Ceci n’est pas une faute de frappe*

I gave my nephew a $200 book. He’s seven and getting into Harry Potter, so he asked me if he could “borrow” my book four. Foolishly, I agreed, forgetting that my sister never returns books. And her son seemed to inherit this trait and thanked me for “giving” him Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in terms that made it certain he thought it was a forever gift.

So I’m looking to replace it and saw it’s about $200. At least, that’s how much people are trying to sell a first edition for on ebay. And that’s the edition I have. Had.

In addition to just being a first before the hype got extra hype-y, one of the reasons why Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire might be so pricey is because of the typos. Maybe particularly the one about the reverse spell effect. When Harry duels Voldemort at the end of the book, all of Voldemort’s victims (or Wormtail’s, if he killed them with Voldemort’s wand) come out of Voldemort’s wand in the reverse order in which they died. Except for Lily and James.

Here is a (terrible) picture of this portion in the first edition:

image two

As Rowling originally wrote it, James came out first and told Harry his mother was coming. We know this isn’t the correct reverse order in which James and Lily died from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. There, James went to fight Voldemort to give Lily and Harry a chance to hide or protect themselves. Voldemort had to get past James to get to Lily and Harry, and Harry remembered hearing them dying when the Dementors (or a boggart) came near him.

Here it is corrected in later editions to show Lily, who died second, coming out first (thus the correct reverse order):

image one

But to be argumentative, I think this is wrong. If Lily was meant to come out first followed by her husband, why did she feel the need to tell Harry that James was coming? Harry had probably figured it out by then, having seen all the reverse spells be regurgitated by Voldemort’s wand. And not just the spells that killed people. He also saw or heard echoes of his own torture and of Wormtail’s hand in the reverse order in which it occurred. Why would one parent have felt the need to tell Harry that the other was coming unless something had happened that Harry had not expected? Thus telling Harry that the other was coming makes more sense if his parents appeared in an order he didn’t expect. At least, I like that reading better, and that was why I tried to find an “uncorrected” version of the book after my nephew stole it and debated whether it was worth paying $200 for.

Before Harry did the disarming charm on Voldemort, Harry thought of his father. He realized he wanted to die bravely just as his father had. This thought was what allowed him to come out from behind the grave and face Voldemort. It just makes some sort of sense to me that as Harry was about to face death he thought of his father, and so his father, or the echo of his father, wanted to jump in line. Maybe that’s how I rationalized it in my mind when I first read it and so didn’t even notice the “error.” Of course, that leaves me now with the question of so why didn’t James come out first, before even the echoes of Harry being tortured or Wormtail’s silver hand (which held so much promise in terms of werewolf lore and Lupin, but I digress)? I can’t answer that. Maybe it was a typo after all. But since it was how I first read the book, it’s what I’m used to. And it just seems wrong to me to picture James waiting his turn when he was that last thing on his son’s mind before he faced the probability of his own death, even if that’s technically “correct.”

*My French isn’t great, but Google told me that this means “typo.”

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About emmawolf

I'm a freelance writer living in Baltimore with my husband, son, and two cats. I'm working on editing my first novel. I love reading, traveling, and the cello.
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One Response to Ceci n’est pas une faute de frappe*

  1. sj says:

    I always thought the edited edition felt weird, too. :/

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