Chris Calderon – What Rowling’s Narrative Epigraphs Can Tell Us About the Character of Cormoran Strike.

We are very fortunate that long time stalwart of the Hogwarts Professor – Chris Calderon has submitted a guest post. Now that it is likely Dylan Thomas will be providing the epigraphs to The Running Grave, what can the epigraphs of the Strike series tell us about both the character of the protagonist and the overall narrative arc? To find out follow after the jump!

 

 

[Read more…]

Chris Calderon – The Hermetic Mystery Cycle of Dorothy L. Sayers

Chris Calderon, long time stalwart of Hogwarts Professor has submitted a guest post that argues that three of Dorothy L. Sayers  Wimsey novels (Strong Poison, Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night), that feature Harriet Vane, form an alchemical sequence. Chris makes a compelling argument, check it out after the break:

[Read more…]

Flips, Pentagrams and Expanded Playlists: Why did the tone we expected in Book 5 wind up in Book 6?

We have a lot of hypotheses about why we got such a nigredo-laden book in Strike 6.  They are:

  • 5-6 flip: which supposes that Troubled Blood was originally planned as Book 6, and The Ink Black Heart as Book 5.
  • The Pentagram model: which has the first five books completing the alchemical cycle and the start of a new one in Book 6.
  • The Extended Playlist model: Proposed recently by Kathleen, it suggests Galbraith is splitting the last 2, or possibly 3,  books of the 7-part series into two parts. Under this model, The Ink Black Heart would be either part 6a or 5b.

I’m going to outline some of the evidence I see for 5-6 Flip based on one audiobook listen of IBH. As a refresher, recall that this model predicts 1) Career of Evil parallels, instead of or alongside parallels to The Silkworm 2) Order of the Phoenix parallels, instead or alongside those to Half-Blood Prince and 3) nigredo elements, instead or alongside albedo. Interestingly, though, one of the strongest pieces of evidence is none of these, but rather timeline- and calendar-based.

One thing has always puzzled me.  Lethal White ended in mid-September 2012.  Troubled Blood began in August 2013, almost a full year later. This was the second year-long time jump in the series. There were two good reasons for the year-long jump in the middle of LW:  1) Book 4 absolutely had to be set in the 2012 Olympics and 2) no one wanted to read about a full year of Robin trying to make herself love the Flobberworm, develop panic attacks and feel emotionally distant from Strike.

But why jump a full year between LW and TB? It would have been awesome to see Robin’s early days with Max (and Wolfgang! Sniff!), the curry nights with Nick and Ilsa, Robin’s friendship with them developing (and the dirt they dished on Charlotte), the start of the match-making attempts and the series of incompetent temps that culminated in the the decision to hire Pat. OK, we’d have to see the Flobberworm be a jerk for a year, but the rest would be worth that. Instead, that is all explained after the fact. Obviously, the historical floods of 2014 were important to the story, but as has been stated multiple times, you expect lots of rain in albedo, not nigredo books. Why not tell the nigredo story in that missing year and save the floods for albedo?
That may well have been the original plan. The Ink Black Heart started in October (2014) and finished in June (2015).  Roll the dates back 2 years (Oct 2012-June 2013) and you have a story that fits quite neatly into that missing year.  This, I think, is good evidence that the IBH story was originally meant to be told in that time period.
Second, I can definitely see the Ink Black Heart cartoon as a “text-within-a-text” as stated in Beatrice Grove’s excellent prediction post. But, to me, it doesn’t fit as well as Talbot’s True Book as an analog to either Bombyx Mori, or the Prince’s doctored text. First, those were all actual books. Second, our heroes didn’t wind up actually reading scripts or viewing the cartoon in search of clues to the killer; they instead had to search Twitter and chat rooms for what the fans were saying about the show. That gave it a very different feel to me, and had them examining many different people’s words and the social interactions embedded within the conversations, not the solo narrative of the text. The only person to seriously watch the cartoon was Robin, when she was studying for her moderator’s test, and she didn’t even get to take that.
So, if The Ink Black Heart fits into that missing year, and the main mystery element is a less satisfactory match to the books of The Silkworm and the Half-Blood Prince, are there the decaying skeletons of Career, Order and nigredo buried in the text?  More after the jump! [Read more…]

Beatrice Groves: Ink Black Corvids: Magpies, Alchemy and Ink Black Heart

Beatrice Groves, Research Lecturer and tutor at Trinity College, Oxford, and author of  Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, has written a Hogwarts Professor Guest Post: Ink Black Corvids: Magpies, alchemy and Ink Black Heart. Join me after the jump for Prof. Groves’ delve into all things crow and Cormoran. This is the second of three posts by Beatrice in the run up to publication day. [Read more…]

Podcast on ‘The Alchemical Harry Potter’

From the podcast blurb on AudioBoom:

Emily and Katy talk with Dr. Anne Mamary (Monmouth College) about her anthology The Alchemical Harry Potter: Essays on Transfiguration in J.K. Rowling’s Novels (McFarland 2021). We talk about the power of the Potter books and films, and how they not only express alchemical themes but also work a kind of alchemical magic on readers and viewers.

Anne explains that alchemy is a way to transform not only metals but also the alchemist and our entire worldview. Although we could look at nature from a modernist perspective, requiring the neutrality of the experimenter and presuming a mechanical model of the universe, alchemy requires being open to the enchantment within nature and our deep connection to it. Not all historical alchemists were Christian, but often a notion of religious or metaphysical transformation emerges through alchemical explorations of nature. Anne explains that alchemy posits that the heavenly exists within the earthly, that the sacred can be found everywhere, and we live in an enchanted world that is not just a world of machines. She sees this approach pervading the Hogwarts curriculum and the Harry Potter novels as a whole.