Guest Post: Second Annual Serious Reader Christmas Gift Guide

From Chris Chalderon:  a Reading List for 2015 — all the books you won’t get for Christmas (and wouldn’t have wanted to give away…). Thank you, Chris!

Another HogwartsProfessor Christmas Gift and 2015 New Years Reading List

I admit it, I don’t have an original thought in my head.  Every time around this year it’s always the same.  You find yourself in the position of having to choose something to give to either the kids, husband or wife.  Let’s face it, it’s been more than 50 something years of holiday gift giving, and apparently this job is never going to get any easier.  All those whose gift lists currently include new sweaters, sign in and let me know!

I wish I had some words of wisdom about this sort of thing, but each heart is a very intricate and individual thing, and finding what really makes each one happy is task for several lifetimes.  Instead, all I got is a bunch of measly suggestions for books I thought others might get a kick out of.  However, like I said, each heart is intricate, and because of that, each book is listed under a heading designed for certain groups of readers, from those who like to delve all the way into literature, to those who’d just a like a good story.

The best that can happen with these gifts – for others or for oneself – is that they might awake the two things that matter most for a child, curiosity and imagination.  Enjoy!

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Guest Post: ‘Real or Not Real (Again)’

Friend-of-this-blog Chaya Golan sent me these notes on Katniss Everdeen and Bella Swann. I thought them so good that I begged her to let me share them with you. Enjoy!

Real or Not Real (again)

In The Hunger Games, as John and others participating in the discussion on this site have noted, one major theme is “real or not real”.  In Mockingjay, Peeta is characterized as the person who has trouble determining reality because he was “highjacked”.  While the brainwashing and memory tampering he has suffered is certainly a violation and a weapon used against Katniss that she and her team are challenged to overcome, I would like to discuss a second person who throughout the series appears to have a problem with “real or not real”: that person is Katniss herself.

As the ultimate survivor, Katniss would appear to have a good grip on reality.  And she does on certain aspects of it.  But her survival and her ultimate redemption are dependent on Peeta’s love for her (and then her love for him) – and his love she is oblivious to for a long time.  That might not be so odd – except that everyone around her is aware of it. [Read more…]

Guest Post: On the PotterMore Epilogue and Good Endings

From ChrisC — Enjoy!

Getting it Right: Some thought’s on the Pottermore Epilogue, Canon Narrative, and the Importance of Endings.

I’m curious.  How did everyone else feel about the Quidditch epilogue that J.K. Rowling wrote on her Pottermore website, the one that was told from the point of view of Rita Skeeter?  Did you think it was good, did it strike you as bad?  Or were you somewhere in between?

My own two cents?

For the record, I thought it was unnecessary, really.  For one thing, nothing is really added to the characters we already know, or at least nothing that broadens them. They are never given a whole new dimension that can be ascertained whenever going back to the original books.  They remain static, or at least the same as they were in the closing of Book 7.  All manner of things are still well, it seems, nothing more.  We don’t even get an ending with the word “Scar”.  In other words, I’m just not seeing any of the characters progress.  In further words, the reason for that is because it seems the characters have either finished, or just run out of things to say, do, tell, or show.

Reading the addition does however bring up (at least for me) certain matters that have been on my mind lately.  You see, with all of the extras being tossed our way; first by Pottermore; then talk of a Newt Scamander film; even (if you can believe it) the possibility of a play centering on Harry’s early years with the Durslesy before the events of Book 1; all this makes me wonder just what kind of  the audience might attach to it all? [Read more…]

Guest Post: The Literary Alchemy of Doctor Who

Carol Eshleman is an avid Potter scholar and Doctor Who enthusiast. She has spoken at conferences at UNC, the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and at Potter conferences in Orlando. She teaches Law Studies, Speech, and is the theatre director at Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie, Louisiana. She spoke at Leaky Con this summer in Orlando on alchemy and Dr Who. Enjoy!

The Doctor and the Rose: Doctor Who and Alchemy in the Russell T. Davies Era

Doctor Who fans are familiar with the concept of time travel.  We often see how actions from the past influence and color the future.  Images from the past reappear in new but clearly recognizable ways.  Let me share with you my observations of alchemical imagery that is present throughout the Russell T. Davies era of the Doctor’s journey.

Many of us are familiar with alchemy as the pseudo-science that gave rise to modern chemistry, and it is true that there were medieval alchemists who were literally trying to turn base metals into gold.  Eventually, alchemy evolved to carry more philosophical and spiritual meaning, and the physical process gave way to an allegorical pilgrimage of the soul towards eternal life.  This allegory made its way into medieval literature and continues to be used by diligent authors to enhance their narratives with spiritual depth.  Potter scholar John Granger has done tremendous work in uncovering alchemical imagery in J. K. Rowling’s series.  Allow me now to take a similar path along the time stream of our favorite Gallifreyan.

That the Doctor should be a figure associated with a body of imagery concerned with resurrection and eternal life is no revelation.  The Doctor’s ability to regenerate and begin again with a new face and personality makes any section of his personal narrative open to this sort of interpretation.  However, the Doctor as we see him at the beginning of the 2005 reboot is more than ever in need of a transformation.  Reeling after his actions in the Time War, he is now the last of the Time Lords and is struggling to find direction and meaning.  Who does he encounter first but a girl named Rose, and this is very significant (so significant that Russell Davies titles the first episode of the reboot “Rose,” a character that the audience has never encountered instead of something about the character that the audience has waited nearly a decade to see).  The rose is a symbol of the completed alchemical work, the Philosopher’s Stone, which has the power to transform base metals into gold and create the elixir of eternal life, but let’s not jump too far ahead just yet.  There are several stages that the material must go through before it is fully transformed.  As we study the alchemical journey that the Doctor takes through the Davies era, we’ll see that the Time Lord’s narrative aligns with the events and stages of the alchemical work to eventually coalesce into a portrait of resurrection and redemption. [Read more…]

Guest Post: The Bloomsbury Group and ‘The Silkworm’

ChrisC is a regular guest writer at HogwartsProfessor. He responded with what follows to my request that he write up thoughts he shared in private correspondence about J. K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike detective novels for your comment and correction. Enjoy!

Rowling, the Bloomsbury Group, and the (Possible) Literary Allegory of Silkworm

Throughout The Silkworm, author J.K Rowling offers what is more or less a running commentary on the current state of the publishing industry, and the authors who make up the literary world.

It’s not a pretty picture.

Throughout his investigation, Cormoran Strike runs afoul of publishers consumed by greed (with an implied over-fixation on any and everything digital that that hurts sales more than it benefits), writer’s quarreling among themselves for various slights both real, imagined, major, and minor.  Throughout all this it soon becomes (or at least should be) evident that the great majority of Silk is taken up with a scathing critique or Allegorical Satire of the Literary Establishment.

It’s the nature of that Satire that I’m interested in.  It’s been suggested here already that the Strike books are Ms. Rowling’s smuggled literary Key to the Potter Books.  Whether or not that prediction will hold true is a matter of time and whatever is written in the final books.  In the meantime, there were two clues that may hint at the possibly bigger literary fish has in mind with her Satire. [Read more…]