Beatrice Groves: Shakespeare, Kipling, and Rowling’s Crimes of Grindelwald

Beatrice Groves is a Research Lecturer and tutor at Trinity College, Oxford, where she teaches classes on early modern literature and drama, Shakespeare in particular. She is also a Potter Pundit of the first rank; her Literary Allusion in Harry Potter is the most exciting, edifying, and enlightening contribution to Potter studies that I’ve read in many, many years. Prof Groves speaks to Harry Potter fandom in addition to this book through a variety of fan sites, large and small; see her discussion of magical plants on TheLeakyCauldron, her Bathilda’s Notebook page on MuggleNet (my favorite there? Literary Allusion in Cormoran Strike), and the three ‘Harrowing of Hell’ Guests Posts here at HogwartsProfessor. She is a frequent guest on Kathryn McDaniel’s ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ podcasts and is as charming ‘in person’ on that medium as her remarkably accessible and profound writing suggests she would be.

Prof Groves has just finished another landmark series at her MuggleNet platform, ‘Bathilda’s Notebook,’ this one a three part discussion of Rowling’s debts and embedded allusions in Harry Potter and Crimes of Grindelwald to Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill, Stalky & Co., and ‘The Man Who Would Be King.’ All are chock full of her discoveries — who knew, just for example, that the Headless Hunt, Regulus Black, and the Deathly Hallows symbol are hat-tips to Kipling? If Literary Allusion in Harry Potter has a failing, it is that Dr Groves does not mention literary alchemy in her brilliant chapters on Shakespeare in that book; she more than compensates in these three weblog posts by sharing her thoughts on literary alchemy in Shakespeare, Kipling, and the Crimes of Grindelwald film released this week.

Here are links to these posts I know you will enjoy, either as appetizers for your experience of the new movie or as after dinner treats post viewing!

“It’s Just Like Waking Up, Right?”: “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” Kipling, and Shakespeare’s Midsummer Dreaming

“The Crimes of Grindelwald,” Kipling, and the Origins of the Deathly Hallows Symbol

The Alchemical Symbolism of the Deathly Hallows in “The Crimes of Grindelwald”


Josh Richards: Rowling or Milton or Meyer or Joyce?

Votaries of Antiquity, a Guest Post from Prof Josh Richards, Palm Beach Atlantic University

Antiquity, like every other quality that attracts the notice of mankind, has undoubtedly votaries that reverence it, not from reason, but from prejudice. Some seem to admire indiscriminately whatever has been long preserved, without considering that time has sometimes co-operated with chance; all perhaps are more willing to honour past than present excellence; and the mind contemplates genius through the shades of age, as the eye surveys the sun through artificial opacity. The great contention of criticism is to find the faults of the moderns, and the beauties of the ancients. While an authour is yet living we estimate his powers by his worst performance, and when he is dead we rate them by his best.

Samuel Johnson, Preface to Shakespeare

Someone recently posted the following comment on an old thread at this site. At the risk of possibly feeding a troll, I have been asked to comment as several illustrative points may be drawn by response.

It follows:

Kids, stop reading this garbage. Do not try to give arguments which you know that are fake. There are better books than this. If you want to read bildungsroman novels, read Mario Vargas Llosa´s, “The Time of Hero” or James Joyce´s, “Portraid of the Artist as a Young Man”. If you like fantasy, read Lewis Carrol, Kipling, Stevenson, Wells, Swift, Wilde, Verne or Jorge Luis Borges. Borges especially will reeducate you and will teach you what literature is. You will discover that many good writers have what is called “style”. Style consists in writing euphonically, by avoiding repeated words, repeated phrases, cacophonies, clichés, anacoluthons and other things. Read good literature. Believe me: you will improve your culture and the way of using your language.

There are three matters that may be learnt from such a post (whose author I have somewhat arbitrarily gendered male for convenience). The first is whether or not there is something that can be learned from works like Harry Potter and Twilight; The second, on the weighing of writers, especially translations; the third on the dangers of pretension. [Read more…]

Josh Richards: The Necessity of Comedy in Time Travel Tales

Guest Professor Josh Richards of Florida and St. Andrews —

Rather than poetry, I come to you today to discuss a modest proposal: if a story features time travel, it should probably be a comedy.  There are three reasons why I believe this to be true.

First, Time Travel is ripe for comedy. Half of Hollywood’s comedic output in the 1980’s featured the concept: Time Bandits, Encino Man, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, you name it. Because Time Travel presents such opportunities for comedy that a writer would have to be as humorless as Virginia Woolf or as self-disciplined as a saint to write one without venturing into humor.

[Read more…]