Hidden (and obvious) Treasures on the Robert Galbraith Website

One of the great benefits of the sales numbers of the Strike novels, including Troubled Blood, is that there are some nice resources available for both casual fans and serious readers. And one of the wonderful aspects of the “old days” of Harry Potter excitement was the delightful Rowling website where we discovered her inspiration sketches and outtakes by watering virtual plants or making calls on a The Cuckoo's Calling readalongvirtual flip phone and where forthcoming books titles were revealed in Christmas decorations. While the “grown-up” Robert Galbraith website does not have quite as many (literal) bells and whistles (really, I tried my best to make those R and G type pieces spin or turn into something else), it does have some nice little tidbits that are both fun and useful for our serious reading adventures. If you have not already, you can sign up for the newsletter here as well. Join me after the jump for a review of some of the site features as well as a few wishes for forthcoming offerings at the online home of our Denmark heroes and their pseudonym-wielding creator.

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Beatrice Groves: Trouble in Faerie Land3 T’was Duessa Who Did the Dirty Deed!

Oxford University’s Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, has written the finale of her three posts about Edmund Spencer and Troubled Blood, posts that are all now up at her MuggleNet page, ‘Bathilda’s Notebook.’ Check out Trouble in Faerie Land – Part 3: Searching for Duessa in “Troubled Blood”.

In her capstone post on the subject, Prof Groves does a deep dive into the parallels between the Bad Girl of Spenser’s Faerie Queen, Duessa, and the doppelganger murderer of Margot Bamborough in Troubled Blood. She offers along the way fascinating and brilliant catches on the meaning of Cratylic Names in Strike 5 as well as several Spenser and Elizabethan era fun facts that throw light in the dark corner of the Faerie Queen epigraphs.

Part Three: Searching for Duessa in “Troubled Blood” is both more accessible and rewarding, I think, to the serious reader unfamiliar with Faerie Queen than Prof Groves’ first two posts on the subject,Trouble in Faerie Land (Part One): Spenserian Clues in the Epigraphs of Troubled BloodandTroubles in Faerie Land (Part Two): Shipping Robin and Strike in the Epigraphs of Troubled Blood.’

You do need to read all three, of course, as well as Elizabeth Baird-Hardy’s seven part discussion of the Faerie Queen epigraph bonanza here at HogwartsProfessor, to appreciate the fullness of Rowling’s use of Faerie Queen as mirroring text both above and within Troubled Blood (i.e., the work is never mentioned in Strike5 but it introduces every Part and chapter as well as the work as a whole).

And all this literary detective work has been done within a month of Troubled Blood’s publication! My first post on the relationship of Ibsen’s Rosmersholm and Rowling-Galbraith’s Lethal White, in contrast, was four months out from Strike 4’s publication and Prof Groves did not write about it for almost two years (cf., ‘The Epigraphs of Lethal White: Shipping Strike and Robin’).

It goes without saying that there is a lot of heavy lifting to be done still to get at the artistry and meaning of Troubled Blood, but the Serious Strikers of the world, those who read the novels repeatedly rather than ‘once and done,’ owe a great debt to Profs Groves and Baird-Hardy. Both the speed with which they have written and the quality of the work each has done in bringing to light how Rowling-Galbraith uses Faerie Queen as a support and illuminating backdrop to Troubled Blood will inform all consequent exegesis of the work.

Three cheers!

 

Troubled Blood: Cormoran Strike’s Journey with Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner

Elizabeth Baird-Hardy and Beatrice Groves have been writing about the Spenserian epigraphs adorning each of Troubled Blood’s seven Parts and all of its seventy three chapters, and, for those few, too-happy few Rowling readers well versed in Faerie Queen this has no doubt been a challenging and rewarding effort in literary exegesis. It is an unstated but key premise to everything we write here, I realized this morning, that Rowling writes and speaks to two audiences simultaneously — to those who read her work for entertainment and inspiration and to those who read her work (to include longer twitter threads as well as her novels and series!) for the text beneath the surface of the text, the narrative undergirding the plot narrative revealing the meaning of narratives in our lives. The Faerie Queen posts are, no doubt, examples of the hidden text within what the Russian Formalists called ‘literariness’ and we owe a real debt to Profs Baird-Hardy and Groves for the slow-mining they do per Ruskin to bring this gold to the light of day.

The problem with this work is that I do not think the overlap portion of a Venn diagram of ‘Readers of Troubled Blood,’ ‘Readers of Harry Potter,’ and ‘Readers of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queen‘ constitutes even a very small shared sub-set of serious readers. More to the point, perhaps, in an area proportional Venn diagram in which the three sets of readers are represented in size relative to the number of their living members, the Faerie Queen set, alas, is the smallest of the three — and has virtually no overlap, with the important exception of Profs. Baird Hardy and Groves, with the other sets.

No doubt Rowling labors here to foster interest in Spenser’s epic poem among her faithful as well as her Straussian readers of her public and hidden texts, of her surface and hidden meanings, just as she did with Silkworm’s Jacobean Revenge Drama epigraphs and Lethal White’s chapter heading glosses from Ibsen’s Rosmersholm. But Faerie Queen is by far the biggest ‘ask’ in this regard, one with rewards proportionate to the time and effort necessary to enter Spenser’s realm, and the prompting I have to think that will be the least likely to be taken, even with the encouraging glosses written by Serious Strikers.

What I wish to offer today for your consideration is a much less obvious parallel text within Troubled Blood, one that many more if by no means most Troubled Blood readers have already read and which all could read with understanding in less than an hour. This work, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,’ when read in parallel with Troubled Blood, highlights essential artistry and meanings of Rowling’s latest, of Rowling’s oeuvre taken as a whole, and even of the references to Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare in Strike 5. Join me after the jump for a deep dive into the parallels between Mariner and the fifth Strike novel, an Estecean interpretive journey through Troubled Blood! [Read more…]

Spenser and Strike Part Seven: Changes for the Better

Troubled Blood - StrikeFans.comLong overdue, but here, at last, is the seventh installment in our series on Edmund Spenser’s Strike influence. As we The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spensersuspected from the first preview peeks at the Table of Contents for Troubled Blood, The Faerie Queene’s influence for this installment of the Denmark Street mysteries goes far beyond catchy little opening quotations to get the reader’s attention at the beginnings of sections and chapters. Rowling-Galbraith has skillfully woven in connections with Edmund Spenser’s grand epic poem, and delightfully mirrors the structure of the poem with the structure of the novel. As we’ve now reached the end, that brings us to Part Seven of Troubled Blood and the (sadly) incomplete Book VII of The Faerie Queene, so join me after the jump for seven thoughts about the great connections between these short ending pieces of really long texts!

The posts in this series in sequence can be found at these embedded links:

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Beatrice Groves: Trouble in Faerie Land

Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, has written two posts about Edmund Spencer and Troubled Blood, posts that are now up at her MuggleNet page.

Trouble in Faerie Land (Part One): Spenserian Clues in the Epigraphs of Troubled Blood‘ and ‘Troubles in Faerie Land (Part Two): Shipping Robin and Strike in the Epigraphs of Troubled Blood‘ are up and ready for your perusal and edification.

Spencer Fans should also check out the musings of Elizabeth Baird-Hardy, author of Milton, Spenser and the Chronicles of Narnia: Literary Sources for the C.S. Lewis Novels, about the Spenser epigraphs used in each of the seven parts of Troubled Blood:

Enjoy!