“There’s no-one like Krum”: Celebrity Culture in Harry Potter

I was lying in bed the other night, trying to lull myself to sleep by re-watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when I noticed something about Ron in that book/film. It’s only a sort of sub-plot of the story, and one I’ve always kind of glossed over in my mind, but it stood out to me more in my sleepy, hazy head-space for some reason. Ron is obsessed with Viktor Krum!

At the Quidditch World Cup Ron is ecstatic to see Krum play as seeker for the Bulgarian team and when Krum arrived at Hogwarts for the Tri-Wizard tournament Ron was dumbstruck. There are, naturally, celebrities in J.K Rowling’s immersive and fully formed wizarding world and Krum is probably the one we learn the most about.

Personally, I find Viktor Krum a particularly interesting character because he is an incredibly successful and famous athlete whilst still being a student at the Durmstrang Institute. If Harry holds the record for youngest Gryffindor seeker in a century, surely Krum must have a few of these unofficial titles to his name as well! Despite his celebrity status, Krum travelled to Hogwarts along with his peers in order to take part in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. This resulted in him spending a lot of time in the presence of normal wizards, including one of his biggest fans Ron Weasley.

Krum’s role in The Goblet of Fire is, largely, to be a plot device. He fuels Ron and Hermione’s ongoing romantic tension and ends up hexed in the maze in order to clear the path to the Tri-Wizard cup for Harry and Cedric. Putting his role in the actual tournament aside, Krum’s impact on both Ron and Hermione is an interesting one.

Perhaps unrealistically, Krum sets his sights on the quiet, pensive Hermione Granger (who has her head in a book 80% of the time) instead of on one the hoards of girls following him around everywhere. His quiet and understated demeanour means that Harry and Ron do not find out about his relationship with Hermione until the Yule Ball. Instantly Ron, who had previously adored Krum (and famously stated: “There’s no one like Krum! He’s like a bird the way he rides the wind! He’s more than an athlete! He’s an artist.”), now immediately despises him for bringing Hermione as his date to the ball and, in doing so, shattering both his assertion that Hermione is completely undesirable and desperate for a date and his own ego (because we all know he would’ve been more than happy to go with Hermione).

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This characterisation of Krum is clever in that it humanises a celebrity and reveals his desire to live a quieter and less glamorous life through his choice to pursue Hermione. He frequently displays his sincerity through acts such as rescuing Hermione from the Black Lake in the second challenge and asking her to write to him one he has left Hogwarts. Despite Ron’s newfound hatred of him, Krum endears himself to the reader/watcher.

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Ron’s reaction to Krum, however, adds depth to Rowling’s depiction of celebrity culture. It demonstrates that fans put their idols on pedestals. They expect them to be perfect at all times. Ron expects that because Krum is a brilliant seeker that he will be equally as brilliant in every aspect of his life. Quickly, however, when Krum does something that damages Ron’s pride he reverses his opinion and decides that Krum is now “the enemy” rather than an “artist”. In doing this Rowling suggests that when you hold somebody to such an unattainable standard you will always be let down when meeting them in reality. Ron’s experience, despite being entirely self inflicted, left him jaded and disappointed.

On a positive note this experience worked out pretty well for Hermione. She bagged a date with a celebrity and also pissed off Ron doing it, which I imagine is one of her favourite past times 🙂

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Hope you enjoyed this silly post!

Until next time,

J x

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Life Update: Moving and University

Tomorrow I am moving. A few months ago in a previous life update I mentioned that I had a new flat. So far I’ve lived somewhere different for every year of uni (I’m going into third year now) and I’m hoping that this flat will be the one I stay in from now on!

Key differences between new flat and old flat include:

  • New flat is not infested with mice.
  • New flat has a living room.
  • New flat has a properly fitted kitchen with a window.
  • New flat is just for Ellie and I so we can do whatever we want.

I am SO glad that when I get off the train tomorrow and get in a taxi home it won’t be to my old flat. It was a second story tenement that had been lazily looked after and was rented out at a ridiculous price to students who knew no better (me). Living there was a total misery. I woke up in my room, studied in my room, ate my meals in my room and socialised in my room (or Ellie’s). There was no communal area to spend time in. We weren’t even allowed to keep a table in the hallway so our dining room was literally in Ellie’s room which was disgusting.

It’s a miracle that I passed the year and made it into honours to be honest. I didn’t study and I didn’t go to classes. In fact it got so extreme once that I read two novels in a day right before an exam once. Somehow I got my first A at university in my honours subject English Literature, but I also got a G in another subject so you know… that wasn’t so great haha.

Over the summer I’ve had plenty of time to think about how I want to go forward in my third year. I’ve overhauled my diet (which was genuinely shocking last year) and exercise routing and I’ve decided that I want my whole lifestyle to be different. It probably sounds like a cliche, I mean I say “i’m going to work harder this time” at the start of every term but deep down I do always know I don’t mean it. This time, I really do and I’m taking steps towards it already. I’ve got started reading books for my Victorian Literature course and I really believe that living in a new flat that is actually fit for human habitation will allow me to lead a more stable life with a routine.

The days of being so hungover I spend most of the day in front of the toilet at least twice a week and buying a bottle of wine (to sit and drink by myself) on my way home from the one class of the week I actually attended are over. They need to be. Spending like a third of my life hungover is maybe the biggest reason I never got any work done and also it just feels HORRIBLE. Anyone who’s ever been a big drinker will probably have come to a point in their life where they’ve either had some kind of intervention or done it for themselves.

Anyway, enough of that alcohol talk. Tomorrow I am getting on a train, probably not very gracefully because I will be struggling with a lot of luggage, and heading back down to Glasgow for round 3. Also my brother is coming with my to come to an open day, so I won’t be completely by myself when I arrive at the flat. That’ll be nice because coming from a house of 4 people and 2 cats to an empty flat can be daunting! I’m always the first one in the flat.

Well that’s about all I have to update right now. Oh and in a week I’m going to Valencia with a few friends!!!

Until next time,

J x

Book Review: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

I’ve wanted to read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath for so many years now. Ever since I studied Plath’s poetry in Advanced Higher English when I was 17 this book has been on my list. I just never got around to it… I think anyone who reads can relate to the feeling of having a pile of books you want to read getting bigger and bigger before you’ve actually managed to read them all.

Anyway, because I’m on summer break from university at the moment I’ve had the opportunity to read books of my own choice for a change. I’ve been reading other people’s blog posts about The Bell Jar and because of some changes I’ve gone/am going through in my own life at the moment I thought now would just be the perfect time to read it.

I won’t lie, I wasn’t initially grabbed by it. It took my a good 70 or so pages before I was truly invested in Esther Greenwood and the story, but when I think about it that goes for most books with me.

One thing I decided almost immediately was that I wasn’t a fan of the character Doreen, she seemed self absorbed, vain and obnoxious and, honestly, whenever her character was involved in the story it irritated me.

The first half of the book was, I suppose, establishing the situation Esther was in and the stage in her life she was at. For reasons that obviously become apparent she seems completely dissatisfied with her life and her relationships. As a reader I found this slightly uncomfortable to read (not in a bad way, it’s good when books evoke a reaction from their readers!) because I have this uncontrollable need to make sure people are having a good time and when I read about Esther being at parties or with friends and clearly having an absolutely shit time I just wanted to pass the girl a drink, put her favourite song on and get her to have a boogie… well, try.

One of my FAVOURITE things about The Bell Jar was Plath’s writing style. Her poetry is, perhaps, what she’s most famous for (unfortunately, other than her infamous personal struggles) and I was curious to see how she dealt with writing in such a different format. To my surprise her style of writing was incredible readable and easy to understand, but you could still tell that it was the same woman who’d written such brilliant poetry who was writing. The descriptions were amazing, at points I just had to pause and think “wow that was so well written”. She conveyed Esther’s experiences perfectly and this extended later into the novel when things became a lot darker.

When “the bell jar descended” upon Esther and her mental health really took a turn for the worse, that’s when I really became fully engaged in the book. Suddenly, we weren’t in this glamorous world of journalism and high society, we were in a mental ward with Esther enduring badly conducted electrotherapy. The visceral descriptions of this treatment were difficult to read but, to me, incredibly interesting as were the parts of the novel that took place inside different hospitals. I really think anybody who’s suffered from mental health problems, particularly depression, would find this an interesting read.

The ending of the story is bitter sweet. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers for those who haven’t read the book, but one of the reasons it’s so famous is because of Plath’s death just one month after it’s publication. So, naturally, this is a very dark read, but one that I think is worthwhile to anybody interested in literature and/or learning about mental health.

Until next time,

J x

this road is red alison irvine review

Books about Glasgow: Past and Present

The title of this post is probably a slight misrepresentation of what I’m going to talk about today. I’ve recently read 2 different, unrelated books about/set in Glasgow. One was written in 1992, Poor Things by Alasdair Gray (Click here!), and one in 2011, This Road is Red by Alison Irvine (Click here!). So when I say “past and present” I really mean “not really written that far apart in the grand scheme of things” but let’s just brush over that.

Poor Things – Alasdair Gray

poor things alasdair gray review

I recently read Poor Things for one of my English courses and then wrote on it in my exam (let’s not ponder that too much). Despite it having been published in 1992 the bulk of the book is set around the late 19th – early 20th century. It is the memoirs of Archibald McCandless and his experience with an old friend and his wife Bella Baxter. Without spoiling too much he describes how his friend and physician (Godwin, cleverly named I imagine) found a pregnant woman after a suicide attempt and salvaged her body and the brain of the fetus and created, essentially, a new human being from the two. Archibald then met and fell in love with this woman, Bella, despite her having the mind of a child. After McCandless finishes telling his story and we find, has died, Bella is left with the manuscript and adds her version of events on to the end.

The book won both the Whitbread Novel Award and the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1992 and has been acclaimed for its intertextuality (frequently compared to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and full of Gothicism). Personally, I found it an engaging read and whether you’re from Glasgow or not I would recommend it. If you are from Glasgow though, you’ll recognise many of the landmarks referenced throughout the book, such as Park Circus and Charing Cross.

This Road is Red – Alison Irvine

this road is red alison irvine review

This book, in my mind, is decidedly more modern than Poor Things. It is set from the 1960’s to the late 2000’s, the majority of the lifespan of Glasgow’s Red Road flats. The flats garnered a lot of attention over the years, being the highest residential blocks in Europe when they went up and becoming an infamous slum in their later years. It’s no surprise that now, after they’ve been demolished, they remain culturally and historically significant.

I enjoyed this book so much. It contains so many different, interwoven, stories (almost in the style of Love Actually). Each of the stories is full, well rounded and interesting which makes each chapter of the book refreshing and exciting to read. Again I’d recommend this book wherever you are from. Simply as a work of fiction I rate it quite highly, but knowing that it is grounded in reality makes it all the more captivating. The book was also shortlisted for the Scottish First Book of the Year award at the Saltire Society Awards in 2011.

I hope you enjoyed this little book post 🙂 if you’ve read either of these books or have any other suggestions please comment below!

Until next time,

J x

Childhood Reading Tag

Hello! I was stood in the kitchen the other day waiting for my pasta to boil, scrolling through my reader on WordPress and I was seeing so many cool, interesting posts people had written about books they’ve read or are reading. It got me thinking about everything I’ve read over the years and I thought of an idea for a tag! I’m not under any illusions that this is going to become a thing. I basically just wanted to do it for myself, but if anyone does want to do it then go ahead I’d love to see what other people read throughout their childhoods!

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First Love – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I’m sure this is one that pretty much everyone can relate too. Harry Potter was one of the first things I read (or had read to me when I was really young) and it’s remained my ultimate favourite ever since. I absolutely love high fantasy in which you can just become completely immersed and forget about any troubles you may have had at school that day or that deadline that’s fast looming over you that you should really be working on instead of reading Harry Potter… Not that I’ve ever done that haha.

I don’t even know what else there is to say about one of the best selling book series’ of all time. I’m sure you all have but if you haven’t read them DO IT! I firmly believe everyone should read these books before they die. Recently my gran told me she hadn’t seen the movies and I could not contain my horror.

Blyton's Famous Five.

Oldest Reading Memory – The Famous Five by Enid Blyton

These books take me right back to my oldest memories of reading as a child. I don’t think they’re books I would particularly enjoy reading now I’m 20, but back in the day I loved a bit of Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy. The one I remember the most is the “On Kirrin Island Again” book. I think I must’ve read that one over and over again. As much as looking back the characters’ speech is quite comical, I used to get pretty swept up in the drama of these guys’ summer holidays.

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School Reading Memory – The Magic Key by Roderick Hunt

I’m not sure what everyone else read in the early years of school but I know that everyone at my school read a lot of books from The Magic Key series. I didn’t properly decide that English was my favourite subject until the end of secondary school but I definitely remember looking forward to reading what happened next with Biff, Chip and Kipper. This was so long ago I can hardly remember the individual storylines but I guess this series was pretty instrumental in me learning how to read, so deserves a mention in my opinion!

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YA Favourite – Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

This is another super high fantasy series. I was really invested in the first book, then went on to read Inkspell and the start of Inkdeath. Unfortunately I think Inkdeath was either too advanced or too slow paced for my young mind but I remember absolutely loving Inkheart. A film adaptation was made of the book but unfortunately it wasn’t received very well and the sequel was never made. I’m not sure if it was the budget or just the wrong time, but I think that some amazing films could be made out of these books. Especially given the rise of the internet, fandoms and the popoularity of fantasy series’ like The Hunger Games.

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Guilty Pleasure – My Diary by Liz Rettig

Well I can’t exactly claim that this was academically challenging or anything but I’ll be honest with you, I loved these books. At the end of the day reading is reading and sometimes it’s just fun to read something a bit silly. These books contained the over dramatic internal monologue of Kelly Ann and I lapped up every page until, full disclosure, I was probably too old for it to still be acceptable. Oh well, that’s why it’s a guilty pleasure, not ashamed!

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Honourable Mention – The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

I can’t finish up this post without mentioning The Chronicles of Narnia. I can’t quite place in my mind what age I was when I started reading these books but I think I was quite young. I remember watching the 1988 BBC TV series with my best friend Megan when we were children and later seeing the movies. As I’ve said previously I love fantasy series’, it seems criminal that I still haven’t read the Lord of the Rings series (I know) but I will get around to it! Obviously when I was younger I never understood the heavy religious themes of the books (Aslan is literally a thinly veiled lion Jesus), but to me Edmund was the original bad ass and he just couldn’t deny himself that turkish delight! A classic.

Well that’s everything from me just now but please do this tag if you enjoyed it! I felt really nostalgic writing it but probably forgot so many things that I read when I was younger.

Until next time,

J x

Update: thought I would tag a few people who’s blogs I’ve been enjoying recently.