Archives for February 2012

The 2010 Lev Grossman ‘Mockingjay’ Interview that Wasn’t

Way back in 2010, when HogwartsProfessor was lighting up the online universe with posts before and after the publication of Mockingjay, the Hunger Games finale (you can review those 30+ posts at the HogPro Mockingjay post round-up), Lev Grossman at TIME and Nerd sent me five questions. It was something of a reprise of our Harry Potter and Twilight conversations there.

By the time I responded, though, Mr. Grossman was neck deep in finishing his blockbuster fantasy The Magician King and the time for Mockingjay reflections as ‘news’ had passed. I suspect, consequently, our exchange will never see the light of day (the light of your computer screen?) unless I put it up here — so here goes, after the jump. Enjoy! [Read more…]

Psychological Types in Harry Potter, Hunger Games

Mary L. promised a few weeks back that she would be sharing with us soon a longish collection of her thoughts on Personality types in Hunger Games, that is, a review of how the characters reflect the Myers-Briggs classification of human beings. I am very much looking forward to that largely because of the discussion I think it will generate about the value of this kind of template reading versus a more traditional polysemantic or iconological approach.

I don’t think the approaches are exclusive, as I’ll explain in a moment, but I do worry that the sorting of characters by Myers-Briggs categories risks missing the allegorical representations that are the power of the story figures over the reader. They are ciphers in large part for greater than natural realities whose play in the narrative have an alchemical effect on the reader.  I suspect much if not all of that is lost in a mechanical analysis of defining psychological traits. Taxonomy and typology are little explanation, in the end, of why a story works. [Read more…]

“Who Saved Draco’s Soul?” Co-Inherence in Harry Potter

A little over a year ago I wrote a post here on Charles Williams’ Greater Trumps and the connections that leaped out at me as I read that book through Potter-phile lenses. If you haven’t read that post, please do — and then read Bruce Charlton’s remarkable set of posts on ‘Co-Inherence in Harry Potter’ here and here.

Co-Inherence is not a simple idea to summarize, especially as Charles Williams used it in at least three distinct ways only loosely related: Exchange, Substituted Love, and Romantic Theology (see this site for more on that). For novel readers, Williams’ Descent Into Hell gives a story version of substituted love that is unforgettable, haunting, even inviting. Mr. Charlton, friend of this blog, makes the case that the idea of co-inherence permeates the Hogwarts Saga. He does not argue, however, that Ms. Rowling necessarily read Williams or has this sub-theme directly from him.

He is prudent, certainly, in his decision not to make Michael Ward’s error in focusing on “what the author intended” as much as “what the work reflects.” Ms. Rowling, after all, has to my knowledge never mentioned Charles Williams in her interviews. Without her testimony, proving the link is impossible, and, more important, this kind of intentio auctoris argument distracts from the substance of his fascinating insight to the Potter Tales using the lens of co-inherence.

That being said, the alchemy of Charles Williams’ novels (see Gavin Aschenden’s Charles Williams Alchemy and Integration on that if you have any doubts — and want to really understand co-inherence as a loving theology) as well as the Gothic comedy, genre melange, and probable Ring Composition — more on that soon, I hope — makes the possibility of a notable Williams influence, perhaps mediated through the strong effect everything Williams thought had on C. S. Lewis and his fiction, seem more ‘likely’ to me than ‘unlikely.’

A hat-tip and thank you to Mr. Charlton for re-opening and deftly expanding in scope and substance the discussion of the hermetic elements implicit to Inklings fiction via Williams (if not to the whole Romantic tradition) and Ms. Rowling’s work!

Vineeth Thomas: ‘Keeping Harry Alive – HPA and WRock’

When I gave my Ring Compositions talk in Columbus Circle, NYC, to ‘The Group That Shall Not Be Named,’ the notes and charts from which talk are available here, I was interviewed beforehand by a video journalist from CUNY named Vineeth Thomas, who I met again last summer in Orlando. He wrote me yesterday to share the film piece in which he included a part of what was a long and involved talk. Here is the YouTube edition for your consideration and comment:

Kosmos Podcast: Themes of Liberty in Harry Potter

Jeanne Hoffman: Welcome to this Kosmos Online Podcast. I’m Jeanne Hoffman. Today I’m talking about Harry Potter and Themes of Liberty with Benjamin Barton, Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee. Professor Barton has written book chapters and articles in governance in the Harry Potter books including Harry Potter and the Half-Crazed Bureaucracy. Welcome Professor Barton and thanks for being on our podcast….