Philosopher’s vs Sorcerer’s Stone
As a Canadian, I grew up with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Yet our friends to the south were introduced to the Harry Potter world with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. So a pretty common HP question arises: why?
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in 1997 by Bloomsbury Publishing in the UK (the version that was spread worldwide), and by Scholastic Press in the United States. At the time of publication, the general consensus of Scholastic was that the word “philospher” was boring, unknown, and was not something that American children would want to read. Whereas the word “sorcerer” was magical. The book title was changed with JK Rowling’s approval, yet she later wrote: “I wish I hadn’t agreed now, but it was my first book, and I was so grateful that anyone was publishing me I wanted to keep them happy.”
But whats the difference between philosopher and sorcerer? And how does this change the meaning of the book?
Philosopher: The actual Philospher’s Stone is something that exists in stories but also in reality of human history; a physical stone that was sought for it’s properties in alchemy. It’s something that was rooted in science with mystical properties. The definition of a Philosopher: a person engaged or learned in philosophy, especially as an academic discipline (see; thinker, theotician, theorist).
Sorcerer: While a philisopher is rooted in science, thinking, and the quest for understanding the physical world, sorcery is entirely fictional. The definition of a sorcerer: a person who claims or is believed to have magic powers; a wizard (see; wizard, witch, warlock).
By these explanations and definitions, the UK publishers and JK herself are describing the stone, and it’s owner Nicholas Flamel, as one of the great thinkers of the world who seeks knowledge and answers rooted in science of the earth. Whereas the American versions describe it as a wizard’s stone, plain and simple.
Therefore, my opinion? American’s dumbed it down to the point of losing it’s magical meaning. The correct answer my friends? Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.