Michael Gambon, 1940-2023: RIP

Elizabeth Baird Hardy wrote up a short piece about the death of British actor Michael Gambon yesterday.

Michael Gambon, Cinema’s Dumbledore, Passes away at Age 82.

For readers of the Hogwarts adventures, characters in our heads rarely appear the same as they do in film adaptations, but most movie-goers probably think of Sir Michael Gambon the most of the three men who have played Professor Dumbledore on screen. He certainly played the headmaster more times than Richard Harris, who passed away after portraying Albus Dumbledore in the first two film adaptations. Gambon took up the role for the subsequent six films. Jude Law has appeared as a younger Dumbledore in the Fantastic Beasts films.

Gambon, who passed away today at the age of 82, had a long and celebrated dramatic career on both stage and screen, even before coming to the role that has made him familiar to most movie-goers. He also appeared in the film adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s novel The Casual Vacancy. His Potter co-stars,  Rowling, and other celebrities have paid tribute to his legacy and personality.

As new adaptations are on the horizon and theories abound about casting choices, doubtless many film fans will continue to recall Gambon as Dumbledore, just as his colleagues fondly recall his work and life.

What are your favorite Gambon-as-Dumbledore moments? Mine is the Time-Turner heist sequence in Prisoner of Azkaban.

Running Grave: 7 Placeholder Posts

My two copies of Running Grave were delivered late this morning and I have yet to open mine. My son Zossima is almost half-way through and has confirmed that my enthusiastic judgment of the first eleven chapters, that this was the strongest start of a Rowling novel ever, was spot on. He reports that “It starts well and doesn’t let up one bit.”

I’m very excited to join him in reading Strike7, as I know all of you have been, but I need to do some house-keeping chores here at HogwartsProfessor and to prepare for my reading first. Number one on my list is putting up seven placeholder posts for Serious Strikers around the world to write up their thoughts as they read on specific subjects that are signature points of discussion on this weblog.

Why bother? [Read more…]

Running Grave: The Occult

Running Grave Placeholder Post, Number Seven! The Wild Side of Strike7 —

It’s something of a Publication Week tradition here at HogwartsProfessor to provide an online space for Serious Strikers to share their discoveries as they find them, an alocal place for specific topics we have explored here in the past. It’s a community gathering place — and each placeholder creates a record of findings for topics that otherwise become hopelessly jumbled in the threads of various posts. The seven I am posting for Running Grave are:

I confess I had to make a hard choice when I got to number seven on my list of placeholder posts. I’m really looking forward to reading Running Grave, having read the first eleven chapters several times in the last few weeks, because of my interest in the Psychomachia, the Jungian archetypal content with the advent of sister Prudence, and the backdrop mythology of Leda and the Swan, Castor and Pollux, and, most important, Psyche and Cupid. I don’t think these subjects lend themselves to finds or spottings, however, so I elected to go with ‘The Occult.’

What I mean by that slippery word with respect to Running Grave is do we see in the text references to or suggestions of occult practices such as tarot card readings, astrological symbols and natal chart readings, necromancy (!), or divinatory practices such as I Ching yarrow stalk throwings? If we do, what do they tell us?

Every Part and chapter in Styrike7 begins with an epigraph from the I Ching; I have not read more than the first eleven chapters of the yo-yo previewings, but I suspect this will be akin to the previous books, Troubled Blood and Ink Black Heart, in which novels there is no reference to the source of the epigraphs but which books reflect that source material in meaningful ways. The depths, in brief, are in the epigraphs.  Given the divinatory nature of the I Ching in common usage, I think we should be looking for embedded references to such occult or psychic sphere-penetrating practices.

I’m almost hopeful that we will get a second chance to read Rowling’s clues the way she tipped her hand in Strike5 via the illustrations in Talbot’s True Book. I doubt it, but I’m confident that if the opportunity presents itself and I miss it, the Serious Strikers in the HogwartsProfessor reading audience will spot it and share it here. Thank you in advance for that!

Running Grave: The Literary Alchemy

Running Grave Placeholder Post, Number Six! The Alchemical Artistry of Strike7 —

It’s something of a Publication Week tradition here at HogwartsProfessor to provide an online space for Serious Strikers to share their discoveries as they find them, an alocal place for specific topics we have explored here in the past. It’s a community gathering place — and it creates a record of findings for topics that otherwise become hopelessly jumbled in the threads of various posts. The seven I am posting for Running Grave are:

I have been writing about Rowling’s alchemical coloring and symbolism since 2002 (see my Hidden Key to Harry Potter if you’re into literary archeology or How Harry Cast His Spell for the post-Hallows update). Back in the day, the idea that Rowling, single mother on the dole, was crafting stories using hermetic sequences a la Shakespeare, Dickens, and Joyce, was the butt of jokes in the critical community. We have arrived, though, because the pile of evidence has grown so high to the stage where books are devoted to the subject, at the point of consensus, per Walker Percy, where “everyone has always known that” and the initial eye-rolling and scoffing has been forgotten. See the Literary Alchemy Pillar Post if this is the first time you’re encountering the idea; almost every one of the many links there will take you to an introduction to the subject.

What alchemical points are Serious Strikers looking for in Running Grave? I think there are at least three.

The first is the structure of the book in hand; do we see a nigredo breakdown at the beginning followed by an albedo cleansing or purging of character that ends in a rubedo climax of revelation, confrontation, resolution, and transformation with the attendant colors and symbols of these stages?

The second is its place in the series; is it a rubedo book that closes a story cycle as did Deathly Hallowsin the Hogwarts Saga?

The third is an alternate view of its series role; is it the last of the three albedo books per Evan Willis’ Tetractys Theory?

I suppose I am obliged to include a fourth possibility, namely, ‘Is there little to no evidence of alchemical symbolism in Strike7?’

Let me know what you found in the comment boxes below!

Running Grave: The Ghosts

Running Grave Placeholder Post, Number Five!

It’s something of a Publication Week tradition here at HogwartsProfessor to provide an online space for Serious Strikers to share their discoveries as they find them, an alocal place for specific topics we have explored here in the past. It’s a community gathering place — and it creates a record of findings for topics that otherwise become hopelessly jumbled. The seven I am posting for Running Grave are:

Why ‘Ghosts’? Because Rowling-Galbraith, a la favorite author Nabokov and her own oft-repeated beliefs about the immortal soul, goes to some pains to populate her stories with shades of persons-past. In Harry Potter, the ghosts were comic (for the most part!), visible, and all but ubiquitous around Hogwarts. In Cormoran Strike, the shading is much more subtle but at least as important. See my ‘The Ghosts Haunting Troubled Blood‘ for an introduction to this subject and Louise Freeman’s subsequent posts about the specters just out of sight in Cuckoo’s Calling and in Lethal White,

Ghosts promise to be at least as big a deal in Running Grave; the excerpts of the first eleven chapters released and then recaptured pre-publication make this a surety. Beside the ghosts called down by or conjured up by the religious cultists, though, what evidence do you see of, say, Leda Strike’s influence from beyond the veil? Aunt Joan? Have at it in the comment boxes below!