Guest Post: Janet Batchler on ‘Newt Scamander’

Janet Batchler, profound Potter Pundit, renowned Hollywood screenwriter, USC prof, and friend of this blog, left her thoughts about the new Joanne Rowling film project on a thread where many readers might miss it so we’ve bumped it up to a Guest Post for your comments and corrections> Thank you, Janet, for dropping in!

Coming to the discussion here of the Newt Scamander film late, but thought I’d check in as a voice from Hollywood.

•I doubt WB “put the squeeze on” JKR.  …When my writing partner and I were asked to write a Batman movie, the call from WB to our agent began, “We’re offering you Warner Bros.’ most important corporate asset.”  That’s what HP is now:  WB’s most important corporate asset.  Putting the squeeze on the person who created that asset (and could create more of it) would be highly unproductive.

•We do know that WB courted JKR for over a year regarding this project.  That means that she almost certainly said no to writing an HP sequel, no to writing the story of the HP generation’s kids, no to writing the story of the Marauders, no to writing the story of the Founders. Good for her.  All of those have more than a whiff of exploitation, and there would be nothing for JKR to explore creatively.

•JKR spent most of her adult life on HP.  Since the HP saga concluded, she has been trying to do very different things.  The tension of people wanting her to return to the HP world (not just WB — all those millions of fans as well) combined with her love of that world must be overwhelming at times.  Finding a way for her to return to it that is not a retread of HP in any way is a win for everyone involved. [Read more…]

Christine Wesley: Literary Alchemy in Allegiant – Rubedo

For part one of this series of Divergent literary alchemy posts by Christine Wesley, Divergent as Nigredo, click here. For part two of this series, Insurgent as Albedo, click here.

Allegiant: “One Choice Will Define You”

Welcome to the final installment of a three-part “Unlocking” series on the allegorical, alchemical artistry behind Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy. In this post, we will attempt to predict the plot of the series finale, Allegiant, as the rubedo to Divergent’s nigredo and Insurgent’s albedo.

When we last left the pages of Insurgent, Tris and Tobias were crouched on the bottom floor of Erudite headquarters, watching a video file of Amanda Ritter/Edith Prior’s revelation that the Factions are in fact a grand experiment in human behavior, set apart to develop minds capable of rebuilding a world destroyed by moral decay. A growing concern for Tris over the course of Insurgent was whether or not to pursue the truth of what lay beyond the fence; at the cliff-hanger conclusion, we discover that the Factions, enclosed within the ruined city of Chicago, were protected from three things in the outside world:

1. The water supply

2. Technology

3. Societal structure

One hallmark of literary alchemy is the presence of soul triptychs, a trio of objects or persons that each embodies an essential aspect of human existence that, when working in harmony, produce righteous living and thinking. Intriguingly, in these three non-human elements, there exists such a tripartite division: body (water), mind (technology), and heart (society structure). The Five Factions were, in essence, separated bodily from the outside world via an enclosed water system (remember the Amity’s water filtration system and hydroponic agriculture, and Lake Michigan’s reduction to the Marsh), a yet-unknown form of technology, and a yet-unknown pattern for human relationships. These reasons for the Factions’ separation will serve as major plot points for Book 3, and I will incorporate my theories as to their explanation over the course of a larger exegesis of how Allegiant might satisfy the requirements as the Tris Prior rubedo.

As John examined in this post about the alchemy of Suzanne Collins’s Mockingjay, we can expect Roth’s rubedo novel to follow the “allegory of the soul’s transformation” in the “story of the soul’s life in the world” post-baptism, a world she finds “unrecognizable.” Alchemy is chiefly concerned with the resolution of contraries: throughout the first two books, Tris unraveled the divisions inherent in her status as one of the Divergent. In Book 1 she sorted out her conflicted understanding of Dauntless and Abnegation, and in Book 2 between Candor and Amity.  Duality and mirroring have already proved a significant theme in Divergent and Insurgent, so look for this idea to find its greatest manifestation in Allegiant, when Tris and Tobias to wrestle with their faculties for Erudite (more on that below).

Based on interviews and blog posts from Roth, Allegiant teasers released by HarperCollins, and  surface-level clues from the close of Insurgent, a few ideas can be inferred about the contraries to be resolved in Book 3. Perhaps the most interesting fact that has been revealed about Allegiant is that the book will have not one, but two narrators: Tris AND Tobias. First, Roth’s thoughts on this deviation:

[Read more…]

Guest Post: Heyden Russell on MinaLima Film Props Exhibit ‘From Weasley’s Shop to Soho: The Artwork of Harry Potter’

From Weasley’s Shop to Soho: The Artwork of Harry Potter

The job of the propmaster for most films is a very arduous task. In a fantasy film like the eight Harry Potter movies, however, the difficulty is increased tenfold. Rather than having to dress the sets and come up with props that match a specific place or a period in history, the visual design teams are assigned the task of creating an entire world and making film audiences believe that people actually live there. The results, in the case of the Harry Potter films, were some truly gorgeous props that really brought the wizarding world to life. Now several of those props have been deemed real works of art, and they’re on display at The Coningsby Gallery in London. [Read more…]

Guest Post: The Sidekick’s Journey — Neville Longbottom

The hot spots nation wide for serious study of Harry Potter, in my experience talking on campuses the last ten years, are places where a Professor is a Potter Pundit — think Pepperdine with James Thomas, Lawrence University with Edmund Kern — or where a class offered on the Hogwarts Saga has achieved something like cult status. Richard Priggie’s ‘The Soul of Harry Potter‘ course on Deathly Hallows at Augustana College is one of these and it has been my great pleasure to speak with this group (and other students at Augustana) more than once, always learning more from our exchanges than they could from me. Today I want to share an essay from one of these students, Mara Cantrell-Paulson, about Neville as Sidekick as a guest post. Let me know what you think! [Read more…]

Guest Post: ‘Treasure Island’ as Ring Composition?

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island: An Exploration of its Possible Ring Composition Story Scaffolding

by Michael Murray

I would like to heartily thank Professor John Granger for drawing my attention to this book.

If any reader has not read it, or not read it recently then I urge them to do so; I have greatly enjoyed re-reading the book. The book was published in 1885, after having been serialised in the magazine Young Folks, between 1881 to 1882.

The scenes, characters, events are all very well realised; the seaman’s language is always used to great expressive effect, and never sounds unnatural, obscure or artificial.


The story is told wholly as narrative by the central character, young Jim Hawkins. The only times Hawkins is not the narrator are chapters sixteen, seventeen and eighteen when the narrative is supplied by Doctor Livesey.

The story is told in retrospect. It opens by explaining that the following is a record of the events and circumstances consequent upon the discovery of the treasure map of a notorious privateer/pirate Captain Flint.

For those unsure of the story by now, allow me a brief run-through. [Read more…]