Lethal White vs Crimes of Grindelwald

Three quick notes on the Grand Canyon-esque chasm separating Potter fandom interest in Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike novels and J. K. Rowling’s collaborative contributions to Warner Brothers’ Fantastic Beasts film franchise:

(1) Rowling re-tweeted a new contest for an autographed copy of Lethal White on her twitter feed to 14.4 million followers. One thousand of those followers ‘liked’ the idea. She re-tweeted a fan art contest for Fantastic Beasts and five times as many liked that idea, a contest with no prize other than being exhibited. Contact with The Presence and an heirloom book, essentially zero interest and five times the interest for Show-and-tell online? Bizarre. The Robert Galbraith twitter feed has 62.3K followers and CormoranStrike, a StrikeFans twitterer, has less than 7k. FantasticBeasts? 452K.

(2) Serious readers get that Cormoran Strike is not only unadulterated Rowling at her best but in many ways a continuation and commentary on Harry Potter. Constance Grady at Vox goes so far as to call the series a “Grown Ups Harry Potter.” The pathetic online sales for Lethal White, even allowing for Amazon’s tiff with Hatchette Group, the publisher of the Strike series, reflect that this is not at all the opinion of Rowling’s gazillion Wizarding World fans, most of whom seem to be unaware that Robert Galbraith is a Rowling pseudonym.

(3) Check out the YouTube video below about the second Crimes of Grindelwald trailer. After watching it, ask yourself: “What if this kind of frenetic interpretative energy and attention to every detail were focused on Cormoran Strike and the possibilities of what will happen in Lethal White and subsequent novels in that series?” I think that my individual efforts at unlocking Galbraith’s larger story are significant; I know that if Potter fandom were to actually read and join in the speculative adventures of Cormoran Strike, however, that ‘Heroin Dark Lord’ would only be one among several challenging theories.

My tentative conclusion?

Strike remains the biggest secret in the Rowling universe. It is the neglected step-child of global Cursed Child productions, anything Crimes of Grindelwald, and even of Wizarding World theme parks news.
And I doubt the release of Lethal White will change much, frankly.

The engorgement charm size of Strike 4, how much its plot depends on the first three books, and reader’s continued distraction with other Rowling projects means that it will sell less well than Career or Silkworm even after the BBC1 promo shot in the arm.

How many reviewers, for example, after the three year lag between Strikes 3 and 4, do you think will be able to get what is going on in Lethal White in terms of the back story? If Rokeby and Charlotte appear, what will that mean to readers who haven’t been looking forward to that since Cuckoo?

Not much, I’m guessing. I look forward to reading your more optimistic view – and any ideas you have about the Mystery of the Invisible Famous Author!

Box 2703: A Pointer to Alchemy in ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’ Plot?

We’re in the last days of our countdown to the publication of Strike 4, Lethal White, but I wanted to take a break today to point out something that may have been neglected in the online fine-tooth-combing of everything Crimes of Grindelwald. More on Lethal White in the days ahead, believe me!

There are a flood of ancillary texts (that’s ‘knock off books’) whose authors and publishers hope to catch a ride on the tsunami of publicity and promotions sure to attend the release of the second Fantastic Beasts film this November. The designers of the film’s special effects are surfing this wave, too, of course. Today’s post is a closer look at the cover of MinaLima’s The Archive of Magic: The Film Wizardry of The Crimes of Grindelwald (Harper Design).

The book is not selling very well at present in pre-release: it’s #419,506 on Amazon at this writing; a book I wrote in 2008, just for comparison, is at #327,906. At $50 for a 160 page book, maybe Archive is meant only as a collector’s item or last minute desperation gift for the Potter-phile who has everything. But there’s something in everything MinaLima does that’s worth noting. Here it’s the only thing you can see.

Note that the cover of the MinaLima book on the filming of ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’ features Box 2703 from the movie. We have this still of Tina and Newt just in front of that box. Between the cover and the still, I think it safe to assume the box holds something important.

My guess is that it has something to do with Nicholas Flamel. Three reasons after the jump! [Read more…]

Guest Post: Crimes of Grindelwald, Locks of Love, and Nicolas Flamel

A Guest Post from Oxford’s Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potterabout the lock with Nicolas Flamel’s initials that can be found on the Crimes of Grindelwald screenplay cover. Enjoy!

When MinaLima’s new cover art for The Crimes of Grindelwald dropped on Pottermore at the end of May, the write-up stressed the Parisian nature of its design.

Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima spoke to Pottermore about the creative process behind the heavily detailed cover, and how important it was to portray France in their designs.

‘The Art Nouveau aesthetic is so strong in this film… So while there are Easter eggs and hidden gems in here, they’re all knitted in with these swirls and flourishes that really follow that traditional aesthetic.[1]

Paris is going to be an important setting for Crimes of Grindelwald – and the Eiffel Tower (central to the cover design) has been shown on a postcard in a previous photo drop. But I was interested how strongly Paris was stressed in the Pottermore write-up of the cover given that other than the Eiffel Tower and general Art Nouveau aesthetic, there is nothing else obviously Parisian about it. So, is there a Parisian Easter egg perhaps?

            Five objects stand out as breaking the symmetry of the image – the Dark Mark-style skull at the top, the quill-knot-lock above the title, and the trio of a pendant, a stone in a display case and a ‘NF’ locket below it. Let’s take a look at that stone and locket for a possible Paris connection.

[Read more…]

Fairies and Wizards? A Midsummer Night’s Dream and What We Might Expect from The Crimes of Grindelwald

In my Muggle professor job, I love teaching some of the greats of literature. One of my favorites, for my own enjoyment and for sharing with my class, is Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream | William Shakespearemodel comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In addition to literary depth, symbolism, themes, and plenty of laughs, the Bard’s romp through the fairy-haunted forest also offers my students some great connections with other texts, including popular ones they enjoy, like J.K. Rowling’s stories of the Wizarding World. With the second film in the Fantastic Beasts series galloping into theaters this November, it’s a good time to check out some of the connections this story already shares with MND and to make some guesses about what we might see in The Crimes of Grindelwald that will echo the adventures of some really bad actors, two pairs of hapless lovers, and a few aristocrats, when the mortal world intersects with some quarrelling fey and their minions. Follow me after the jump for some thoughts and possible predictions! [Read more…]

Guest Post: The Meaning of ‘Scamander’

From long-time friend of this blog, Lancelot Schaubert, a big find! Newt’s last name is taken from classical Greek mythology and may point to the number of his coming confrontations with Grindelwald and how the magizoologist may eventually help Dumbledore defeat him. Enjoy!

Newt Scamander, Xanthos, and Achilles

My bride and I started a new book club with our neighbors in Brooklyn called Western Canonball (iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher) where we read through classic literature that’s either new to us or that we read so long ago we’ve forgotten most of it. This brought me across Hesiod’s Theogony for the first time and a new encounter with The Illiad where the name Scamander – as in Newt Scamander – emerged.

Scamander in Greek mythology went by the name Xanthos: a river God. The gods called him Xanthos and men called him Scamander and in the triadic system, that seems to indicate that Xanthos is the consciousness, the god, behind the river and that Scamander is the manifestation, both the man in the Trojan war and the river that flows from Mount Ida straight over the plain that lies before Troy and then it merges as a tributary of the Hellespont. We’ll come back to the river in a minute, but let’s focus on Scamander the man:

The latter part of Scamander’s name comes from the greek word andros like St. Andrew which means “of a man” or “manly” or the thing that comes from manfulness, “courage.” But the first part “scam” doesn’t come from some word for a con man, but rather from either skadzo which means “to limp or stumble” or from the Greek skaios meaning “left-handed” or “awkward.” A limping man or an awkward man is precisely what Newt Scamander is. [Read more…]