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This summer, at literary festivals and bookstores around the world, readers celebrated the 20-year anniversary of the debut of the first book in J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series – "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" (retitled "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in the U.S.) – and with good reason.That is why it is startling for me to recall the sour reception that my students gave "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in the fall of 1999, when it appeared on the syllabus of my Princeton University course on popular literature, "American Best Sellers," which I had been teaching since 1993 .You couldn't turn around without knocking into Harry.Would Harry fade from memory?I've taught my Best Sellers course twice since 2010, and both times the students have chosen a non-Harry Potter novel to end the semester. Here, it is my choice to put a Harry Potter novel on the syllabus. Instead of "Sorcerer's Stone," however, I assign "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" – my favorite book of the seven, which marks the series' shift from children's literature to young adult fiction, through its complex treatment of fidelity, betrayal, rage and mercy.
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