The Three Final ‘Deathly Hallows’ Chapters Begin With Harry Potter “Lying Face Down.” So What?

I am just back from a wonderful speaking tour during which I gave talks at a C. S. Lewis Conference in Oklahoma City, an Anglican church outside St. Louis, a Community Center in Sikeston, Missouri, and at Augustana College. The topics ranged from Lewis’ Space Trilogy and its alchemical relevance in understanding Michael Ward’s astrological Planet Narnia thesis to ‘Why We Love or Despise Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight Books’ with a few stops to unlock Harry Potter and unpack his Christian content. I had a lot of fun, sold a few books, and made a bunch of friends and reconnected with others. Many, many thanks to Messrs Aaron and Steven Taylor in Oklahoma City, Eighth Day Books’ Joshua, Fr. Matthew Mayes and Dr. and Mrs. David Stroud in Missouri (and Sara!), and Pastor Richard Priggie, English Education Elly, and Dental  Stephanie at Augustana for making the trip as enjoyable and edifying as it was for me.

I spoke with Pastor Priggie’s ‘Postmodernism and Harry Potter’ class on Wednesday and then again that night over pizza about the last chapters and epilogue of Deathly Hallows. The class I spoke with last year showed up for the evening discussion (or was it the pizza?) and the discussion largely turned on an observation by Amanda Rodriguez of a story point that had escaped me entirely. She noted that the last three chapters of Deathly Hallows begin with Harry lying face down.

Perhaps you noticed that and have discussed it at length at other Potter fan sites. Forgive me if you caught that as Amanda did and if you think its meaning is straight forward or has been beaten to death. I certainly didn’t make this catch until Miss Rodriguez brought it to my attention and am unaware of discussion of the point because I don’t surf even the better Potter sites (Hog’s Head excepted, of course). And, as comprehensive as The Deathly Hallows Lectures is, this isn’t mentioned in that valuable resource. I think it is worth discussing what this face-first posture means in itself, in relation to the last three chapters, and how they work together. [Read more…]

‘Anne of Green Gables’ and Harry Potter

Where have I been over the holidays? Mostly on Prince Edward Island with Anne of Green Gables. I’m working on a new book, tentatively titled Bella Swan’s Bookshelf (creative, I know) about the literary influences playing on the Twilight series and that requires a lot of reading time with Lucy Maud Montgomery’s green and grey-eyed red-head.

We’ve discussed the possible influence of Anne on the Hogwarts Saga before (see Anne Shirley vs. Harry Potter from the archives of the Anne Lexicon site and my response here if you missed that). I want to re-visit the topic for three reasons: [Read more…]

Reviews of ‘Harry Potter’s Bookshelf’

Harry Potter’s Bookshelf has been out for a week now and there are 8 reviews up on its page. They are all five star recommendations and all are very generous in their praise. Here are four, just in case you’re still on the fence about buying a copy: [Read more…]

Chamber of Secrets: Harry’s Eye-dentity

Today at lunch I was talking with my family about the talks I’ll be giving at Summer School in Forks: A Twilight Symposium (Register today, if you haven’t already!). The first one will be Bella Swan at Hogwarts: The Important Influence of the Potter Novels and Potter Mania on Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. I’ll be discussing the similarities and differences in how Mrs. Meyer and Rowling use story voice to win reader buy-in and identification, apply Gothic touches for a ‘fallen world’ backdrop, build a school setting, blend genres, foster a ‘shipping controversy, push the pervasive message that choice is the life-defining value, and develop a theme of hidden magic in which supernatural reality is just out of sight.

At lunch, though, what I talked about was eyeballs, because both these authors hang much of their meaning on their use of eyeballs in an exploration of ‘vision.’ [If you want to read about this as it applies to the meaning of Harry Potter, see chapter 5 of my The Deathly Hallows Lectures, ‘The Seeing Eye.’] My children have heard the Deathly Hallows eyeball lecture enough times that they can verbally reel off the five eyeballs in the series finale without straining and they were curious to hear about the Twilight eyes. I made an aside to my eight year old, Zossima, about Harry being a story symbol for spiritual vision, hence his ability to see but not be seen under the Invisibility Cloak. The Z-Man responded, “Just like in the Flying Car in Chamber of Secrets.” [Read more…]

The Divine Mirror in Pilgrim’s Progress

Mirrors are a big part of fantasy literature in the English tradition. It starts in a big way with the Alice classics by Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson), an Oxford Platonist, Anglican clergyman, and mathematician, when he sends his heroine Through the Looking Glass and it echos through Goudge’s work (as we saw yesterday), Tolkien’s Mirror of Galadriel and Frodo’s Light which is essentially a phial of water taken from the pool-mirror, up to the Godfather mirror fragment that plays such a large part in Deathly Hallows.

The tradition of mirrors in fantasy fiction and its origin in the natural theology and logos epistemology of Samuel Taylor Coleridge is discussed at length in The Deathly Hallows Lectures, chapter 5, ‘The Seeing Eye,’ so I won’t beat that to death again here. What I want to share today is what I think may be the first and what is certainly the most important pre-Coleridge use of a mirror that reflects the ‘I’ that is, as Lewis says, “a sacred name.” [Read more…]