Guest Post: Mad-Eye Moody — Allegorical Figure?

Mail Bag Annex this week: I just received a great letter that I think deserves its own thread. First, the writer says s/he loved my book. Second, s/he pointed out an obvious error in an argument I made in such a way that I could walk away from it without feeling I’d lost a limb. Third, s/he advances an argument I think is flawed but serious enough to deserve your attention and discussion. Letters from and meeting serious readers are the best part of Potter punditry; I look forward to reading your responses to this reader’s suggestion that Mad-Eye Moody is an allegorical stand-in for… well, you’ll have to read the letter yourself. I’ll post my response(s) in a few days. [Read more…]

Mail Bag: GB Shaw Hat Tip in ‘Deathly Hallows’?

It’s ‘answer the mail’ time here at Hogwarts Professor! Today, there is a letter with a question about a possible tip-of-the-hat in story to George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, the theory that Harry is a ‘mythic hero’ a la Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces, and some reviews of my books now online. [Read more…]

The Aeschylus Epigraph in ‘Deathly Hallows’

After last week’s epic post (‘epic’ in length rather than in value of subject matter, I have to think, because few readers were moved to respond!) on the William Penn epigraph, I promised myself I would tackle the Aeschylus piece from The Libation Bearers that precedes it. This will be relatively brief (!) but, I hope, thought provoking. Greek drama is a little more along my lines of thought and study than late seventeenth century aphorism and epigram collections, if not by much. [Read more…]

John’s End of Month Book Tour: Dates and Times!

What was going to be a quick trip to the Midwest to give a Keynote Talk at Searching for Platform 9 ¾: An Academic Harry Potter Conference, in DeKalb, Illinois (Northern Illinois University) has turned into a five day, five lecture mini-tour with my daughter Sarah (who will be visiting two or three schools to which she is applying for admissions). Searching for Platform 9 ¾ remains the ‘big show’ — Travis Prinzi will be there and David Gras, not to mention the Ball (the complete schedule to the conference is below) and that the ‘early bird’ price is still ‘the price’ — but, if you really cannot get out to DeKalb on Saturday, there are now downstate Illinois, eastern Iowa, and south and north side of Chicago options for you to hear me talk at the end of the month. [Read more…]

‘Deathly Hallows’ and Penn’s ‘Fruits of Solitude’

I hope you have been following the discussion in the separate post below of what constitutes Harry Potter canon. The topic is of no little importance to the work we do here at Hogwarts Professor, of course, but that thread is also an excellent example of what internet exchanges can lead to but rarely do. I think we have come to a point, after no little give and take, that we accept there are four ways to understand literary canon with respect to the Potter novels, four ways that overlap to one degree or another but which differ enough to be understood independently. That discussion is certainly not over and I encourage you to jump in on that thread if you disagree or have a quintessential position that will square the circle and resolve all the contrary thinking there.

Here I want to apply what understanding we have reached and make an explicitly “textus primus” argument for the fullest understanding of the William Penn epigraph that is part of Ms. Rowling’s opening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. [Read more…]