Jude Law Tapped for Young Dumbledore, Adding to his List of Literary Incarnations

Last week, the news emerged that the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, scheduled to start filming this summer, would feature a young Albus DumbledImage result for jude lawore, and that he would be portrayed by Jude Law. As with any casting decision these days, there has been controversy (honestly, uproar from readers prompted the Hunger Games movie people to re-cast a cat), but Law is actually a good choice for a couple of reasons, including his impressive resume of bringing to life on the screen characters we have already met on the page.

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Guest Post: Why No ‘Cormoran Mania’?

COEFans, Noir, and the Question of Violence: Speculations about the Popularity of J.K. Rowling’s Detective Fiction — A Guest Post by ChrisC!

With the impending release of Lethal White, the next volume in J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike Mysteries, an old question occurred to me.  Has there been any uptick in enthusiasm from her fanbase?  Maybe I don’t pay enough attention, however I still don’t know whether the series has yet to pick up steam.

I hope the series does pick up notice.  It’d be a mistake for her fans to neglect what so far has proven to be a more or less fine-tuned storytelling machine.  At the same time, it is possible to take a few educated guesses at just why the series might be held back from total popularity.  It can even be argued what elements of the books themselves might keep it from a wider appeal.  I bring the topic of the books’ reception up because I think that if the response to Cormoran Strike should ever turn out to be more guarded than that given to the Potter series, then it helps to understand the reasons why longtime fans might turn out to have a surprising amount of ambivalence with regard to the latest fictional exploits of their favorite author.

With that in mind, after the jump, you’ll find a list of aspects about the series, Jo Rowling’s fans, and what a potential clash between the two could mean for the series’ prospects. [Read more…]

Guest Post: Bloodsport in Harry Potter & The Hunger Games (P. Wayne Stauffer)

f39083302A Guest Post from P. Wayne Stauffer! Enjoy!

Spanning centuries, sport competitions likely arose initially as preparation to repel invasion or assault by lawless groups/individuals or as a survival strategy; the idea being to stay in a continual state of physical and mental readiness to repel those who would attack to destroy life and property. They also likely involved elements of competition for prizes when not a part of military defense or conquest, the spoils of conquest being another form of prize.

It is significant to distinguish between physical competitions as good-natured challenges for the sake of competition and those that function as rehearsal for the purposes of injuring, disabling, maiming, or killing the opponents in preparation for military combat or aggression against others. Curbing or sublimating aggressive tendencies would be the goal of the former, while unleashing them would be the goal of the latter.

f38696422In addition to the more obvious physical and mental conditioning these “games” provide, the gradual shift in thinking in society as a whole towards acceptance of increasingly aggressive and brutal action is also important to consider. Some wonder if fiction like the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games trilogy take us further into accepting violence or aggressive behavior.  

The common meaning of “bloodsport” involves shedding blood and/or killing an animal or person. The objective of the encounter is to make the opponent bleed or die. Many sporting activities may have a side effect of spilled blood or physical injury as a part of the game (being hit in the face by a basketball and getting a bloody nose), wherein bloodsport competitions include an intent to shed the opponent’s blood as part of the strategy (punching a boxing opponent in the face and spilling blood can obscure his vision and impair his ability). However, competitions for the purpose of killing an opponent remain illegal in most modern, civilized societies.

Such “games” have been played for millennia, so a look at some can give us perspective. [Read more…]

The Hymn of the Resurrection: Orthodox Hymnography and Ring Composition?

Resurrection Service, Jerusalem

Resurrection Service, Jerusalem

Christos Anesti! I am just home from a weekend of Paschal services and celebrations at the St Matthew the Evangelist Orthodox Mission in Jonesboro, Arkansas, a trip my family has made the last three years, and I pray the recovery from the joy and glad tidings experienced there takes, well, forever. I hope that your holiday weekend was equally edifying and enriching.

I was offline for the duration and had eight hours of driving to think each way. One of the things I thought to post here is an update to something I wrote in 2012 about a part of Orthodox Christian celebration of Pascha (‘Easter’ in the West) and ring composition or chiasmus. I thought of it, not only because of my current research but because of a conversation I had with a monk after Agape Vespers yesterday about how stories ‘work’ and how story-tellers remember epic poetry.

The work I’m doing on my PhD thesis is in large part about ‘Ring Composition’ which is the fictional shadow of Biblical and Patristic chiasmus. Mary Douglas, the noted anthropologist, wrote a book on this, Thinking in Circles, which, with Fr John Breck’s The Shape of Biblical Language: Chiasmus in the Scriptures and BeyondLund’s book on chiasmus in the New Testament and Welch’s books on chiasmus in antiquity, has been my introduction and guide on the subject. As we’ve been exploring here for some time, it seems the science fiction fantasy novels of C. S. Lewis and Charles Williams may be ‘rings’ of parallel analogies as are the most recent blockbusters Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games.

Once a reader puts on these glasses and learns to recognize chiasmus, of course, it’s hard not to imagine it everywhere. The seven days after Pascha are known as Bright Week and traditional Christians celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection by chanting the Paschal Hours through that time. One of the prayers sung again and again is ‘The Hymn of the Resurrection’ that is first chanted during the services for Pascha and then throughout Paschaltide. I believe it to be a Ring or chiasmus composition, and, below, I chart it for your review with some notes on the ring nature of Christian soteriology and some brief thoughts, guesses really, about why this is so.

I think it has a great deal to do with why this story scaffolding has the power it does, why, as Douglas argues, it is the universal story form. It is, of course, an explicitly Christian argument and not directly related to discussion of popular fiction, so I urge those not interested in that sort of discussion to not enter into it. We’ll return to our regular programming tomorrow with some thoughts on the Cursed Child Olivier Awards sweep in London and the question of the evident ability of Potter Mania to leap cross-media, page to screen to stage!  [Read more…]

That Easter Moment: Eucatastrophe in the new Beauty and the Beast

beauty-and-the-beast-2017Disney’s new live-action adaptation of the classic animated musical Beauty and the Beast has a lot of people talking. Actually, it has me singing. As a young teen in 1991, I had the musical memorized. As I sat in the cinema this past March at age 40, I had to keep one hand over my mouth to keep from belting out lines like, “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere…” and “I use antlers in all of my decorating!” It’s now been weeks since I saw the new movie, yet Beauty and the Beast earworms remain. (She writes, muttering, “…don’t believe me? Ask the dishes!”)

So it has us talking and singing. And why not? There’s lots to talk (and sing) about. The new film makes some significant adjustments to 1991’s script and story: new songs, updated lyrics, additional backstory. The changes do more than simply re-heat and re-serve an animated classic. Beauty and the Beast 2017 spins the “tale as old as time” for a modern audience. Three changes interest me the most, the third in a timely way. [Read more…]