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Book Review: Tales of Beedle the Bard by Alex Sciuto
December 13, 2008, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Literature | Tags: , , , , ,

Tales of Beedle the Bard

Tales of Beedle the Bard

J.K. Rowling’s seventy-page third supplement to the HP series took me an hour to read, and a good part of that hour included checking updates on my Google Reader. With shockingly large margins, even knowing the proceeds are going to some European charity, I still felt kind of ripped off at having to pay thirteen dollars for it (Alright, my dad, a true Harry Potter lover, actually bought it, but still).

If you can get over the physical lightness of the book, Rowling presents five short fairy tales followed by commentary by Albus Dumbledore. The stories are straight out of Aesop’s fables, and like in the rest of the series, magic instead of helping to solve problems only obfuscates and makes the solutions harder to come by. Dumbledore, whose end notes’ primary purpose is to make the morals even more obvious, often quotes his signature final speeches from multiple endings of the seven books. Love, sacrifice, and the concupiscence of the human spirit dominate his interpretations.

But if the lessons learned from the stories are neither surprising nor novel, the stories themselves have the stamp of Rowling’s imagination. From pots that have feet to Babbity Rabbity the wash-witch, each story is wonderfully imagined and concisely told. Remember the opening of the fourth book when Harry goes to the Quiditch World Cup and how interminably long her narrative is? She’s learned her lesson, or maybe just gotten lazy.

My favorite parts of the book are the rare new insights that we gain into both Dumbledore’s thinking months before his death and insights into the immediate myth of the Deathly Hallows and their relationship with the seventh book. While the stories themselves have no relation to the seven books, Rowling pretty deftly weaves the series’ events into Dumbledore’s analysis of the stories. There’s nothing essential in this short book, but the added information enriches the experience. While much of it is rehashing what we already learn from the books, I gained a little bit from the new retelling.

So, overall. A good waste of forty-five minutes.

-Alex Sciuto

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