Stuart Little, Harry Potter, and Allegorical Satire

I missed The Lion and the Mouse: The battle that reshaped children’s literature (Jill Lepore July 21, 2008) when it ran this summer in The New Yorker but I recommend it to you for two reasons: [Read more…]

Name the Famous English Woman Writer!

• She is a best-selling author of children’s stories who has sold over 400 million books, some say as many as 600 million books.

• Children when polled as recently as 2008 chose her as their favorite author (Costas Book Awards).

• Though famous for writing boarding school stories, she was never a boarding or public school student herself. But she was chosen as “Head Girl” of the school she did attend.

• After school, she was a teacher, had a failed marriage, but remarried with custody of the first marriage’s offspring.

• Her best books are about the adventures a group of children have, stories that involve a mystery, boarding school life, or a magical event or ability. All of them have a firm moral or Christian message.

• She had a problematic relationship with her father; her mother was no longer part of her life after she left home.

• She developed a unique way of communicating with her readers without newspaper or media intermediaries.

• Despite the Christian element in stories, implicit or explicit, she was not religious in a devotional way, but remained a member of the Church of England.

• Her books set records for number of translations (more than 90 foreign languages) and are famous and beloved by children and adults around the world, especially India, Japan, and Germany.

• The girl hero in her best-selling adventures is a swotty tom-boy the author admitted was modeled after herself.

Two ‘Deathly Hallows Lectures’ Reviews

One in the US, another in the UK. I hope, if you are a Deathly Hallows Lectures reader, that you, too, will write and post your thoughts at the book’s Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com pages. [Read more…]

Guest Post: Anamnesis elements in Harry Potter

A guest post sent to me by Dr. Patrick Fodor of John Woods Community College in Quincy, Illinois, whom I met at my talk there last month. It’s not for the faint of heart or for anyone not familiar with sacramental Christianity but it rewards attentive reading. Thank you, Dr. Fodor! [Read more…]

A Rowling Thank You: “Entering Literary Worlds”

I received a letter this morning from the 17 year old webmaster of a Potter fan web site in Argentina (Redflu.com). He attached a letter from Ms. Rowling in response to one of his own, a letter which apologized for taking so long to respond and which closed this way:

“We do not enter literary worlds; they enter us, so I hope very much that Harry’s world will be with you forever, as it will be with me. I shall always treasure the readers who were generous enough to share their feelings with me in the way that you have, and I thank you, again, for taking the trouble to write.”

No doubt a sincere sentiment. What I found worthy of note, of course, was her almost throw-away observation about “literary worlds.” She reverses the conventional understanding of reader-entering-text to assert that world-enters-reader. I think this is worthy of attention for understanding her books rather than just “understanding what Ms. Rowling thinks” (the ever swelling celebrity focus within Potter studies, alas) for three reasons: [Read more…]