Rowling Studies 2: The Christmas Pig

Happy New Year, Rowling Readers! To celebrate the season, Nick Jeffery and I recorded a discussion of J. K. Rowling’s 2021 holiday classic, The Christmas Pig. Both of us believe, albeit for very different reasons, that it is one of Rowling’s best works, maybe even the actual very best; the short book is what each of us recommend to friends who have never read anything by The Presence (we have such friends, believe it or not) and who want to read something that will give them an idea of what all the fuss is about.

I suspect strongly that Christmas Pig in the not too distant future will be to J. K. Rowling what Christmas Carol  or Tale of Two Cities are to Charles Dickens, namely the very short (compared to the author’s other works) but very representative stories that are read in secondary school English classes and college English literature surveys and time period courses to ‘expose’ the Great Unwashed to the greatness of the Greats. For reasons Nick and I discuss at great length, Christmas Pig is a great choice to do just that.

Judging from the enthusiastic response of our Substack subscribers, all of whom receive ‘Rowling Studies’ podcast links directly in their inbox, there is a growing appreciation of this Christmas story. The possibility that there may be an embedded clue to Strikes 8, 9, and 10 in the palace of King Power — is Memory suggesting that Amelia Crichton is lying about Charlotte’s supposed suicide? — has even the Serious Strikers re-reading Christmas Pig with heightened attention.

If you would rather read the extensive HogwartsProfessor exegesis of Christmas Pig, I collected the Greatest Hits of our labors in a one-stop post here. However you revisit the book that just may be the template for the Strike series finale — Evan Willis’ Tetractys Theory holds that Strikes 8, 9, and 10 will use Casual Vacancy, The Ickabog, and The Christmas Pig the way the first seven books did their apposite numbers in the Hogwarts Saga (cf. the Parallel Series Idea) — we hope it makes the 12 days of Christmas that much brighter for you. Happy New Year, one and all! 

Post: A bit of fun I was sent by Lynne —

 

Rowling Library Magazine – the Christmas Edition

Always eagerly anticipated, the latest Rowling Library Magazine has dropped with a special Christmas feature from Beatrice Groves:

For a wonderful exploration of how Harry Potter, The Christmas Pig and indeed Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women all use Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress as story scaffold and Christian message, do check out Beatrice’s Potter’s Progress – The Christmas Pig and Harry’s quest.

 

 

Wild ‘Secrets of Dumbledore’ Theory: Rowling Puts Pro-Trump Message in Script that Kloves Didn’t See or Remove

This is a wild, which is perhaps to say “wildly irresponsible,” post of rank speculation based on exactly zero actual, y’know, factual evidence and direct testimony. It does include, however, (a) a valuable survey of Rowling’s recent work with respect to the elections and politics shared therein and its conclusions, (b) a pair of contrary allegorical readings of the latest Fantastic Beasts film, Secrets of Dumbledore, and (c) it does factor in both Rowling’s Peter-John Distinction and, the Seventh Crisis, her trials as an opponent of the trend that turns a mental disorder into a civil rights movement.

I have written it up, though, I have to admit, only because I love the idea of Rowling, pushed to the sidelines by Warner Brothers to protect their Wizarding World cash cow, inserting an IED-esque covert message in her “original script” that Kloves couldn’t scrub out and which the Hollywood Screenwriters Guild would find anathema, namely, that there was massive fraud in the 2020 US Presidential election. 

And I have to admit, too, of course, that I have not seen Secrets of Grindelwald yet. This isn’t even my theory and I certainly have little right to comment on its validity or vapidness. ‘Let the reader beware.’

Having noted those several necessary caveats, let me begin. This post has three parts: a review of Rowling’s “obsession” with US Presidential elections and politics (her word), a fixation that includes her acute case of Trump Derangement Syndrome and Obama-philia, a survey of the elections featured and politic notes sounded in her most recent work, Ickabog to Christmas Pig, and then allegorical readings of the election for Supreme Mugwump in Secrets of Dumbledore. I’ll lay all that out for you folks who have seen the film to discuss — after the jump! [Read more…]

Blue Bunny Found in Omaha, Nebraska!

Read all about the miraculous saving of a Blue Bunny — well, violet but close enough — found in an Omaha, Nebraska, street, carefully rescued, a search made for its owner, and then lovingly cleaned and restored (see below).

The wild thing is that no one in the article mentions the Blue Bunny in J. K. Rowling’s Christmas Pig or the author’s testimony that the story episode of the Blue Bunny’s finding by Jeanne was a retelling of her daughter Mackenzie Jean finding a Blue Bunny doll years ago.  As Rowling explained to children participating in a Scholastic sponsored chat about Christmas Pig:

The Blue Bunny was also inspired by a real life incident in my family. My youngest daughter, she found a muddy little blue bunny in the flower bed that had obviously been there for years. And just like the mother in the story, I said, ‘It will break the washing machine if we put that bunny in the washing machine.’ She really begged me to keep it and she still has that blue bunny which must have been dropped by a child in the garden a long time ago but we managed to clean Blue Bunny up pretty well. So that was also inspired by something that happened in my family. (Thanks to Nick Jeffery for the link and time, ~7:50)

The finding of Blue Bunny is perhaps the single most important moment in Christmas Pig outside of the Harrowing of the Loser’s Lair (as I explained in an epic post ‘Christmas Pig 5: The Blue Bunny‘). I love this Omaha news story, consequently, and suspect that in a few years no one will find and rescue a Blue Bunny or even a lavender one and not think, “Just like the story!”

The Blue Bunny Lives! Long Live the Blue Bunny!

Christmas Pig 6: The Ring Composition

Evan Willis in his ‘For the Straightforward Past Was Lost: A Few Starting Notes on The Christmas Pig‘ wrote about the story’s ring structure:

While a more detailed analysis will need to be done with greater precision, I think we have all the signs of a well-crafted ring narrative. On first read, here are the parallels that stood out to me. We have parts 1+9 centered on the real world, echoed in the middle in part 5 where Jack finds out from Bullyboss what pain had led to Holly’s throwing DP out the car window. Other echoes across the center include Recycling in parts 1 and 8, the Earrings in Mislaid and the City of the Missed, the centrality of the problem of power and politics in parts 4 and 6 on opposite sides of the center. Again, there is much more to do here.

Evan’s first thoughts, as I described in Part 2 of my series of posts on The Christmas Pig, remain an important touchstone for anyone trying to understand Rowling’s artistry and meaning in this story. In this sixth Perennialist reading I pick up the challenge he implicitly made to do a closer examination of The Christmas Pig’s nine part structure.

The post will have three sections: (1) an introduction to traditional ‘turtle-back’ ring composition story structure, (2) a look at Christmas Pig as a nine piece ring with the latch of beginning and end, the story-turn and key ‘meaning in the middle’ of Part Five, The Wastes of the Unlamented, and the correspondences between Parts 2 and 8, 3 and 7, and 4 and 6, and (3) a Perennialist explanation of why this structure simultaneously parallels and advances the subliminal work of transforming the reader.

Join me after the jump for a look ‘under the hood’ at the mechanisms that give Christmas Pig much of the  moral and message it has as something of a spiritual journey and bizarro compass. [Read more…]