Czech fans gather for final Potter instalment

Photo: CTK

Any other day bookstores would long have been closed by 1 am in Prague, but not last Saturday, July 21st, when the final instalment J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series went on sale. Hundreds of readers many of them dressed as their favourite characters (including wizards Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley as well as Hogwarts professors like the oily Severus Snape) counted down the final minutes before they got their hands on their copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Photo: CTK
Friday evening in Prague was of course one of excitement not just for regular weekend revellers but this time also for Harry Potter fans, who gathered at a number of the city's Czech and English language bookstores to pick up their copies of the seventh and final instalment of the world's most famous children's series. All were most certainly anxious to find out how it would all wrap up, as wizard Harry Potter (aka. the Boy Who Lived) finally came of age and faced his arch-enemy, Voldemort. Jasmina Dordevicova is a past owner of one of the city's best known English language bookshops. She told me that when it came to coming out one last time for Harry on Friday, she simply couldn't resist.

Harry at last!, Photo: CTK
"I was very curious to see how the saga will end and I wanted to see how the crowd would react to the ending of the Harry Potter series. I was also quite curious to see how much the audience had changed from children to adults; it was just curiosity mainly. Prague was well-prepared this year for Harry Potter: many bookstores had special events for opening night. Selected bookstores had special programmes celebrating the end of the saga and many people came dressed as characters and of course everyone wanted to read the final book as soon as possible!"

RP: A lot of people grew up with the Harry Potter series. Do you know if many Czechs began it in their native tongue and are now finishing it in English?

Pavel Medek, photo: CTK
"Yes, actually, I know quite a lot of people who started with the first book in Czech, because it was translated very quickly. And they were just hooked! I think that, at least from my experience, 70 percent of Czech readers now won't be able to wait for the Czech translation but will read it in English, so that they can find out even earlier about Harry's adventures and how the book ends."

The media has reported in the past that many of those same Czech readers then traditionally return "for good measure" to the Czech translation, and with Deathly Hallows reaction is expected to be similar. For those who are waiting impatiently for the Czech release, well-known "Potter translator" Pavel Medek has already reportedly secluded himself away from the public eye and is no longer answering phone calls from, well, from Muggles. He will no doubt be anxious himself to learn if all his favourite heroes - especially Hogwart's inimitable gamekeeper Hagrid - survive. The Czech edition of Hallows is expected to be released in early 2008.