Well worth the Repeat Business: Dr. James Thomas’s Return Foray to Rowling’s Wizarding World

In his classic An Experiment in Criticism, C.S. Lewis posited that one of the criteria by which a book might be judged “good” was its ability to hold up and produce new insights under multiple readings. For example, the mystery novel that is never touched again once one knows “whodunnit” is not good literature, while the “old friend” one reads again and again (as Lewis did Jane Austen’s novels, apparently annually) are worthy of attention, regardless of their status as “literature” by other tests. Pepperdine University professor and HogPro pal James Thomas has proven again that the Hogwarts adventures, along with their three ancillary texts, count as “good literature” by this standard, with Rowling Revisited: Return Trips to Harry, Fantastic Beasts, Quidditch, and Beedle the Bard (Zossima, 2010). If you haven’t taken a ramble with this delightful volume, you should, and if you have already, then perhaps a repeat trip to this book is in order before Hollywood destroys, um, I mean, adapts, one of the books covered!
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What is Harry Potter canon?

We’ve discussed it here and on Mugglenet Academia, but a local Children’s Lit student is trying to do some research on it.  Please help her out by filling out a 1-question survey and passing the link on to other Potterphiles.  Many thanks!

Tolkien Estate and the Movies: Why We Should Care

Let’s be clear, there is no love lost between the Estate of J. R. R. Tolkien and the movie making empire that created the three LOTR films and, more recently, The Hobbit. For one, they are at legal nail, tooth, and tongs. More to the point of this post, though, the Estate considers the movies to be trash and a great betrayal of the written work, the artistry, epic, and meaning they are supposed to represent in a different medium.

You can read the interview with Christopher Tolkien in which he makes these points — and it is worth a close study, I think. Here is the highlight I think especially important:

Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? “They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25,” Christopher says regretfully. “And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.”

This divorce has been systematically driven by the logic of Hollywood. “Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time,” Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. “The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.”

Three quick notes:

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Virginia is for Wizards

I attended the inaugural meeting tonight: a new Harry Potter fandom organization in Virginia.  Organizers were back from Misti-Con and very enthusiastic.  The hope is to have a couple of events per month and a trivia night is already scheduled.

Any Virginia HogPro readers who are interested should check out the MeetUp and/or Facebook pages.

Hold on to your Quaffles–Competitive Quidditch is Getting Serious

In 2005, I had the great pleasure of presenting at the Witching Hour in Salem, MA. It was my first national Harry Potter Conference. I loved the sessions I attended, though I was quite baffled by one item on the program: Quidditch. How, I thought, can they play Quidditch without flying? I was really interested in seeing this spectacle, and sorely disappointed when torrential rain cancelled the outdoor events. Since then, I have been delighted to see Quidditch played at other events, including Infinitus and Leaky-Con 2011. This wonderful, wacky, wizarding sport has grown beyond being a convention conversation piece, and the International Quidditch Association is seeking greater recognition, regulation, and revenue. Check out this great article on the growing legitimacy of Quidditch, and then share your Quidditch thoughts! Do you play or watch? Or, like me, do you just explain any injury you may be sporting as the result of a rough Quidditch match?
H/t to James and my college colleague John (who was asking today if I could hide my broom and wand in my graduation regalia).