Archives for December 2008

The Secret Doctrine of ‘The Secret Garden’

This is the continuation and significant expansion of a previous post on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (1911) and its possible influence on Ms. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, which post can be read here.

After a hurried re-reading of Garden, here are my first thoughts. I think we can see significant correspondences between as well as a chasm separating Burnett’s classic about rejuvenation in an English Garden and the Hogwarts adventures. I will (1) list the match-ups here, (2) take a stab at interpreting Garden at the allegorical level beyond noting the Theosophical Society, Spiritualism, and Christian Science references, and (3) try to explain what strike me as the most important similarity and difference between the postmodern series and the late Victorian novel vis a vis their intention and execution. I was surprised at the paucity of thoughtful commentary about Garden that I could find online, in itself and in connection with Harry Potter; I trust any of you that are more familiar with the children’s literature field will jump in with more informed reflections on these subjects than I can offer here on the fly. [Read more…]

No, I Have Not Read ‘Twilight’ (But I Will)

Just when we’re making some headway in The Secret Garden, I am asked about the Twilight novels. It’s a great question and deserves its own thread. Here is the question, my response, and an open floor for you all to say your piece. It won’t be the last time this subject comes up, I’m sure (I hope!).

MaggieMay: John, I know you have your hands full with Tales of BTB just coming out and all, but my daughter has moved full-swing into the Twilight series, so wondering if you have any positive thoughts about it? I’m reading it too, just, just to stay relevant… Since you had time/energy to bring up The Secret Garden, I would absolutely love commentary on Edward and Bella! thanks

MaggieMay, talk about hijacking a thread! Two quick Twilight comments before I get back to reading The Secret Garden and, more urgently, writing Harry Potter’s Bookshelf: [Read more…]

Christmas Guest Post: Harry & The Secret Garden

Josh Harvey, a good friend in Lexington, Virginia, sent me a Christmas gift this afternoon that he said I could share with the HogPro All-Pros here though it is only notes of an idea. In brief, there is suggestive evidence in the seven book canon that Ms. Rowling was heavily influenced by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. Here are Mr. Harvey’s notes for your reflection, comment, correction, and amendment:

[I have been reading “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett to prepare for a musical production of same and I] wonder if there is more than just some incidental influence between Garden and Potter. Here are six points of correspondence:

Firstly, the book is about magic (all kinds of great quotes about it). Secondly, it was one of the greatest British-American crossover children’s books ever–in fact my edition from the Barnes and Noble Classics line mentions several times that its success (with its other predecessors by FHB) could be comparable only to the Harry Potter series in terms of their popularity. [Read more…]

Blurbs and Reviews: On Auctorial Authority

Tyndale sent me a link this morning to a thoughtful and flattering online review of How Harry Cast His Spell that I recommend to you. The story of the woman’s experience with a Harry Hater and how both she and the woman came to fresh experiences of the novels after looking at them in a different light is a good one.

I’m curious, too, of what you think of this paragraph in the review: [Read more…]

Order of the Phoenix: How Rowling Thinks

Ms. Melissa Anelli has released a portion of her interviews with Ms. Rowling that were not included in Harry, A History at the Amazon Blog for her best-selling book. This “vault segment” is about Order of the Phoenix and Ms. Rowling’s thoughts about the fifth novel in the series. I found her comments about Harry being alone but comforted by a group in the battle at the Department of Mysteries interesting as well as her insistence that you have to write the story as it comes to you rather than the one you imagine people want to hear. [Read more…]