Lorrie Kim on Snape and Dumbledore

Lorrie Kim, author of Snape: A Definitive Reading, gave a talk at this year’s Leaky Con on the relationship of Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore, perhaps the two must idiosyncratic and powerful wizards ever to be Headmasters at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. If, like me, you were unable to weekend in Boston this year and missed the talk, Ms Kim has generously posted her notes for this talk at her website. Enjoy ‘And My Soul, Dumbledore? The Dumbledore-Snape Relationship’!

Hat-tip to Kelly for the great find.


Selected Readers’ Comments in Response to the NYTimes Article of 9/23/2019 “Harry Potter and the Poorly-Read Exorcists”

I have chosen not to comment publicly about the controversy in Tennessee about a priest who pulled the Harry Potter novels from the library of his parish’s school. David Martin, though, long time friend of this blog, put together something of interest, I think, that is of ‘Shared Text’ interest, namely, the responses to the priest’s decision in the letters page of the New York Times, America’s ‘paper of record.’ Enjoy!

On September 23rd, the New York Times published an opinion piece entitled “Harry Potter and the Poorly-Read Exorcists.” (The piece can be seen here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/23/opinion/banned-books-harry-potter.html ) This piece noted that it was then Banned Books Week (see https://bannedbooksweek.org/ ) and expended a fair amount of ink criticizing the Catholic priest Fr Reehil in Nashville who in August banned the Harry Potter books from a Catholic school where he worked. (Sigh. To quote a Sunday school lesson of my youth, “Not all the servants of the great King are as wise as the great King Himself.)

The coverage given to this unusual bit of censorship – and the failure to note that such censorship of Harry Potter is unusual (now) – gave the article an anti-Catholic tone. Or perhaps even an anti-religion in general tone. Those of us who find faith both in the Bible and in Harry Potter can be glad that some of the comments by the readers have a different orientation. What follows is a selection of readers’ comments on the original New York Times article. These comments represent an admittedly minority view among the comments, but let us be glad that the other side of the issue is being expressed.

(To see all the comments on the original article, go to https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/23/opinion/banned-books-harry-potter.html#commentsContainer and then, when the comments column appears on the right side of the screen, click on the word “All” at the beginning of the comments.)

David Martin of Hufflepuff


From: Andrew Parker
In: Houston

I am an Episcopal priest and a huge Harry Potter fan. I read the books to my children and have three times led a vacation Bible School based on the books (Wizard and Wonders by leaderresources.org) I also recommend “God and Harry Potter at Yale” by the Rev. Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio. To quote an old Episcopal ad “Jesus died to take away your sins, not your mind.”

More after the jump!

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Guest Post – Bezoar: The Princely Stone

Pratibha Rai is an Oxford University graduate and she has been a Harry Potter partisan since 2001. Her research today mostly concerns the sociology of collecting in early modern Europe. She enjoys finding parallels between Harry Potter and history of art — and you will enjoy reading what she has discovered about that life-saving short-cut antidote, the Bezoar!

Bezoar: the Princely Stone

For today’s lesson, we descend to the shadowy dungeons of Hogwarts to “learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making”. As Philosopher’s Stone describes, it is “colder here than up in the main castle and would have been quite creepy”. Among its steaming cauldrons and apothecary jars, Harry Potter learnt of the power of potions under the watchful eye of Professor Snape. In the first ever Potions class in chapter 8 of Philosopher’s Stone, Snape teaches the class about the unusual Bezoar stone, which has the ability to cure the victim of almost any poison (except Basilisk venom). In order to chastise Harry for not paying attention in class, Snape quizzes Harry: “where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?” Only to answer the question himself: “A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save you from most poisons.” We know that bezoars were stocked in the Potions classroom cupboard and in the hospital wing of Hogwarts (both mentioned in chapter 18, Half-Blood Prince). The Potions textbook Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger also contains a recipe called ‘The Antidote to Common Poisons’, which uses ingredients such as Bezoars, mistletoe berries, and ground unicorn horn. Though Harry had not shrugged off the mysterious antidote in his first Potions class, his life at Hogwarts was to be particularly shaped by it. [Read more…]

Guest Post: Lethal White and Strike5 — Clues to the Harringay Crime Syndicate, Digger Malley, and Securicor (Swans!)

A guest post from Serious Striker, Joanne Gray!

Did Lethal White’s Epilogue Give Hints To Book 5?

The fourth Strike book, Lethal White, starts from where Career of Evil had literally left the reader standing at the alter a moment after Robin’s wedding day “I do.” This cliffhanger gave a logical starting point for the next book, but it didn’t provide the reader with any hint on what the mystery part of Strike 4’s storyline might be.

Now that we’ve had time to read Lethal White, we know that there is no cliffhanger ending that will bridge book 4 to book 5. So it appears that we have an open field of story line possibilities when it comes to what the main mystery plot will be for the fifth book of the series.

Fortunately we do have one real place to comb for clues since Lethal White ended with an epilogue. I confess I didn’t expect to find much but it seems that there are what can be seen as several signposts planted on the last two pages of the epilogue. It will only be clear if they truly are pointing to the Strike 5 story line when the fifth book is published but until then I give for your consideration three incidences of what I believe are deliberate (albeit subjective) signposts that appear in Lethal White’s epilogue.

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Guest Post: Is ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ the Prophecy of the Cormoran Strike Series? Strike5 and Treasure Island

Whodunit?: Some Thoughts on the Strike Finale by Chris Calderon

While predicting the future of a popular book series is something I’ll probably never be entirely comfortable with, the fact is I’ve got a rough idea of what could be in store for some of the main characters of J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike Mysteries. It all boils down to two ideas which, taken together, could form the briefest potential outline for the over-arching meta-narrative of the series: Who Killed Leda Strike? The rubric for this narrative involves echoes of one specific work from the Literary Canon. A good overall descriptor label for it might be:

The Treasure Island Scenario

The two ideas that make up this prediction go as follows.

(1) The solution to the mystery of Leda’s death could revolve around one giant, three part hunt for a definitive clue that will reveal all of the guilty parties and all potential motives. The nature of this Clue Treasure Hunt could be confined to just Books 6 and 7 or else it could always start with Strike 5 depending on how the author decides to move forward with her meta-narrative.

(2) This hunt for the vital clue would essentially make the final triad in the Strike series a literary riff or parody of R.L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island. This is what the basic outline of one possibility for the next three books amounts to. Strike and Robin might uncover a piece of information, possibly through one of Shanker’s contacts, that Leda left behind some very incriminating evidence that would throw open all the answers to her death. From there, “Mystic Bob” and His Gal Friday would be off on a hunt for the location of the major stash of hidden evidence along with hoping to uncover any reliable information as to its whereabouts.

Is Treasure Island a stretch for Rowling to use as her model? That book is a ring composition, as is the author’s Kidnapped, Rowling lives in Edinburgh, a city which lionizes its Stevenson legacy everywhere, and he is best known for his children’s books as is Rowling.

The Nature of Leda’s Clue

I have a very specific idea of what kind of clue would make sense on both a surface and thematic level that would help tie in Strike’s narrative with that of Harry’s. It all revolves around one of the inspirations Rowling has pointed to in the making of her books. It’s the hit single Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. The reason why the song could serve as a useful series maguffin has to do with the nature and meaning of the song itself. [Read more…]