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Adventures of Harry Potter in Russia
July 16, 2011 22:07

Harry Pottery Travesty  

Just like other countries Russia has long caught the sweeping craze about Harry Potter and all his magic stuff provided by Joanne Rowling. For several years already the image of Harry Potter has been actively exploited in all sorts of parodies and travesties, such as, for example, in the comic TV programme “Big Difference” caricaturing the fight of Harry with Lord Voldemort, which results in materialization of a still more powerful and annoying sorcerer – the formerly popular Soviet juggler Amayak Akopyan. There are also a number of comic alternative translations of the Harry Potter movies. As for Russian fan websites dedicated to the young wizard, they are just innumerable.

The years of Potter-mania have brought about various literary plagiaries and parodies under funny titles, such as Porry Hatter, Tanya Grotter, Science to Win, AntiHarryPotter, Larin Peter, Barry Trotter, Parri Hotter and the Reverse Side of Magic, Denis Kotik, Boy Harry and his dog Potter, to name but a few.

Some Russian musicians even sing songs about Harry Potter; check out, for example, a clip by the pop band London.

Here is more on the topic - Global Pottering Effect.

Circulations of Harry Potter Books in Russian

Paid circulations of books about Harry Potter are extremely enormous; thus, the Russian version of the last book was published with the circulation of 1.8 million (!) copies, which is a total record for Russia! Besides, publishers also planned printing of additional copies.

Just compare with the circulation of Edward Uspensky’s popular children’s book “Uncle Feodor, a dog and a cat”, which was published with 200 thousand copies in 2006. Only 253 thousand copies of Patrick Suskind’s cult novel “Perfume” and 25 thousand of Paulo Koelho’s “Diary of a Mage” (aka “The Pilgrimage”) were printed in Russia.

Even the total circulation of popular Russian authors, such as  Tatyana Ustinova, Nik Perumov and Oksana Robski did not make one million (only 950 800 copies) in 2006. It was only the non-children's collection “Disputes with participation of public authorities”, published with the circulation of 1.2 million copies that somehow rivaled Joan Rowling’s new creation.

According to the publishing house Rosman, 9 million books on Harry Potter have been sold in Russia since 2001. The total sales volume made about 60 million dollars in Russia.

Harry Potter Speaks Poor Russian

Russian translations of Harry Potter book series published by the Rosman publishing house were made on the run and turned to be very bad. The first book was translated by Igor Oransky, whose work stirred scandal, and the publishing house had to change the translator. The hope for a good translation lived only to see the publication of the second book translated by Marina Litvinova. It was “awarded” with Abzats prize of the Moscow International Book Fair for the worst translation and editing.

By the fourth book Marina Litvinova had been so fed up with the wizard boy that she entrusted the translation to members of her seminar, without even having made a table of names’ translations for them. The study experiment resulted in plenty of discords, discrepancies, and distortions, as well as merely displays of bad taste.

Following the criticism other translations were made more or less professionally, but still not without flaws.

Box Office of Harry Potter Movies in Russia

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, 2001 - $5 470 000
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 2002 - $8 000 000
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 2004 - $7 800 000
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2005 - $7 837 694
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2007 - $16 326 219
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 2009 - $18 753 368
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, 2010 - $25 460 553

Russian Celebs and Harry Potter

The legendary Russian rock musician Boris Grebenshchikov turned to be a great admirer of Harry Potter too. When answering a question about what books he reads, he mentioned “O-o-o-o! Out of thick books I can name “Harry Potter” for sure. I enjoy how, what and about what Joanne Rowling writes!” 

Singer poet Alexander Rozenbaum has the following lines in his song “We are alive”: “The world is ruled by ballet, smiles of queens, and Harry Potter on a broom – which means, we are alive!”

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and his wife Svetlana Medvedeva declared personally to Joanne Rowling about being fans of Harry Potter books. The president even asked for the writer’s autograph.

Russian Orthodox Church Fights Harry Potter and Magic

Back in 2002 Russian priest Mikhail Pershin heading the youth department of the Moscow eparchy ended up counting how many times “evil spirits” are mentioned in the first volume. “The words “sorcerer” and “wizard” are repeated thousands of times, that is three or four times on every page”. The orthodox church regards it as dishonest rivalry: “When someone lacking religious knowledge reads “Harry Poter” he or she at once starts thinking in notions and concepts of this book and tries to follow the example of this book’s characters in one’s behavior and to solve one’s problems in the way they do. I doubt that the person will return to Church after that. There is no place for certain things in this world. One has to fight the things like fascism and satanism, for example. If someone burns down a book about Harry Potter finding it worthless, I will understand it – a person should protect oneself”. In other words, according to the orthodox priest, “Harry Potter embodies all the impious things that can be found in world literature”.

In the same year 2002 the Moscow Office of Public Prosecutor considered the possibility of a criminal case against publishers of Harry Potter books. They carried out expertise in response to the claim of T.A.Kvitkovskaya - chairman of Tarussa branch of the International Slavic Writing - who found in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” signs of regional extremism and involving pupils into associations of satanic type. However, the results of the check up did not provide enough reasons for institution of legal proceedings.

Russian church also makes attempts to “reform” Harry Potter. In 2011 a would-be orthodox theatre in Tatarstan is going to stage the play “Repentance of Harry Potter or Fire Miracle” written by a worker of the religious education department of the Ufa eparchy. In the “pious” church version the diligent student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry gives up magic and finds a new power to resist the evil: it is faith in God the Almighty. As the story goes, before Easter Harry Potter receives a letter from Hogwarts with the news from Rubeus Hagrid about another battle of the good and the evil. Black magicians win, having annihilated all the kind wizards. Harry’s friends – Ron and Hermione also perish. Professor Dumbledore, wounded in the fight, before his death reveals a secret to Harry: “I start to realize that both kind and evil magic are two sides of the same medal, which is hanging on the neck of Voldemort …” and prompts that only “the One Who Has Created Everything” can stop the malicious sorcerer. A magic portal transfers Englishman Potter to an orthodox church, where he meets a priest. This is who discovers the truth to Harry Potter, telling him about “the One Who Has Created Everything”, i.e. about God.


Pictures by Mikhail Manykin

Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Harry Potter     

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