Cormoran Strike #4 Title is ‘Lethal White’

the-silkworm-cuckoos-calling2Yesterday J. K. Rowling had a contest on Twitter, the winner of which would win an autographed copy of her next Cormoran Strike mystery. The challenge was to figure out the title of this book from the clue “- – – H – – – H – – -.”

I found the clue all but impossible to grasp. Was it one word or two or three? Was it a picture of, say, a suspension bridge?

CareerOfEvil-UK-US-800x611Fortunately, there are legions of cryptographers in the twittersphere and we had an answer, the right answer, in a little over an hour, from a Rowling reader in Singapore. The title is ‘Lethal White.’ Prof Freeman informed me that, no, this was not a pointer to whose lives matter and the danger of armed Caucasian policemen (hurrah!), but the name of a fatal genetic abnormality among horses. I kid you not.

Three notes off the cuff about this title after the jump! [Read more…]

Nicolas Flamel in Fantastic Beasts 2?

Dear John,

What do you think about the theory of Flamel and Newt meeting up in Paris and Grindelwald trying to get the philosopher’s stone?

Kelly

John’s response after the jump! [Read more…]

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them Deleted Scenes — Not All, But a Bunch

Want to see those deleted scenes before the DVD extras are released? They’re on YouTube now: Mildred’s dropping Jacob, the full Jacob and the Demiguise chase scene (but not the Newt and Tina shared future glimpse), GrindelGraves comforting Tina and grooming Credence, the Runespoor Jacob didn’t quite see eye-to-eye, Shaw, Sr., in grief at the newspaper office, why Queenie took Jacob from the hotel rooftop to the battle scene, and what happened to the escaped Billywig Newt forgot.

We’re missing the Credence at lunch with Graves, Newt’s shirtless moment, and the GrindelGraves extended scene in the subway professing love for an Obscurus, not to mention Graves having his vision in his MACUSA office, but there’s an awful lot here to unpack.

There’s an extended version of the subway scene with Credence visible in the Obscurial online now, as well.

Here’s the weird thing. Though all these extended play and deleted scenes are already online, two ‘Exclusive Deleted Scenes’ from ‘Fantastic Beasts’ — both of which are on the other, longer reel above, Jacob and the Demiguise without the Queenie-Jacob moment, i.e., significantly shorter — have just been officially released in the run-up to the launch of the film’s DVD/Blu-Ray packaging.

Anybody have an idea as to what is going on? First thoughts about the deleted scenes? Let us know below!

Harry Potter and Lolita: Rowling’s Rings and Vladimir Nabokov’s Story Mirrors (The Alchemy of Narrative Structure)

VVN1I promised in the postHarry Potter and Lolita: J. K. Rowling’s Relationship with Vladimir Nabokovto discuss the structure of Lolita in relationship to Harry Potter’s story scaffolding. I deferred it from that first JKR/VVN post because it was already over-crowded with discussion of names, alchemy, politics, and, most important, parody. As I hope you’ll agree after reading this piece below, the ‘parallelism parallel’ between the two authors is significant, fascinating, and even a revelation of sorts of the alchemical aim of their artistry.

Rowling may have drawn her ring writing artistry from a variety of sources: her training in Classics, reading in Scripture, familiarity with Inkling literature, even a close study of Robert Louis Stevenson or Jules Verne’s popular adventures. Today I will argue that, though these sources are possibilities, the most likely single source of Rowling’s structural wizardy is the work of Vladimir Nabokov.

Nabokov wrote eighteen novels. The only one Rowling has mentioned specifically in interviews is Lolita so today I will confine my discussion to Nabokov’s most famous work. This will involve, of course, discussion of what happens in that story, which is as close as I’m coming to a ‘spoiler alert’ for a book published sixty years ago and considered Western canon for half a century.

CirclesWe’ll test whether Nabokov was a ring writer in five steps derived from the qualities Mary Douglas tells us to look for in a ‘ring composition': first, the latch of beginning and end, second, a story-turn, third, parallels side to side, fourth, rings inside the rings and other self-referencing, and last, a comparison with Rowling’s story and series structures. That ‘last’ will include my conclusions about why Nabokov worked-in the mirroring he has into Lolita and if Rowling’s meaning is similarly buttressed by her own ring work.

The Latch: Lolita’s Prologue and Part 2, Chapter 36

A look at Lolita’s table of contents reveals that it is made up of a foreword written by psychologist John Ray, Jr., a Part 1 of thirty-three chapters, and a Part 2 of thirty-six chapters, both of which are first person narratives that were written by Humbert Humbert in fifty-six days while awaiting his trial for murder. There is no epilogue or afterword, if every edition published since the early sixties does include Nabokov’s short essay ‘On a Book Called Lolita’ after the novel’s close.

The first tell-tale sign of a traditionally crafted story is how well the beginning and end match up. Lolita’s foreword and chapter 36 have six points of correspondence that latch the story’s circle tightly together at the close. [Read more…]

MuggleNet Academia, 2011-2017: R. I. P

2113542To all our friends who have written to ask why the more than fifty MuggleNet Academia podcasts are no longer available at MuggleNet.com (so all the links on our posts are dead), the three answers to the questions you’ve asked are:

What Happened? Keith Hawk left his position at MuggleNet, and, as Keith owns the shows, having personally paid for their production and hosting through the years, he took the show with him at the divorce.

Where are the shows? The shows are posted here: http://mugglenetacademia.libsyn.com/

Are there any plans for future shows? No, this is the end of MuggleNet Academia. Keith cannot use the name and MuggleNet doesn’t want to continue this podcast in the current format. John is in contact with Keith about a future project (not podcasts) and with MuggleNet about a different program there.

Stay tuned!