BBC ‘Career of Evil’ Episodes Posted

Enjoy them while they’re up! Hat-tip to Rebecca for the find.

J. K. Rowling’s 1999 60 Minutes Interview

Twenty years ago! I doubt she likes ‘the look’ today, but her answers to the interviewer’s questions reflect the intensity of Rowling’s artistry and her commitment to a project she is not close to finishing. Enjoy!

London Production of Rosmersholm: Starring Tom Burke (Cormoran Strike)

Every chapter-heading epigraph in Robert Galbraith’s Lethal White is taken from Henrik Ibsen’s Rosmersholm. As we have discussed here, it would be hard to overlook the importance Galbraith/Rowling attaches to this play about the haunted lives of people living in the wake of a woman’s suicide for which they were responsible. That longish post and the conversation that followed with Joanne Gray in its comment thread — ‘Lethal White: Ibsen’s Rosmersholm — offered five reasons beyond the ‘white horses’ for Serious Strikers to study the play.

Joanne Gray wrote me today to share the news that there will be a new production of the Ibsen classic in London this summer. Tom Burke, the star of the Strike novel adaptations for the BBC, will be playing the lead role of John Rosmer. As Professor Gray noted, he will be on stage with Rosmersholm just before he returns to filming Lethal White, the only Strike novel not yet transformed into little screen fare.

I’m not a big fan of the teevee production or Burke’s selection to play Strike; the shows are truncated, devoid of nuance, and he, though a fine actor, is far too short and trim to play the Cornish giant. Having said that, learning that he will carry a memorized knowledge of Rosmersholm into the filming of Lethal White, I am much, much more enthusiastic about this adaptation of a Galbraith novel than I have been about any of the others.

I hope friends in the UK will get tickets to see the show and let us know if the “new adaptation” is faithful to the original or a pointed political interpretation. The invitation to see the fresh staging because “The piece sees West try to undermine Rosmer’s idealism and get him to understand a more free-thinking way of life on the eve of a major election” is not encouraging in that regard. Let me know what you think — and thanks to Joanne Gray for the news!

La Gazette du Sorcier: French Potter Site

Cory Faniel wrote me last week about some Potter fandom inside-baseball in France that I was unaware of. He wrote lest I (continue to) embarass myself by not doing the right thing. It was a polite and very friendly letter and he won me over about the issue in question, about which, being no Franco-phone or -phile (Grangers are Normans, not French), I had not the slightest idea.

He reminded me that we had met at the St Andrews Harry Potter Conference years ago and shared, after I asked for more information, the following paragraphs about the French Harry Potter fan site with a twist. Not only is it in French (duh) and about current interpretations and insights as well as the fake stuff out of Rowling, Inc., but it is written as a French ‘Daily Prophet,’ that is, as if wizards and witches were reporting on events in the magical community.

I asked him to explain:

La Gazette du Sorcier is the oldest Harry Potter French fansite still active. The name comes from the official French translation of “The Daily Prophet”, an appropriation that is tolerated by the French editing house, Gallimard Jeunesse. It was created in July 2000 and its editorial line, at start, was to report informations about the Harry Potter franchise from a wizarding world point of view. Therefore, the books were called “biographies” and the movies were “biopics”; Rowling was “the biograph”, etc… This has slowly been abandoned for a more traditional style of reporting, more suited to contemporary readership; however we still publish “wizarding news“, made up articles with a “wizard twist”, sometimes based on a real situation (for example, this article on “wand restrictions” in the wizarding world, inspired by the debate on guns restrictions in the US; or the Purple Robes protesting on Paris Hidden Place, during the “Gilet Jaune” movement) sometimes entirely baseless and fun. It also used to be linked to the biggest French HP forum, but the evolution of the internet has led to most conversations migrating to Facebook and the forum emptying slowly but surely.

I joined the editorial team in 2011 and was made Chief Editor soon after. Since then, I have handed that title to another editor, but remain Head of Publication. I’ve built a new team, a new editorial approach, developed relationships with international websites, press contacts, etc… and built with my friends a team that now also branches out to offering  animations in small festivals in France, but also presenting conferences and in various conventions (for example on HP Translations, Illustrations, or the parallel between quididtch and the Deathly Hallows at LeakyCon).

Best, 
Cory
PS : as a fun “memory”, here is the article I wrote after the St Andrews academic conference, you’ll find a link to your website in there. 🙂
Makes me almost wish I had gone to Leaky Con last summer. For those of you who read French or who saw the La Gazette team in Dallas, check out the website and let me know what you think! I hope Cory will consider HogwartsProfessor.com one of La Gazette’s international websites with whom he has a good relationship — and that he’ll share with me news and articles the serious readers here might enjoy.

‘The Astrological Key to Harry Potter’ Will Sprague’s ‘Planet Potter’ Analysis

Will Sprague in his first guest post at HogwartsProfessor in 2011 argued that the first three books of the Hogwarts saga are a reverse alchemical process. This deft combination of literary alchemy and ring composition as literary analysis was a neat piece of work (it had been done by the Rev Joe Packer, we learned later, in 2007 but no one in the Potter Punditry community was aware of that work). I begged Will to let me publish his notes on the astrological symbolism and structure of the series, which he believes is not alchemical but very much akin to C. S. Lewis’ artistry in The Chronicles of Narnia. He titles these notes ‘Planet Potter’ in acknowledgment of Michael Ward’s work as CSL exegete in his Planet Narnia.

The correspondences he mentions in Erin Sweeney’s Harry Potter for Nerds essay, ‘Cracking the Planetary Code: Harry Potter, Alchemy and the Seven Book Series as a Whole,’ are based on the books being in alchemical sequence as laid out by Titus Burckhardt in his magisterial Alchemy. Erin assigns Saturn to Philosopher’s Stone, Jupiter to Chamber of Secrets, Moon to Prisoner of Azkaban, Venus to Half-Blood Prince, Mars to Deathly Hallows, and the Sun to Order of the Phoenix. Will disagrees on five of the seven correspondences. (My apologies for the several formatting glitches; WordPress will not accept MS Word formatting of great complication….)

I will be writing later this week, after I finish my Tarot posts, on why I now think this discussion is worth having whereas before I found even the possibility of Rowling writing astrological novels a stretch too far for me. Until then, enjoy these notes from Will Sprague and check out Erin Sweeney’s chapter in Harry Potter for Nerds for her astrological arguments!

Planet Potter by Will Sprague

Alongside Ring Composition and Literary Alchemy, it seems hard to believe that a full third layer of literary structure would present itself, but I think that the evidence is strong enough that I can confidently argue that each book of the Harry Potter saga aligns with one of the seven planets of medieval cosmology.

I am making the argument more from the preponderance of the evidence than from the ability for these planetary alignments to fit into a preconceived alchemical structure. This is an alternative to the Harry Potter for Nerds chapter entitled “Cracking the Planetary Code: Harry Potter, Alchemy and the Seven Book Series as a Whole.” I think that the use of the planets is more akin to Lewis’ use as laid out in Planet Narnia rather than an alchemical use as argued for in that piece. Forgive the rambling and disorganized nature of the below notes for each book.

Philosopher’s Stone -> Mars/Ares

  1. Quirinus Quirrell’s first name is a title of the god Mars (Mars Quirinus)
  2. Quirrell acts like a coward (the opposite of martial valor or courage, the primary attribute of Mars)
  3. Mars is the “red” planet, and this is a “Red” book
  4. “Mars is bright tonight” is repeated three times by the centaurs to Hagrid
  5. Harry asks for Mars candy bar from the trolley lady, but they have none
  6. Gryffindor wins the house cup because of the Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville’s courage. In fact, Ron even rides a horse and is willing to die for his friends to move on. The decisive victory points, go to a special sort of courage, to stand up to one’s friends and not just one’s enemies.
  7. Hugely important plot-elements occur in the Forbidden Forest (Mars is the god of the forests)

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