New Reading, Writing, Rowling Podcast: Oxford University’s Beatrice Groves ‘Literary Allusion in Harry Potter’

The latest podcast on MuggleNet’s ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ series is out — and it’s a ‘wow’!

From the description on the page with the downloadable program:

In this episode, hosts Katy McDaniel (Marietta College) and John Granger talk with Oxford University Research Fellow Beatrice Groves about her new book, Literary Allusion in Harry Potter.

Rowling’s works are filled with references, some obvious, some oblique, to other literary works. Groves’ book explores the allusions throughout the Harry Potter novels, to everything from Petrarch to Shakespeare, Austen, Tennyson, and even Monty Python. As a specialist in Renaissance English literature, Groves guides us through these references so that we can understand how Rowling wants us to read and how she converses with other texts of the Western literary canon.

Join John, Katy, and Professor Groves as they discuss Rowling’s practice of “Cratylic naming” (“Dumbledore,” “Argus Filch,” the “House of Gaunt,” and more!), her links to Chaucer and Shakespeare, and her allusion to Austen’s gothic stylings in Northanger Abbey (connected by that tricky vanishing cabinet), among many other references. Groves shows us that for Rowling books are, like the ones in Hogwarts’ library’s restricted  section, literally whispering to us, and we should be listening.

It was great fun speaking with Dr Groves and the conversation was both challenging and informative. Check it out and let me know what you think! And buy the book — you won’t regret it.

Weekly Vlog: Embedded Misdirection

Did you know that J. K. Rowling’s ‘voice choice’ for her Harry Potter novels is such an important part of her artistry that she embeds narrative misdirection in the plot lines of each and every book, i.e., that characters are experiencing the same kind of twist in struggling with the texts and narratives they encounter that we are as readers?

BBC1 Strike: The Silkworm Episode 1

BBC1 Cuckoo’s Calling: First Thoughts

Five Notes with Spoilers after a first viewing of the BBC1 adaptations of Robert Galbraith’s Cuckoo’s Calling:

(a) Rowling made two big mistakes in the first Cormoran Strike novel which she cleans up in the adaptation for the little screen. The two great Flints of the first mystery were the CCTV film gaffe about the two men running together away from the scene and the murderer keeping Rochelle’s mobile phone. Her superstar editor should have been fired for those two mistakes; she fixes it for the BBC1 audience. Whether the change is canonical or not given the many differences in the two stories will be the subject of later conversation.

(b) She ‘cleans up’ the outrageously gay Guy Some character, who is a comic caricature akin in degree to Fagin the Jew in the published original, but at least if no longer overtly gay he is still black on teevee. The deadly Shanker, in contrast, becomes something like an IRA bomber-elf in appearance — a well trimmed auburn beard? — rather than a gangly London street thug [“Tattoos covered his wrist, knucles, and neck,” “gaunt and pale, his head was shaven, a few freckles were scattered across a broad nose and his mouth was wide and thick-lipped,” Career, p. 126]. Shanker doesn’t appear in person until Career in the books and is well worth the wait. Mixed race and a walking human example of spontaneous combustion, he answers to no law or principle beyond his advantage and visceral loyalties. This guy? He’s short enough next to Burke’s already diminutive Strike to qualify as a leprechaun side-kick and looks nothing like Shanker as described in Career.

(c) I may have missed it but they don’t seem to have ever shared with the teevee audience that John Bristow visited Lula’s apartment the day of the murder. Learning that critical information only at the reveal breaks one of the ironclad rules that Rowling always highlights about giving the reader/audience a fair chance (what we’re told, by Bristow, is that he was home watching movies with mum the night of the murder, his alibi, and she does not contradict him). That they cut out Strike’s “bat shit insane” line in the office finale and his recitation of Tennyson’s Ulysses in hospital were also major disappointments. [Ah, Bristow does mention in his first meeting with Strike that he saw Lula the morning of her death. I’ll have to check to see if he says it was in her penthouse home…] [Read more…]

BBC1 Strike: Cuckoo’s Calling Eps 2 & 3 Silkworm Trailer and Opening Minutes

Episode One Can be Viewed Here.

My first thoughts on the Cuckoo’s Calling adaptation are posted here.

Posted on YouTube by a BBC1 viewer in Iraq. View them while they last.

‘Silkworm’ trailer and opening minutes of that adaptation can be found after the jump.

[Read more…]