Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #27: The Bloomsbury Chat

After the disappointment of the Nightline/TODAY interviews, Ms. Rowling’s Bloomsbury Chat was a lot of fun. There was quite a bit of interesting material here mixed in with fan questions about ‘shipping and “whatever happened to…” despised and beloved characters. Please do go to Accio Quotes and read the whole thing, if you haven’t already. Thank you again to Lisa and the house-elves at Accio Quotes for the wonderful and speedy work they do!

Here were my five favorite points from this Chat and some quick, bracketed notes for your comments and correction:

#1: King’s Cross
Elisabeth: In the chapter of King’s Cross, are they behind the Veil or in some world between the real world and the Veil?
J.K. Rowling: You can make up your own mind on this, but I think that Harry entered a kind of limbo between life and death….

Katie B: Why was Kings Cross the place Harry went to when he died?
J.K. Rowling: For many reasons. The name works rather well, and it has been established in the books as the gateway between two worlds, and Harry would associate it with moving on between two worlds (don’t forget that it is Harry’s image we see, not necessarily what is really there)….

Jon: Since Voldemort was afraid of death, did he choose to be a ghost? If so, where does he haunt or is this not possible due to his Horcruxes?
J.K. Rowling: No, he is not a ghost. He is forced to exist in the stunted form we witnessed in King’s Cross.

[Ms. Rowling is not offering a dogmatic position about the soul’s passage after death, though “Limbo” is a destination in Catholic cosmology. She is, however, insistent that there is a life after death for the soul and consequences for those not prepared for that life. In this, she seems to be pointing to the Patristic position that all souls go to the same “place” at death but their experience in that non-local destination is a reflection of their preparedness in this life.]

#2 Unforgivable Curses
Barbara: I was very disappointed to see Harry use crucio and seem to enjoy it; his failure to perform that kind of curse in the past has been a credit to his character. Why the change, and did Harry later regret having enjoyed deliberately causing pain?
J.K. Rowling: Harry is not, and never has been, a saint. Like Snape, he is flawed and mortal. Harry’s faults are primarily anger and occasional arrogance. On this occasion, he is very angry and acts accordingly. He is also in an extreme situation, and attempting to defend somebody very good against a violent and murderous opponent.

[Ms. Rowling said there were 120,000 questions submitted for this chat. Interesting that she chose to address this concern, which has been the subject of discussion at many sites, including this one.]

#3: Literary Allusions
Jessie: Were the Deathly Hallows based on any real world myth or faerie tale?
J.K. Rowling: Perhaps ‘the Pardoner’s Tale’, by Chaucer.

Smallbutpowerful: On behalf of all Harry Potter fans who consider themselves to be Hufflepuffs, could you please describe the Hufflepuff common room as it is the only common room harry hasn’t visited?
J.K. Rowling: The Hufflepuff common room is accessed through a portrait near the kitchens, as I am sure you have deduced. Sorry – I should say ‘painting’ rather than portrait, because it is a still-life. It is a very cosy and welcoming place, as dissimilar as possible from Snape’s dungeon. Lots of yellow hangings, and fat armchairs, and little underground tunnels leading to the dormitories, all of which have perfectly round doors, like barrel tops.

[Let’s consider that an invitation to discuss some Chaucer and Tolkien! Hallows and the Pardoner’s Tale? Hufflepuffs and Hobbits living at BagEnd?]

#4: The Forest Again
Kristy: What was your favorite scene to write in deathly hallows?
J.K. Rowling: Chapter 34: The Forest Again.

[She has said that finishing this chapter caused her to weep. In light of her asides about “Struggling to Believe” in the Nightline talk, what if anything could be made of her tears at writing Harry’s sacrificial death and his Via Dolorosa into the forest in the presence of Lily, James, John (Remus John Lupin), and his God-father. Dante, anyone? Gibson’s Passion? Relief at finally reaching the goal of the series after 17 years?]

#5: Sinatra!
J.K. Rowling: I like this question, so I’ll take it for my last.
Tess: What muggle song do you imagine would be played at Dumbledore’s funeral?
J.K. Rowling: Surely ‘I did it my way’ by Frank Sinatra.

[Okay, I chuckled. But is she talking about Dumbledore here or the satisfaction she feels at her successful negotiation of all the trials of Potter-Mania? She certainly took a road less traveled and made her way heroically through the controversy with story-line and family intact.]

As always, I look forward to your comments and corrections. Please number your responses with respect to the five comments I made or say whatever you like about the Bloomsbury Chat.

Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #28: Opening and Closing Chapters

Every Harry Potter adventure from Stone to Prince opened in such a way that the ending was heavily foreshadowed in the beginning, a classical “joining-of-the-circle” formula. Go back and count the references to telescopes in Prince‘s first chapters and how Harry leaning on the window resembles Dumbledore at the base of the Astronomy Tower if you think I’m making this up.

We’ve started discussion about how Deathly Hallows is the completion and vibrant echo of events and themes in Philosopher’s Stone. Let’s talk here about the first three chapters of Hallows and how they prepare us for Harry’s struggles throughout the year and his eventual triumph.

Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #29: Arthuriana

Philosopher’s Stone was laden with references to the legends of King Arthur, from Harry’s life in secret as a Muggle, unaware of his heritage and the protection of a Merlin-esque wizard to specific plot points (remember the King and his crown on McGonagall’s chess board?). As we reached the story’s conclusion, Ms. Rowling seemed to reach deeper into Arthur lore for Harry’s heroic quest — corny word? nah –with Harry falling in love with Ginevra and the Graille elements of Harry’s Horcrux search and fascination with the three Deathly Hallows.

Travis Prinzi, as usual, is right on this over at Sword of Gryffindor; what are your thoughts on the Arthuriana in Deathly Hallows and the series as a whole? Ms. Rowling uses the alchemy to advance both her traditional and postmodern themes and concerns; how do the Arthurian backdrops and set-pieces, not to mention the names and story points reinforce what she has to say about love’s victory over death? Prejudice? Choice?

Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #30: Best Links

This is the last Deathly Hallows HogPro Discussion Point I’ll be posting before Prophecy 2007, so, lest HogPro All-Pros go spare looking for the latest and greatest commentary on these books, please send in links to sites not on my BlogRoll that HogPro readers may have missed. I know I am not alone in wanting to read A. S. Byatt’s, Lev Grossman’s, Harold Bloom’s, and Michael O’Brien’s take on the series finale; after Mr. Abanes’ fitting retirement from the field (I’m not reading the book — couldn’t be less interested…) and Ms. Mallory’s departure from litigation, can Brjit Kjos be far behind?

More seriously, I am eager to read the Red Hen’s thoughts and Professor Mum’s and Linda McCabe’s and Janet Batchler’s. Did I mention Travis Prinzi? So even though these Potter mavens are on my BlogRoll, I hope folks will send in anything they add to their sites. HogPro can act as something like the Floo Network, then, for better reading and discussion of Deathly Hallows this way, at least for a little while.

Thank you again for all your wonderful contributions to the site! I have a hard time believing how many other sites reference this one (and I only know of the ones that actually link to HogPro) as the source of their material and thinking about Deathly Hallows.

Deathly Hallows Twenty Discussion Points: Round Two (with Five New Questions!)

The discussion here this past week has been nothing short of spectacular! Though I have been pre-occupied with family business (we’re moving!), a new job, and taking notes for my two Prophecy 2007 talks next week, I have tried to check in to HogPro five or six times a day to put up all your insightful posts and send back the two or three that had to be re-written to take off an unnecessary edge. I hope you agree with me that HogPro threads have been the One-Stop site for challenging exchanges about the literary background and the meaning of Deathly Hallows (if I have checked in at Sword of Gryffindor every day to keep up with Mr. Prinzi’s reflections, too). As the site moderator and too-infrequent contributor since P-Day, I can only say “thank you very much” for all you have shared at HogPro.

In thanks and to spur further discussion while I’m packing the moving van today, I have come up with five new Deathly Hallows Discussion Points for your comments and consideration. Enjoy!

21. Philosopher Stone Echoes
22. Comparative Battle Scenes
23. Smuggling the Gospel Fallout
24. Three Controversial Points
25. John Granger at Prophecy 2007 and in Deathly Hallows?!

The First Set:

1. The Covers
2. The Opening Quotations from Aeschylus and Penn
3. The Christian Ending
4. Stoppered Death
5. Narrative Misdirection
6. The Hero’s Journey
7. The Rubedo
8. Postmodern Themes
9. Traditional Symbolism
10. Beheadings
11. Unrequited Love
12. Horcrux Hunting
13. Ron’s Departure and Return
14. Transformations
15. Nazi Echoes
16. The Name Taboo
17. Phallic Phantasy?
18. Fairy Tales
19. The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
20. Disappointed?

Again, “Point, click, wax loquacious!”