DH:II Film Countdown 2

So, as promised, we are dusting off some of our “greatest hits” of Deathly Hallows Posts, in case you missed them the first time out, or in case a nasty Memory charm backfired and obliterated your recollection of them. Here  is a great “bonus” post–thirty of the threads from the novel’s intial release in 2007. Remember those days? I was still drinking cocoa and trying to recover. Enjoy this great visit down memory lane, with posts on subjects from symbolism to fairy tales to  reader reaction back when the last book was big news! As we get ready to revisit the last half of the story via the cinema, we can revist some of these great ideas, too! Enjoy! And don’t forget to send in those requests!

Mailbag: Revisiting the Albus-Severus Suicide Pact

A young reader wrote to me several weeks ago to thank me for my books and ask a question. He closed by saying he aspired to someday making his living by just reading, writing, and talking about Harry Potter, what he imagined was a “dream life.”

I couldn’t really encourage him in this aspiration — the Potter Pundit category is rapidly becoming a crowded space! — but he is right to say that my job, if you can call the time I spend as one of the Hogwarts Professors here a job, is delightful. Almost all of my interactions with serious readers in person, online, and by correspondence is edifying, enlightening, even challenging. I respond to all my mail, to my wife’s distress as I fall further behind on deadlines, even when it is only challenging.

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The Life and Lies of — Bertolt Brecht?

Amnon Halel, whose notes to me from Israel always throw new light on the Hogwarts Saga, sent this last week about a possible source for the title of Rita Skeeter’s acid-pen biography The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore. Mr. Halel wrote:

When I read the title The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore in Deathly Hallows, I thought of John Fuegi’s famous biography of Brecht: “The Life and Lies of Bertolt Brecht (1994). Both books are sensationalistic biographies that are hundreds of pages long, full of contempt for their subject, and each uses some  facts and evidence mixed in with strong biased interpretations and bad intentions to prove the man is not a hero but a liar.

I didn’t find any comparison or connection of these books on the Internet and I wonder what do you think? Is it just coincidence?

I asked Amnon to write up this catch as a post himself but he asked me to do it in return. Here, then, is a short survey of this fascinating possibility:

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Mailbag Query: Seeing Thestrals And Seeing Death

Mr. Granger: In Deathly Hallows, Ms. Rowling writes that Harry witnessed his mother’s death.  If this is true, why doesn’t he see the thestrals until after Cedric dies?

I believe Ms. Rowling has answered this in an interview or her web site; please do a search at JKRowling.com and Accio Quotes!

My quick answer, probably reflecting what I’ve read with my own thoughts stirred in, is that the ability to see Thestrals, a transformed vision in a Saga largely about seeing correctly and at greater depth, is a function of how the mind changes in its ability to grasp profound and difficult meaning — represented neatly by the mythic creatures suggestive of death, the Thestrals — after a confrontation with life’s ending.

Harry experience of death as an infant was not changed by what he saw, at least not internally, hence it is Cedric’s death in the Hangleton graveyard which opens his eyes, if you will. Great question — and please let me know what you find in your search for Ms. Rowling’s answer. [For more on the eyes of Deathly Hallows and Coleridgean transformed vision in imaginative literature, see chapter 5 of The Deathly Hallows Lectures, ‘The Seeing Eye.’]

Mailbag: Three Hallows Spotted in Genesis?

I hope you enjoyed the Hedwick inspired Spotted Dick! Today’s question is  — Is there a Biblical root for the three Hallows?

I was reading up on the Bible and found something and it seemed that Harry Potter correlated to it. I was wondering of your opinion of whether or not it is something significant and JK’s meaning for using it in the books. In Genesis 38 there is the story of Judah and Tamar where he is about to sleep with her and she asks him to give her something as a collateral to make sure he sends her the goat that he will owe her. She asks for his “signet-ring, his cloak, and the staff”. The Deathly Hallows are way too similar to these three things for me to think that JK Rowling did not use those three objects as some allusion to the Bible.

What do you think?

My first impulse, forgive me, is to say, no chance.” But this is more likely than I thought. For those of us not familiar with Genesis 38, here is the text in question. Note especially verse 18:

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