Is Newt Scamander a Dumbledore?

Last night I was re-reading a post that a reader had told me in the comment boxes had two undecipherable sentences. I found a link in that Fantastic Beasts 1 deleted scenes discussion to Rowling’s having said in an interview that the Demiguise was her favorite fantastic beast: “They have the ability to become invisible at will, which is a power that has always appealed to me, so I love the Demiguise.”

I wondered, “Could the Demiguise be Newt’s Patronus?” That would be a nice surprise and appropriate somehow, given Newt’s private nature and that he baby-sits all his magical creatures the way Dougall does the baby Occamy in the first Beasts film. I googled “Newt Scamander patronus” to see if anyone else had thought of this before I shared it here.

No, no one had written it up online at least. But I learned through that search that Rowling had been asked the question on her Twitter feed and she had responded that telling us Newt’s Patronus would be a “Big Spoiler.” I sent this information to my private cadre of Potter Pundits along with my Top Ten list of probable Patroni (Patronuses?) for Newt and the request that they share any beasts I left out that would be “Big Spoilers.”

Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, immediately responded with, “I feel like a phoenix would make the biggest spoiler…!” When pressed for her reasoning, i.e., was she suggesting that Newt was a Dumbledore,  she shared,

I wasn’t meaning anything too wild – just that Newt was also a Dumbledore! (given that Dumbledore’s patronus is a Phoenix – so in this case it can be about who you are, not just who you are in love with). Given the phoenix imagery in Crimes of Grindelwald – and the idea that this bird proves you are a Dumbledore, I’d have thought it was one of the beasts with the most symbolic potential in the series hence the one with biggest spoiler potential *and* we don’t know anything about Newt’s parentage?

I wasn’t working from the ‘who might Newt be?’ end of things, just from the ‘what animal might be the biggest spoiler?’ end of things!

Huh. Newt Scamander a Dumbledore? … That would be a big reveal if Rowling’s telling us Newt’s Patronus suggested that. Join me after the jump for discussion of this “Big Spoiler” theory, ‘Newt Scamander-Dumbledore.’

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Beatrice Groves: Shakespeare, Kipling, and Rowling’s Crimes of Grindelwald

Beatrice Groves is a Research Lecturer and tutor at Trinity College, Oxford, where she teaches classes on early modern literature and drama, Shakespeare in particular. She is also a Potter Pundit of the first rank; her Literary Allusion in Harry Potter is the most exciting, edifying, and enlightening contribution to Potter studies that I’ve read in many, many years. Prof Groves speaks to Harry Potter fandom in addition to this book through a variety of fan sites, large and small; see her discussion of magical plants on TheLeakyCauldron, her Bathilda’s Notebook page on MuggleNet (my favorite there? Literary Allusion in Cormoran Strike), and the three ‘Harrowing of Hell’ Guests Posts here at HogwartsProfessor. She is a frequent guest on Kathryn McDaniel’s ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ podcasts and is as charming ‘in person’ on that medium as her remarkably accessible and profound writing suggests she would be.

Prof Groves has just finished another landmark series at her MuggleNet platform, ‘Bathilda’s Notebook,’ this one a three part discussion of Rowling’s debts and embedded allusions in Harry Potter and Crimes of Grindelwald to Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill, Stalky & Co., and ‘The Man Who Would Be King.’ All are chock full of her discoveries — who knew, just for example, that the Headless Hunt, Regulus Black, and the Deathly Hallows symbol are hat-tips to Kipling? If Literary Allusion in Harry Potter has a failing, it is that Dr Groves does not mention literary alchemy in her brilliant chapters on Shakespeare in that book; she more than compensates in these three weblog posts by sharing her thoughts on literary alchemy in Shakespeare, Kipling, and the Crimes of Grindelwald film released this week.

Here are links to these posts I know you will enjoy, either as appetizers for your experience of the new movie or as after dinner treats post viewing!

“It’s Just Like Waking Up, Right?”: “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” Kipling, and Shakespeare’s Midsummer Dreaming

“The Crimes of Grindelwald,” Kipling, and the Origins of the Deathly Hallows Symbol

The Alchemical Symbolism of the Deathly Hallows in “The Crimes of Grindelwald”

 

Beatrice Groves’ Five Magic Plant Posts

Friend of this blog Beatrice Groves, Research Fellow and Tutor at Trinity College, Oxford University, and author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, has been writing articles for Harry Potter fandom mega-sites MuggleNet.com and The-Leaky-Cauldron.org. MuggleNet has created a home for her posts on everything from Shakespeare allusions in the Hogwarts Saga to Cratylic Names in Cormoran Strike, a dedicated page called ‘Bathilda’s Notebook.’

Prof Groves writes less frequently for Leaky (see her three part discussion there from July about the 2005 JKR-Lev Grossman interview) but has just finished a five-part survey of Rowling’s use of traditional plant lore in the Harry Potter novels. My favorite is the fifth and concluding part in which she reveals the alchemical side of plants (and makes a great catch, a first I think, of the hermetic items for sale in Diagon Alley), but all five have Groves’ characteristic wit and insight.

Who knew Culpeper’s Complete Herbal was so important to Rowling’s potions work and alchemical drama? “Not I,” says the Dean. I include links to the five posts below for your convenience in finding and reading all five. Enjoy!

“Harry Potter: A History of Magic” and Plant Lore:

Lethal White: Beatrice Groves on ‘Galbraith Meets Graham Norton’

Prof Beatrice Groves, a Research Fellow Lecturer at Trinity College, Oxford University. Her groundbreaking Literary Allusion in Harry Potter was published in 2017. She is a frequent guest on the MuggleNet podcast, ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling‘ and writes for that fandom platform on her dedicated page, ‘Bathilda’s Notebook.’ A frequent contributor to conversations at HogwartsProfessor.com (HogPro), Prof Groves last posted here to discuss the ‘Nagini Maledictus in Fantastic Beasts.’ Today she writes about the Robert Galbraith interview last week with Graham Norton on a BBC2 radio show. Enjoy!

‘I really enjoyed writing this book, it’s probably my favourite of the series both in terms of how it turned out and but also sheer enjoyment. I loved it, I really did.’

On Saturday J. K. Rowling gave a radio interview about Lethal White to Graham Norton on BBC Radio 2. [You can listen to the interview via this link; it begins at 2:30:00.] This is ‘Robert’s’ most in-depth interview since Val McDermid’s in 2014 (cf., Val McDermid interviews JK Rowling (Robert Galbraith) at Harrogate International Festival 2014) and you can hear how much more relaxed Rowling is in it than in her recent televised appearances in America promoting Crimes of Grindelwald and Lumos.

This is possibly due to the warmth of Graham Norton (he’s a very successful chat show host with a great track record of getting the best out of his interview subjects) and her not being jet-lagged (!) but – most likely – it shows the natural preference of a public-speaking phobic celebrity for the medium of radio. But some of her warmth in this interview can, I think, be attributed to the fact that she’s talking about a work that she loves.

Norton asked her whether it made her happier to see her films or her novels at No. 1 and – no surprise to HogPro readers here – she admitted that the success of Strike gives her more of a kick than the Fantastic Beasts movies (however different the paychecks). Much of what she said in this interview we’ve heard before (the story about her cover nearly being blown while her husband was eating a ‘research’ fry-up, for example) but much of it was slightly more fully expressed.

As when she thanked the many listeners who wrote in to praise her for getting their children to read: [Read more…]

Reading, Writing Rowling, Episode 13: So What is a Harry Potter Pilgrimage?

Don’t give up on me, please! A post on the White Horse red herring Rowling-Galbraith has been giving her serious readers the last year to set us up for a big twist in Lethal White is on its way.

Until then, listen in on this fun conversation with host Kathryn McDaniel and professors Caroline Toy and Beatrice Groves about ‘making pilgrimage’ and what that means in the context of Harry Potter fandom’s fascination with Wizarding World theme parks and film studio exhibitions. Enjoy!

From the MuggleNet page for this Reading, Writing, Rowling podcast:

On this episode, we discuss the practice of Harry Potter fan-travel to sites of importance in the writing and filming of the Harry Potter series.

Caroline Toy (Ohio State University) explains the nature and variety of fan travels as well as the emotional and psychological resonance of places associated with the Harry Potter series. We debate whether such travels are genuinely pilgrimages—and what elements of narrative and ritual contribute to the feeling among some fans that they are.

Beatrice Groves (Oxford, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter) helps us connect fan pilgrimages to early modern religious pilgrimages to compare how they function for those undertaking the journey. Are places where Rowling wrote the novels more inspiring or “authentic” than film sites? Through mediation, ritual, “queueing up,” and management of space, popular attractions may interfere with fans’ direct experience of a site or allow fans to enter the world of Harry Potter in our imaginations and generate a feeling of community.

And don’t forget to visit the gift shop! We also analyze the role of commerce and souvenirs in the fan travel experience. What do you take back home with you, and how does it help you remember your journey? Whether you’ve been a fan traveler or are planning your next holiday, you won’t want to miss this discussion!