Italy braces for more Potter magic
- 2008-01-03 17:37Italy braces for more Potter magicTranslated 7th volume on sale from Thurs midnight(ANSA) - Rome, January 3 - Italian Harry Potter fans are bracing for fresh excitement and marketing razzmatazz on Thursday night when the translation of the final book in the saga goes on sale across the nation.
More than five months after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released all over the English-speaking world, Italian readers will be able to get their hands on it in 43 big bookstores from midnight on January 4.
The Italian publisher Salani did its best to keep the volume under tight wraps until the last minute, employing 30 security guards to scare away the curious when the book was being printed in Padua last month.
''Even I haven't had the chance to read it. It's top secret for everyone,'' Fabio Franceschi, head of the Grafica Veneta printing house, said proudly at the time.
The initial print-run of one million copies - Salani's biggest ever - was then transported to shops up and down Italy carefully wrapped in black nylon to fend off prying eyes.
But by December 30, much to the disgust of the publisher, the book was reportedly being sold in shopping centres in the southern region of Calabria.
A furious Salani statement immediately announced that the publishing house was taking 'action', although it didn't say what. Bookshops in the rest of the country respected the embargo.
Big-name stores have organised Potter parties - with actors dressed up as Hogwarts teachers and bowls of magical 'Everyflavour' beans on hand - to start selling the book at midnight on Thursday. ''We're expecting an invasion of readers and we're getting ready,'' said a spokesperson for Feltrinelli, which is organising conjuring tuition in its Turin shop from 10 pm.
Other shops will begin doling out copies of the 702-page book on Friday morning. The Italian title, as bilingual readers have already pointed out, is different to the original one. Faced with the impossibility of translating 'Deathly Hallows' adequately, the publishers chose to call it Harry Potter and the Gifts of Death (Doni della Morte).
The cover is also different to the colourful one seen in the UK and America, where the three main characters are shown escaping from the gold-filled vault in Gringotts, the goblin-run wizards bank.
Designed by illustrator Serena Riglietti, the Italian cover is predominantly white and grey, showing what appears to be the scene where Harry and Hermione visit his parent's grave.
Riglietti said she planned the cover even before reading the book, basing her sketches on what she thought would be the key themes. ''I'd been thinking about this cover for two years and I was surprised to see that my idea was in line with certain elements of the plot,'' she said.
'INSIPID' DUEL WITH VOLDEMORT.
Because of the translation problem, there have been few reviews of the book so far. Those that have appeared have tended to be positive while repeating the standard observation that the subject matter at the end of the saga is more suitable for grown-ups than children.
One reviewer complained that the final duel between Harry and arch-enemy Voldemort was surprisingly ''insipid'' and after a wait of 16 years the reader might have expected something more grandiose.
A critic on a popular cultural website also said the plot fell down by relying on Voldemort's ignorance of certain magical secrets to produce his final defeat. ''Far from being an all-powerful dark wizard he seems like a kid who's just done a correspondence course with the 'Speedy Magic' school of wizardry,'' that reviewer said.
Regardless of the criticism, few in the book trade expect anything less than a rapturous welcome for the final part of the saga.
Italian youngsters have embraced Harry Potter despite its extreme English-ness and appear to have no problems identifying with the characters, who draw on long traditions in British children's fiction.
Girls see themselves as Hermione (Harry's best friend, who always knows what's best for him) and boys naturally relate to the guy in the title role.
The first six Harry Potter books have sold almost 7 million copies in Italy. This is an unprecedented figure for children's fiction in a country where even successful kids' books usually sell in tens of thousands.