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  • Writer's pictureMurph

Murph's Book Reviews: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stane

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

You need to read the Harry Potter Scots edition. I'd almost say it's a shame it was ever written in English to begin with.

Anglophilia has existed in some form or another since arguably Shakespearean times. Voltaire described himself as a lover of England, the Dickinsonian craze brought Charles' books worldwide and in the 1930s Germany, Die Swingjugend, a group of anti Hitler youths fought fascicm by dancing to British swing music. Beatlemania was arguably the breakout moment, though TV (Dr. Who/Top Gear/GBBO), Cultural icons (the Royals) and books, most notably the Harry Potter series, further drove the global phenomenon. Anglophilia means love of England, just England. We too often take the easy shortcut to conflating England, to the United Kingdom or even the British Isles as a whole. If we have Anglophilia, there must also be Hibernophilia (Ireland) and Cambriophilia (Wales) and finally Caledonophilia (Scottland) (also Monophila, isle of man, Caesareophilia, Jersey, Sarniophila, Guernsey, but I'll omit the Monarchal Uk so as to avid the likes of saint-helena-ascension-and-tristan-da-cunhophilia) Our Caledonophilia exists, but rests largely on the historic (Outlander), and Whiskey. I think this book could be the beginning of a trend that dare I say it, includes Scottish Twitter, that could be the beginning of a broader Caledonophilia.

There's a good reason why we don't have much Scottish culture to fall in love with. Most of it is already imbedded in our own. America is a country founded by Scots, so the only way to have a differentiation is to have a piece of culture created in the last few hundred years since we shared a monarch. Thus enters language. The historic British exclaves all share the idea of English, each with their own strange twist. Scots may use "Gray" as opposed to the more British "Grey" while sharing their "colour" in liu of our "color" but the Philosopher's Stane shows it easily outclasses the Australians in the creation of a truly unique English derivation. Thus language becomes one of the few exports, besides irn bru, that is new enough for us to clasp onto as an adaptation of Scottish culture that we don't presently share.

Some of my favorite words

Lassies’ cludgies







Crabbit and gurr

Is Philosopher's Stane Scottish Culture? Yes...ish, but who am I to say. I trust the translation because I know no other, and a quick review shows the internet does too. Yet the Philosopher's Stane feels like Scottish culture in the same sense a fortune cookie is Chinese. If you watched Friends translated into Russian it wouldn't suddenly provide a window into thirty something Vladivostokians. The original still exists underneath. Yet I can't argue that the Philosopher's Stane is really well done, so much that i'm often questioning if it wasn't originally supposed to be in Scottish. J.K. Rowling is Scottish, The Elephant House, where she famously wrote the book is in Edinburgh, and the grounds of Hogwarts does not resemble the Welsh hills. Yes' it's weird that Dumbledore is Dumbiedykes, and a wee to many things are described as muckle, but fault could lay equal blame with the original. It sucks you in and will ever so slightly tilt your mind about reading, the English language, and what it means to interpret a story. The broad story is no doubt familiar, but the characters and setting are somehow different.

"Oh no" you might say "but I don't know Scots English". It doesn't matter, no better yet, "yes you do". The first sentence might throw you off kilter, but you'll be surprised how much you can infer. It will be hard at first, but by chapter 2 you'll never know the difference. It's like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. It feels weird at first, but that's because you've never tried it before.

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