I reread the Harry Potter series at least once per year, and have since I first read it in the summer of 2005, after the sixth book came out. For the first couple years after that first read, I actually read the series a lot. Over and over again. When we were in the process of moving, they were the only books I had available to read, so I read them on a loop. End result? I’ve now read the first 6 books about 25 times each, and the 7th about 10 times since it came out.
I joined the Harry Potter Reading Challenge not to give me an excuse to reread the books, but because I’d realized last spring that the hardback and paperback editions of books 5 and 6 were different. When corrections to the text were made between initial printing and paperback printing, those corrections were only reflected in the paperback version. So I decided to use this challenge to cross-compare all the books. I have each one in HB and PB. I’ve always read the first 5 in PB, the last 2 in HB, simply because that’s what I ended up buying. This round, I’m reading the first 5 in HB, the last two in PB, and making notes on the differences.
And actually, there is no difference between versions of the first book. As far as I can tell – and I fairly well have the books memorized by this point – the two versions were exactly the same. It’s possible I missed something, but probably not anything big. Because that left this post completely empty of anything to talk about, I decided to do an additional comparison. I read the British version of the book!
This was my first time through Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and it was quite fun to read. There were all the differences that you’d expect: single instead of double quotes, word differences like chips, crisps, and jumpers instead of fries, chips, and sweaters. Those things I expected. There were a few places that threw me off.
- “the baker’s opposite” instead of “the bakery”
- baby-Dudley learning the word “Shan’t” instead of “Won’t” which cracked me up. “Shall” is such a snobbish word in the US, so imagining a baby yelling “Shan’t” is hilarious.
- Sherbert Lemons instead of lemon drops – I wonder if this is the same sort of candy?
- the fact that anytime something is taped, it has to be “sellotaped.”
- Hagrid writes to Dumbledore as “Mr. Dumbledore” instead of Professor Dumbledore once. It’s only that way one time in the whole book, which makes me wonder if it was a mistake that was corrected in the American edition.
- A couple places had the word order changed around, or dialog broken into 2 lines instead of four.
- Dean Thomas is not sorted in the British version. He’s skipped altogether, and as that’s when the text tells you he’s black, it doesn’t surprise me that those outside the US didn’t realize he was black. That includes the people making the movie, who were really surprised to find that out. Him not being sorted, however, makes sense of the error in the American text, though, which says there were only 3 people left to be sorted and then goes on to sort Dean Thomas, Lisa Turpin, Ron Weasley, and Blaise Zabini.
- Does the UK still do measurements not in the metric system? I thought all the references to feet and such would have been different, but they weren’t. The Quidditch goal posts, for instance, were still 50 feet high.
- “Revising” means “studying” in the UK – I’d never heard that before. It felt really weird to read that over and over, I kept thinking they were making edits to their homework…
There wasn’t too much different other than British-isms changed to American-isms. Just Dean being left out of the sorting and a couple paragraphs switched around (like where Dean is yelling Red Card at Madame Hooch in the first Quidditch game). Oh, and the back-of-book description is just a bit weird. There’s also an illustration and I can’t figure out who it’s supposed to be. Anyone care to fill me in?
Overall, it was fun to read the original.