Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #25: John Granger in Toronto — and a DH Hat Tip?!

I am moving my whole famn damily to our new home in Fogelsville (wonderfully, an old jarhead friend from DLI has materialized to help; gotta love the magical friendships made in the Green Gun Club…) while starting a new job and trying to get to my two Deathly Hallows talks for Prophecy 2007 next Saturday. Yes, I’m a little distracted.

And did I mention that there is a lot more interest in my “Christian Content of Deathly Hallows” talk then there was before 21 July? The Prophecy programmers months ago made the Alchemical report card my “Featured Presentation” and put the “Christian talk” early in the morning, first thing Saturday. I expect there will be a much bigger crowd for that than the Rubedo update.

The talk subjects?

Harry’s Victory over Death: The Christian Content of “Deathly Hallows” – Presentation
John Granger
Saturday, August 4, 9:00 a.m.-9:50 a.m. – Osgoode Ballroom (East & West)

For several years, Christian objections to Harry Potter were “*the* Controversy.” John Granger helped slay that dragon. His Looking for God in Harry Potter, by approaching the books as literature and explaining how the books could only have been written by a Christian within a Christian literary tradition made the idea that the books were demonic hard to take seriously. Granger’s discussions of the themes, resurrection motifs, and specific images of Christ (the phoenix, unicorn, Philosopher’s Stone, white stag, griffin, etc.) Ms. Rowling uses has made it clear that she is what she says she is, namely, a Christian artist. She told an interviewer in 2000 that her faith would be evident to any reader after the seventh book. Join the entertaining authority on Rowling as a Christian author in his lively discussion of the *Deathly Hallows*’s Christian content and the similarities and differences between Rowling, Lewis, and Tolkien.

The Alchemical End-Game: The Rubedo in “Deathly Hallows”
John Granger
Saturday August 4th – 2:00 PM to 2:50 PM – Grand Ballroom West

Ms. Rowling has said that her study of alchemy set the magical parameters and internal logic of her Harry Potter novels. John Granger, author of Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader, is the leading authority on Literary Alchemy in Fandom. He has explained at how *Phoenix* and * Prince* were each a step in the alchemical work and featured images, themes, and the death of a character with a name specific to that stage. *Hallows*, consequently, is expected to be the final, red stage or Rubedo, complete with the Alchemical Wedding, the resolution of contraries, and perhaps even the death of the red character or characters (Rubeus, Rufus, and the Weasleys.). Granger’s talk on Alchemy at Nimbus 2003 was chosen “Best Presentation” of the 65 talks and panels in Orlando. His talk on the alchemical meaning of *Deathly Hallows* promises to be at least as good.

I am also moderating the Friday luncheon panel with many of my favorite University professor friends that are Potter Mavens. Given the quality of thinking in that group, I will be taking a lot of notes to share with you here…

My ten minutes of Warholian fame ended last weekend with the Deathly Hallows publication. It was gratifying, frankly, to see that Ms. Rowling delivered on the prediction she made in 2000 that our questions about her faith would be answered in the last book of the series. I have received a few notes from friends in the UK and the US congratulating me on having “gotten this right” so long ago and having insisted on it when the ideas of Ms. Rowling being a Christian writer and of her work being worthy of literary examination and exegesis were both considered silly. Stratford Caldecott’s brief note written immediately after reading Hallows was especially kind.

I’m afraid Toronto must be anti-climax after reading Hallows and receiving these notes. Those fans and readers at Prophecy 2007 who remember those days probably don’t want to recall their resistance to my thesis; those who don’t remember “The Controversy” think the alchemical, postmodern, and Christian keys have always been Fandom cannon (canon?) fodder and are immunized against a sense of history in these things. Which suits me fine. After Prophecy 2007 and updating my books, I expect to restrict my Harry Potter work to this weBlog and occasional talks at colleges.

But before this resignation of my public persona, I offer this bizarre possibility for your consideration. Could Ms. Rowling have read my books and appreciated my defense of her work way back when? Enough to have mentioned me by name in the text of Deathly Hallows?

On page 126 (Scholastic, Deathly Hallows), Ms. Rowling apparently changed Hermione’s middle name from “Jane” to “Jean.” “Jean,” of course, is French for “John” so we see Dumbledore giving the book that must be interpreted correctly at well below the surface meaning to “John Granger.

Or so a few people have written me. The truth is that it was a typo Cheryl Klein didn’t catch at Scholastic or that Ms. Rowling has a close woman friend named “Jean” (it is one of Mackenzie’s middle names according to the Lexicon) or that she didn’t like Dolores and Hermione sharing “Jane” as a middle name. Each of these possibilities is more credible than the andogynous reading of “John Granger,” I’m afraid; when I was reading the book aloud to my children, I didn’t make the connection. I thought it was a typo for “Jane,” the first (and only) mistake I caught in the book. I didn’t even understand the first email I received congratulating me on the Hat-Tip.

But other people thought the meaning of the name-change was a no-brainer. To these readers it meant, “Thank you, John.”

The following is a combination of two letters sent to me last week:

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Jul 23, 2007 8:00 PM
Subject: Jean Granger?
To: John Granger < >

Birthname: Hermione Jean Granger. In 2004, Jo told us Hermione’s middle name was Jane (WBD); however Rowling changed it to ‘Jean’ in Book 7, possibly so that Hermione and Dolores Umbridge would not share the same middle name. ‘Jean’ is also one of the middle names of Rowling’s daughter Mackenzie.

kylie: Thanks for writing such wonderful books, Ms Rowling :). Just one question: What are Ron, Hermione and Ginny’s middle names? Thank you 🙂
JK Rowling replies -> My pleasure:) Middle names: Ginny is Molly, of course, Hermione ‘Jane’ and Ron, poor boy, is Bilius.

From Deathly Hallows (Scholastic pages 126-127):

“‘To Miss Hermione Jean Granger, I leave my copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, in the hope that she will find it entertaining and instructive.”

Dear John,
I’m thinking Ms. Rowling is tipping her hat in your direction! ‘Jean’, after all is the French for “John” (the woman was a French major, right?), and Dumbledore’s dedication is a pointer to Spencer’s note about literature frequently quoted by CSL that it should “instruct while delighting.” Could it be that the original “Jane” in 2004 after Hidden Key was a pointer, too, but, because it was not picked up, she made it more explicit in Deathly Hallows?

In a book with the meaning and ending you’ve written about for more than five years, I think it’s possible she’s telling the world how smart you are the only way she can short of a certified letter. Look at it this way…

“The Tales” reminds me of Dickens (The Tale of Two Cities, a connection you explored at length in HogPro last week), The Bard (Shakespeare, the literary alchemist), and Beedle (alternate Beadle) might be another Dicken’s reference: “a parish constable; in the Scottish church one who attends the minister during divine service . A famous fictional constabular beadle is Mr Bumble from Charles Dickens’ classic Oliver Twist.”

She has the Greybeard WiseMan of the series give a book to once “Jane” now “Jean Granger,” the French version of “John Granger.” The book’s title points to Alchemy and Christianity in literature and the Granger character has to figure out its hidden meaning to solve the mystery that drives the action in Deathly Hallows.

And, again, there’s Dumbledore’s expressed purpose in the bequest, that Granger find it “entertaining and instructive”! Rowling must be refering to the traditional purpose of literature – echoing what Sydney and Lewis have said before her, namely, that Great Books “instruct while delighting,” something mentioned in almost everything you have written about Rowling.

It obviously could be a coincidence, as Rowling’s daughter’s middle name is “Jean” or if the Lexicon knows Rowling says it was a mistake to give Dolores and Hermione the same middle name, but it is a meaningful coincidence just the same – since the Dumbledore dedication reflects a major tenet of English literature that you have discussed in each of your books.

So, congratulations! You been revealed in the last book of the series as “spot-on” about all the Five Keys you mentioned in Unlocking Harry Potter and as the first and best interpreter of Rowling’s books within the context of traditional Christian literature. And best of all, the author herself may have acknowledged you within the text.

Three Cheers! How rare is it to have been right and to be acknowledged for it in print?

The worst thing that can happen in my being the one to publish this possibility for public consideration, is of course, that Ms. Rowling will be asked about the possibility, she will deny it, and I will be known ever after as “that arrogant git who ‘looked for god in Harry Potter’ and only found his own name.” If it is my name hidden there in the text, though, I take it as a hat tip to all the readers who have championed Ms. Rowling’s edifying message through thick and thin and from long ago. My name only worked because she didn’t give Hermione the last name “Byatt,” “Bloom,” “Grossman,” or the other critics who locked onto Ms. Rowling’s message so perceptively and persuasively…

As you’d expect, I am asked (by reporters who may or may not have read the books…) as often as not if I am related to Hermione. I usually say I am a Squibb cousin. Maybe I should say now that Hermione and I are not related – but Hermione was named after me. What do you think? Typo or Hat-Tip?

Cast your ballots:

The change from Jane to Jean was:

(a) to distinguish the very similar Dolores and Hermione so readers wouldn’t confuse them;
(b) to honor the lady “Jean” that is a friend of Ms. Rowling;
(c) a typo that the Scholastic folks missed on their continuity checks; or
(d) a tip of the hat to “John Granger” and the HogPro All-Pros who take Harry seriously.

Votes will be counted and the final tally posted on my Hotel Room door in Toronto.

HogPro’s Deathly Hallows 20 Discussion Points: An Introduction

If you haven’t read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, get outta here! The next twenty questions and the posts here forever more will assume you have read the book — and there will be no spoiler warnings.

I will be at Barnes and today to discuss these points and their threads but will be checking back in here regularly to put up your comments. Have at it, friends! This is what we’ve been waiting two years to discuss! Tell your friends to join us here for the best forum-look at Deathly Hallows anywhere (Well, you gotta love the all-comers smorgasbord at Sword of Gryffindor today, too!).

The Twenty Deathly Hallows Discussion Points are:

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?

Point, click, wax loquacious!

Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #1: The Covers

Most of us read the Scholastic “regular” edition that featured Harry and Lord Voldemort on the cover. It seems that the artist, for her own reasons or under instructions, decided not to present an event from the book (she had said in more than one interview that the curtains were to make a bookends set with her first book cover that also featured them). In contrast, the Bloomsbury front cover (children’s edition) seemed to be a dramatic rendering of the escape from the Lestrange bank vault within Gringotts. The spine, too, had the Deathly Hallows tri-gram, the back cover Hogwarts on ice (?), and a Stag Patronus on the inside front flap. As much as I enjoyed the Scholastic cover, I wonder why the artist didn’t choose any of the exciting moments from the book for the finale front. What are your thoughts on the GrandPre cover after finishing the series finish?

Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #2: The Opening Quotations

Ms. Rowling decided to open Deathly Hallows with quotations from Aeschylus’ Libation Bearers and William Penn’s More Fruits of Solitude. Penn (1644-1718) was a notable Quaker and non-conformist; Aeschylus (524-486 BC) was a notable Athenian soldier and playwright. The play from which the Aeschylus quotation is from, the Libation Bearers, is the story of Orestes, a young man with a scar on his forehead, and his taking revenge on the muderers of his father, Agamemnon. Both quotations are about life after death and both the reality and accessibility of those who are dead that we have loved. Why do you think Ms. Rowling chose these two passages from these two authors? Does it point to a core meaning for the book?

Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #3: Christian Ending?

Ms. Rowling said in a 2000 Vancouver interview that she didn’t talk about her Christian faith because if she did readers from “age 10 to 60” would know exactly how the story would end. In another interview, she told the reporter with questions about her faith to come back after the seventh (and that, if he had read it, he wouldn’t have to come back because his questions would be answered). Harry offers himself as a sacrifice in Chapter 34, experiences something like a holding station for the after-life in Chapter 35, and then rises from the dead (or his figurative death) and slays the evil one in Chapter 36. Did Harry’s walk into the dark forest as sacrificial lamb strike you as Christian allegory, heroic monomyth, or what? Did it meet the expectations created by Ms. Rowling’s interview comments?