A New Symbol for Harry Potter? Cover Ideogram on New Cursed Child Book

Arthur Levine next week will be publishing a fan-servicing book about the stage production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It was assembled by Jody Revenson, an author whose best-selling titles include the complete range of Wizarding World knock-off books released with each new Warner Brothers film or at Christmas time (see her Amazon page for all those “perfect gifts for the insatiable Harry Potter fan!”). The full title of Revenson’s latest is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: The Journey: Behind the Scenes of the Award-Winning Stage Production — yes, a title with two colons.

This would normally not merit a mention at HogwartsProfessor because I’m not a big fan of Cursed Child and the ancillary books about the Wizarding World I actually read are critical works about the J. K. Rowling novels or, with respect to the Fantastic Beasts franchise, those that might have clues about the shooting script we do not and most likely never will have. The video above was filmed when the new book’s publication was first announced in July 2019; what spurs me to write about it now?

I received my copy of TheRowlingLibrary online magazine yesterday and it included three pictures of the new book, all of which included a new — well, I cannot remember seeing it before — symbol or ideogram, as well as the much ballyhooed return to the lightning heavy faux Gothic font in the Harry Potter title. The super-stylized and symmetrically circular image all turns on the capital letter ‘H,’ the letter being bisected top to bottom in addition to its cross bar and encircled by the repeated phases of the moon.

Have a look at the three images in this post. The ideogram is on the spine of the book’s flyleaf cover where the symbol can be found at the very top. On the book without the wrapping cover, the symbol is everywhere. It is presented, too, as something like a Morris wallpaper design or an Escher drawing in the front endpaper, the pages just inside the front cover.

Forgive me if this not new, but, again, it is new to me. Does the ‘H’ stand for Hogwarts? That would seem odd; the school already has a crest or shield. Does it stand for ‘Harry Potter’? That would be even more peculiar because most initial set monograms include three letters and highlight the first letter of the surname rather than the first or middle names. It’s more likely, according to this convention, to be Rubeus Hagrid’s symbol.

Who cares? Anyone who studies the formal aspects of Rowling’s writing and it’s heavy measure of parallelism should be interested. This ideogram could be a symbol for ring composition, even better I think than the Deathly Hallows symbol. Long-time readers of this weblog will recall that the central chapter of the Hogwarts Saga’s central, “crucial” book is chapter 19 of Goblet of Fire, ‘The Hungarian Horntail,’ a chapter that Rowling highlight’s as the series pivot in various ways, not least of which is the alliterative title featuring the letter ‘H,’ a letter in which two vertical lines or parts are joined by a horizontal connecting bar.

Is this ‘H’ in the Cursed Child book a pointer to the two parts of the production? I hope that those of you who seen the play will chime in here if the letter-symbol is an important part of the show. Again, I ask your forgiveness in advance if this is common knowledge; Cursed Child is just not my thing.

 

Dark Arts Themed Cursed Child Trailer

That’s right — a trailer for a live theater experience. If you wondered what, if anything, the opening of a Harry Potter and the Cursed Child production in california might mean, you have the beginning of your answer.

Two New (Sort of!) JKRowling.com Posts

Yesterday Rowling broke her Twitter platform silence of eight months with a post and a retweet of a PotterMore posting about the new logo and tagline for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ (‘J. K. Rowling Returns to Twitter‘).

She also reposted a January 2017 post, ‘Cursed Child Film Rumours,’ at her JKRowling.com website about rumors of a Daniel-Emma-Rupert film production of ‘Cursed Child.’ She says this rumor is “rubbish:”

I have no idea how these stories emerge, but to set the record straight once and for all: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a stage play, it was conceived and written as a stage play, it was always intended to be a stage play and nothing else, and there are absolutely no plans for it to become a movie, a novel, a puppet show, a cartoon, a comic book series or Cursed Child on Ice.

And she posted another link, much like her Twitter re-tweeting, to the PotterMore story about the Times Square logo-and-tag-line unveiling: ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Takes over Times Square.’ That posting included this video.

Three short notes:

(1) The excitement about these events which even we are obliged to note are of no importance whatsoever, the change in logo-tagline of a Broadway play and an author’s return to a social media platform (!), testifies to the currency and vitality of Harry Potter’s status as the global shared text.

(2) If any conclusions are to be drawn from the JKRowling.com twin postings on top of the return to Twitter, my first guesses would be (a) it’s a business decision to use the tweeting platform with more than 14 million followers to highlight marketing events representing no little investment (how much do you think it cost to pull off that Times Square event about essentially nothing beyond reviving interest in a smash hit that may be showing signs of jumping the shark? To make the logo square with books and film logo?) and, (b) Rowling herself may be not totally on board with this. That reposting on her website of the 2017 denial of a movie production in the offing (2026?) sounds a bit like a ‘note to self’ (and to the world) that she is not really a prisoner of Rowling, Inc.’s mercenary concerns.

(3) Does anyone out there doubt that eventually, perhaps as with Tolkien “well after the author’s demise,” this play will be adapted into a movie and that there will be a Harry Potter movie re-booting, as well as a television series, opera, and Ice-Capades? If Christopher Tolkien couldn’t stop it, Rowling won’t be able to, and, given her charity concerns and commitments, I have to wonder at how long she will hold out against pressure externally from Warner Brothers and internally from Lumos and Volant.

Cursed Child Soundtrack — On Vinyl?

We’ve been discussing all the products that the Wizarding World franchise has been putting out of late. It’s something like the order of the day as we await the rollout of the WizardingWorld.com website that has swallowed PotterMore and will charge a subscription fee for access to Gold Status members’ material. See ‘The Problem with Monetizing Harry Potter.’

Yesterday I learned that the ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ stage production company has produced a soundtrack album. And I mean ‘album.’ It’s a pair of long playing 33 1/3 vinyl records that comes in a real record-album. Check out the article on TheaterMania.com.

I love analog recordings. I have a collection my wife is currently cataloging that covers 47 shelves in our bookcases and we guesstimate includes more than 7,000 records, 33 1/3, 45, and 78s. All of it classical and opera except for the 78s. I have more records than books, and, frankly, that’s saying something. [If you want this library, all Near Mint or better, make an offer!] The resurgence of LPs, consequently, is something of a thrill to me.

But why would Rowling, Inc., decide that vinyl was the way to go for their Cursed Child soundtrack? LPs make up an increasing percentage of music sales every year; some estimate it is more than 10% of dollars paid for recorded music. Has it become such a big deal, though, that the Potter marketers decided it was worth the risk of a fail? Or does this medium mean maximizing profits on gift-purchases especially in theaters? Very few presents are as fun to hold and look over again and again as a new record album.

I have read plenty of reviews of this play-as-staged and been part of podcast discussions with Potter Pundits who are Broadway zealots and attended the productions in London and New York. Not once has anyone I can remember mentioned the music. And yet now we have a soundtrack of just that. Who has been asking for this? Is it just fodder for collectors and souvenir Nifflers? 

Let me know what you think. I’m still scratching my head over this news.

Cursed Child and HogwartsProfessor Fan Fiction post Deathly Hallows

I have worked the same Muggle job in Oklahoma City since 2011. One of my fellow ‘Team Members’ who has been with me all this time there recently traveled to New York City to watch ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ on Broadway. He reminded me yesterday that he was the first to tell me the play’s title when it was announced and that it would feature Albus Severus Potter and Scorpio Malfoy. He said he was astonished that my response was to tell him that, “Of course they’ll be friends and be sorted into Slytherin House together; the boy’s initials are A. S. P.” I told him, in what seemed to him a fit of clairvoyance, that their unlikely friendship would begin on the Hogwarts Express and finally resolve the Gryffindor-Slytherin divide.

I had forgotten all this but it does sound like what I might have said. The only piece of fan fiction to ever be published at HogwartsProfessor.com was in the frenetic months post publication of Deathly Hallows. From Helen, 9 November 2007:

Please excuse me for inflicting a spot of fan fiction on this illustrious thread, but… I wrote this snippet very shortly after I read DH (and yes, before I heard John speak at Biola). I think John must have trained me to notice the right things…. 🙂

****************
The hat settled softly over the boy’s head, completely hiding his green eyes. The bridge of his nose tickled where the brim rested.

“Hmmm… So you’re the younger one. I remember all of you, of course. You’re quite like your father and your brother. What shall be done with you?

“You’re bright enough to go in Ravenclaw, but I think I won’t put you there. Learning isn’t your first passion.

“A strong sense of loyalty and fair play here… ah, that’s why you were afraid of where I might put you, isn’t it? You don’t like underhandedness and double dealing. Well, there’s very little of that in Hufflepuff. But somehow I don’t think your gifts would be best employed among the badgers.”

The boy thought, “Gifts?”

“Yes, child, you have many. You’re brave as any Gryffindor, certainly, but I believe your greatest gift is the one your grandmother had: to see the good in your friends, so that they can become what you see. Are you brave enough to let me put you where your gift is needed most?”

A tiny nod from the boy under the hat.

“Well then, remember that there’s nothing wrong with ambition if you choose your means and your goals rightly, and go help remake your namesake’s House. Go to SLYTHERIN!”

Albus Severus Potter scrambled down from the high wooden stool and went over to sit at his new House table, next to an obviously gobsmacked Scorpius Malfoy.

“Your father’s going to go off like a Blast-ended Skrewt when he finds out where you got Sorted, Potter!”

“Nah, Dad’ll be all right. He named me after Headmaster Snape, didn’t he? Hey, maybe I was supposed to be here in Slytherin! Do you know what my initials spell?”
***************************
We now return you to more edifying reflections.

This story has expanded from Helen’s original to include a first meeting on the train, in which Scorpius and Albus compare their different but comparable family miseries in a shadow of Harry and Ron’s first conversation. Rose Weasley, sorted after both Malfoy and Potter, chooses Slytherin House as Harry chose Gryffindor during their Sorting Hat experiences.

Could this have inspired the ‘Cursed Child’ script writing trio? Sure. But I guess it’s a fairly well choreographed next step from Harry’s conversation with Albus on the Hogwarts Express platform and one too many other fan fiction writers must have followed to claim any originality. Wasn’t one of the chief complaints about Cursed Child that it reads like fan fiction? Isn’t it still?