Stephen Fry – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Audiobooktext
I discovered Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when it was first published in Folio Junior ; I must therefore have been 12 years old. Of the first four volumes (almost chained one after the other), it is, it seems to me, the one that I was least excited about (but I still liked … it’s Harry Potter anyway!) . It was only very late, around my 20s, that I relaunched seriously throughout the saga and in the adaptations. And once again, strangely, this second volume is the one that delighted me the least, both in writing and on screen. However, with hindsight, I realized that it has all its importance in the general intrigue … So what is it today, five years later, when the reading was for the first time times done in English?
Well imagine that I appreciate more and more this second plot at Hogwarts! All the elements are there for the trip to be successful: heartless guardians, magical rescue, attempted murder, investigation in the castle, rejection of comrades … Once again, wonder, laughter and tears are there … never get tired of Harry Potter!
In this second opus, our hero and his two faithful friends are 12 years old and are about to start their second year at Hogwarts. I had forgotten that the “before school” part was so important (around 75 pages), probably because it is not badly hidden in the film. For example, I really like the scene of the arrival in – and therefore the discovery of – the home of the Weasley family called the Burrow. This is an opportunity for the reader to put images on a magical hearth (kitchen utensils and intruding domestic creatures are there) and it is above all, for Harry, the opportunity to put emotions on the concept of family. Because indeed, if the redheads do not roll on gold, they are richer than other families thanks to the love they all have for each other. I love this clan, the complicity and the tenderness that binds them all and I have no trouble perceiving the emotion that Harry can feel when he discovers all this!
The readers, along with the young wizard, get to know each member a little better: the father who works in the Ministry of Magic (Arthur), the protective mother (Molly), the absent elder brothers (Bill and Charlie ), the following a little – a lot – farts (Percy) and the shy little sister (Ginny). During these few scenes of simple happiness, we also find with pleasure the facetious twins (Fred and George) and obviously Ron, the faithful best friend! The chapters in The Burrow or with the Weasleys more generally offer a little moment of calm before the storm and bring, without appearing to be, new elements to the world created by JK Rowling : the garden gnomes, Floo Powder or again, the existence of the Allée des Embrumes and in particular the infrequent Barjow & Beurk boutique (Borgin & Burkes in vo).
The adventure then begins in earnest on the first day of school, when platform 9 ¾ refuses to let Harry and Ron pass … and the vicissitudes will multiply over the months, even going so far as to raise fears of the closure of the school ! If the film may suggest that everything is happening quickly, we feel more months pass in the book and, as a result, I find the gravity of the situation more palpable (especially for those who find themselves petrified or for Hermione who knows a small hazard with a very particular potion…). I had forgotten that some events stretched over entire months, the adaptation tending to shorten things … but that’s just a detail.
When you know the story, you realize that a lot of clues are scattered throughout the text and that some things are obvious… but during my very first reading, at 12 years old, I hadn’t seen anything coming! Maybe if I had discovered this second volume (and the others) as an adult, I would have been much more critical and much less amazed, but what do you want … with each rereading I am impressed by the intelligence of the author and especially by her mastery of her story, her characters… and her universe in general! Everything seems to think through the smallest detail, each element has its place and its importance in the great general plot… I am speechless!
The only downside I can put forward for this second volume is that, despite all the elements in the possession of adults at Hogwarts (the teachers and in particular Dumbledore), it is still 12-year-old children who put the pieces of the puzzle together and solve the investigation (they never thought of interviewing a certain whining young girl with glasses, for example?). But it is Harry the hero and it is a tome more intended for the youth then… I forgive very gladly!
Aside from the expanding universe and a rhythmic intrigue, JK Rowlingalso offers us, in The Chamber of Secrets, new characters (or develops some that we had only crossed until then). I told you about the Weasley family before, I won’t come back to that. the reader becomes better acquainted with several actors of the school: pupils (current or former), teachers (in particular the very charismatic and ridiculous Gilderoy Lockhart) and ghosts (Peeves, totally absent from the films). We also discover the unfriendly Lucius Malfoy, father of Drago (Draco Malfoy in vo) and the strange Dobby, house elf of his state (once again, the author expands her universe by inserting a new creature with all the characteristics that concern it).
I imagine that some detractors may find the style of JK Rowling too simple or poor … personally I find that the English has found the right balance between the text clearly for children (there are certain themes specific to childhood and adolescence) and a more mature build. Maybe I have the soul of a child and am therefore quicker to marvel… but Harry Potter is the only saga that moves me so much and this second volume is no exception! I laugh at the jokes of the Weasley twins and faced with Gilderoy Lockhart’s incompetence, I am touched by the hardships that Harry is undergoing (his catastrophic summer with the Dursleys, his comrades who turn their backs on him as soon as he is suspected …) and downright moved to tears when Hagrid reappears in the Great Hall at the end of the year or when Dumbledore assures our young wizard that what matters are the choices he makes …
I’m glad I tried. reading the saga in English. Not only do I discover the original text and try to perfect my English, but I also have the joy of diving back into this world that I love so much. Even if the French translation is admirable, it is even better to put the names and original terms on the characters and objects that we already know. Once these and the basic magical vocabulary acquired, the immersion in the world of JK Rowling is smooth and complete! It really is an ideal choice for those who want to start reading in vo!
In a magical universe hyper worked and mastered (which I find fascinating!), JK Rowling does not forget the essential ingredients for a good children’s novel: the quest for the identity of the orphan hero, unwavering friendship, fun adventures but no free of danger and the investigation within the school … Ideal for young and old and a good way to work on your English for those who try to read in vo!