Guest Post: The Father in Running Grave

Spoilers ahead! The subject is taken from a brief mention of a play two characters in London attend, an event in the excerpted Running Grave chapters released last week. If you don’t want to know about that, go no further.

Running Grave, Chapter 9

If you are like me, you let the reference to the play, The Father, in the extended excerpt that was briefly available to readers last week (available now only via screenshots like the above) skip right past you. I had not heard of the play or the movie adaptations so there was no ‘hook’ to catch my attention.

Lana Whited, though, one of the very few members of the Royal Society of Rowling Readers to have made significant contributions to Potter Punditry in all three of its critical generations, doesn’t need hooks; she knows that such asides in a Strike novel are almost surely meaningful. She sent me a brief note this morning about it and I asked her if I could share it here as a Guest Post. Enjoy!

While I definitely don’t consider myself to be a “Serious Striker,” I am intrigued that the play Robin and Murphy are seeing is Florian Zeller’s The Father, and when I looked up that title, I discovered some interesting, potentially meaningful facts. The original play is Le pere, which won the Molière prize for best play in 2014 and is part of a trilogy. The other two plays are (as you might guess) Le mere and Le fils. Le pere was first performed in September 2012 and ran in the West End of London in 2015. There is a French film adaptation called Floride and a 2020 film (directed by Zeller) called The Father with Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins. The 2020 film won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Hopkins won for Best Actor. 

The main character in Zeller’s play apparently has lost a daughter named LUCY in the past (to an accident, apparently) but doesn’t always recall that she is dead as his dementia progresses. Based on descriptions I’ve read, the plays’ themes seem to concern whether a person can trust their loved ones, which sounds very familiar to those of us who have read the preview chapters. There’s an adaptation of The Son on Netflix, the third play to be written (about 2018). In addition, the main character is Pierre (anglicized as Peter and also Peter in the Netflix film), which may invoke John’s “John and Peter” theory nicely. 

This is all new information to me this afternoon, and I’m still processing it. But clearly the name of the play, like virtually every other detail in Rowling’s work, functions like a hyperlink to various associations that may turn out to be relevant.

Dr Whited is Professor of English & Director of the Boone Honors Program at Ferrum College and editor of The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon (2002), the first published collection of critical essays on the Hogwarts Saga, of Critical Insights: The Harry Potter Series (2015), and the long-anticipated third-generation (‘Generation Hex’) anthology The Ivory Tower, Harry Potter, and Beyond, to be published later this year. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading her insights, check out The ‘Beasts Within’ of Fantastic Beasts: ‘Here Be Dragons (and Phoenixes).’

Chris Calderon – J. K. Rowling, the Beatles and the Counterculture Revolution

Yesterday, long time friend of Hogwarts Professor, Chris Calderon shared his insights into the shared 1960’s heritage of both Dylan Thomas and the popularisation of The I Ching. For me the most remarkable part of this find is the existence of a documentary, filmed in 2000 as J. K. Rowling was approaching a similar level of fame, about the Beatles featuring Rowling herself. Today, Chris will take us through this film and her appearances – enjoy!
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Chris Calderon – The Beatles and Strike 7

With J. K. Rowling confirming that the epigraphs for The Running Grave are from the I Ching and the title seemingly derived from a Dylan Thomas poem, what can this tell us of the contents of Strike 7?

This is the question veteran Hogwarts Professor stalwart Chris Calderon explores, with some surprising help from the Fab Four!. [Read more…]

Guest Post: “What’s With Robin?”

Today’s HogwartsProfessor post is from a Serious Striker writing under the pseudonym ‘Albus.’ It is more a cry of the heart about Robin Ellacott’s choices in Ink Black Heart than an analysis of the mythic or anagogical content of Strike6 or speculation about The Running Grave, which is to say, it represents a departure from most of what we write and discuss here. I publish it with some misgiving; I do not find the interrogation of Pierce a lapse in ethics or morality, as ‘Albus’ does, Puritanical as I must seem to many. The decision to ‘bug’ the offices of a Parliament office not mentioned in this piece, seemed a far greater jump into illicit behavior than Ms Ellacott’s manipulation of a sleazy character to tell all.

That caveat aside, I offer ‘What’s With Robin?’ for your reflection on how one thoughtful reader experienced the sea-change of Robin Ellacott in Ink Black Heart. If you are like me after my first reading, you may suspect that this experience of disappointment and confusion may have been the point of Rowling-Galbraith’s choices with respect to this character’s story-arc, the hardening of Robin into someone less sympathetic and admirable by conventional standards, into a woman able to journey through the psychological forge of hell successfully. See the post on the Psyche and Cupid mythic backdrop of Ink Black Heart for more on that possibility.

I hope readers will respond in the comment boxes with their take-away with respect to Robin’s choices in Strike6, especially with respect to the Pierce interview. Are you more with or against Albus’ reading of the mystery? Was it an aberration and mistake on the author’s part or a calculated move to disturb and challenge the reader? Make the jump for Albus’ “What’s With Robin?” [Read more…]

Lancelot Schaubert – Alchemical Alliteration

Long time friend of the Hogwarts Professor and prolific author Lancelot Schubert has written a guest post. For a fascinating possible link between alliteration, doubled consonants, alchemical symbolism and Christian imagery, join me after the jump!



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