Stephen Fry Recordings of Harry Potter?

A letter in my inbox this morning:

Hi John, 

My husband and I listen routinely to Jim Dale’s reading of the HP series. I wanted to also listen to the English version read by Stephen Fry.

I clicked on a website about buying a set and it took me to an obvious dark web site that started downloading something on my computer and flashing multiple popups of porn content. An unpleasant experience and scary to boot. I am now spooked about searching for it.  My local library doesn’t have it.

Do you have a suggestion for a reliable site and a reasonable price?

Thought I would ask the guru of all things Harry Potter! Thank  you!

Kathleen

Great question, Kathleen, and one I really wish I had an easy answer to. The site you refer to is akin to the HPAudioBooks.club website, the first thing to pop up in a google search for ‘Harry Potter Stephen Fry.’ It offers you the audiobooks read by Fry for free — in exchange for access to your computer’s inner workings and all your data. Some deal!

It used to be that you couldn’t buy the Fry recordings in the United States because Bloomsbury did not have publishing rights here, Scholastic did (and does), and Scholastic published the Jim Dale recordings. This agreement held over into the Audible versions available via Pottermore. End of story unless you purchased the Fry books through Amazon.co.uk as CDs and paid the trans-atlantic shipping fee (still an option if you’re willing to sign up for a UK Amazon membership). Which was tough for families that routinely listen to Dale while driving on long trips or fans who work out while tuned in to Harry’s adventures.

It seems, though, that this barrier has been relaxed, albeit at a price. The complete Stephen Fry readings of the seven Harry Potter novels can be had via Amazon for ~$275, more than 100 CDs at more than $350 off the list price. That’s no bargain if you don’t like CDs and if you’ve purchased the Audible audiobooks as read by Jim Dale for $15 each, the whole set instantly downloaded for just over $100 (and plenty of us are doing just that; 7 of the top 11 fiction books this week at Amazon.com are the PotterMore print and audio editions of Harry Potter).

Nota bene: I don’t know if that Fry ‘Complete Set’ will be available for long. It is listed as a ‘paperback’ which seems a dodge on the Amazon system controls to keep the Bloomsbury audiobooks off the American market. If you want a set and don’t live close to the Canadian border (the Fry recordings can be bought anywhere in Canada… Travis Prinzi raves on Fry’s recordings over Dale’s — he lives in Rochester, NY, so getting them did not require even a long drive for him), you may want to make the purchase promptly.

I’m no expert in this sort of thing so I open the floor to the HogPro All-Pros and whatever suggestions they may have for Kathleen and her desire to buy some Stephen Fry audiobooks. Do you know of any deals Kathleen can use to get copies of the Fry audiobooks?

Two quick Stephen Fry notes: (1) The “he pocketed it” story and (2) it was Fry who took Rowling to ‘Pratt’s Club’ in London where Cormoran Strike meets Jasper Chiswell (and Pratt’s is not happy about it?).

Mailbag: Dumbledore a Manipulator?

I have spoken at an Augustana College retreat for students in Pastor Richard Priggie’s ‘Soul of Harry Potter’ class every Spring for the last nine years. Held at the remarkable Stronghold Castle in Oregon, Illinois, this retreat and my part in explaining the artistry and meaning of literary alchemy and ring composition there have been annual highlights for me and my family (especially my youngest sons).

I offer, in the Q&A session I do every year at the dinner after my last talk, help to the students with their end of term papers. The deal is, if they’ll write me their questions via email, I’ll send answers they can use, agree or disagree, in their arguments. I got this one last week:

Hello Mr. Granger, I am not sure if you remember me but I was on the Harry Potter retreat with Pastor Priggie. I am currently finishing up my final paper for the class and I have a topic I thought you might enjoy shedding some light on. The topic I picked for the paper is “Professor Dumbledore is a wise and compassionate mentor who guides Harry even from beyond the grave/ Professor Dumbledore is a flawed character who deceives and manipulates Harry in order to meet his own ends.” I decided to argue the side of Dumbledore being a manipulator as I feel Dumbledore used Harry for personal gain in much of the 5th and 6th books, as well as in Snape’s memory that Harry sees of Dumbledore in the Pensieve. So with that being said, I would love to know any opinions or examples you can give on the topic of Dumbledore being a manipulator. Thank you!

My off the top of my head answer — seven examples — was: [Read more…]

‘An Absolutely Remarkable Thing’

A dear friend – and a Harvard PhD whose works on ‘how literature works’ inform my PhD thesis – wrote me yesterday to say I had to read Hank Green’s An Absolutely Remarkable Thing because it is “right up your alley” and “You are the one to interpret it!” I bought the book online and read it off my computer screen last night and this morning. I am writing a short review here — a break from Crimes of Grindelwald and Lethal White! — to recommend you read it, too, and that you think your way past the hard parts to consider its allegorical message about art (hence the title acronym), about the political and technological landscape in which we live, and about the agony of escaping the errors of our age for communion with transcendent reality.

After the jump I will write a brief synopsis of the wonderfully page-turning story (without spoiling it!), my thoughts about its meaning, and why reading it, when more than a few times in my case I persisted only with gritted teeth and eyeballs rolling, taught me something important about the difficulty the Harry Haters experienced in seeing the Christian content of the Hogwarts Saga.

[Read more…]

A Cratylic Cormoran Strike Fan Theory: Is Robin Doomed? The Dobby Link

From the mailbag!

Dear John,

My name is Joseph A and I have been reading and enjoying your books thoroughly since I found The Hidden Key to Harry Potter way back in 2003. Your books have certainly given me a new set of eyes to scan J.K. Rowling’s text.

In light of J.K. Rowling’s apology for killing Dobby yesterday I want to share a concern that I have.

I was researching Robin’s surname Ellacott and came across this:

Ellacott is prominent in Devon, Cornwall, and Wiltshire, is of Anglo-Saxon and Cornish origin.This placename is composed of the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name “Ella”, a short form of various compound names with the first element “aelf”, elf, and the Olde English “cot, cote”, a cottage, shelter for animals. Read more. 

Is it reasonable to interpret Robin’s name as Elf House or House Elf?

In the Galbraith books Cornwall is referenced in connection to Cormoran (The Cornish Giant) and Robin through her surname. Cornwall is only is used once in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; Shell Cottage is located on the outskirts of Tinworth, Cornwall and is the final resting place of Dobby. What could this be pointing to?

In fear for Robin’s safety,
Joseph A

Great letter, Joseph! Three quick thoughts to jump start the conversation here: [Read more…]

Austen and Rowling: On the Virtue of Penetration in Life and Reading

In 2010 I wrote in response to Prof Baird’-Hardy’s third brilliant post on Jane Eyre that:

AustenDickens and Austen frequently discuss (through preferred characters) the virtue of “penetration,” i.e., seeing the ‘inside bigger than the outside’ of others, their virtues or vices which constitute character or the lack of it, rather than focusing on the surface. Georgian and Victorian writers, to include Bronte, understood that they were “instructing while delighting,” and instructive most especially in the virtue of “penetration.” Readers were exercising their powers of inner heart reflection and recognition as they entered into and experienced the lives of what were principally minor gentry and aristocrats. This is “manners and morals” fiction at its best.

Katy asks six years later:

Hi! This is so fascinating. I know I am years too late, but a hail Mary pass just in case: John, do you have a source for Austen and/or Dickens discussing the virtues of “penetration”? Where do they mention seeing “the inside bigger than the outside”? Thanks so much!

Austen EmmaI do not have a source “for Austen and/or Dickens discussing the virtues of ‘penetration,” alas. It is something that I have noticed in almost every book by these authors, however; they use the word and illustrate it as a virtue to cultivate and admire (and as a quality whose absence marks the stupid, dull, or wicked).

Take for example, Austen’s Emma, the book J. K. Rowling claims to have read twenty times in succession before writing Philosopher’s Stone, one assumes to get a grip on the narrative voice she adopts in Stone (third person limited omniscient) to set up the “biggest twist in English literature” at which she said “all authors aim” to best. Emma is loaded with examples of and references to the virtue of penetration.

I’d go so far as to claim, in fact, that the principal virtue in Austen’s Emma is this quality of ‘penetration,’ a mental vision that sees beneath the surface of individuals and their actions to see her character. I found on a recent re-reading seven instances of some form of the word in the book with several other passages in which the quality is described with other terms (cf., especially Emma’s discussion with Mr. Knightley about her feelings for Frank Churchill before Knightley’s proposal in which she chides herself for not seeing through him: “yet it may not be the more excusable in one who sets up as I do for Understanding;” Vol. 3, ch. 13). [Read more…]