Why Call the Encyclopedia “The Scottish Book”?

We are going through my Deathly Hallows Lectures again for the official version that will be available next month. My partner and editor at Zossima Press asked me why I referred to the Harry Potter Silmarillion that Ms. Rowling is writing as “the Scottish book.” The shorter answer is “because that’s what Ms. Rowling called it” and “it’s a joke about MacBeth being called ‘The Scottish Play’.” The longer answer gets into Ms. Rowling’s life as a Scot, the agonized history of her back-story Encyclopedia, and her references to Shakespeare in interviews and the books. [Read more…]

On Literary Influence: How Austen and Shakespeare Affect Rowling — and Vice Versa

Travis Prinzi, brother Potter blogger and fellow Zossima Press author, sent me an email two weeks ago about a Russian professor who believes that the best way to understand Voldemort is an echo of Dostoevsky’s character Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment. He posted on the subject at Hog’s Head — a Pub for Potter and the conversation on the resulting thread was very good. The speculation that Severus was the real Raskolnikovian echo I thought was especially intriguing.

My thoughts about this went in a different direction, so, rather than hijack Travis’ post, I add my two thoughts here, namely, (1) that this kind of comparison confirms the theory that Ms. Rowling’s books will prove to be a gateway to English and World literature and (2) in a post-Deathly Hallows landscape where Harry Potter is the shared text, we will come to understand other books and the tradition as a whole through her books, like it or not. Literary influence is not a one way street, oddly enough, but sometimes works ‘present to past’ as well. [Read more…]