Opening line: ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a collection of stories written for young wizards and witches.’
The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a modern ‘edition’ of the original runic texts, ‘translated’ by Hermione Granger and with an introduction by J. K. Rowling. After each of these short tales are Professor Albus Dumbledore’s notes. In this ‘edition’ you can find ‘The Wizard and the Hopping Pot’, ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune’, ‘The Hairy Heart’, ‘Babbity Rabbity and her Cackling Stump’, and ‘The Tales of Three Brothers’. Each story is a delightful fairy tale that can easily be read alongside our own, mundane ‘Muggle’ tales.
I read The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling in preparation for chairing a panel at the recent Harry Potter conference held at my university. Overall, I felt that it was a charming book to read. I liked Dumbledore’s notes after each story and JKR’s introduction. I used inverted commas for ‘translated’ and ‘edition’ in my description above because, of course, the entire work is a work of fiction written by J. K. Rowling. I’m somewhat disappointed that she didn’t play the ‘these stories were translated by Hermione Granger’ farther. There were no notes or commentary from ‘Hermione’ at all. I would have liked to see JKR’s ‘introduction’ recast as the preface, and see an introduction written by ‘Hermione’ about her translation techniques and the literary background to the tales, and then to see her footnotes alongside Dumbledore’s in his notes. But alas, no such paratext exists. Yes, I am fully aware that it is my role as an academic, and a medieval one at that, that sees me automatically looking for meaty introductions and extensive footnoting in translated editions.
My favourite story of the collection was ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune’ and ‘The Tale of Three Brothers’.