Escape and Consolation: Narrative Voice and Metafiction in the Harry Potter Series
This article sets out to examine narrative voice in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series (1997-2007) as well as the presence of metatextual and metafictional elements in her novels. Special attention will be paid to Tom Riddle’s diary, which first appears in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), and the book of fairy tales and companion to the series, The Tales of Beedle the Bard (2007). While Rowling’s seven-book series has been extensively discussed, the companion books that purport to be the books that the main characters read in the novels—Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2001), Quidditch Through the Ages (2001) and The Tales of Beedle the Bard—have not received the same amount of critical attention. Yet these and other examples of metadiegetic narratives provide thought-provoking insights into the series’s commentary on the relationship between texts and readers, adults and children. Through a careful examination of Rowling’s narrative voice and her use of metafiction, I argue that the author gives her sometimes dark, disturbing story a narrative frame that not only provides the reader with consolation and reassurance, but also offers a commentary on the importance of storytelling and children’s literature. Metafiction thus makes Rowling’s work more complex than we might assume, challenging its readers to navigate through different narrative levels and reflect on the very act of reading.
Keywords: J. K. Rowling; Harry Potter; Tales of Beedle the Bard; narrative voice; metafiction; children’s literature
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