On Critical Reception of Harry Potter and Twilight Part 5: Iconological Criticism and Best Sellers (A)

For Part 1 of this post, click here. for Part 2, click here, for part 3, click here, and for part 4, click here, or just scroll down the home page.

No, I haven’t finished the edits to Harry Potter’s Bookshelf: The Great Books Behind the Hogwarts Adventures. But I’m making good progress.

The whole point of Bookshelf is to introduce the context of English literature in which Harry Potter is written to give a better understanding of Ms. Rowling’s novels while at the same time using these books to introduce a range of English literature subjects and authors to Potter-philes who slept through their survey classes or majored in Engineering. As the Shared Text of our generation, Harry is uniquely and wonderfully qualified for this multi-didactic-tasking.

Bookshelf is organized, for example, in ten chapters that fall into four categories corresponding to the four levels of meaning acknowledged by iconological criticism (surface, moral, allegorical, and anagogical). Though it is a very short book relative to other things I’ve written and most of it is about authors and books “behind the Hogwarts Adventures,” it still serves as an introduction to what is a new way of thinking about books for most (especially, I’m afraid, if they majored in English) if only because of its layout. Today, I want to begin here, before jumping into an iconological look at what contemporary critics missed in both the Potter novels and the Twilight Saga, what I couldn’t do in Bookshelf, namely, give a longish account of why and how reading at four levels works, even when authors more than likely did not set out or resolve while editing to “write like Dante.” [Read more…]

Imitations of Immortality: Stony Hands and Dolls

In Harry Potter history, this month saw Ms. Rowling’s writing hands honored in Edinburgh (no reflection, I trust, on the heaviness of her prose (?) or the lack of height or majesty critics have found in her prose). And Twilight characters join the Hogwarts crew with their own set of action figures from the Tonner Doll Company. (H/T to David and Toni!)

I joked once that Pottermania was so widespread a phenomenon that Osama bin Laden probably had Hogwarts action figures under his pillow in whatever Pakistani cave he’s hiding in (not very funny, I know). Do any of you have one or more Harry Potter dolls or plans to buy the Tonner Twilight set?

Green Eyed Heroes and Heroines: The List

Real quick note today on a break from manuscript revisions. Here’s one more green eyed character for our collection of Dante’s Beatrice, Hodgson Burnett’s Little Princess, and Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: Thisbe’s late love in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 5, Scene 1, line 330… [Read more…]

Friday the Thirteenth: Manuscript Madness

Part 5 in the series on the remarkable similarities in how both Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga and Joanne Rowling’s Harry Potter novels have been reviewed will be posted Monday, if I finish the bibliography for and corrections to the final manuscript of Harry Potter’s Bookshelf: The Great Books Behind the Hogwarts Adventures for Penguin/Berkley this weekend. Wish me luck.

If you’re a Potter fan and are only just now discovering the Twilight books and Forks Fandom, I recommend that you check out the Potter parallel universe online with Bella, Edward, and Jacob standing in for Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Twilight Topsites is a good place to start! Of course there’s a Lexicon there…

On Critical Reception of Harry Potter and Twilight: “It’s Deja Vu All Over Again” (Part 4: Derivative)

For Part 1 of this post, click here. for Part 2, click here, for part 3, click here, or just scroll down the home page.

Good news and bad news today. The bad news is that neither of my cars was up to the trip to Connecticut this morning: no Jim Dale reading Goblet, no business lunch at Zossima Press, no conversation with Prof. Tumminio and the Eli Bulldogs about Christology and Harry Potter. Major downer. The only upside, besides not driving seven hours today, is I can forge ahead with the effort here in comparing the critical reception Ms. Rowling’s Hogwarts Adventures received with reviews of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga.

Today is my last note about critics per se before detailing in four steps what I think they missed in both series, namely, why readers love these stories as much as they do. I’ve touched on dismissals and criticism according to core genre and to Culture War transgressions in terms of both religious touchstones and political correctness. Today let’s look at how some readers have attempted to diminish the significance of Harry and Bella by suggesting they are not originals, i.e., that the value and importance of the books about their adventures are derived from other and better sources that inspired and influenced Ms. Rowling and Ms. Meyer. [Read more…]