Archives for September 2010

A Talk Forever Changing the Way We Think About the Artistry and Meaning of Rowling’s Harry Potter

Hard as it may be to believe, more than a decade after the first book and a month before the last movies are released, I think I have figured out Ms. Rowling’s chapter to chapter writing plan for each of her books, a story scaffolding at once more obvious and pervasive than the literary alchemy and distinctive Potter hero’s journey. It affects many, perhaps even most characters’ names and may be the ultimate source of the “triangular eye” of the Deathly Hallows symbol. It’s important enough that I’ve added it as a new “key” with a chapter all its own in my updated¬† Harry Potter Unlocked coming out this fall.

If you can’t wait for that and want to hear more about Ms. Rowling’s writing plan that shapes every chapter of every book as well as the way each book relates to the other novels in the series, I’ll be talking about it next week at New York City’s Samsung Experience in Time Warner Center in a lecture sponsored by America’s premiere fan Meet Up, ‘The Group That Shall Not Be Named.’

Details about the talk, the venue, and the cover of a new Potter Pundits talk and essay collection are below the jump!

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How to Film the ‘Breaking Dawn’ Birth Sequence

The marriage of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen is the Alchemical Wedding of Red King and White Queen. The child they conceive, the so-called ‘Philosophical Orphan,’ is supposed to cause their deaths, at least according to the rubrics of literary alchemy. The orphan is a character stand-in for the Philosopher’s Stone and is meant to be an incarnation of the contraries needing resolution in the story’s setting. Renesme not only has a name that screams “resolution” (at least as much as “melange” does), she is also the human-vampire androgyn and alchemical Rebus that unites vampires, shape-shifting werewolves, and hapless humans. Really, in the allegorical story of Latter-day Saint divinization embedded in the last three Twilight novels via the hermetic symbolism of alchemy, the marriage and apotheosis-in-sacrificial-childbirth scenes are essential — and wild. (All of which is explained in detail in Spotlight: An Up-Close Look at the Artistry and Meaning of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga.)

But how do you film Bella’s bone-breaking and bloody-beyond-belief birthing? And keep a PG-13 rating?¬† The discussion is on in earnest at this mommy weblog; I hope you’ll share your ideas in the comment boxes here. Usually, I don’t care for movie versions of book scenes for which I have pretty vivid images in my head already. In this case, though, I think I may see the film only to displace the ones I have from the printed page and my imagination. (Hat Tip to Arabella!)

HogPro Mailbag: On Death and Hogwarts Paintings

The best part of being a Potter Pundit, besides the fun I have with Travis and James on PotterCast, is meeting readers and talking with them before and after lectures. The second best part? Conversations here and in private correspondence. My books always include my email address — that’s ‘john at HogwartsProfessor dot com’ — and an invitation for feedback, the coveted comments and corrections. I have met many of my best friends in Harry Potter fandom only because they chose to accept that invitation to share their thoughts.

The mailbag feature here at HogwartsProfessor, too, owes its existence and frequent appearances to questions I receive by email. Today’s entry is about the nature of death and just what kind of being the paintings at Hogwarts really are. I received this note from an adult reader new to the series and to serious thinking about the Hogwarts Saga:

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Chaos Walking: No ‘Monsters of Men’ Predictions

Well, here is a busted play.

I was all pumped for discussion and predictions of the first two books in the Chaos Walking trilogy before the finale is published tomorrow — but there was no hold on the release of the third book, Monsters of Men, and it has been thoroughly reviewed with most plot points that would have been subject to speculation now part of the public record. And why not? The book has been available in hardcover and paperback in the UK since 3 May of this year.

Which status quo calls for a HogwartsProfessor Book Club change of plans! Here are the changes: [Read more…]

H. E. Todd’s ‘Bobby Brewster:’ Harry Potter, Sr.?

I’m often asked what I would ask Ms. Rowling if I ever met here. Today I think I would ask if H. E. Todd had visited her primary school and read a ‘Bobby Brewster’ story to her.

I learned in September that there was a very popular UK children’s book series published in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s about a boy named Bobby Brewster in which everyday objects talked to the main character much as, say, mirrors and portraits talk in the Wizarding World. One of the short story collections in this series, Bobby Brewster, Detective, has a title in it, ‘Follow that Spider,’ which reminded me of Hagrid’s clue for Chamber of Secrets‘ two boy detectives, spoken as he is hauled off to Azkaban, about following spiders. I ordered the out-of-print title from a UK bookseller.

The author, H. E. Todd, and Bobby Brewster are not in Phil Nel’s book on Harry Potter and children’s literature and Library Lisa at Accio Quotes assures me it isn’t in Rowling interview canon. Reading this remarkable set of recollections of the influence this inspiring author and story-teller had via his visiting schools and reading his stories to children made me wonder if the young Miss Rowling didn’t have such an experience. [Read more…]