ever had any contact with Harry, whatsoever.

    I realize that "two streets away" sounds more vast to me, a person whose neighbors mostly consist of corn, soybeans, and trees, but even in a tightly packed area, like a housing development, you'd still have a difficult time keeping an eye on events that are happening two streets away.

    Harry would have seen her roughly ten times in his life: Once a year between the ages of 2 and 10, once when the dementors attacked him and Dudley, and from a distance when she gave her half-assed testimony at his trial.

    An old woman who lived two streets away, couldn't see magic, and saw him only eight times before he went to Hogwarts, was the sole watchful eye the Wizarding World had on Harry until he rejoined them.
    --

    There's a bakery across from Vernon's workplace. I guess I can assume the industrial portion of Grunnings is located elsewhere, in an industrial zone, and Vernon works in an office?

    Well... it's more evidence that if you speak English, you're prone to using common English idioms, regardless of your faith or lack thereof.

    Assuming someone's Christian because they say "Go to hell," "Oh my god," and the like, is on par with thinking someone must be Jewish because they called someone a schmuck or a putz.

    Also, "heaven" doesn't necessarily have a Christian connotation. It's often simply used as a synonym for "sky," and even when it isn't, many gods have been said to reside in the heavens, throughout history.

    It's more likely that it means JKR was being vague so she could surprise us, later... and possibly that she made another plothole, rather than intentionally outlining an aspect of Harry's ability.

    She tells us just enough so that we know the snake understood Harry and Harry thinks he heard it say something as it left, but not enough to let us know anything else (for sure). At that point in the story, given what we've read, we can only assume that Harry is a normal wizard and the snake is a magical snake.

    It's only later we find out this is a known magical ability.

    And remember, Harry hears speech when a snake is hissing... and when he's hissing at a snake, he hears speech. Piers claims that Harry was talking to the snake, but, for all we know, he meant that Harry was hissing at it and the snake seemed to react.

    Of course, it's also possible that Piers saying Harry talked to the snake was a goof on her part because she imagined him just speaking normally to the snake, rather than hissing, before she finalized how being a Parselmouth worked.

    The vagueness of that scene, though, is by design and is similar to how McGonagall transforms twice in the first chapter, but we never see it happen; except the zoo scene is less transparent in its meaning and has more important ramifications. That is to say that we can easily suss out that Minerva can transform into a cat, even if we don't actually "see" it, and not as many secrets hinge on her (or anyone else) being an animagus, as on Harry being able to speak to snakes and how it is that he came to possess this ability.

    tl;dr: That scene doesn't show us anything significant about Harry's Parselmouth ability, it just shows us that JKR was being deliberately vague so as not to show cards that she planned to reveal for a bigger payoff in book two.

    And that she isn't a herpetologist.

    In the U.S. edition, it's lemon drops. I can forgive people for writing lemon drop when their book says "lemon drop," and they've never heard of a sherbet lemon.

    One is filled with powder, one isn't. Meh.

    Sorcerer's Stone versus Philosopher's Stone is a much more compelling argument.

    Sadly, the Spellotape gag probably falls flat for most readers in the U.S. because, while Sellotape might be a genericized trademark in Britain and some other regions, it is virtually unheard of here.

    In fact, Harry's description in chapter two (U.S., of course) specifies that his glasses are held together with Scotch tape. If they'd just let it go and gave the U.S. readers enough credit to understand Sellotape was just another brand of tape, from the context, the later appearance of "Spellotape" might have gotten a few more chuckles.

    Weirdly, even though most Americans would look at you as though you were bonkers if you asked for one, the editors didn't change "knickerbocker glory" to "parfait."

    Also, the book says the reptile house was cool and dark, as though that weren't a description of the entirety of England. :awesome
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016
  7. Jeram

    Jeram Elder of Zion DLP Supporter

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    Which edition do you have? None of the three I have are incorrect, they all say "Potters' son".
     
  8. Warlocke

    Warlocke Prisoner

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    The short answer:

    [​IMG]
    The longer answer: As near as I can tell, I have a 52nd printing, 4th edition, book with the 5th version of the dust jacket, bearing a price of $19.95 on it.

    But I could be wrong.
     
  9. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    This is something I especially worked on, and I love, love what Rowling did here. Consider: Lily, James & co go to Hogwarts from 1970-77 as I like to count (move one year for the 'official' dates, I think they don't fit as good), i.e. during the time when things start to heat up. Lily's first impression of the wizarding world will be one of insecurity and upheaval, as soon as she is able to understand it, and it's hardly plausible that this didn't also spill over into Hogwarts. See Snape's "mudblood" comment -- the Slytherin crowd, back then death eaters in all but name ...

    And there's a broader context: The first Muggleborn Minister from 1962-68, presumably pushing a pro-muggleborn agenda, his forced retirement after a "mysterious illness", then his successor, Jenkins, who had to deal with "pureblood riots" after squib right marches at the end of the '60s ...

    There's so many bits and pieces that together add up to tense, highly polarised world, needing only a spark to light it -- which then was Voldemort. But conversely, without this background, Voldemort is also less likely to exist. He is as much a product of his time as he shaped it.

    I dunno if by coincidence or truly by design, but the HP backstory really does make sense, is interesting, and one of the best things Rowling has created. I remember reading PS for the first time, and for a long while, the first chapter was my favourite, I wanted to know all about that era, more about Voldemort, more about what was just before that chapter. The book starts too late >_>


    mort: Yes. And the only thing that changes is that she becomes friends with Harry and Ron, she's still insufferable afterwards :p

    Well, alright, I'm being unfair. Hermione does grow, as evidenced by her friends vs. books quote, for example. But of course she doesn't lose what makes her herself, and I happen to find these traits highly displeasing :(


    Samuel Black: Have you tried Prelude to Destiny? From what I've heard, it's one of the best Marauder-era stories.

    Edit:
    I always thought it was pretty clear it was Quirrelmort.

    Of course, Rowling cleverly seats Quirrel next to Snape, so this is the start of the well-done "on whose side is Snape"-saga, but as Quirrel -- and even more precisely, Quirrel's turban -- is mentioned, I think we can conclude that this is Voldemort's doing, and whatever Snape is doing or not doing has nothing to do with the scar.
     
  10. Xepheria

    Xepheria The Benefactor

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    It sounds like there's some history between the Potters and the Dursleys, past Petunia idly bitching to Vernon about her errant sister. A wedding or introduction gone wrong, perhaps?

    Could make for an interesting one-shot.

    On a side note, this reread has the plotbunnies breeding like rabbits, and they won't settle down. I might actually have to get off my arse and pen down some words... :abduct:
     
  11. mort

    mort Groundskeeper

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    Why the Dursleys hated Harry.
    Has more to do with Vernon's attitude than James's in my opinion. This reread has cemented my image of Vernon as an unrepentant bully of the worst sort.
     
  12. Goten Askil

    Goten Askil DA Member

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    [FONT=&quot]Sadly, I only have the French translation so I won't do any direct quoting of the book, but here are a few things I noticed on the reread that haven't been mentioned:[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]- Dumbledore apparates silently, both when he arrives and when he leaves Privet Drive, I don't remember if it is explicitly said again in book 6 (or if Wilkie Tycross makes noise when he does it).

    - Considering the timeline, 1970 is the beginning of the war, the time when Voldemort starts recruiting and also when Dumbledore starts trying to convince people to say his name. I find it strange that people were afraid of naming him basically as soon as he appeared. I wonder what he did exactly to generate this kind of fear.

    - About Parseltongue: the snake woke and started looking and winking at Harry before Harry said anything, so we can assume that snakes can sense when a Parselmouth is in front of them.

    - Contrarily to what some fanfics would make us believe, Vernon does use Harry’s given name, he doesn't always call him "boy" or "you." Harry also always had good notes, he wasn't forcing himself to be worse than Dudley.

    - When Hagrid tells Harry Voldemort's story, he says "he never dared to attack the school, not at that moment, in any case." That last part can only mean the first opening of the Chamber, right? Nice bit of foreshadowing if this is the case.

    - For all JKR said about Malfoy's wand and what it said about him, he didn't even go buy it himself, so it couldn't choose him.

    - Ollivander talks about Lily's first wand. I wonder if she bought another in the following years. It was made of willow, a wand wood for people with insecurities.

    - The wands Harry tries are also interesting if you consider JKR’s bit about wands: Beech for wise and open-minded people, Maple for ambitious travelers and explorers, Ebony which is good in combat magic and transfiguration, several others and finally Holly for people with anger-management issues. Ollivander also gives him several short wands (maybe because he’s small for his age) but his final choice is much longer than the others, which can mean either that he’ll become taller (which he will, as we know) or that he has a big personality and a taste for more extravagant magic.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]All in all, I think it’s a nice insight in Harry’s character and more than that, in Ollivander’s expectations of him.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]- Funny thing: the first time we really read about food, Ron is not the hungry one, Harry is. And Ron is complaining about his mother’s sandwich not being great because she doesn’t have time to cook for all of them. So much for the fanon of Mrs Weasley being the best cook ever.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]- Another nice bit foreshadowing: when Harry and Ron mistakenly try to enter Fluffy’s corridor, it’s Quirrell who just happens to pass by and saves them from Filch. I know there are several more in the rest of the book, but I didn’t remember this one.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]- Charlie is also mentioned quite a lot in the beginning (for his former wand inherited by Ron, Hagrid talks about him, and McGonagall talks about him in Gryffindor team), that could be so that he doesn’t seem to appear from nowhere when he comes for Norbert.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]

    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Funny, the French translation doesn’t talk about Seamus’ Repartition at all (but he and Harry talk to Nick during the meal).

    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]It may be a matter of interpretation, but when I read it, I felt that Harry didn’t notice it because it was so tiny, not that he should have but couldn’t because of magic. Could still be both, though.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]

    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]There is. JKR wrote it on Pottermore in the text about the Dursleys.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Overall, I’m a bit surprised at the number of things I noticed and/or remembered while rereading. I had already read the books a dozen times, but the last time was before I started reading fanfiction back in 2009, and I must say it’s quite refreshing to have the real thing again (and to see all these bad fanon clichés destroyed).[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]I’m quite amazed by all the foreshadowing of the next books there is in the chapters before Hogwarts. She manages to reference Sirius, the Imperius, Parseltongue, Animagic, the Chamber of Secrets, Fudge’s incompetency and Hagrid’s past, without addressing any of it directly. Hats off to you, Mrs Rowling.[/FONT]
     
  13. Atram Noctem

    Atram Noctem High Inquisitor

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    If you think he's the worst sort, you haven't met many bullies. He's an asshole, yes, but not much more than that. Snape was much worse, imo.

    I did a reread several months ago so I don't plan on joining in this one, but here's an interesting quote that caught my eye back then:
    Bingo, Ron. He really has a talent to solve mysteries intuitively. Same thing happens when he wonders whether Riddle was given an award for killing Myrtle.

    It also clearly shows us that there was a wide belief that Voldemort is still around, unlike many fanfics that portray wizards as believing that Voldemort died in 1981.
     
  14. Majube

    Majube Seventh Year

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    Yeah, Vernon works in an office department of Grunnings remember how he got hugged by Diggle.

    First of all two streets away in the suburbs are not that far at all, if I'm getting the house size right that would be 2-3 minutes away and honestly it depends on the layout if she can see his house from two streets away (like a gap between houses) we also never get confirmation on if Figg spying/watching Harry was a thing rather then just generally paying attention and calling for Dumbledore if a Morsmorde shows up, after all she became more watchful when Voldemort came back, (not like a squib can do much tbh). Second, it's very very doubtful that she only babysat Harry for Dudley's birthday...
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2016
  15. mort

    mort Groundskeeper

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    Eh, taking it out on a kid who really has no other choice but to put up with him puts him beyond a mere asshole imo. A bit like Snape imo, especially regarding the part where he's in a position of authority.
     
  16. Toujourss Pur

    Toujourss Pur First Year

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    Apart from that, he also thinks he heard a hissing sound, bringing up some inconsistencies:

    He is barely capable of distinguishing when he is hearing -or using- Parseltongue after this encounter (I believe he only could once or twice, and sometimes he was told or hinted it was used, and he never noticed instantly), still in this case he heard a hiss, being his first time. Other Parselmouths can.

    Besides, snakes don't act in the same way when it comes to Harry, even if apparently they notice he's a Parselmouth when he is in front of them. While they sought and found Tom Riddle, they didn't with Harry, or at least we're not told they did -but it's unlikely, because, being alone, Harry should have noticed if he heard some voices and couldn't tie them to a person.

    However, some of these things could happen due to lack of practice or other unknown circumstances. I'm also getting ahead of the story, but waiting until the sixth book didn't look very appealing.

    Quirrel can touch Harry, so he shouldn't have been possessed then, or at least Voldemort wasn't in control, if that is the only case in which he can't touch Harry -and if that is possible; I don't know if it's a thing or purely fanon-, as I can't remember if there were any references as to when he became host to Voldemort.
     
  17. Bill Door

    Bill Door The Chosen One DLP Supporter

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    Or at least it's proof that hair dye exists.

    I think you're definitely underestimating how often you would see someone from two streets away while just going about your daily basis. And given how Petunia is portrayed as very gossipy, it seems like the sort of town where you hear about anything strange that happens to anyone. So i think at the very least, she'd be able to hear about any strange things going on in the area.
     
  18. Andrela

    Andrela Plot Bunny DLP Supporter

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    Something I noticed in the first chapter: Dumbledore apparates silently.

    Was that a thing later on?
     
  19. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Yes. (Filler)

    Edit for specifics:

    - Dumbledore in the duel with Voldemort in OotP.

    - Also alluded to in the second chapter in HBP where Narcissa apparates with a "faint pop", which points towards apparition noise level being a spectrum. Presumably quieter = more skill.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2016
  20. Nemrut

    Nemrut The Black Mage Prestige

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    Things I noticed in my read-through, chapters 1-5 for today:

    - Mrs. Next-Door had problems with her daughter (p.6) I am sure there were fanfics with OC girls moving next to the Dursley's, but were the actual neighbors ever used in a real capacity in a good fanfic?

    - Vernon in general was rather observant, sure he had some foreknowledge thanks to Petunia on their existence and some signs were rather obvious but we have to remember, most people don't notice anything and he spotted everything he could have.

    - I don't think I ever appreciated how truly big Hagrid is, "twice as tall as a normal man and at least five times as wide". Roughly 3,6m high and 2.5-3m wide, if I have to use numbers. I always had him like slightly bigger than André the Giant in my mind but that was lowballing things immensely.

    - "Harry was used to spiders, his cupboard was full of them" p. 19. We ever got spider controlling Harry? Not expecting Skitter Harry or anything but something with spider magic in general?

    - Dursley's seem more well off than I first realized. Dudley's presents aren't cheap trinkets. New computer, racing bike, vcr, camera, sixteen computer games and a golden watch. Also remember the date, back then, cameras, vcrs and computers (and the games) weren't exactly cheap. Vernon also mentions how their car was new. p. 22-23. Maybe not exactly rich but probably really well off, all things considered.

    That really makes their dedication to keep Harry in old clothes and broken glasses a lot douchier. Heck, Petunia, in a later chapter, is dying Dudley's old clothes gray so they can serve as Harry's new school uniform. She is going out of her way to give Harry shitty clothes, even though it would be a lot easier to simply buy the damn thing. That's really messed up, she's inconveniencing herself to make sure Harry has only shit.

    -After all the shitty fanfics, it's nice to see that talking with snakes doesn't mean dominion over them. Parseltongues aren't exactly snake bosses or controllers automatically or snake royalty. They are just people who can talk to snakes and snakes seem to be a lot like people if the boa constrictor is any indication. The boa communicated a bit with Harry and then fucked off.

    - Had also forgotten how Harry had met some wizards and witches during his childhood, if only briefly. Did they really only recognize him by his scar or was his general appearance and location kinda known after all?

    - lol, pages 34-35, Harry handed Vernon the bill and postcard and then proceeded to open his letter. Meanwhile, Vernon opened the bill and read the postcard before Harry even got to open the damn thing. He must have been so astonished at getting a letter he barely moved.

    -there is a charm to stuff like the book about curses being written by Professor Vindictus.

    - also lol at Harry trying to buy a cauldron made from solid gold. Reminds me of this tumblr post.

    -the foreshadowing was pretty good all things around. Stuff like Sirius Black, the nimbus 2000, and even the Gringotts stuff was implanted rather organically and the story is actually as charming as ever. Really enjoying the reread.
     
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