Archives for May 2012

N. D. Wilson: Why Hunger Games Is Flawed To Its Core

A very thoughtful reader in Texas sent me this note:

Hello friends. I appreciate the work you do on this site and elsewhere. I’ve been keeping my eye on the conversation, particularly Christian and scholarly conversation, surrounding Hunger Games, and while the majority of that conversation casts the series in generally positive light, occasionally, I come across a more negative view. The Gospel Coalition recently posted an article by novelist ND Wilson that makes the case that the HG narrative is “flawed at its core.” It’s a convincing case, I think, and I’d love to hear what you all think. Thanks so much.

Thank you for this link and for the appreciation. I confess to being surprised you found this a “convincing case” because I couldn’t find the substance in any of his arguments. I don’t know who N. D. Wilson is, but I think I can file this complaint about readers over-reading Hunger Games and enjoying-it-for-the-wrong-reasons with A. S. Byatt’s complaints about Harry Potter. There’s no ‘there’ here and we’re left pondering the author’s motivation in making this kind of attack on another, more successful writer.

Three quick notes for your reflection, if, after reading the criticism leveled at Collins’ work, you think it merits a response:

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Hunger Games: Is A Capitol-Districts Economy Possible?

Slate is an online magazine founded by a former editor of The New Republic and now owned by The Washington Post. Like its mother and father publications, it is not a surprise that Slate leans hard to the political left. Nonetheless, if one is steeled to partisan comments offered as undeniable ‘givens,’ a commonplace of both left, right, and center (there is a center?) in American discourse today, Slate provides as often as not delightful reading on substantive subjects and another, fresh look at worn topics. To risk a rough analogy, Slate is to reading online what NPR is to radio; shamelessly leftist messaging in a sophisticated, challenging package.

Most of you already knew all that, I’m guessing, but I review it because Slate loves The Hunger Games — and you could spend a big chunk of your day (as I have) digging into and thinking about The Complete Slate ‘Hunger Games’ Collection. Are all of them worth the time to read? No. The ‘Meet Suzanne Collins‘ piece is a two paragraph piece that tells us exactly nothing about her (compare), for example, and ‘The Problem of Tesserae Inflation‘ is just a failed reading of the books (and something like innumerancy).

Most, however, reward the reader with either a new take on the dystopian trilogy or raise a smile (see ‘Hunger Games Premiere Offers New Possible Object of Your Twilight Disdain‘ for a little of the latter). My favorite? The Economics of The Hunger Games: Could any real country have an economy like Panem’s? Actually, yes.

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Ascendio 2012: ‘Special Guests’ to Meet Up With in Orlando

As I wrote last week, I’m really looking forward to touching down and catching up with friends and serious readers in Orlando this July at Ascendio 2012. I’ll be giving a talk, as always, this time an advanced course on Ms. Rowling’s alchemical-ring story scaffolding, and I know I will love doing that presentation and the Gilderoy time afterwards in which I sign books. This is my sixth HPEF gathering — that’s three in Orlando, one in Vegas, San Francisco, and Toronto — and each one has been better than the one before in variety of programming, professional organization, serious reading discussion, and thoughtful scheduling.

If I could only do one thing at Ascendio 2012 besides the talk I’m giving, it wouldn’t be Starkid Productions (surprise!), Wands by Wands Magical Wizard Revue (though that is tempting!), or Connie Neal‘s Keynote, all of which promise to be SRO events. It would be the spectacular ‘Quill Track’ event HPEF has planned.

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Just The Spells – and Nothing But the Spells!

I read somewhere that the worst film editing job was a Thai theatre owner’s attempt to cut The Sound of Music down from more than three hours to half an hour. Solution? Cut out all the music, of course!

A Latin Lover (think ‘Virgil,’ not ‘Valentino’) decided to do much the same with the Potter movies: what would the movies be like if they were only the spells? The answer to that question is provided below for your viewing pleasure. Hat tip, James!

MuggleNet Academia: ‘Parseltongue, Gobbledegook, and Troll: On the Difficulties of Translating Harry Potter’ Show #3

My co-host at MuggleNet Academia, Keith Hawk, has written to let me know that our third show, this one on Potter translations, is up and available for downloading today. ‘Parseltongue, Gobbledegook, and Troll’ is something of a departure for us as this program is less academic per se — on the artistry and meaning of the books — as it is about the books as books and how they succeed or fail when translated into another language.

Our special guest is Josee LeBlanc, a Potter Pundit from Canada who works with government agencies and their French and English translation issues. Joining her as our student representative is Amanda Pavani from Brazil, a polyglut and Potter-phile of the first rank. From the show synopsis:

When we read the Harry Potter series, we notice them all. Those clever wordplays, alliterations, rich accents and meaningful last names Jo Rowling conjured up from the tip of her pen. Yet, while we sometimes pause to analyze the second or third meanings of Dumbledore’s name or marvel over how all those Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes inventions just seem to roll off your tongue (Canary Cream, Ton Tongue Toffee, etc.), most of us never think about the amount of work involved to translate it all into another language. In the case of alliterations, when the words don’t match in the target language, what should be translated: the sounds (Wimbourne Wasps) or the meaning? How do you translate Hagrid or Seamus’ accent? How about Fleur Delacour’s or Madame Maxime’s accents in French? And what about wordplays that can’t be translated literally; what should be done about those?

You can read more about the show here or download it immediately at this link. Please be sure to share your feedback at MuggleNet and let us know what subjects you’d like to explore and whom you’d like us to invite on as our guests!

Shows featuring Washington & Lee’s Suzanne Keen in a discussion of the Hogwarts Saga as Serious ‘Series’ fiction and Lawrence Unibersity’s Edmund Kern, author of The Wisdom of Harry Potter, on sex and gender issues in Harry Potter can be downloaded at iTunes here. Transcriptions available, too — Enjoy!