PARIS (Reuters) - Harry Potter — left-wing hero of the intellectual aristocracy against the materialist middle classes? Well, yes, according to the French daily Liberation.
To mark the French publication of the final installment of the adventures of J.K. Rowling’s boy magician, France’s leading left-wing daily devoted Friday’s front cover and two more pages to answering the question “Why Harry Potter is of the Left”.
The paper, like other French national media never afraid to seem intellectually aristocratic itself, invited philosopher Jean-Claude Milner to add to the millions of words of Potter-analysis already written the world over by students, critics and enthusiasts.
Milner identified a reaction to the free-market revolution instigated in Britain by Margaret Thatcher’s governments.
“Reading it, one has the feeling that J.K. Rowling feels, like many cultivated English people, that there was a real, catastrophic Thatcherite revolution, and that the only chance for culture now is to survive as an occult science,” he wrote.
Milner identified the “Muggles” — inhabitants of the ordinary, non-magical world — as the uncultured bourgeoisie who did well materially out of the Thatcher years and later under Tony Blair.
“In the world described by J.K. Rowling, there are the Muggles, who represent the Thatchero-Blairite middle class (going from the lower middle class to the upper middle class), and then the others: the people, cultivated people and the penniless aristocracy, people whom you would expect to find in public schools or at Cambridge,” he said.
Milner said the disinterested world of culture upheld by Harry Potter and his friends at the elite Hogwarts Academy represented a form of opposition to the values of the profit-seeking market economy.
“As such, Harry Potter is a war machine against the Thatcherite-Blairist world and the ‘American Way of Life’.”
The French translation of the final volume of the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, went on sale at midnight.