Lethal White: Missing Page Mystery (2)

Way back in October, 2018, soon after the release of Lethal White, I noticed an oddity in the structure of the fourth Cormoran Strike novel (see Lethal White: The Missing Page Mystery‘). There is a page marking the beginning of the second part of the book when the investigation of the dead government minister begins. It reads, ‘Part Two.’ The mysterious bit is that there is no page at the start of the book that reads ‘Part One.’ My thought was and remains that this ‘Part Two’ — and the beginning of ‘Part Two’ being a near exact parallel with the meeting of Cormoran Strike with John Bristow in Cuckoo’s Calling — is a marker of the second half of the series, a seven book series having its natural turn half-way through book four (as Goblet of Fire does in ‘The Hungarian Horntail’ chapter).

Beatrice Groves commented at the time:

I like it John! I think we’ll have to see if the paperback comes out with the Part 1 page (I’m sure that either this is a mistake or you’re right: no-one deliberately leaves off ‘part 1’ pages) before speculating further (do you know when that paperback is due?).

The paperback Lethal White came out in the UK on 18 April 2019, a good month before its publication in the US, and I asked friends in the UK to check to see if ‘Part One’ was included in the new edition. Beatrice Groves reports:

So I went to check for you and 

*drum roll*

there is still no part 1 page!

I didn’t do an extensive search, but did note that it still misattributes the 1900 Ibsen translation (by Robert Farquharson Sharp) to Robert Farquharson – so it doesn’t look like there has been much proof reading between hard and paper back.

So what? Well, I think we can assume that the Part One page was intentionally left out, that ‘Part Two’ refers simultaneously to the second part of the book and of the series, which suggests as we have suspected for some time but especially after all the echoes of Goblet of Fire and of Cuckoo’s Calling in Lethal White that we are looking at a second seven book series from Rowling (and one that parallels the first).

Thank you, Professor Groves, for the help here. It’s a small thing compared to the inter- and intratextual evidence we’ve done but this marker is an important piece of evidence in itself, a confirmation of sorts for the greater findings.

Possibility Three: Back to the Future

Warner Brothers has sold Rowling on a return to the successful formula of the original Harry Potter film franchise: she writes wildly successful novels and Warner Brothers then adapts them for the screen.

This is third of three speculatives posts about why Rowling has ceased from tweeting on her Twitter home page, a social media platform with 14.7 million followers she had been using to share announcements from Lumos and the several Rowling, Inc., enterprises as well as airing her center-left political beliefs about Brexit, anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, and President Trump. The first speculative post was “Possibility One: Personal Problems” in which I reviewed the potential reasons Rowling wouldn’t want to make public that are keeping her from tweeting; the second was “Possibility Two: Court Ordered Silence” in which we covered the chance that she stepped back because the Sherrif (judge) in her case against a Personal Assistant ordered all litigants to be silent on social media.

If you’ve read those posts, you know that I think it is a stretch to think any of the reasons discussed in them — disease, addiction, relationship agonies, and a court order — are serious possibilities. None of them, to get right to the point, explain why Rowling’s office staff of four full-time employees and two part timers, not to mention the contractors and employees who work for her directly and indirectly at PotterMore, Bronte Studios, or The Blair Partnership, could not re-tweet announcements from Lumos, Volant Charities, Bronte Studios, Cursed Child, Hacheete Publishing, or Warner Brothers. Even a court order wouldn’t explain silence after the 4 April sentencing of the former PA.

So, we’re left with a mystery. Why would Rowling forsake the use of the largest Twitter platform of followers of any author ever? Instead of looking for causes that would apply to every other human being, which search has pretty much come up empty, it’s time to think about reasons that might apply only to J. K. Rowling, the Master of Narrative Control and Media Manipulation. Think “Hermione and The Quibbler.” Or, better, “Hermione and the ‘Bug’ in a Jar.”

Rather than wondering about the mystery of Rowling’s silence and what might have caused it to happen to the author, we should consider the possibility that the silence is intentional on her part and the effects — heightened interest in her activity (or lack of same) and the enigma of her disappearance — rather than the accidental consequence of forces outside her control are exactly her purpose.

Why would she want to do that? Here are my three guesses. [Read more…]

Possibility Two: Court Ordered Silence

Rowling was ordered by a court to desist from social media posting during the trial’s final phases — and found that she liked it.

Last November I wrote a post about Rowling, Inc., taking one of Rowling’s Personal Assistants to court for “gross misconduct” and to sue for compensation to the tune of $25,000 in supposedly inappropriate and not-approved purchases as well as straight forward theft. ‘Lethal White: Personal Assistant Drama’ spells out what seemed to be an open and shut case at the time, the horrific optics of a billionaire claiming “Financial injury” and “Suffering” from what amounts to pocket change, and the echoes of this affair in the Cormoran Strike novels.

The case has been resolved and, in it, we may have an explanation for why Rowling went silent on Twitter in January. Here are links to various stories posted online about the trial and verdict: [Read more…]

Possibility One: Personal Problems

Rowling or a loved one is sick, challenged by an addiction, or suffering from relationship issues. Maybe.

I have been thinking the last week about Rowling’s twitter silence, sixteen weeks today. While I think the reasons discussed on the subject in a variety of posts here at HogwartsProfessor are cogent and plausible, that is, one stop beyond merely possible, I have come to realize there are at least three other possibilities for her stepping away from her social media platform. They are personal reasons, legal order, and creating suspence, the last meaning only that the effect of her silence is intrigue and that it is reasonable to assume, given Rowling’s skill in manipulating readers through narrative, she may be as skilled in silence.

Today I want to discuss ‘personal reasons.’ What personal reasons could there be that would cause Rowling to retreat from her public persona into silence? What could be so serious that she would no longer retweet announcements from Lumos, the Cursed Child productions, Bronte Studios about the adaptations of her Strike novels, or Warnder Brothers about the Fantastic Beasts franchise? Three possibilities come to mind.

(1) Imminent Death: Anne Rowling, the author’s mother, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 35 and died in 1990 when only 45. MS is not a genetic disease but those with family members who suffer from the incurable illness are more likely to get the disease than those who do not as are those who smoke; Rowling was a cigarette smoker from her teen years until at least 2000 and the writing of Goblet of Fire (see all the articles that mention Rowling smoking here). If Rowling learned that she had MS or another degenerative illness, say, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, that would explain her decision to stop twittering her life away and refocus on her artistry and legacy as a story-teller. And do so privately.

At least as likely along this path is that one of Rowling’s family members, her sister Diane, her husband, her daughter Jessica from her failed first marriage or one of the two children of her second marriage is suffering from physical disease or a mental illness and in need of her attention. Rowling has been heroically protective of her family’s privacy during her second life as a global celebrity; it would be like her in this regard to step away quietly from professional commitments to include twitter in order to do the right thing, i.e., re-focus her attention on those needing her full time.

(2) Addiction and Abstinence: Rowling is an addictive personality. In addition to her history with chain smoking cigarettes, there is the record of her Minesweeper fixation, and her confession during the 2008 election that she was unable to stop reading about the American presidential primaries and the race between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. Her tweeting and retweeting articles this last year until January 2019 about Brexit and the need for a second referendum show the signs, too, of compulsive reading online about these subjects. [Read more…]

New Rowling Twitter Header and Cameo: Capricorn and the Battle of Hogwarts?

There were no new tweets today on J. K. Rowling’s twitter page but there was a big change. As you can see above, we have a new header for the page and a fresh cameo. Beatrice Groves, who reminded The Presence six days ago of her annual tweeted apology for the casualty-laden Battle of Hogwarts (today is the 21st anniversary of the Battle), has already identified the stars in the picture as a “close-up” of the Capricorn constellation; read about that here.

We know that Rowling is an amateur astrologer who has drawn up detailed natal charts for friends with longish interpretations. Does Capricorm have a hidden meaning in astrological lore connected with the Battle of Hogwarts? We only know of one astrological reference that Rowling is familiar with because she used it almost exclusively in the charts which have been posted online: Louis MacNeice’s Astrology (Doubleday, 1964). I own a copy but found very little in the pages dedicated to Capricorn except for MacNiece’s concern about “Capricorn’s ruler… frosty old Saturn.”  “Saturn is casting a chill or a shadow and yet he may be a liberator. If Saturn the ruler is actually in this sign [i.e., Capricorn on the natal chart], then everything is cut to the bone” (p 98).

In the discussion of the planet Saturn and its influences we find “In the Middle Ages Saturn was said to carry a scythe or a sickle because he does more execution when receding than when advancing” (p 60). It is also “much connected with magic” (p 62). Mostly, though, Saturn is bad news: melancholy, depression, illness, and death.

Which, at a stretch, is a pointer to the deaths at the Battle of Hogwarts? If you like. Saturn the planet might have been pictured rather than the Capricorn constellation if this was the message. I’m hopeful that the picture means instead what Rowling has said each of her headers reflect, what she is working on and thinking about now.

What do you make of the new header on the J. K. Rowling twitter page? Is there astrological meaning, something we will learn about in Strike5 or Beasts3, or something else? Click on the ‘Leave a Comment’ link at the top of this post and let me know what you think!