The Goblet of Fire

So yesterday I finished plowing through the fourth book of J.K. Rowling's series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Good stuff, that.

Two passages in particular were timely enough that they had me turning to the front of the book to double-check the copyright date — 2000. The book was written before 9/11 and before the march to war in Iraq. Yet in these passages, Rowling seems far more prescient than her Professor Trelawney ever hoped to be.

(Warning: The second quote is a bit of a spoiler if you plan on reading the book. Both involve a bit of Hogwarts-ese, but the gist of both passages is clear even if you don't know a Muggle from a Malfoy.)

from pp. 526-527

"No, Barty Crouch was always very outspoken against the Dark Side. But then a lot of people who were against the Dark Side … well, you wouldn't understand … you're too young. …"

"That's what my dad said at the World Cup," said Ron, with a trace of irritation in his voice. "Try us, why don't you?"

A grin flashed across Sirius's thin face.

"All right, I'll try you. …" He walked once up the cave, back again, and then said, "Imagine that Voldemort's powerful now. You don't know who his supporters are, you don't know who's working for him and who isn't; you know he can control people so that they do terrible things without being able to stop themselves. You're scared for yourself, and your family, and your friends. Every week, news comes of more deaths, more disappearances, more torturing … the Ministry of Magic's in disarray, they don't know what to do, they're trying to keep everything hidden from the Muggles, but meanwhile, Muggles are dying too. Terror everywhere … panic … confusion … that's how it used to be.

"Well, times like that bring out the best in some people and the worst in others. Crouch's principles might've been good in the beginning — I wouldn't know. He rose quickly through the Ministry, and he started ordering very harsh measures against Voldemort's supporters. The Aurors were given new powers — powers to kill rather than capture, for instance. And I wasn't the only one who was handed straight to the dementors without trial. Crouch fought violence with violence, and authorized the use of the Unforgivable Curses against suspects. …"

from pg. 707:

"Voldemort has returned," Dumbledore repeated. "If you accept that fact straightaway, Fudge, and take the necessary measures, we may still be able to save the situation. The first and most essential step is to remove Azkaban from the control of the dementors –"

"Preposterous!" shouted Fudge again. "Remove the dementors? I'd be kicked out of office for suggesting it! Half of us only feel safe in our beds at night because we know the dementors are standing guard at Azkaban!"

"The rest of us sleep less soundly in our beds, Cornelius, knowing that you have put Lord Voldemort's most dangerous supporters in the care of creatures who will join him the instant he asks them!" said Dumbledore. …

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  • Nea

    Remember that JK’s English, and they’ve been dealing with terrorism for a long time over there. It’s not so much a look forward at America post-9/11 as a look backward at England during the World Wars and during assorted IRA crackdowns.

  • Jeff G

    Oddly enough, I found it more Russian, than English, both in tone and character. It reminded me of Stalin’s disappearances to a great extent. But that might be the Russian scholar in me.
    Your comments about its prescience (and the series itself if you read on into Order of the Phoenix), while valid, seem to point more to the old cliche, “Those who do not learn from history…”

  • John Voorhees

    I’m glad you’re reading some Potter, Fred. With all the time you spend flaying the Left Behind series I was afraid you never got a chance to read anything worthwhile. :)
    But according to Slate, HP and LB are almost exactly the same anyway…

  • Chris

    Yeah they’re the same. The same way that LB is “Chrisitan” version of Lord of the Rings. That’s Slate and Newsweek are stupid. The only thing they have in common is the oh-so-rare literary theme of good vs. evil.

  • Harry Potter: It’s Timely!

    The Slacktivist reads The Goblet of Fire and finds it eerily familiar. “Well, times like that bring out the best in some people and the worst in others. Crouch’s principles might’ve been good in the beginning — I wouldn’t know….

  • dave heasman

    JK’s not English, she’s Scottish. But terror & hysterical self-defeating response to terror are familiar to most people in Europe.

  • Kaijima

    Hooboy, wait ’til you read the fifth book…

  • william

    She actually is English, she just lives in Edinburgh. Glad you enjoyed it — to my mind it’s by far the best of the series.