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Pottermania: Shades of Alexander Dumas!

July 8, 2007 |  9:36 am

"He wrote page after page under pressure from his publishers, who were always demanding more. Maquet sent him the material in bulk by post, and Dumas would complain about the delays. . . .  For half a century he was the voice of Europe. Boats were sent over from the Americas for the sole purpose of bringing back consignments of his novels. They were read just as much in Cairo, Moscow, Istanbul, and Chandernagor as in France.  . . .  "

This passage about Alexander Dumas and his collaborator comes from Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s 1997 bestseller "The Club Dumas." I couldn’t help thinking about it--about anxious Parisian crowds devouring new installments of his work, of messengers on horseback waiting outside Dumas’ door--as I read Publishers Weekly staff writer Claire Kirch’s story on the secrecy surrounding the final Harry Potter novel.

Kirch describes how copies of the book have been wrapped in black cellophane and reports on the sounds of mysterious midnight trains moving through Crawfordsville, Ind.--where the book, her article reports, is being printed for U.S. distribution. Frustrating as the security is for members of the media (hey, we’re just trying to prepare some good advance material), it is exciting that a book can still stir the kind of frantic energy typical in Dumas’ day.

Nick Owchar