‘Open Book Tour’ Quick Quotes: What do you think?

From Madame Pince’s always timely and professional Accio Quotes, some snips of the first media reports about Ms. Rowling’s Open Book Tour for HogPro All-Pro comments. Anything substantial here, just another celebrity event, or important because an author’s book tour is a celebrity event? Did MTV cover Philip Pullman’s latest book signing?

Oct 15 2007 8:11 PM EDT
‘Harry Potter’ Author J.K. Rowling Meets With L.A. Students, Plots Her Next Move
‘I want to fall in love with something the way I fell in love with Harry,’ she says of future writing plans.

By Shawn Adler

Although she invited questions about the books, most of the early student questions had to do with Rowling herself, with the schoolchildren all curious about what most inspired her growing up, what parts of her life were reflected in the novels, and whether she always had such a vast imagination.

But like in the novels themselves, it was the great question of Severus Snape that brought down the house. A wide grin across her face, Rowling said she delighted in the fact that, even after “Deathly Hallows,” there was still some speculation as to the true leanings of the erstwhile Potions Master.

“Snape is vindictive, he’s cruel. He’s not a big man,” she insisted. “But he loves. I like him, but I’d also like to slap him hard.”

Earlier, Rowling said she was particularly pleased with how Snape’s story played out throughout the course of the series, contrasting his character arc with that of Dumbledore.

“Although [Dumbledore] seems to be so benign for six books, he’s quite a Machiavellian figure, really. He’s been pulling a lot of strings. Harry has been his puppet,” she explained. “When Snape says to Dumbledore [toward the end of ‘Hallows’], ‘We’ve been protecting [Harry] so he could die at the right moment’ — I don’t think in book one you would have ever envisioned a moment where your sympathy would be with Snape rather than Dumbledore.”

Rowling struck a conversational tone during the Q&A session, with quick asides for loud audience reactions (never louder than when she mentioned Lupin and Tonks, two casualties of book seven — their names elicited a deafening “Awww” from the collected readers). When one girl came up to the microphone holding a plush Hedwig doll, Rowling thanked her for bringing the owl back to life, expressing shock that after “Deathly Hallows” was released, most early commenters were upset she killed Harry’s pet. “And I murdered a human in the first chapter!” she laughed.

J.K. Rowling brings magic touch to U.S.
The Harry Potter author makes a rare stateside visit before 1,600 students at the Kodak Theatre.
By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Indeed, she was relaxed and open at the news conference, talking about the role of religion in her books — “Like Graham Greene,” she said, “my faith is that my faith will return” — and noting that, although she was “always writing,” she felt like she was on vacation because “for the first time in 10 years, I don’t have a deadline.”

When someone asked how a reported Harry Potter encyclopedia was going, Rowling simply laughed. “It’s not coming along,” she said, “and I haven’t started writing it. I never said it was the next thing I’d do.”

That question — and Rowling’s answer — suggests the challenges she faces, now that the Potter series is done. Asked what genre she might want to work in next, she replied: “I don’t really think like that. Really, it’ll be a case of what comes to me.”

Later, from the stage, she referred to that exchange in answering a question from a student, suggesting that writing doesn’t work in such a manner, that it isn’t so logical, that we don’t choose our stories so much as they choose us. “I want to fall in love with something,” she told the assembled students, “in the way I fell in love with the idea of Harry before I write anything else.”….

When a student asked who had inspired her as a girl, Rowling admitted that no one in her family had thought becoming a writer was a sensible thing to do. “Ironic, really,” she murmured, to the appreciative laughter of the crowd.

And then, she touched again on the importance of teachers, who encouraged her when no one else had. “Good English teachers,” she insisted, “are worth their weight in gold.”

David L. Ulin is book editor of The Times.

J.K Rowling launches U.S. book tour with mass signing

By Jill Serjeant

…..Despite widespread praise from teachers and parents for boosting interest in reading in children, the Harry Potter books have regularly been banned by schools and libraries in parts of the United States and Britain because of their focus on wizardry.

But Rowling said she was in good company with other acclaimed writers. “I take my inclusion on the banned book list as a massive compliment.”

Rowling gives rare U.S. reading amid shrieking students in L.A.
The Associated Press

….When inevitably asked what she might be writing next, Rowling said only that it would not be another supernatural epic.

“I think probably I’ve done my fantasy,” she said. “I think because Harry’s world was so large and detailed and I’ve known it so well and I’ve lived in it for 17 years, it would be incredibly difficult to go out and create another world.”

Comments

  1. JohnABaptist says

    In the above article, Lady Joanne answers a specific question about her religious beliefs:

    “Indeed, she was relaxed and open at the news conference, talking about the role of religion in her books — “Like Graham Greene,” she said, “my faith is that my faith will return” ”

    Having learned that Ms. Rowling the teacher is inseparable from Lady Rowling the author, I did what all students are supposed to do and looked up what Mr. Greene actually said, which while absolutely true to the spirit of the quick quip she gives us, is actually much deeper and more pointed. He said:

    “If you have abandoned one faith, do not abandon all faith. There is always an alternative to the faith we lose. Or is it the same faith under another mask?”
    Graham Greene

    Even a cursory review of Mr. Greene’s extremely troubled life reveals that whatever faiths he lost, whatever alternatives he turned to, what ever masks he perceived, they were all clearly within the Catholic Christian tradition. Having read too much of Lady Rowling to believe she is a person of no faith, I see another of her clever avoidances of the specific issues, preferring that her readers seek their own beliefs out of personal commitment, rather than copying hers out of hero worship.

  2. Arabella Figg says

    Oooh, lots to mull over here. So just some quick points:

    1. I liked her comment about her faith. It seems very in keeping with what we’ve discussed about faith in DH. AND, she’s talking about her faith!!

    2. Very cool comment about the Snape/Dumbledore arcs. Validation on the “Machiavellian” aspect. Who would have guessed during all the Machiavellian discussions before DH that it was Dumbldore who was the puppet-master? Kudos to whoever brought up the Machiavelli thing.

    3. Her comments about Snape as a person. Bingo. But she likes him, in spite of it–yes! Snape’s redemption was his love of someone representing purity and holiness and she affirms it.

    4. Touching about the stuffed Hedwig toy. IHer surprise about commentators being more upset about this than an unknown adult (Charity Burbage) is a little jarring. Kids have loved Hedwig for six books; they never knew Charity. Adults understand that human life is more important than animal; children mourn what they know. I was struck with sadness at Hedwig’s death and the manner of it–I even gasped when it happened and cried, “oh no!” So I’m a kid at heart, sue me.

    5. Yes, she’s certainly in good company on the banned lists.

    6. Hooray for her praise for English teachers, those much-maligned keepers of the grammatical and literary flame!

    Now, if only the kitties could speak English, life would be easier…

  3. JAB on another HogPro thread had this to add about the Machiavelli-Dumbledore connection:

    The quote was in the MTV interview John has posted here: http://hogwartsprofessor.com/?p=194#more-194

    In the interview, Lady Rowling specifically brings up the conversation where Snape accuses Dumbledore near the end of DH:

    “Although [Dumbledore] seems to be so benign for six books, he’s quite a Machiavellian figure, really. He’s been pulling a lot of strings. Harry has been his puppet,” she explained. “When Snape says to Dumbledore [toward the end of ‘Hallows’], ‘We’ve been protecting [Harry] so he could die at the right moment’ — I don’t think in book one you would have ever envisioned a moment where your sympathy would be with Snape rather than Dumbledore.”

    While I don’t agree with all of the Philosophy of Machiavelli, I must admit that Dumbledore is a case in point of Machiavelli’s precept that the Morality of a Ruler or Commander must of necessity be different than that of common men.

    Dumbledore has precisely protected Harry so that Harry might die at the appointed hour. Any common man that “fattened his son for the slaughter” would rightfully be labeled a hideous monster, yet we read in Holy Scripture:

    John 18:11:”Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” [KJV]

    Jesus baldly states that His death warrant was signed by the Father, and by no one else.

    Jesus knew that His Father’s will was that He suffer a terrible death. Knew that this Holy Will was adamant in spite of all these pleas:

    “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Luke 22:42 KJV

    “And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” Mark 14:26 KJV

    “38Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
    39And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Matthew 26 KJV

    So what was the moral thing for our Heavenly Father to do? As a Christian, I personally thank Him for staying the course for it resulted in the redemption of my own personal soul.

    But as a father myself, I do not see how I could ever have done that, even in a situation where the death of my first born would save the life of all my other children…I fear I would have descended into a state of moral paralysis from which I could not have freed myself–and that would be very immoral.

    So yes, Dumbledore, like God, was Machiavellian, that is to say both Dumbledore, the symbol, and God, the signified, followed a different morality than that of common men. But it was not an IMmorality, rather it was the morality of one given charge over many who can not spare the favorite at the expense of all the others.

    The problem with Machiavellianism, and the concept of the “Greater Good” is that it is a slippery slope. It becomes all too easy to slip into the broad immoralities that fill much of Machiavelli’s detailed discussions and advices to the princes of the world. This was Dumbledore’s fear regarding the “Greater Good” concept.

    Or so I read it.

  4. On Rowling’s previous “Struggle to Believe” Comments before and after Deathly Hallows:

    http://hogwartsprofessor.com/?p=144
    http://hogwartsprofessor.com/?p=160

    On the Machiavellian character of Severus Snape and Ms. Rowling’s love of Renaissance Florence:

    http://hogwartsprofessor.com/?p=61
    http://hogwartsprofessor.com/?p=60 (Sally Palmer)

    Ms. Rowling is reiterating her position that Deathly Hallows and the series in general is much about choice and, specifically, the choice to believe.

    She wants to make clear that “the big twist” she had said was the aim of all writers (to supplant the reigning twist champion, Austen’s Emma) was Dumbledore being revealed as the Machiavelli character rather than the affable Headmaster he seemed in the first four books. She got me! I assumed that someone else was playing Albus in Half-Blood Prince because the character was so different than the Albus we “knew” rather than consider that Harry’s ideas about Dumbledore were wrong. She has to re-emphasize this twist, I’m afraid, because Dumbledore’s humility and apology to Harry in King’s Cross obscures the real-politik of the plotting before his death on the Tower. Even Harry doesn’t get this at King’s Cross…

    So, though Ms. Rowling wasn’t asked much of substance in the twelve questions the adoring crowd gave her in LA (in pre-selected questions, i.e., she answered exactly what she wanted), she did point to the center of meaning in the last book and its most important plot element. No small things!

  5. Arabella Figg says

    I’m not sure, John, that I agree with your statement above: “Dumbledore’s humility and apology to Harry in King’s Cross obscures the real-politik of the plotting before his death on the Tower. Even Harry doesn’t get this at King’s Cross…”

    I think Harry did get this, that he “got it” through Snape’s memory of his confrontation with Dumbledore in the Headmaster’s office.

    Here’s my theory, half-baked though it may be:

    Because the afterlife, or this afterlife “waystation” of KC, is outside human time, DD knew Harry would defeat LV if he returned to fight him, because DD knew the hideous infant was the last fragment of LV’s soul. This is why DD kept deflecting Harry’s attention away from the infant, so that Harry wouldn’t catch on, and would make his decision as a free choice, not knowing the outcome. Although I can’t help but suspect that Harry did somehow begin to catch on (having memories LV’s infant form from GoF), shown by his growing indifference to the infant. I feel this is part of what gave Harry such confidence at the final showdown.

    Now knowing fully of DD’s machinations and hindering flaws, i.e. using the ring horcrux, failures leading to Sirius’ death, etc., Harry, with the consequences of his own bitter failures and temptations (including the Dobby’s example/death), forgives and restores unity with DD in every way at King’s Cross, that true junction of forgiveness, with mature empathy and support.

    However, Ms. Rowling may have felt she needed to reemphasize this to kids.

    Kitties don’t forgive anything, but they forget with a good ear-scratch…

  6. I would have cared about the human she killed in the first chapter, if I had known who the heck she was. I never even heard her name before. I’m not saying that I knew the owl, but after a fashion, I suppose I did.

    But YES! I’ve been saying for ages Dumbledore was Machiavellian. That’s one of the few things she’s said in an interview that I liked hearing.

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