What connection can there be between the war in Ukraine and the Harry Potter saga, the young wizard’s apprentice from Hogwarts school, invented by the brilliant British author JK Rowling? The question represented the culminating moment of the July summer school, organized by the Il Mondo Parla Association of Modena and returning to the traditional location of Sestola after two years of distance learning.
The training days were aimed at teachers and attentive admirers of literary texts faithful to the topic-by-topic reading method introduced in Italy by the Russian scholar Tatyana Kasatkina and usually applied to the works of Fedor Dostoevsky.
Already started by Kasatkina, unable to move from Moscow for obvious reasons, the understanding of the Potter cycle (seven volumes) was carried out by the researcher of Russian and English literature Elena Mazzola, a collaborator of the Moscow academician for years. Subject-to-subject hermeneutics, which has been widely experimented for about ten years in middle and high schools in half of Italy, is based on two simple but radical assumptions. The first is that the text speaks to the reader who is willing to humbly grasp the message without putting his own pre-made glasses on top of the author’s words. The second states that the questions that come from the careful and repeated reading of the texts find a solution within the horizon of the text itself, to be understood as a precious treasure map scattered with useful details to illuminate the context. The very extensive material provided by the first three books of the famous series was patiently and minutely reviewed with an eye to the classes where the readings had already been made and those for which they were planned for the next school year. Boys generally like the fantasy adventures of this genre, where the character of Harry Potter grows from novel to novel through the filter of magical powers that are assimilated and must be used wisely.
Harry’s education is related to topics dear to every human being: the eternal duel between death and life, the meaning of friendship and loyalty, the search for true meaning in life. Teachers and adults may have to overcome the preconception of books that seem somewhat obliged to be part of the school kit, correctly, which the saga presents very educational and formative values. This is precisely what the defendants in the Modena Apennines were dealing with. Reading, rereading, resuming the indicated pages together has produced many surprises. As if a mist thinned out inside a crystal ball and brought forth features of some friendly identity, those present in Sestola have grasped some chains of constitutive connections of the potter’s plant.
The theme of time, for example: Potter grows and changes, even as his orphaned heart never stops asking. In it Prisoner of Azkaban the rules of time can be subverted and the diachronic events can be reorganized by the protagonists for a good purpose. The theme of death (Voldemort), its threat and the possibility of overcoming it through the protagonist’s personal sacrifice is another path that the text generates. Yet another is represented by the so-called “Dementors,” terrible guardians of nothingness who steal the soul with a kiss, contrasted by the paternal protections of the “Patrons,” who chase away the nightmares of those who know how to invoke them. with a binding formula: “Expecto Patronum”.
It is obviously not possible here to list all the proposals that the various days’ work has produced. Rather, it is worth returning to the starting point: Harry and the war of today. Indeed, a paradigm valid for our troubled times can be found in the story of the strange boy and his friends. Potter’s fight against Voldemort deals with the evil that an occupation of other people’s lands causes, bringing drama and sorrow. But where should one set a limit to evil? Probably not only in the reaction, but in the construction, even in a destroyed context, of places where the person, as happened to Potter, begins to deal with his own evil and overcome it thanks to a new sociality. The saga may not be the manifesto of the Ukrainian resistance, but if we think about it, we are close to it.
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