Harry Potter as “Shared Text”: Books and Meaning that will Define a Generation?

George MacDonald Poetry Book: Author Interviewed Live on Radio Today!

Check this out.

Hugo Weasley: Dickensian Cryptonym Time

Warner Brothers Preparing Eighth Harry Potter Novel? Egad, a Prequel…

Read it and weep, friends. Publishers Weekly reports that the Hollywood money mavens with the rights to exploit the sub-creation have fought clear of their leash:

The Lexicon suit is not the only Potter buzz of the week, either. An Australian site is reporting that a new Web site—”harry potter book 8 secret test marketing”—is counting down the days to a project called James Potter and the Hall of Elder’s Crossing, rumored to be an eighth Harry Potter novel. Warner Bros., whom many believe is behind the Web site, has neither confirmed nor denied involvement with the rumored project, but a studio spokesperson offered this comment on the site: “Many fans believe that James Potter and the Hall of Elder’s Crossing may be the eighth book of the series—but written by someone other than author J.K. Rowling.”

Perhaps someone can explain to me the bright side of this news. I cannot see the silver lining on this looming dark cloud.

The Epilogue’s “All Was Well”: Context, Themes, and a Possible Literary Reference

A not uncommon reaction from serious readers who have tackled Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader and its chapters on literary alchemy has been, “Where can I read more about this?” or “What other authors can I read that write like this beside Ms. Rowling?” I met Travis Prinzi in his pre-Sword of Gryffindor days through this very question (and I can now refer readers to his web site’s essays on the subject as an excellent resource). My usual response is “Read C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy.” The alchemy is right on the surface (I think), it works in ways very much like what Ms. Rowling attempts, and the books can be found in every decent sized bookstore or library. Not to mention that Christian readers won’t think they’re visiting the dark side if they are reading St. Clive-Staples (St. Jack?); the three novels are very edifying as well as being great stories.

Lewis’ pre-Narnia fantasies are the perfect place to learn more about alchemical artistry in English literature, consequently, but there are other very good starting points. Shakespeare is the touchstone for the whole thing, of course; his plays are so stuffed with Hermetic references and meaning that it is hard to get through any of his plays without having to review Tillyard’s Elizabethan World Picture before, during, and after to keep track of the hierarchical and alchemical points that make Shakespeare the greatest. For readers who don’t care for either Shakespeare (and they are legion; supposedly J. R. R. Tolkien thought the Bard over-rated) or for Lewis, there is Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, which was, I suspect, his attempt at writing a Shakespearean historical and alchemical drama in the form of a novel. Poe, Mary Shelley, Hawthorne, and MacDonald, too, have a hermetic streak in their gothic work. Most Charles William’s novels, I am told, also have alchemical imagery and meaning; the standing joke about That Hideous Strength is that it is “a Charles Williams novel as written by C. S. Lewis.”

If this is true, I suspect it is because of Lewis and Williams’ love of poetry and, specifically, the poetry of the so-called Medieval and Renaissance periods. Poetry, from Shakespeare and the Metaphysical poets to Blake and Eliot, is the natural home of literary alchemy and the amber in which its magic has been preserved. Which brings us finally to the subject of this post: the question about the meaning of the last words in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: “All was Well.” “Why did Ms. Rowling end her 4100 page novel with those three words?”

I suspect she chose them because the thought completes the work of the Epilogue, because it ties together several themes and artistic threads, and because it echoes the ending of a famous piece of poetry that Ms. Rowling might want the reader to link with her efforts in the Harry Potter books. And, yes, I think it comes back to the alchemy. [Read more…]