Tune into Queen City Mischief and Magic for the Hogwarts Professor’s first public talk, post-Troubled Blood

I was fortunate enough to be able to recruit our Headmaster for a Zoom-recorded conversation on the Cormoran Strike Series for the online Queen City Mischief and Magic festival, in this, the Year that Shall Not Be Named. This is, to my knowledge, the first public speech he has given that mentions Troubled Blood, its place in the Strike series and its connections, as predicted, to both Order of the Phoenix and Career of Evil.   

The talk was aimed at convincing adult Harry Potter fans who have not yet checked out the series to do so, and, as such, we avoid major spoilers.  There is no mention of the the killers in each book and the major developments in romantic relationships of the protagonists.

Nonetheless, Serious Strikers are invited to tune in to Facebook see the presentation.  Please leave your comments on the festival page (and hashtag your favorite Hogwarts House to earn festival points!) but please no spoilers.

Thank you, John!

Rowling: “This Witch Doesn’t Burn”

While reading Troubled Blood last week and doing all I could to avoid being ‘spoiled,’ I was unable to avoid learning that the new book by Rowling-Galbraith had been tried and found guilty of transphobia — and that some transgender activists who had been Harry Potter fans had chosen to burn their books to demonstrate their displeasure with J. K. Rowling.

I spoke with Louise Freeman this morning at the Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival about Harry Potter and Cormoran Strike. She closed our conversation with a brief discussion of whether the Strike series as a whole and Troubled Blood specifically was transphobic. Prof Freeman offered several links to reviews in UK papers that discussed and dismissed this charge as unfortunate and unfounded; she explained how someone might have imagined this in the character of Dennis Creed, but that it was an unjustified overreach to classify the book or the series in any way, not to mention “transphobic,” based on an aside about this year’s psychopath.

I offered the historical parallel of the Harry Haters during the Potter Panic of twenty years ago who believed earnestly and zealously that the Hogwarts Saga was the ‘Gateway to the Occult’ because they read the book through the Never Blinking Eye of the culture war. Harry Potter, as readers of my books and this weblog know, turned out to be a profoundly challenging and transformative work of Christian story-telling.

Today’s transgender activists, secular fundamentalists and puritanical ideologues akin to the religious Harry Haters, are now reading Cormoran Strike in search of transgressions against their dogmas and creedal cultic touchstones. Like those who burned the Potter novels for being hurtful to the soft souls of children, so today’s book burners do so in the name of oppressed and maligned transgender women. Sadly, they miss Rowling-Galbraith’s message of personal narrative and identity in the Strike books, themes of transformation as up front as her Christian symbolism was, frankly, in her first seven book series.

The reaction to Rowling’s ‘This Witch Doesn’t Burn’ tweet followed the usual lines, which is to say, “Hurrah for the Queen!” and “Burn in hell, TERF!” Both missed, I think, Rowling’s point in posting this image and message when she has.

In brief, it is a response to the book-burning and equally fiery criticism of her as a “transphobe.” Harry Potter fan sites and transgender Twitter Ustachi have done their best to “cancel” her as something of a caste Untouchable or eta. Rowling in her tweet simultaneously says she cannot be cancelled (“Doesn’t Burn”) and equates the online mob with the superstitious, violent, and dogmatic witch-burners of the legendary ‘Middle Ages.’ In one stroke, she captures what she feels is the violence, ignorance, and misogyny of those criticizing Troubled Blood, a book few have read and re-read, for a fault it does not have.

If those critics want to know how Rowling thinks and feels about their leftist laments, I think they should read chapter 42 of Troubled Blood and Strike’s reflections on the idealist college-student dinner guests at Robin and Max’s house. They reminded him of his biological mother’s greatest failings. Her political activism, he recalls, like those of the students he’d met and despised the night before, “had mostly taken the form of enthusiastic exhibitionism.” “The basis of her life’s philosophy, if such a word could be used for the loose collection of whims and knee-jerk reactions she called beliefs, was that everything of which the bourgeoisie disapproved must be good and right” (500).

The responses to Rowling’s tweet confirmed those who now despise her are of that very camp, alas, of “enthusiastic exhibitionists” and that Rowling indeed cannot be burned like a witch or cancelled. Troubled Blood now tops the best-seller lists in the UK and US. About which, “Hurrah!”

To hear my conversation with Professor Freeman at the Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival, check out their FaceBook page on which the talk will be posted.


Cormoran’s Song: “Twenty Thousand Cornish Men Will Know the Reason Why”

On the thread to the post inviting reader discoveries of links between Troubled Blood and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Evan Willis wrote:

The song Strike sings at 808/813, an unofficial anthem of Cornwall, has two names: “Song of the Western Men” and “Trelawny”(!). The connection to Phoenix is great here: the central Prophecy via Cornish Nationalism. My favorite performance of the song is here:

That’s a pretty version, sure enough, but not the way the sung is usually sung, that is, by drunk rugby revellers and pub crawlers. Note in this version that the men sing without reference to notes and invite the crowd to join in the chorus — everyone in Cornwall is taught this song, in English and Cornish, as part of their primary school education:

After the jump, Rowling’s previous mention of the song, the full lyrics, and its importance to grasping Cormoran’s transformation at last into the Cornish giant for whom he was named — [Read more…]

Rowling Interview: Tracks of My Years

We learned pre-publication that Troubled Blood would feature Joni Mitchell’s 1974 ‘Court and Spark’ album. The source of that revelation was publicity for an interview Rowling had recorded for a BBC radio program, ‘The Tracks of My Years’ (read all about that here). The Version.co has posted a transcript of the interview; hat-tip to Nick Jeffery for the find! Here are the two pieces of that conversation I thought most interesting: [Read more…]

Week Seven of the Ickabog! Hurrah!

It’s a very exciting time here at HogwartsProfessor because the finale of Rowling’s so-called “political fairy tale,” The Ickabog, is bornded Monday to Friday this week. Here are links to the relevant sites and posts if you need to catch-up. I hope we can confine our discussion this week to the comment thread on this Week Seven post so nothing gets lost in the excitement and flood of twists and revelations we’ll be reading.

Where to Read the Story: If you haven’t read the chapters yet, you can find the first chapter here. If you’re up to speed, the latest chapters can be found here. Rowling’s introduction to the series and illustration contest? Click here.

The Ickabog Structure: The fairy tale turns out to be structured much like any other Rowling novel or series, which is to say it is a seven part ring composition. Read about that and Louise Freeman’s alchemical insights in the comment thread here.

The Ickabog Hermaphrodite: What a shock to learn that the ‘monster’ was not a monster — and not a he or a she but both! I speculate here that Rowling has deceived us about the genesis of this story release both because of its relevance to her current struggles with fandom and because of her signature theme of narrator as Silkworm.

Notes and Predictions: David Martin on Sunday gave us his menu of predictions with his notes about what certain things seem to mean in the story so far. The comment thread is a fun one not to be missed.

I hope it goes without saying that all the comments below, predictions and discussion, assume the reader either has read the chapters currently available or does not mind story spoilers. Please jump right into the conversation which begins with my thoughts about Monday’s chapters!