Would Harry Potter Have Made a Better TV Show?

harry-potter-voldemort-hp7-1600x12001Before I begin, I feel the need to state that I whole-heartedly enjoyed the Harry Potter movies. The directors did an excellent job of cutting everything that they could to fit such detailed and extensive narratives into 2 to 3 hours of cinema. Several sub-plots were eliminated to make room to highlight the most important moments of each year of Harry’s time at Hogwarts, and each film was a great showcase of J.K. Rowling’s talent as a creative storyteller.

With that out of the way, I think I would have enjoyed having Harry Potter being a high-end production TV show instead of a series of movies. Especially after seeing HBO’s efforts in Game of Thrones, I think that a major production company could have created an amazing show. Episodes, from how I’ve thought about it, would be an hour long segments that showcase one to three chapters from each book, and each season would cover one book.

Admittedly, there are a few pitfalls to having a TV show instead of a movie series. The most prominent one would be how potentially lackluster some episodes would be. The majority of the chapters in each book cover a major plot point, but some episodes would be forced to cover dull moments nonetheless. Perhaps with some creative liberties in how to align all of the plot points, this could be avoided. Maintaining excitement and viewership would also be fairly difficult given how long the series would have to last to cover everything.

Because the Harry Potter films are already out, I can’t imagine a show being made anytime soon. Daniel Radcliffe is forever ingrained in my mind as Harry Potter, and I don’t think I could follow someone else playing the character, and he can’t play an 11 year old version of himself. All of that being said, what’s your take on the idea of the famous book series being adapted for television?

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I really admire the first line to Seamus Heaney’s “The Forge.” So much so that I decided to get a tattoo of it wrapping around my wrist. It reads “All I know is a door into the dark.” To me, it’s a brave sentiment saying that despite not knowing what comes ahead, I will step towards it.

Crediting Translators

I typically choose to read 20th century works by English speaking authors, as I would presume most readers opt to do (the English speaking authorship portion, at least). Recently, though, I’ve been picking up novels originally written in other languages. Two books that I’ve read recently are Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (Russian) and All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (German). Notably, when I mention the novels, I don’t state who the translators are. In fact, if asked, I wouldn’t be able to name the translator of any major work, other than Seamus Heaney’s rendition of Beowulf.

I thoroughly enjoy taking quotes from books and works that I read. I have a spiral notebook that I write down passages that are particularly memorable, and my books are always dog-eared on pages where I was drawn to a sentence or section. That being said, when quoting something from a translated work, who should get the credit? The author, the translator, or both? The author came up with the original idea, but the translator is the individual that worded that idea to make it most appealing.

books42Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the translators of Doctor Zhivago, are praised for their ability to “masterfully restore the spirit of Pasternak’s original—his style, rhythms, voicings, and tone.” I would argue that this is the goal of most translations, otherwise the process would be an adaption instead. If the reader hears the original author’s supposed voice in the translation, the contributors successfully accomplished their goal. And yet, when I say I enjoyed a quote from Doctor Zhivago, should I mention “I liked how Pevear and Volokhonsky worded this?”

aqowf-new-coverAll Quiet on the Western Front takes this thought and amplifies it. The title of the novel comes from one of the concluding paragraphs. The original German line translates most directly to “there was nothing new to report on the Western Front” according to Brian Murdoch regarding his translation. So, the English title of the novel comes exclusively from a translation (the German title being Im Westen nichts Neues – Nothing New in the West). The English title comes from the translator A. W. Wheen.

Regardless of whether or not a translator should be attributed with quotes from foreign works, translators definitely deserve more credit in the literary world.

My Experience with Seamus Heaney, Nobel Laureate

Despite it only being about an hour long, Seamus Heaney, one of the world’s most prestigious living poets, covered several far-reaching topics in his Q and A session. I had the opportunity, along with about fifteen other individuals, to meet with the poet and ask questions regarding his career, inspiration, and life.

“I believe poetry is too big for any of us…to be defined. To call yourself a poet is quite an undertaking, or overtaking.”

20130304_163548-1Heaney, 73, in his wry and witty demeanor, quickly demonstrated his creativity and eagerness in tackling different subjects. When asked about how to introduce young students to poetry that do not already have an appreciation for it, Heaney mentioned an occurrence from a few years ago when, in an interview, he praised the rap artist Eminem for his “subversive attitude” and “verbal energy,” and he stated that perhaps music lyrics, especially rap, may be a proper gateway or introduction to poetry and poetic styles. He also comically stated that the title of the journalist’s article the next day was something along the lines of “Poet commends vulgarity in rap music.”

“I’m not sure if this is poetry or not, but it is a thing that I can do,” Heaney recalled saying after writing “Digging,” one of his first major poems. He indicated that he was not comfortable being considered a poet by profession until years into his career. He would write “in binges, on a roll for awhile” when struck with ideas instead of devoting a set amount of time each day to his work. However, he admitted that he regretted not having a more strict process, saying “At this age, I’m more sorry that I didn’t practice a more disciplined attitude.”

“Perhaps you should write a journal, which I didn’t do either.”

20130304_165511An appreciation for the fellowship of support between poets is something that was readily apparent in talks with Heaney. When discussing influence, he declared that the “enabling quality of other writers was important. Love was also important.” He discussed the methods used in reviews and criticism between poets. Heaney stated that he favors appreciation and having a “judicious take” on poems, stressing that reviews need “honesty and mercy.” On the importance of love in his works, Heaney mentioned the importance of his wife and family on his career.

“It would be hard to keep it going for 50 years” without the support of his family. “Marriage is a hell of a job, really. An inevitable job, I suppose.”

The conversation with the renown poet ended on his perception of his legacy. He jokingly pointed out that he was once referred to as “Famous Seamus,” and he followed Wordsworth’s definition on the difference between pleasing an audience and pleasing the public. “You don’t set out to please the public. You set out to please the audience.”

After the private Q and A session, Heaney engaged several hundred people in a public poetry reading.

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Meeting Seamus Heaney

ImageI have the unbelievable opportunity to meet Seamus Heaney, world-renown Northern Irish poet, tomorrow in a private Q and A session at my university as well as getting to listen to a poetry reading conducted by him. Needless to say, I am extremely excited. I’ve been told that he prefers not to autograph things in person, but has copies of his collections that he’s previously autographed. I will definitely be taking my book of his collected works with me for the entire event so that I can make constant reference to it. Hopefully I will be able to get a question in during his Q and A, although I have no idea what I would even begin to ask him. I can only hope that I don’t freak out at the sight of him and embarrass myself. If there’s any question that you, reader, would like to ask him, let me know and I’ll consider stealing it and asking myself! I will be posting every bit of the Q and A session that I can remember and my impression of the poetry reading after everything is over. I just needed to express how much I anticipate this opportunity.

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