Sunday, November 4, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: UK vs US Edition

I started reading both versions of these books about seven years ago - just after I started reading the series. A friend of mine was going on and on about how much he preferred the British editions as they were closer to what JK Rowling actually wrote (not overly edited and Americanized) – not to mention the difference in artwork.

I thought it prudent to investigate for myself... and found that there is a world of difference between the Sorcerer's Stone and the Philosopher's Stone. Rowling herself was greatly displeased with the American publication as she found it to be overly translated from English (or as my mum would call it "The Queen's English") into "American." There are several times where this is understandable (for example, the difference between a jumper being a sweater in English and a dress in American) but I would have to agree with JKR that the first novel was overly edited (mum to mommy, for example), something which she made sure did not occur again in the novels that followed it.

The differences between the books from here on out are slight, with a few notable exceptions. JKR pointed one out herself in an interview a few years back about Goblet of Fire where the order of appearance for Harry's mother and father (during Priori Incantatem) get switched backwards in the first UK edition as an editor questioned JKR and thinking she was wrong, JKR changed it around.

Also, notably missing from the UK edition is part of Dumbledore's final conversation with Draco in Half Blood Prince. The text in red was omitted from the UK publications:
"He told me to do it or he'll kill me. I've got no choice."
"He cannot kill you if you are already dead. Come over to the right side Draco, and we can hide you more completely than you can possibly imagine. What is more, I can send members of the Order to your mother tonight to hide her likewise. Nobody would be surprised that you had died in your attempt to kill me -- forgive me, but Lord Voldemort probably expects it. Nor would the Death Eaters be surprised that we had captured and killed your mother -- it is what they would do themselves, after all. Your father is safe at the moment in Azkaban...When the time comes we can protect him too. Come over to the right side, are not a killer..." Malfoy stared at Dumbledore. ~(HBP US Edition pg 591/UK Edition pg 552)
This text also does not appear in later paperback versions of the American editions either, so apparently it was a textual cut that didn't make the first US version.

As for the Deathly Hallows, from what I have observed, the differences are minimal. There are the typical variations in spelling and the substitution of a word here or there. Otherwise, it falls in among the rest of the series.

So yes, I own both versions of the Harry Potter series. Do I have a preference? Reading book one, yes, I prefer the British edition... after that, it depends on whether I'm reading/re-reading at home or carrying it around with me... the UK versions are a little more compact, but I do so love the Mary GranPré illustrations... so it's a toss up.


JK November 15, 2007 at 2:14 AM  

I wonder why they felt the need to cut certain parts out? It's not like those sentences would offend or confuse US readers...

cool blog!

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