Beatrice Groves’ Five Magic Plant Posts

Friend of this blog Beatrice Groves, Research Fellow and Tutor at Trinity College, Oxford University, and author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, has been writing articles for Harry Potter fandom mega-sites MuggleNet.com and The-Leaky-Cauldron.org. MuggleNet has created a home for her posts on everything from Shakespeare allusions in the Hogwarts Saga to Cratylic Names in Cormoran Strike, a dedicated page called ‘Bathilda’s Notebook.’

Prof Groves writes less frequently for Leaky (see her three part discussion there from July about the 2005 JKR-Lev Grossman interview) but has just finished a five-part survey of Rowling’s use of traditional plant lore in the Harry Potter novels. My favorite is the fifth and concluding part in which she reveals the alchemical side of plants (and makes a great catch, a first I think, of the hermetic items for sale in Diagon Alley), but all five have Groves’ characteristic wit and insight.

Who knew Culpeper’s Complete Herbal was so important to Rowling’s potions work and alchemical drama? “Not I,” says the Dean. I include links to the five posts below for your convenience in finding and reading all five. Enjoy!

“Harry Potter: A History of Magic” and Plant Lore:

Rattenbury the Wonder Dog: The Secret of Lethal White’s Yapping Terrier

Part of the fun of reading J.K. Rowling (or her alter-ego, Robert Galbraith) is making the connections that give you a brief, private peek into the author’s mind. For example, picking up on not one but three examples of V.S. Ramachandran case studies, and being able to speculate on where Ms. Rowling did her research about amputations. Or, when a chance googling of “British gallows exports” leads you to the Guardian article that almost certainly inspired Minister Chiswell’s blackmail-able offense, which, as Bea Groves pointed out, Ms. Rowling probably read sometime before Deathly Hallows was published.

On my latest re-read through Lethal White, I was struck by the rather elite-sounding name of Rattenbury, the smaller and more aggressive Chiswell dog. The other dog, the overweight black Labrador named Badger, seemed more intentionally designed to catch the attention of readers who know the true Galbraith identity, especially when you consider the other Labrador in the novel, Minister Winn’s guide dog, is yellow. But, while the yellow and black “badger” dogs are flopping, nuzzling and quietly woofing, undoubtedly trying to nudge a few self-important Potter pundits into writing essays about how the Chiswells are all clearly Hufflepuffs, it is the little Norfolk terrier that is truly yapping for attention, eager to alert us to a more interesting story behind its own name. [Read more…]

Five New Crimes of Grindelwald Teasers

Four more teaser trailers for television play can be found after the jump! Will there be anything in this film we haven’t see by the time the movie comes out? Is anyone else excited that Queenie may be seduced by Grindelwald’s message — because of her love for Jacob?
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Lethal White: The Cratylic Names

It has been a month since the publication of Lethal White, believe it or not! I am on my fourth reading, if you count listening to the audio-book as ‘reading,’ and, as with everything Rowling writes as ‘J. K.’ or ‘Robert Galbraith,’ the several depths at which the story works and its interior organization, the story scaffolding, only becomes clear after repeated visits. I look forward to sharing here what I’m learning in the coming month!

To mark the first anniversary of sorts of Lethal White‘s publication today, though, I am going to post my notes about Rowling’s Dickensian Cryptonyms specific to the fourth Strike novel, what Oxford’s Beatrice Groves calls ‘Cratylic Names’ (see her Literary Allusion in Harry Potter for more on this). They are only notes of a work in progress and I put them up to invite your comments, corrections, and complementary or contrarian insights.

I confess I especially hope for feedback from friends in the UK who will ‘hear’ associations that their relatively deaf American Cousins cannot, but this project of unwrapping the enigma of the Lethal White character names will need the input of all Serious Strikers. Please jump right in with your thoughts.

The 15 name list is alphabetical by surname – ‘Johnny Cash’ to ‘Della, Rhiannon, and Geraint Winn’ — and begins after the jump. See you over there.

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Crimes of Grindelwald Three Days Early

The premiere of Crimes of Grindelwald will be in Paris on 8 November this year, the London premiere will take place five days later on the 13th, and general distribution globally will be on 16 November when the ‘Original Screenplay’ will also be published. [‘Globally’ meaning ‘except for Japan,’ where the film will premiere with Jude Law and Eddie Redmayne in attendance on 21 November.]

All of which you probably knew. The news is that there will be a ‘Fandango Fantastic Fandom Event’ at various theaters throughout the US at which there will be one showing on 13 November. You can buy your tickets in advance (and you should if you expect to get inside the theater for the singular run). I have a ticket in hand — and look forward to sharing my thoughts with you about the second Fantastic Beasts film the next day.

Share that Fandango link with your friends so they, too, have a chance to see the film the same day (sort of!) as those privileged to squeeze into the one London theater with everyone in the UK lucky enough to have won a ticket. Again, there will be one showing three days before the 16 November official release date at theaters near you; I recommend you act now if you want a seat.

[Could this be a Warner Brothers marketing scam to juice official opening day sales? The fandom mobs at theaters on Tuesday night with their Willy Wonka golden tickets and everyone else feeling left out (and determined to see it that Friday on the official release date)? I think that’s more than likely. I still grabbed a seat, though, much as I’d prefer to resist the marketing hype, so the conversation can begin here on the 14th. I hope you’ll join me!]