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.

 

Sobering Statistics About Readers Today

This is a web site for ‘Serious Readers.’ We are, it seems, an endangered species or anachronism (can you say “Dinosaur”?). Claire Belinski in ‘Is America Doomed, Part III‘ cited GoodeReader.com’s ‘Reading Books Is In Decline‘ for the following figures:

33% of high school graduates never read another book the rest of their lives and 42% of college grads never read another book after college. 70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years and 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.

Ouch. Do you find these statistics believable? Why or why not?

Five more statistic-laden articles about reading in the US and beyond can found after the jump, to include one that notes the effect of the Harry Potter book releases on children’s book sales in any given year. [Read more…]

Rowling Lives! One Young World Forum

J. K. Rowling appeared at the One Young World Forum in London on 24 October to speak as a representative of Lumos, her primary charitable focus, which works to place institutionalized children into families and in homes rather than orphanages. The focus of her remarks to the panel on which she sat as one guest among four was the danger and harm done by well-intentioned but naive “volun-tourists.”

Lumos released a video against “orphanage tourism and volunteering,” activities they describe as ‘Helping Not Helping.’

Read more about the event and Rowling’s remarks at SnitchSeeker.com, from which the videos above were taken, and at JKRowling.com in her announcement. The full text of her comments can be read at TIME.com (hat tip, Rowling Library!).Her next scheduled public appearance will be in New York on 12 December when she will be one of four political leftists “dedicated to advancing social change” who will be given a Robert Kennedy ‘Ripple of Hope’ Award.

More after the jump. [Read more…]

Fantastic Beasts Theme Park On Its Way

Universal has announced that is building a new theme park in Orlando, Florida, on a seven and a half acre property several miles from their current site featuring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The new park will include several new features, the most interesting to Potter-philes being a Fantastic Beasts section. The ground has been graded and prepared already so the owners hope to break ground later this year and open the new park in 2023. Read all about the plans, schedule, and property at OrlandoParkStop.com.

I admit to being surprised at this move but this only speaks to my naivete. If I had given it any thought (and of course I haven’t), I would have realized the success or failure of a film franchise is not the only factor in consideration for their adaptation as a theme park, perhaps it is not even a major or critical factor. For evidence of that, review the movies and television programs featured at various Universal Studios. Fantastic Beasts may not be a blockbuster franchise a la Harry Potter but it is doing well enough to be recognizable as a title and the precedent of Wizarding World success makes it a natural.

I doubt, though, that it will ever achieve the kind of pilgrimage status that Wizarding World’s Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley have. The Beast movies lack the imaginative experience in depth that the Potter books inspired. As excited as any fan may be about Newt Scamander’s adventures and the revelations of Credence’s history against the back-drop of the Dumbledore-Grindelwald blood pact, it just isn’t in the same league of engagement and wonder as Harry’s battles with the Dark Lord.

Your thoughts? 

Thanks to Kelly for sharing the news about this new park.

Requiescat in Pace, Harold Bloom

Photo by Wood

Harold Bloom, perhaps the most well-known and prodigiously published literary critic of the 20th century, died last week at age 89 in New Haven, Connecticut. A Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University since 1983, Bloom will be remembered for his books Anxiety of Influence, The Western Canon, and Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. He had a near-to-eidetic memory which when combined with his decades of reading and study means we are unlikely to see his type again; Bloom’s memorized knowledge of Shakespeare, Spenser, and Blake and his championing of the Greats of literature in a world grown hostile to the lettered legacy of dead white men are beyond the imagining of academics today. The hundreds of critical essay anthologies he edited for Chelsea House alone guarantee his work appears in the bibliographies of most every postgraduate paper written in the US and UK.

For a sense of the greatness of the man and of his foibles, consult the obituaries printed in The Guardian, The New York Timesand The New Yorker.

Three notes at Bloom’s passing after the jump: [Read more…]