Three Thoughts about ‘Troubled Blood’

(1) The only purpose of releasing the title of a book and its release date is marketing, i.e., it creates buzz which generates pre-orders from booksellers. ‘Buzz’ from a book title alone these days means speculation and conversation about the book beyond, “Ooh, cant’wait.” I confess to being a little resistant to furthering marketers’ ends but, hey, we were already discussing the possibility that Strike5 would have Marilyn Manson title and epigraphs before we were given the title. I might as well continue along that line, no?

If you’ve been following the comment threads here at HogwartsProfessor since the announcement (here is a link to Louise Freeman’s handy collection of same in a post), you know that Marilyn Manson is still in the game because the words “troubled” and “blood” appear in his ‘Mind of a Lunatic‘ and similar tortured rock groups lyricists use the words (cf., Miss World’s album of that name and Love Me Destroyer’s ‘Add Vice’). Nick Jeffrey found ‘troubled blood’ in an Edmund Spencer poem and another reference in a George Chapman play, the latter of which ChrisC tied into previous speculation about Keats. I’ll be delighted if it’s Manson because of the clear parallel with Strike3’s Blue Oyster Cult epigraphs; I’ll be at least as relieved if Rowling departs from ring formula, though, and gives us another Silkworm journey down a neglected part of the Western Canon and English literature.

(2) I’ve been doing a re-read of all the Rowling novels this past month, Strike, Potter and Vacancy, and you’d have to blind and deaf not to be struck by all the references to blood and specifically the eugenic agonies of ‘pure blood.’ Not only is blood-status a recurrent back-drop to the core conflicts of the Hogwarts Saga, it plays out as well in the Wizarding World film franchise spin-off Fantastic Beasts. Harry’s victory over the Dark Lord in Hallows turns as much on Voldemort’s mistaken calculation about using Harry’s blood to reconstitute his body in Goblet as it does on the wand lore surprise.

And Strike? Well, Serious Striker Joanne Gray has already written about this. Strike’s parentage makes him a de facto mud-blood to Charlotte’s clan but the inbreeding of the aristocracy seems to have caused more than a touch of madness in Jago Ross and the Campbells as well. The observation by the old friend that Strike’s mysterious attractive power that works on the flighty women drawn to him is their hope for an infusion of “carthorse blood” is an echo of this blood-line back-drop. Troubled Blood, whatever the reference source turns out to be, is a natural for Rowling’s concerns as a writer.

(3) The publisher’s announcement promised a cover and a story blurb “very soon” which I expect will give us a much better idea about the origins of the Troubled Blood title. It also will provide a story outline of sorts, the central conflict, as a taste-teaser to create further buzz and bookstore orders in advance. So what? Well, if you want to take a guess about the plot line of Troubled Blood, you’d better make your guesses yesterday; you won’t get any credit for predictions made along the lines of the story the cover blurb or excerpt points us to. Please review Louise Freeman’s predictions for Strike5 as the baseline for last minute speculation!

And here is the helpful page you’ll want to keep at hand: Countdown to Troubled Blood

Guest Post: Keats Epigraphs in Strike5?

Why John Keats “May” Provide Epigraphs (and other materials) for Strike Five

By ChrisC

A recent theory on this site is that Marilyn Manson’s lyrics will form the epigraphs for the next Cormoran Strike Mystery. I have an alternate take on that subject, however. What if the poetry of John Keats is what readers have to look forward to, at least in terms of thematic chapter-header quotes in Book 5?

My reasons for bringing this up center around one of the author’s clues and the literary subject matter attached to it. The clue was Ms. Rowling’s brochure for the Chelsea Physic Garden. It was founded by the Society of Apothecaries in 1837, and Keats was an intern there as part of his early medical studies. His notebooks demonstrate a remarkable knowledge of pharmacology, and both Hermione De Almeida and Jennifer M. Wunder have shown that Keats’ medical studies intertwined with his neo-Platonic-hermetic poetical interests. In addition to this, Keats was not the only Rowling linked artist to be related to the Chelsea Garden. There is one other author who, along with Keats, may form a major part of the fifth book’s creative compost. To find out more about this, and how Agatha Christie may have a part to play, join me after the jump. [Read more…]

Guest Post: The March Family from ‘Little Women’ and The Weasleys

David Martin has been thinking about Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, forgive me for assuming it is because of the new movie adaptation, and left his reflections about the March family and the Weasleys on a comment thread beneath my 2011 post, ‘Little Women and Harry Potter: Jo Rowling is Jo March.‘ With his permission and reformatting, I have bumped it into its own post so that more readers will see it. Enjoy!

Little Women is the story of a family more than it is the story of any one individual. Although the Harry Potter books are mostly about Harry Potter, there is also within them a story about the Weasley family. If we look at the stories of those two families – the Marchs and the Weasleys – there are a number of similarities.

Both families are ruled by the mother.

  • Molly Weasley clearly runs the Wesley family
  • Marmee runs the March family.

Both families have mostly or entirely children of one gender.

  • The Weasleys have six sons and one daughter.
  • The Marchs have four daughters.

Both families take an interest in (and almost adopt) an outsider who then spends a lot of time at their house.

  • The Weasleys take in Harry.
  • The Marchs take in Laurie.

In both family stories, that outsider has lost mother and father and is living with his relatives.

  • Harry lives with the Dursleys
  • Laurie lives with his grandfather.

Both families are poor but kind.

  • The Weasleys take care of Harry.
  • The Marchs give away their Christmas breakfast and perform many other acts of charity.

In both families, some (or one) of the children are (or is) obsessed with making money.

  • For the Weasleys, that would be Fred and George.
  • For the Marchs, that would be Jo.

Both families are in a way elite.

  • The Weasleys are pure blood.
  • The Marchs are part of the intellectual or scholarly elite.

For both families, there is a time when the father is very sick and the mother goes to be with him.

  • When Arthur Weasley is bitten by Nagini in Order, Molly goes to St. Mungo’s hospital to be with him.
  • When Mr. March is taken ill during the Civil War, Marmee goes to the hospital in Washington to be with him.

In both families, the oldest child marries, and that wedding is described in detail.

  • Bill Weasley marries Fleur Delacour.
  • Meg March marries John Brooke.

In both families, when the other children marry, it happens “off-stage.”

  • Ron, Percy, and Ginny marry, but we don’t see those weddings.
  • Amy gets married in Paris. Jo marries sometime in the “Harvest Time” chapter at the end of Little Women. We don’t see any of those wedding.

In both families, one of the children dies.

  • Fred Weasley dies in the Battle of Hogwarts.
  • The chapter entitled “The Valley of the Shadow” describes Beth’s death.

In both families, the youngest child in the family marries the outsider.

  • Ginny Weasley marries Harry. (Maybe that’s why the Weasley family needed a girl?)
  • Amy March marries Laurie.

In both families, one of the children marries a really brainy spouse.

  • Ron Weasley marries Hermione.
  • Jo March marries Professor Bhaer.

In both families, one of the children marries a foreigner.

  • Bill Weasley marries a French woman, Fleur Delacour.
  • Jo March marries a German man, Friedrich Bhaer.

At the end of the stories, we see the extended form of both families.

  • In the epilogue chapter, we see the extended Weasley family putting their children on the Hogwarts express. Ginny’s children are there. Ron’s children are there. Percy is heard, so at least one child of his must be there. Bill’s daughter Victoire is there. So that’s four of the Weasley children and at least seven grandchildren if I’ve counted correctly. And considering the news that James is eager to share about Victoire and Teddy Lupin, maybe the Weasley family will be extending further.
  • In the “Harvest Time” chapter at the end of Little Women, we see the extended March family celebrating together, three daughters, three sons-in-law, and at least five grandchildren if I’ve counted correctly.

For both families it appears that the parents (now grandparents) are alive and well at the end of the story. We are told this explicitly about the Marchs in “Harvest Time” chapter of Little Women. During the epilogue chapter of Harry Potter, Rose is warned that “Granddad Weasley” would never forgive her if she married a pureblood, so clearly Arthur Weasley is still alive. Let’s assume that Molly Weasley is too.

Maybe we should call the series The Weasley Family Saga.

—– David Martin of Hufflepuff

Aurelius and the Philosopher’s Stone

Hat tip, Kelly!

Reading, Writing, Rowling #33: Draco!

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Laurie Beckoff at MuggleNet describes the conversation about the bad boy everybody loves to hate:

In this month’s episode, John and Katy talk with “Hogwarts Professor” Louise Freeman (Mary Baldwin University) and “Bathilda’s Notebook author Beatrice Groves (Oxford University) about the many facets of Draco Malfoy. We consider his literary and film predecessors, whether he’s the cool kid or not, and whether he breaks out of the cardboard villain stereotype. What does J.K. Rowling want us to think about him? Bea reveals surprising connections to both Kipling and the movie The Young Sherlock Holmes.

We also parallel Draco and other villainous characters in the series, like Dudley, to see how they compare as bullies and whether they have redemptive experiences. How do their relationships with their parents affect them? Both have life-changing experiences with evil that influence their actions at the end of the series. Louise explains the importance of parental influence and we consider the degree to which Dudley and Draco both operate as extensions of their larger families. Harry, as an orphan and a stranger to the magical world, has an ability to act independently that his antagonists do not. We look at the arc of the two characters over the whole course of the series and what events have the most profound influence on them. Particularly, Malfoy’s moment in “The Lightning-Struck Tower” gets our full attention, complete with Biblical and Shakespearean allusions.

Is the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child version of Draco the same character? We consider how the parenting, bullying, and friendship themes are carried into the play, and how it influences our understanding of Draco as a character. The Albus and Scorpius friendship might be a reimagining of Harry and Draco’s relationship, with Rose as perhaps the prejudiced bully character. Draco also functions as a symbol – with his cratylic name and dragon/snake references – which we explore in relation to literary allusions as well as the larger themes in the series. Harry’s ability to communicate with snakes, and his use of the Slytherin spell Sectumsempra against Draco, reflect his own ambivalence as his relationship with Draco develops. Should we feel pity for Malfoy, especially during that last year stuck in Malfoy Manor with the Dark Lord? Does Draco demonstrate any regret at the end? You do not want to miss this debate!