Cormoran’s Army is Back!

Leda Welcoming Back the Swan-God

Check out this still-in-progress revival of the Cormoran’s Army [‘CA’] weblog of old.

The first post features a round-up of what we’ve written here at Hogwarts Professor since GoDaddy deep-sixed the original CA late last year. The post has quite a bit of Lethal White summary speculation, too.

[For those not up to speed on Rowling’s mythological underpinning in her Strike stories, Leda (pictured at right greeting the Swan) plays a big part in it, as do her twin sons with Zeus, Cormoran and Shanker, I mean, Castor and Pollux.]

A new day for the CA! Doom Bar Detectives, Unite!

The Three Fates Meet The Weird Sisters: Cormoran Strike, Harry Potter, and the Question of Fate, Free Will, and Choice

On 7 July, I thought to check J. K. Rowling’s twitter feed to see if she had posted anything about the anniversary of the 7/7 terrorist bombings that hit London in 2005. Though the 52 deaths and 784 injuries caused by four suicide bombers on 7/7 is recalled in the UK something like 9/11 is by Americans, she did not tweet or re-tweet any of the many articles and messages about the event online.

I was struck while at her page, however, by the header, that is, the picture she has placed across the top of her Twitter page. I do not keep up with these things but the header picture had changed from the last time I dropped in. The current Rowling Twitter Header is a marble relief sculpture by Johann Gottfried Schaddow on the tomb of Prince Alexander von Mark in Berlin called ‘The Three Morai’ or just ‘The Three Fates’ (picture above). 

The only reason Rowling readers should care about such things — why I write this blog post — is something she shared in January 2017 about a previous header: “It’s hard to find a header that sums up everything I’m working on at the moment, but this painting comes close! It’s by Harmen Steenwyck.”

The faculty here at HogwartsProfessor spent some time back then discussing that painting, ‘Allegory of the Vanities,’ amongst ourselves about what it might mean in terms of Lethal White, the Cormoran Strike mystery we’re waiting on and the work we assumed The Presence was working on then. We came up with little more than ‘remember death.’ Which given the first word of the Lethal White title and it being a murder mystery, did not seem to warrant a post. I’ll return to that in a moment after noting that Rowling was then working on two novels, one a Strike mystery as Robert Galbraith, the other of unknown subject matter as J. K. Rowling.

The reason to take a moment to reflect on Rowling’s choice of Twitter Headers is if what was true of ‘Allegory of the Vanities’ continues to be true, i.e., that she is showing us a picture of what her current work is about. That conditional clause does not seem a great leap to me.

What makes her choice of the ‘Three Fates’ mortuary relief that much more interesting in this regard is that Rowling has had a Twitter Header with the Three Fates as her Twitter Header at least once before, probably twice. The certain one is a 16th century Flemish tapestry called ‘The Triumph of Death’ or ‘The Three Fates.’

It hangs in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. We’re told at the page dedicated to the tapestry on the museum’s website that:  [Read more…]

Five Reasons Harry Potter Fandom Isn’t Excited about Cormoran Strike — Yet

Kernel's Corner Fan Art

Kernel’s Corner Fan Art

Last week, ChrisC! wrote a guest post about the Cormoran Strike mysteries, in which reflection he shared his thoughts about several reasons that Harry Potter fans have not warmed to Rowling’s latest hero and series. He was criticized for not mentioning every reason; he responded that the issue had been discussed before, both at the website and on MuggleNet Academia.

Which is true, but not as true as we’d like! Links to MuggleNet Academia’s old home on MuggleNet are dead (go here to find the elusive ‘Cormoran Strike and the Invisibility Cloak’ discussion) and the HogwartsProfessor post I wrote on the subject was linked to CormoransArmy.com, a website no longer up and running. Fortunately, I have that piece in my vaults and was able to find it to share with you here.

It was written before Career of Evil was published, of course, but 4 1/2 of the 5 reasons are still valid. I’ve updated the fifth just a touch and included the comments left at Cormoran’s Army for your reading pleasure. Be sure to read Oona Eisenstadt’s five reasons at the end for why the series will NOT ever be popular with Potter-fans. Enjoy!

Burke 1When I have given talks at Harry Potter conferences the last two years about the artistry and meaning of the Hogwarts Saga, I see big crowds, great interest, real enthusiasm. When I speak about Jo Rowling’s new seven book series, the Cormoran Strike novels, the crowds are much smaller and the prevalent attitude is a mix of curiosity and something like confusion. “Wait — there’s a new series from my favorite author? Why isn’t anyone besides John talking about that?” (Not knowing, it seems, that Karen Kebarle is also on the case….)

Which raises the question: “Why so little enthusiasm in the Harry Potter fandom for the Cormoran Strike mysteries?” Here are five reasons from the top of my head; please let me know why you think in the comment boxes below.

Five Reasons Harry Potter Fandom Isn’t Excited about Cormoran Strike — Yet

(1) There’s No Controversy.

Harry Potter was selling very well in the UK and word of mouth was growing in the US before Prisoner of Azkaban was published in 1999. But there was no mania to speak of, no Midnight Madness parties at bookstores nationwide, no covers of important periodicals, no flood of online speculation about its possible contents as there were a year later before Goblet of Fire’s appearance. What happened?

Two things: Prisoner, about which more in a second, and the Potter Panic. [Read more…]

Guest Post: Why No ‘Cormoran Mania’?

COEFans, Noir, and the Question of Violence: Speculations about the Popularity of J.K. Rowling’s Detective Fiction — A Guest Post by ChrisC!

With the impending release of Lethal White, the next volume in J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike Mysteries, an old question occurred to me.  Has there been any uptick in enthusiasm from her fanbase?  Maybe I don’t pay enough attention, however I still don’t know whether the series has yet to pick up steam.

I hope the series does pick up notice.  It’d be a mistake for her fans to neglect what so far has proven to be a more or less fine-tuned storytelling machine.  At the same time, it is possible to take a few educated guesses at just why the series might be held back from total popularity.  It can even be argued what elements of the books themselves might keep it from a wider appeal.  I bring the topic of the books’ reception up because I think that if the response to Cormoran Strike should ever turn out to be more guarded than that given to the Potter series, then it helps to understand the reasons why longtime fans might turn out to have a surprising amount of ambivalence with regard to the latest fictional exploits of their favorite author.

With that in mind, after the jump, you’ll find a list of aspects about the series, Jo Rowling’s fans, and what a potential clash between the two could mean for the series’ prospects. [Read more…]

Guest Post: Mythological Leda Strike – Cormoran, Zeus, Castor and Pollux

Leda 4A Team ‘Guest Post’ by Joanne Gray and John Granger: Mythological Leda

I think that J. K. Rowling chose the name for Strike’s mother with a specific story line in mind. A quick Google search of the name ‘Leda’ means a host of links to the Greek myth about Leda and the Swan.

Leda was a beautiful Queen of Sparta, the ancient Greek city-state totally dedicated to military supremacy. She caught the eye of the King of the Gods, Zeus. [She was not the god’s first or last mortal mate; at any given time Zeus was seducing some poor earthling. Leda seems to be the only woman, however, with whom he used his swan guise to carry out the seduction.]  

Leda 5With both her mortal husband, the King of Sparta Tyndareus, and Zeus, the immortal King of the Gods, as her lovers, Leda gave birth to two sets of twins, one set of sons and one set of daughters. (For a refresher on why the ancients thought this sort of thing was possible read the history of telegony, an obscure rabbit hole on the trail of genetics.) Leda’s two daughters, Helen of Troy via Zeus and Clytemnestra by Tyndareus, were both tragic figures in the Trojan War.

However, her sons will be the ones that concern us here. The twin boys were named Castor and Pollux. Castor was known as a horse breaker and demigod Pollux was known as a boxer. Both were also known for their horsemanship and for their willingness to help those in trouble, especially travelers, guests, and sailors. For much more on these two, see Michael Ward’s Planet Narnia and the discussion therein on A Horse and His BoyCor and Corin in that C. S. Lewis tale are Archenland royalty separated as infants who are Castor and Pollux story ciphers.

Yes, I think Rowling is writing a Castor and Pollux story inside the Cormoran Strike mysteries. Read on after the jump.

[Read more…]