Math in Potter?

  September 8, 2003 at 8:09 PM ET
  James     The Leaky Cauldron (via

Stuart Brown writes a humorous articleopens in new window about a mathematical sequence of the increasing amount of pages in each successive four Potter book - and deduces that if the same pattern is continued, Rowling could compete with historical writers in the authorship of towering novels.

Brown writes in borderline comedy and takes this notion to the edge. Which is, of course, very funny.

Amidst all this serious mathematics I decided to pop over to Amazon.comopens in new window and compare Mr Potter to that other famous magician of the written word, Leo Tolstoy. It turns out that 'War and Peace'opens in new window comes in at a mere 1408 pages. So, if J K Rowling is able to produce the same quantum leap in the number of pages that she wrote between books 3 and 4, then she will successfully have overtaken this famous Russian author as the door-stop/desk-leveller of choice. If she then carry's out the same trick for the final book, and achieves the optimum growth pattern (100.63%) then we are all set for a book of truly gargantuan proportions which will require a set of elephants to get it home from the bookshop.

Indeed, if it is released at Christmas at a time of maximum postage, then its potential to kill postmen in the cause of delivering it could reach levels of catastrophe never before witnessed. As they will be reduced to carrying not the current maximum of 16 copies per bag for book 5, but instead only 4 per bag, or less. Households will no longer have a use for tables, as the 3084 pages of "Harry Potter Seven and the Revenge of the Postmen" will serve as not only the final chapter in a literary tour de force, but equally effectively as a new piece of household furniture. We can but hope.


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