Five Reasons Harry Potter Fandom Isn’t Excited about Cormoran Strike — Yet

Kernel's Corner Fan Art

Kernel’s Corner Fan Art

Last week, ChrisC! wrote a guest post about the Cormoran Strike mysteries, in which reflection he shared his thoughts about several reasons that Harry Potter fans have not warmed to Rowling’s latest hero and series. He was criticized for not mentioning every reason; he responded that the issue had been discussed before, both at the website and on MuggleNet Academia.

Which is true, but not as true as we’d like! Links to MuggleNet Academia’s old home on MuggleNet are dead (go here to find the elusive ‘Cormoran Strike and the Invisibility Cloak’ discussion) and the HogwartsProfessor post I wrote on the subject was linked to CormoransArmy.com, a website no longer up and running. Fortunately, I have that piece in my vaults and was able to find it to share with you here.

It was written before Career of Evil was published, of course, but 4 1/2 of the 5 reasons are still valid. I’ve updated the fifth just a touch and included the comments left at Cormoran’s Army for your reading pleasure. Be sure to read Oona Eisenstadt’s five reasons at the end for why the series will NOT ever be popular with Potter-fans. Enjoy!

Burke 1When I have given talks at Harry Potter conferences the last two years about the artistry and meaning of the Hogwarts Saga, I see big crowds, great interest, real enthusiasm. When I speak about Jo Rowling’s new seven book series, the Cormoran Strike novels, the crowds are much smaller and the prevalent attitude is a mix of curiosity and something like confusion. “Wait — there’s a new series from my favorite author? Why isn’t anyone besides John talking about that?” (Not knowing, it seems, that Karen Kebarle is also on the case….)

Which raises the question: “Why so little enthusiasm in the Harry Potter fandom for the Cormoran Strike mysteries?” Here are five reasons from the top of my head; please let me know why you think in the comment boxes below.

Five Reasons Harry Potter Fandom Isn’t Excited about Cormoran Strike — Yet

(1) There’s No Controversy.

Harry Potter was selling very well in the UK and word of mouth was growing in the US before Prisoner of Azkaban was published in 1999. But there was no mania to speak of, no Midnight Madness parties at bookstores nationwide, no covers of important periodicals, no flood of online speculation about its possible contents as there were a year later before Goblet of Fire’s appearance. What happened?

Two things: Prisoner, about which more in a second, and the Potter Panic. [Read more…]

Jude Law Tapped for Young Dumbledore, Adding to his List of Literary Incarnations

Last week, the news emerged that the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, scheduled to start filming this summer, would feature a young Albus DumbledImage result for jude lawore, and that he would be portrayed by Jude Law. As with any casting decision these days, there has been controversy (honestly, uproar from readers prompted the Hunger Games movie people to re-cast a cat), but Law is actually a good choice for a couple of reasons, including his impressive resume of bringing to life on the screen characters we have already met on the page.

[Read more…]

Guest Post: Why No ‘Cormoran Mania’?

COEFans, Noir, and the Question of Violence: Speculations about the Popularity of J.K. Rowling’s Detective Fiction — A Guest Post by ChrisC!

With the impending release of Lethal White, the next volume in J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike Mysteries, an old question occurred to me.  Has there been any uptick in enthusiasm from her fanbase?  Maybe I don’t pay enough attention, however I still don’t know whether the series has yet to pick up steam.

I hope the series does pick up notice.  It’d be a mistake for her fans to neglect what so far has proven to be a more or less fine-tuned storytelling machine.  At the same time, it is possible to take a few educated guesses at just why the series might be held back from total popularity.  It can even be argued what elements of the books themselves might keep it from a wider appeal.  I bring the topic of the books’ reception up because I think that if the response to Cormoran Strike should ever turn out to be more guarded than that given to the Potter series, then it helps to understand the reasons why longtime fans might turn out to have a surprising amount of ambivalence with regard to the latest fictional exploits of their favorite author.

With that in mind, after the jump, you’ll find a list of aspects about the series, Jo Rowling’s fans, and what a potential clash between the two could mean for the series’ prospects. [Read more…]

Guest Post: Bloodsport in Harry Potter & The Hunger Games (P. Wayne Stauffer)

f39083302A Guest Post from P. Wayne Stauffer! Enjoy!

Spanning centuries, sport competitions likely arose initially as preparation to repel invasion or assault by lawless groups/individuals or as a survival strategy; the idea being to stay in a continual state of physical and mental readiness to repel those who would attack to destroy life and property. They also likely involved elements of competition for prizes when not a part of military defense or conquest, the spoils of conquest being another form of prize.

It is significant to distinguish between physical competitions as good-natured challenges for the sake of competition and those that function as rehearsal for the purposes of injuring, disabling, maiming, or killing the opponents in preparation for military combat or aggression against others. Curbing or sublimating aggressive tendencies would be the goal of the former, while unleashing them would be the goal of the latter.

f38696422In addition to the more obvious physical and mental conditioning these “games” provide, the gradual shift in thinking in society as a whole towards acceptance of increasingly aggressive and brutal action is also important to consider. Some wonder if fiction like the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games trilogy take us further into accepting violence or aggressive behavior.  

The common meaning of “bloodsport” involves shedding blood and/or killing an animal or person. The objective of the encounter is to make the opponent bleed or die. Many sporting activities may have a side effect of spilled blood or physical injury as a part of the game (being hit in the face by a basketball and getting a bloody nose), wherein bloodsport competitions include an intent to shed the opponent’s blood as part of the strategy (punching a boxing opponent in the face and spilling blood can obscure his vision and impair his ability). However, competitions for the purpose of killing an opponent remain illegal in most modern, civilized societies.

Such “games” have been played for millennia, so a look at some can give us perspective. [Read more…]

The Hymn of the Resurrection: Orthodox Hymnography and Ring Composition?

Resurrection Service, Jerusalem

Resurrection Service, Jerusalem

Christos Anesti! I am just home from a weekend of Paschal services and celebrations at the St Matthew the Evangelist Orthodox Mission in Jonesboro, Arkansas, a trip my family has made the last three years, and I pray the recovery from the joy and glad tidings experienced there takes, well, forever. I hope that your holiday weekend was equally edifying and enriching.

I was offline for the duration and had eight hours of driving to think each way. One of the things I thought to post here is an update to something I wrote in 2012 about a part of Orthodox Christian celebration of Pascha (‘Easter’ in the West) and ring composition or chiasmus. I thought of it, not only because of my current research but because of a conversation I had with a monk after Agape Vespers yesterday about how stories ‘work’ and how story-tellers remember epic poetry.

The work I’m doing on my PhD thesis is in large part about ‘Ring Composition’ which is the fictional shadow of Biblical and Patristic chiasmus. Mary Douglas, the noted anthropologist, wrote a book on this, Thinking in Circles, which, with Fr John Breck’s The Shape of Biblical Language: Chiasmus in the Scriptures and BeyondLund’s book on chiasmus in the New Testament and Welch’s books on chiasmus in antiquity, has been my introduction and guide on the subject. As we’ve been exploring here for some time, it seems the science fiction fantasy novels of C. S. Lewis and Charles Williams may be ‘rings’ of parallel analogies as are the most recent blockbusters Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games.

Once a reader puts on these glasses and learns to recognize chiasmus, of course, it’s hard not to imagine it everywhere. The seven days after Pascha are known as Bright Week and traditional Christians celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection by chanting the Paschal Hours through that time. One of the prayers sung again and again is ‘The Hymn of the Resurrection’ that is first chanted during the services for Pascha and then throughout Paschaltide. I believe it to be a Ring or chiasmus composition, and, below, I chart it for your review with some notes on the ring nature of Christian soteriology and some brief thoughts, guesses really, about why this is so.

I think it has a great deal to do with why this story scaffolding has the power it does, why, as Douglas argues, it is the universal story form. It is, of course, an explicitly Christian argument and not directly related to discussion of popular fiction, so I urge those not interested in that sort of discussion to not enter into it. We’ll return to our regular programming tomorrow with some thoughts on the Cursed Child Olivier Awards sweep in London and the question of the evident ability of Potter Mania to leap cross-media, page to screen to stage!  [Read more…]