‘Full Circle’ Thoughts on the Narniad: LWW’s Ring Composition and Alchemy

I gave a series of seven talks at Oklahoma City’s Full Circle Bookstore on the subject of the artistry and meaning of C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Recordings are available as an ‘extra’ to anyone signing up for my Wizard Reading Formula course online (about which, ‘stay tuned’). To the delight of my inner Gilderoy last night, I found a review of the first class that was written by a student taking a public speaking course at a local college.

If C. S. Lewis or talks by the Hogwarts Professor in person are of any interest to you, that evaluation of my class content and delivery are after the jump. Feel free to let me know what you think of this student’s judgment and of the content he describes!

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Literary Alchemy

Literary Alchemy

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/alchemy-literature-alchemy-of-literature-literary-alchemy/ (2012)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/alchemy-jung-burckhart-or-mclean/ (2007)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/literary-alchemy-via-harry-potter-an-introduction/ (2013)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/mailbag-questions-about-literary-alchemy/ (2010)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/what-alchemy-does-in-harry-potter/ (2008)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/snape-as-vitriol-the-green-lion-alchemical-catalyst/ (2007)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/cv6-literary-alchemy-the-conjunction-of-sex-and-death/ (Casual Vacancy, 2013)

Crimes of Grindelwald Group Portrait: Is It a Meaningful Picture of the Story? (2018)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/crimes-of-grindelwald-the-salamander/ Crimes of Grindelwald, 2018)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/mailbag-do-you-have-to-see-the-alchemy-in-a-story-to-experience-it/ (2015)

Rowling Comments

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/rowling-confesses-desire-to-be-an-alchemist/ (2007)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/pottermore-j-k-rowling-discusses-alchemical-colors/ (2013)

Alchemy in Authors Other than Rowling

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/the-kappa-element-of-stories-michael-ward-planet-narnia-explains-narnias-father-christmas-and-the-importance-of-literary-alchemy/ (2007)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/rings-mirrors-and-the-alchemical-transcendence-of-ego-reflection-in-the-structure-of-lolita-and-harry-potter/ (2017)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/harry-potter-and-lolita-j-k-rowlings-relationship-with-vladimir-nabokov/ (2017)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/ben-jonsons-every-man-in-his-humor-a-meaningful-model-for-strike-stories/ (2018)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/guest-post-the-potter-and-the-pilgrim-alchemical-parallelism-in-geoffrey-chaucer-and-joanne-rowling-carol-eshleman/ (2013)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/mozarts-zauberflote-alchemical-text/ (2008)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/little-women-and-harry-potter-jo-rowling-is-jo-march/ (2011)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/was-shelleys-dr-frankenstein-an-alchemist-introducing-the-potter-as-pearl-harbor-thesis/ (2011)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/alchemy-ring-writing-doppelgangers-and-arabian-nights-the-artistry-and-meaning-of-mary-shelleys-frankenstein/ (2013)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/guest-post-portrait-of-the-achemist-as-a-young-man-joyce-as-literary-alchemist/ (2018)

Hunger Games

‘Unlocking Mockingjay: The Spiritual Allegory’ On Katniss as a Soul Seeking Perfection and Iconological Reading

‘Unlocking Mockingjay: ‘The Literary Alchemy’ On Literary Alchemy and Peeta as Postmodern Christ

‘Unlocking Mockingjay: Katniss’ Apotheosis’ On the Alchemical Arena and Katniss’ Perfection in the Inner Sanctuary

Guest Posts

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/guest-post-rowlings-mercurial-hermetic-artistry-from-snape-to-strike/ (Willis, 2018)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/guest-post-the-connection-of-ring-composition-and-literary-alchemy-in-the-layout-of-the-seven-book-harry-potter-series/ (Sprague, 2011)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/tinuvielas-alchemical-notes-flow-rubedo-more/ (2009)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/one-last-memory-a-godrics-hollow-mind-blower/ (Sipal, 2007)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/crimes-of-grindelwald-homunculus/ (Sipal, 2018)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/guest-post-portrait-of-the-achemist-as-a-young-man-joyce-as-literary-alchemist/ (2018)

Harry Potter (2007-2008)

Literary Alchemy in Deathly Hallows
–(A) Alchemy in Deathly Hallows
–(B) Jung, Burckhardt, or McLean?
–(C) The New Age Alchemy wing in Fandom
–(D) Alchemy and the Tarot
–(E) Dragon’s Blood and Wand Cores

The Dante Posts
— (A) Florence and Hermetic Artistry
— (B) Lily and Beatrice: Snape’s Green-Eyed Deliverance
— (C) The Epilogue’s White Rose

Q&A

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/chicago-maroon-interview-questions/ (2008)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/the-seven-keys-to-the-hogwarts-professor/ (2010)

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/literary-alchemy-and-the-hunger-games-three-podcasts/ (2013)

Lethal White: The Swan Symbolism

Even the relatively casual reader of Robert Galbraith’s fourth Cormoran Strike mystery, Lethal White, is struck by the imagery of the swans in this novel.

The story begins — its first words — at the Cunliffe wedding reception with a photographer trying to get a picture of the newlyweds that includes two swans in the pond behind them. The swans stubbornly refuse to come together, but, as soon as Robin rises to separate herself from Matt (with the intention of looking for Cormoran), they swim side by side. The clueless father of the groom observes, “You’d think the buggers were doing it on purpose” (p 3).

The story ends — its very last words — with “twin swans,” a return to the beginning as evident bracketing:

Head bowed against the rain, [Robin] had no attention left to spare for the magnificent mansion past which she was walking, its rain specked windows facing the great river, its front doors engraved with twin swans. (p 647)

Brad  Bellows told us, in a comment attached to Evan Willis’ post on the hermetic and mythological meaning of Lethal White, that “the paired swans Robin fails to notice in the final line, actually exist, on Swan House, built in 1876 by R.N. Shaw, overlooking the Thames.” Mr Willis in that post had suggested this might be Jonny Rokeby’s home in keeping with his theory that, per Leda and the Swan/Zeus mythology, that Strike’s mysterious paternity, the pairing of his super-groupie mother with the other-worldly rock-star, explains why Rokeby remains off-stage but ever-present. The myth holds that Leda has twins, two sets of twins actually, with two fathers for each set; Castor and Pollux are the off-spring of Leda with the swan who is Zeus and with the king of Sparta, her husband. Robin and Cormoran, great driver and former boxer, are the novel’s stand-in for Castor the horseman and Pollux the pugilist. [See the discussions of this mythology and the Strike mysteries in the Gray/Granger and Willis posts on the subject.]

While the predominant symbolism of the story is white horses, which occur so frequently that Strike remarks on it and Billy Knight laughs about it (pp 394, 496), white swans occur often enough, not only as the story’s framing brackets but in references to individual birds on signs (see Robin’s noting and overlooking the Swan pub sign on pp 56 and 166), that we are obliged to consider their meaning beyond markers of Leda mythology in which the books are set. Swans, as you might expect in a Rowling novel, have an alchemical meaning as well, one that we will explore after the jump.

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Literary Alchemy: The Pillar Post Project

I was invited out of the blue last week, as something of an afterthought it seems, by the editor of a book soon to be published on the subject of the literary alchemy in Harry Potter to make a contribution of some kind. It turns out the well-meaning editor had not read anything I’d written on the subject other than the chapters in Unlocking Harry Potter, written and published before Deathly Hallows was in hand.

This struck me as bizarre, frankly. I’ve written several books with chapters on literary alchemy since 2007, most notably Deathly Hallows Lectures, How Harry Cast His SpellHarry Potter’s Bookshelfand Spotlight: The Artistry and Meaning of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga (don’t sniff at that last, please, especially if you’re serious about hermetic writing in popular culture). Not to mention all I have written here on the subject in addition to the important alchemical Guest Posts we’ve published. 

This seemingly inexplicable ignorance on the part of a very smart person reminded me that I had been advised two years ago to create what are known as ‘Pillar Posts’ for the sidebar of HogwartsProfessor. The purpose of these posts on a weblog is to create easy access in one spot to the material on a specific topic of special interest that is otherwise just spread throughout the archives of a long-lived site in no particular order. If I am obliged to note, Gilderoy mask in place, that the editor of the upcoming book on alchemy and the Hogwarts Saga is at fault in not doing such work herself, I must take some part of the blame because I have too long neglected the duties of HogwartsProfessor weblog archivist.

I hope eventually to write a proper ‘Pillar Post’ for literary alchemy or at least an annotated version of the sorted link list that follows. I will try in the coming weeks, though, to put together similar Round-Ups for Ring Composition, Cormoran Strike, the Fantastic Beasts screenplays, Hunger Games, and other books we have discussed here at some length. Please let me know if there is a subject for which you would appreciate a one-click access to a cataloge of HogwartsProfessor posts made about it through the years and I will do my best to oblige you.

Below, then, a beginning on this Pillar Post project with a listing of Literary Alchemy posts on HogwartsProfessor.com. Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts, corrections and questions by clicking on ‘Leave a Comment’ up by the post header. [Read more…]

Crimes of Grindelwald: The Salamander

Here are three notes about the “salamander eyes” conversation in Crimes of Grindelwald and the literary alchemy of it. Believe it or not, I think Tina and Newt’s back-and-forth in the French Ministry’s Records Room amounts to something like a wedding proposal and her acceptance, an alchemical wedding of fire and water, the aquatic newt and the fiery salamander. First, we’ll review the conversation from the Original Screenplay (sic), then the mystery of Tina’s volunteering “Salamander” to finish Newt’s sentence about the quality of her eyes, and finally, the alchemical glyphs and cryptonyms involved! All after the jump —

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