BBC1 Strike: Cuckoo’s Calling Episode 1

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Weekly Vlog 9: Rowling Mystery

Guest Post: Epilogue Day Thoughts

A Few Thoughts About Epilogue Day from David Martin

This Friday, September first, 2017, is Epilogue Day.  It is the day when the final chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows takes place.  In the book that chapter is called “Epilogue   Nineteen Years Later” and no year is specified, just the date of September first.  However, we know that the battle of Hogwarts and the death of Voldemort – as described in chapter 36 (“The Flaw in the Plan”) – took place in June, 1998, so it’s easy enough to add nineteen years to that.

 The epilogue shows us Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny as they put their children on the Hogwarts Express.  We catch a glimpse of Draco Malfoy and his family, we hear Percy’s voice, and we’re told a bit about Victoire and Teddy Lupin.  This chapter reminds me of the end of Dickens’ Bleak House where we readers are given a seven-years-later update on the status of the various characters in that novel.

 But this epilogue does something more than that.  It brings the story full circle, with the sending off of the next generation.  The “building” of the bildungsroman is complete – for Harry and his generation.  Harry came of age with his seventeenth birthday back in chapter seven of Deathly Hallows, but now our characters are fully adult and married with children of their own.  In a way, chapter 36 ended the main story of Deathly Hallows, with the defeat of Voldemort.  This epilogue ends the whole seven-book series.  In terms of Rowling’s circle patterns, this chapter pairs well with the first chapter of the series way back in Philosopher’s Stone: The Boy Who Lived.  That boy, who was a baby in that first chapter, is still living, and he is now a man.  We have gone from the Dursley’s “perfectly normal, thank you very much” to Harry’s “All was well.” 

 The reasons for that “All was well” interest me.  Ask people to imagine what the world will be like in the future.  They often come up with visions of amazing progress: intelligent machines, instant language learning by swallowing a pill, flying cars (without the aid of magic), etc.  Rowling’s vision in this epilogue seems to be quite different.  “All was well” not because there has been great progress, but because there has been a great restoration of the way things should be.

 This restoration began in chapter 36.  Voldemort, the great disrupter of the way things should be, was defeated.  After his death “the news (was) now creeping in from every quarter as the morning drew on; that the Imperiused up and down the country had come back to themselves, that Death Eaters were fleeing or else being captured, that the innocent of Azkaban were being released at that very moment, and that Kingsley Shacklebolt had been named temporary Minister of Magic. . . .” (Deathly Hallows, 744-745)  Later two of the three hallows are dealt with so that they will not bring any more disruption.  Harry’s holly and phoenix wand is restored to him.

 At King’s Cross in the epilogue, the Hogwarts Express looks just the same.  Certain realities of life stay the same from one generation to the next.  But platform nine and three-fourths is covered in mist and steam.  That’s the way the future always looks.  We know that our children will grow up.  We know that they will leave home (on their own versions of the Hogwarts Express.)  But neither we nor they (nor Professor Trelawney) can see the details.  We can only re-assure them that they will get to make choices and that (at least some of the time) the Sorting Hat will take their choices into account.

BBC1 ‘Strike’ News Releases, Reviews Rowling Talks about Mystery Genre

The broadcasting of the BBC1 adaptation of Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling the past two nights with the finale this weekend has resulted in a flurry of press coverage to include a revealing interview with J. K. Rowling, the author reality behind the ‘Galbraith’ pseudonym.

For a positive review of the series’ first episodes, click here for Episode 1 and here for Episode 2. For a reviewer who has not read the book trying to figure out whodunnit (and unknowingly sharing with us who have read the books but cannot watch the teevee shows the points of departure from the original), click here for Episode 1 and here for Episode 2.

We have confrmation from the Leaky Cauldron that the Robert-Galbraith.com website we’ve been discussing the last two days (see here and here) is in fact “new.” [It claims there are “a couple of hidden links;” I found one under the Career of Evil script but it only went to the teevee page link that could be found on the page header.] There are old links, as I pointed out yesterday, some going back two years, and the copy of Every Man in His Humour may not be a pointer to Lethal White (it is quoted five times in the Silkworm chapter epigraphs). But that chart of a business chain of command with Robin as PA to a CEO with a scandalous past is certainly fresh.

A new thought. Could this be the Personal Assistant position Robin turned down in Cuckoo’s Calling to stay on at Strike’s? In his send-off to her then he said he imagined her working for a rich CEO in a swank office. Perhaps she refuses to go back to being his junior partner (or he won’t have her back after her decisions at the end of Career counter his direction which led him to fire her). No doubt, if this is the case, she will become involved with a murder case at the office and do her best to solve it on her own — or maybe with the black woman police officer we met in Career whom Rowling has said plays a larger role in Lethal White.

As interesting as all that may be, the treasure of the publicity releases was an interview with the BBC, clearly staged (the film clips from it released yesterday had full noir production effects, everything but green screen CGI and dry ice smoke, about as spontaneous and off the cuff as Japanese tea ceremony). Nonetheless, Rowling said some things that were of immediate interest to her more serious readers.

Most notably, she talked about her relationship with the “rules of the detective mystery genre: [Read more…]

Ben Jonson’s ‘Every Man In His Humor’ A Meaningful Model for Strike Stories?

Two notes from informed readers on yesterday’s post that mentioned the placement of the cover of Ben Jonson’s Every Man In His Humour on the Robert-Galbraith.com home page:

Trinity College, Oxford University, Research Fellow and Lecturer in Renaissance Literature Beatrice Groves texts from her vacation spot —

“I am excited by the hint that Jonson’s Every Man in his Humour might be the source of the chapter epigraphs/be relevant to the plot for Lethal White. It’s one of my favourite Jonson plays (after the big three – The Alchemist, Volpone and Bartholomew Fair) and it made Jonson’s name in the 1590s as the author of ‘humours’ comedy – i.e. comedy where each person is strongly identified with a particular humour – the physiological make-up that they believed strongly influenced your personality (and which still exists in modern English with ‘sanguine’ for example – someone with a predominance of blood, has a happy/hopeful outlook). “

My son Zossima, 17 today, notes, though, that dad was probably mistaken in assuming that the book cover, like the notebook drawing, was about Lethal White.  He thinks that the book cover may have been been placed on the website years ago, not as a pointer to things to come but to things in a previous book. He’s right; Every Man In His Humour is quoted as a chapter epigraph no less than five times in The Silkworm: chapters 7 (p 35), 14 (101), 18 (137), 28 (237), and 42 (375). Jonson’s Epicene is quoted before chapters 22 (p 164) and 25 (198).

So, either it’s arbitrary, i.e., Every Man’s cover could have been the cover of Thomas Dekker’s The Noble Spanish Soldier (quoted as The Silkworm‘s frontispiece epigraph) but they didn’t have a copy at hand, or it’s not a pointer to Lethal White but to Silkworm, or it’s a strong suggestion to the discerning reader that we’re missing the “humoural comedy” embedded in the work of which Silkworm is only a part, and that’s why Rowling quotes from Every Man so freely in Silkworm, though that second mystery is all about Jacobean Revenge Dramas — and Every Man In His Humour is not one of those.

This last possibility, the one of “humoural comedy” raised implicitly in Prof Groves’ note, is the one that interests me. [Read more…]