'Harry Potter' real-world appeal: quidditch leagues and rock cake recipes
The parallel universe of the Harry Potter books has launched real-life offshoots: A quidditch league is among the most visible, but the books' values are inspiring many others.
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A cheeky mix of dodgeball, flag football, lacrosse, rugby, and basketball, real-world quidditch will survive well beyond its origins as a gimmicky homage to a beloved book, Mr. Benepe says. “We have plenty of players now who may or may not read the Harry Potter books,” he says, but that doesn’t matter. "What does," he says, "is that something that has been an essential part of the way we grew up has inspired us to create something new in the real world."Skip to next paragraph
This response goes to the very heart of Ms. Rowling's books, says Emily Strand, who teaches at the the University of Dayton and has written about the parallels between Harry Potter and Christianity. “The most important lesson in the book is the power of love,” she points out. This is expressed in such loving gestures as self-sacrifice and valuing human rights – all issues the Potter characters passionately engage with, she says.
It is completely natural for this to find expression in real-world actions, Ms. Strand adds. Famous among her students for dying her hair in accord with liturgical seasons, playing in a rock band, and throwing Harry Potter-themed parties, she says that the books have inspired her to cook.
“It’s been very hard to find a good recipe for pumpkin pasties,” she says, but adds with a laugh that a friend recently sent her a recipe for edible rock cakes, “something Hagrid never seemed to be able to do,” referring to the half-giant, half-wizard gamekeeper in the books.
The fact that college students are playing the broom-based game of quidditch, unlikely people are trying their hands at fiction, and fans are thrilled by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventure doesn’t surprise Greg Garrett, a professor of English at Baylor University and author of the recently released book “One Fine Potion: The Literary Magic of Harry Potter.”
“All that is about more than fun,” he says via e-mail.
“The universal – and ageless – appeal of Harry Potter suggests that people who consume the Potter story are gaining real comfort and wisdom from it,” he says. A fan community this large and this dedicated doesn't develop around simple entertainment, he adds, although people are certainly being entertained. "Fans who return to Harry's world over and over again identify with the characters and their struggles, and as with all great stories, they're simultaneously inspired and moved as well as entertained.”