Ring Composition

Pillar Post Place Holder for Sidebar Listing

Lethal White: The Missing Page Mystery

I have started the process of charting Lethal White. This involves taping together large pieces of paper, drawing a line with a ruler and dividing that line into 71 segments for the 69 chapters, prologue and epilogue, and then re-reading the book and making notes on the chart with respect to the time, place, characters, events, and noteable signs, symbols, or stray thoughts I find meaningful. The reading is done first chapter, last chapter, possible middle, and then forward and backward to spot any possible ring echoing. When I’m done, I’ll have an oversized atlas page from which to work on topics like links to Goblet of Fire and Cuckoo’s Calling, the structure of the book, and thematic elements like those touched on in yesterday’s post. Not to mention the thought that struck me on my fifth time through Robert Glennister’s audiobook recording of Lethal White, namely that Della White is a stand-in of sorts for Hillary Clinton.

Before I begin this labor of charting love, I wanted to share with you a mystery I discovered while comparing the superficial structure of Strike4 with that of the three previous books.

Cuckoo’s Calling has five parts bracketed by a prologue and epilogue. The Silkworm and Career of Evil are both straight up chapter books, no ‘Parts,’ no bracketing at beginning and end. Mark that down as another Cuckoo and Lethal White correspondence.

The mystery is in the two parts of Lethal White. ‘Part Two’ is given its own page between the end of chapter 35 and the beginning of chapter 36 (page 287 in the edition I have). I checked to see which of the two parts is longer (part two by almost sixty pages if you’re interested). I wasn’t sure if the page for ‘Part One’ was included in the pagination so flipped to the book’s beginning to see if it was before the prologue or chapter one and how it was numbered.

In my copy of Lethal White at least, there is no page set apart for ‘Part One.’ Cuckoo’s Calling does have a separate ‘Part One’ page after its prologue and its ‘Three Months Later’ page, and before its chapter one frontispiece and epigraph.

There are three credible solutions to The Mystery of the Missing Page: [Read more…]

Alohomora: Ring Composition, Part One

I have been podcasting at MuggleNet.com since 2011, first with Keith Hawk on a show called ‘MuggleNet Academia’ and now with Katy McDaniel on ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling.’ I do it because it is a lot of fun — the conversations with guests and the show host are almost always challenging and a delight — and because a lot more people listen to those podcasts than will ever read what I write here at HogwartsProfessor. MuggleNet is truly a global platform and it is a privilege to get to speak from it about Harry Potter, Cormoran Strike, and literature in general in this age which has largely been shaped imaginatively by the work of J. K. Rowling.

There are, of course, other podcasts on MuggleNet and much more popular and less ‘heady’ ones than those in which I participate. One of the most successful is ‘Alohomora.’ The team of podcasters there have recorded more than 250 episodes devoted to a chapter-by-chapter re-reading of the Hogwarts Saga; their following is sufficiently broad that they have advertisers, a paid producer, and a real presence at the website and Fandom.

Though I know all the principals on the show and have for some time, I had never been invited to join the crew for a talk about a specific chapter or topic. Until this month! Kat Miller and Company wanted to do a show on Ring Composition and I was the default subject matter expert. You can read about and listen to the show here: Ring Composition, Part One: It’s a WOW Thing

To anticipate your question, no, I don’t know if there will be a ‘Part Two’ to follow-up on this ‘Part One.’ That they do not mention anywhere in their write-up of the podcast that I was a guest speaker suggests that, if they do, I won’t be invited to participate!

Part One was a fun and firehose conversation, though, as none of the others knew the first thing about chiasmus or ring writing and its importance to Potter studies. Your boy Gilderoy obliged them with an hour long review and introduction to the subject.

Which maybe put them off? Maybe! The good news is that, if you haven’t got the time to read Harry Potter as Ring Composition and Ring Cycle, and want to learn a little more about story structure and Harry’s magic, this podcast will serve as an appetizer for the subject. Let me know what you think, even if you’ve read the book, of the podcast in the comment boxes below.

Is it possible I’ll ever be invited to ‘Speak Beasties,’ the MuggleNet Fantastic Beasts podcast franchise? 


Danger, Herman Melville! Much-Needed Literary Notes in the Lost in Space Re-boot

I’m always a little leery of re-boots of classics, particularly classic science fiction shows. I loved the cheesy old Image result for lost in space 2018Battlestar Galactica and was let down by the darker, modern interpretation, just for one example. However, I decided to give Netflix’s new take on Lost in Space a try, mainly because it looked good, and because I never cared much for the original, so I knew that it wouldn’t damage my youthful expectations. And, to be totally honest, I was just delighted by the fact that if the show becomes popular, most of my students may not look at me in bewilderment when I try to warn them off Wikipedia or Cliffnotes as sources for their essays by waving my arms and yelling, “Danger, Will Robinson!” So, I gave it a whirl. After just one episode, I am already intrigued, not just because the effects are awesome and the kids are charismatic (though really, kids, if your name is Will, and you are on a Netflix show, there is a really good chance that you will get lost someplace scary and that large chunks of the script will consist of family members yelling your name…). What excites me are the fantastic literary hints that tie this new series into some of the old texts that we love and discuss here. So fasten your safety belt, and join me after the jump to get lost in some literature! [Read more…]

Fantastic Beasts Ring Composition: Reading, Writing, Rowling Podcast

“Reading, Writing, Rowling” Episode 7: “The Beast Within: Chiasmus and Ring Composition in ‘Fantastic Beasts’”

Host Katy McDaniel directs the discussion of structure in Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts screenplay, a discussion featuring Brett Kendall, the Potter Pundit who broke the chiastic code of the Harry Potter series in 2003, and myself, in the Ring Composition corner (if those actually circular rings had corners). The patterns of Rowling’s work when coupled to the baseline mythological story she is re-telling are our best bets for guessing where we’re headed.

Join Katy, Brett, and me on a fun trip into the world of speculative possibilities and most likely story finishes in ‘Reading, Writing Rowling’s Episode 7,The Beast Within: Chiasmus and Ring Composition in FantasticBeasts“!