Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Beauty of Book Shelves (& Italian 'Arry Potterr)

I have a confession (and quite a geeky one at that). Being away from my huge wooden bookshelf in the UK is proving to be quite a wrench. There's something so comforting about having all your books in order and knowing that you can revisit them at any time. It's no surprise then that they are the first things I unpack when I move to a new house! Well, this week I began to pine for my bookcase after spending an hour meandering round an Italian bookshop in search of new listening materials for my students. I came across several English books that had been translated into Italian but the most striking one was the Harry Potter series. 

Here is a photo of the series as there are sold in Italy. The top row contains the first four Harry Potter books in paperback (the equivalent of the adult version in the UK) and the bottom row has the final books in hardback with the children's illustrations. 

It's amazing the difference a cover can make to your perception of a book and your expectations before you read.  For example, the UK version of The Half-Blood Prince gives you a brief snapshot of book's climax which keeps you guessing til the end while the Italian cover gives nothing away. Then of course, the third and fourth books just aren't the same with a flying hippogriff and a huge fire breathing dragon respectively. The Italian versions seem a little dull by comparison. 

Maybe it's just that I reject anything unfamiliar. I mean, the Potter series and their colour-blocked spines are so recognizable on my bookshelf back in the UK (not least because it occupies nearly a whole shelf!) that they might as well be classed as furniture. And so, to restore the equilibrium and return the world to normal, here is the UK version for you to make your own judgement. 

★  ★  

If you love Harry Potter, you might also like to read: 
A Who's Who of Funny Names in Italian Harry Potter

If you're a bit of a book worm, you might like this article about bookshelves and how we organise them. 


  1. I can help on Harry Potter (English version) and 'Arry Potter (Italian version). For covers of the later books for Harry Potter, the cover artists were only given a description of what JK Rowling wanted drawn (e.g. I believe for the Halfblood Prince, it was Harry and Dumbledore in trouble and a small rowing boat on a lake)and the artists weren't given the book to read to stop them from being a possible source of leaks which I think happened with one of the middle books. (This is also the exact sitation which happens in the 'Devil Wears Prada'.)
    The 'Arry Potter covers-having been translated- meant that the cover artist already knew what happened in the book, and so exactly what to draw.
    Unfortunately, I can't state sources for this. I am relying heavily on memory banks of radio shows and interviews on the approaches of Harry Potter releases.

    On your other point, in Korea being a forigner will almost always get you a couple of stares and the students exclaiming how beautiful you are (as long as you're not in Seoul or Busan). Similiarly, at first it is a confidence boost, but after a while you realise it's not that you look stunning everyday. It's that you have fair skin, varying hair colour and you dress like a movie star (to them at least). Really what my students are saying is that I look different to them... Not such a high. When I'm wearing Korean clothes, I get 'Beautiful, teacher!' far less often. So if my students say 'Teacher, pretty,' and point to my hair, whilst I'm wearing Korean clothes, I get the impression that the actually like my hair rather than the generic 'you're beautiful because you're a Westerner' compliment.

    Having lived a year in Italy and almost a year in South Korea, I would say Korea is more image-conscious than Italy, but more reserved in their interactions with strangers (no yelled 'Ciao bella's or the equivilent).

  2. I had no idea that was the case with the covers although now it makes perfect sense. Thanks for clearing that up - I'll have to do some research into it!

    I'm fascinated by what you said about South Korea being more image conscious. I guess then it's worth wearing Korean clothes because then a compliment really means something. But then you run the risk of them not saying anything at all and being deflated (although you're always beautiful!)

  3. i love harry potter <3 and i think the new cover ( UK) is much better, very ''chic''

  4. Visit from Happy Friday Blog Hop.
    Time to visit and follow.
    would be great if you can visit and link up.
    Have a great day.

  5. I love harry potter really had some strange addiction to it a few years back! I have most of the books in dutch with the dutch cover which I really adore, in my opinion the english covers were too busy haha.

    Found your blog through ALOHA blog hop! :)
    Like your blog, follow your from now on! Would you visit and link up too?



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