Deathly Hallows Cover Comments: Fire Away!

I think I hear Joyce Odell, the Red Hen, saying, ‚ÄúThe covers of the first six books have never told us anything we could understand until we had read those books; why should this time be any different?‚Äù The explosion of comment about the covers across Fandom, not unlike what happened at the release of the seventh book’s title is more a gauge of how high the interest is in the reading world about the final Harry Potter installment than a revelation of any events or meaning. This is snipe hunting, right?

But, yes, just like everyone else, I was looking hard at the covers today to see if anything could be found. The four things that struck me were:

(a) the house-elf piggy-backing Harry with sword (UK – are the trio in dress robes? making a stop at Gringotts on their way to the alchemical wedding?);
(b) the Hogwarts(?) ice-castle (UK back);
(c) the absence of wands (US and UK); and
(d) the skewed chopping block under broken platform (US).

Professor Mum and her friend SP Spial have found two neat alchemical links. Mum wrote me these notes this afternoon that I have italicized here:

On the back of the UK Kid’s cover, there is a globe, seemingly with 3 snakes or a 3 headed snake or a tri colored snake. SP Spial points out that it looks suspiciously like this alchemical picture...with the same 3 colors present.

I don’t know the source for this description of the picture but she included it, in red:

The above links to an alchemical plate in the work of Salomon Trismosin (Splendor Solis, 1535) the reputed mentor of Paracelsus. It depicts three birds in an alembic (alchemist glass still): one red, one black, and one white. The birds represent the three essential elements of alchemy: sulfur, salt, and mercury. Black, white, and red also represent the three stages of the alchemical process in creating the Philospher’s Stone.

As interesting was the Circle and Triangle image on the spine of the UK books. Professor Mum explains:

Look again at the UK’s cover. The spine has a triangle with a circle inside of it. In the past, the British kid’s cover has always had some sort of symbol on it: DD, Hedwig, the Peverill ring.

This particular LAST series symbol is reminiscient of the Eye of Horus that SP Sipal discussed in her Mugglenet essay, but it also has a place in John’s alchemy lore… and, wouldn’t you know, a link with Mr. FLAMEL….which explains the sulphur (red) and gold (orange) colorings to the covers.


About the alchemical symbolism, while I have admired the detective work Wendy and SP Sipal have done, I know that we won’t know what the triangle and circle or Snakey Globe mean until July 21. Establishing an alchemical parallel is exciting (believe me, as the supposed alchemical guy, I’m all over it) but what can we do with the connection(s) they have found? New Yorkers will remind you that the three dimensional sphere and triangle were the symbols of the 1939 World’s Fair….

More obvious is the color of the lettering chosen for the title and Ms. Rowling’s name on the US cover. If we had any doubt, we are certainly in the rubedo now.

One of my favorite Potter Pals and frequent poster on this site, Rumor, has written that Harry on the US cover is in a Christ-on-the-Cross posture. Her art studies trump anything I can say on this subject, certainly. Unable to resist the chance to say this, though, before I read it somewhere else, the US cover, I think, is Harry and LV, wandless, looking at Severus in the final confrontation when he reveals his true colors.

No? Isn‚Äôt that what we‚Äôre all waiting for? My off the wall fun guess is that Harry was about to be decapitated (hence the chopping block), sacrificially, when Severus (or LV?) intervenes. The artist hasn’t chosen scenes of climax from previous books, but I imagine, if this is the BIG SCENE in Deathly Hallows, she couldn’t resist.

Certainly she hasn’t given away much!

I look forward to reading your thoughts about the three covers released today.


  1. Rumor wrote:

    Not sure where to put this about the cover news so here goes.

    O.K. I am now going to employ my wisdom of how to critique a work of art since that is what my major in college was, Art History. First of all in the U.S. version Harry is in the Christ pose (in the shape of a cross). That was my first hunch, as it goes with the Christian theme. If you have studied as many images, (1000’s) as I have of Christian art, you will notice that right away. Grand Pre would have had to learn art history if she attended any college in the western world and would definitly know about this. Of course it is JKR’s book, and she would know her story. Next I think Dobby is in the U.K cover, bringing the sword to Harry helping him out as he always does. He has his own brand of magic and works at the castle behind the scenes. He had access to gillyweed, why not the sword. I also like the prediction that Harry and lot are at Gringotts, which has been my prediction all the time. That the end will go down at the bank with the goblins and dragons because LV will need something from there and they will try to stop him. Just my take, but you can take the Christ pose symbolism to the bank.

    I missed this so add it to my last post.

    Oh and I cannot believe I missed this, but Harry is looking up toward heaven and at his feet are the destroyed fragments of wood, symbol of the cross.

    Also, looking at the U.K. kids cover, could they be in a tomb? As in one of the four founders. Griffindor possibly. If Harry pulled the sword from Gryffindors hat then maybe he could also aquire the things that go with it from his sources, the shield and breast plate.

  2. The first thing that struck me was harry’s was pointed upwards, but voldemort’s was aimed downward. I get the impression that they’re both calling on a higher power, at least.

    I’ve always been curious about the creation, or the source of the wizard’s power in the HP books. I know each one is born a wizard or muggle (basically) but how far back does their existence go? When does it begin? This cover brings those types of questions to mind for me.

    I just get the feeling that some sort of curtain will be opened and we’ll get to see who or what set their world in order.

    On the other hand, it could be too late or irrelevant to bring it up.

    We shall see..


  3. Hi. I was sent a link to your post by a friend who said I might want to clarify something for you. The description above where you weren’t sure of the source from is me.

    This bit (shortened here):
    “The above links to an alchemical plate in the work of Salomon Trismosin…the alchemical process in creating the Philospher‚Äôs Stone.”

    I posted this earlier today on the forum linked to an editorial I had posted on Mugglenet recently:
    But the original source of that description is from an editorial I had published back in 2004 called Geomancy and Alchemy Gems in Harry Potter that was in The Plot Thickens published by WWP.

    You’ve got great ideas here! Glad someone sent me the link so I can explore your blog further. Wonderful theories and information.

    Thank you.
    SP Sipal

  4. Professor Mum with more wonderful stuff:

    Regarding the spine symbol, there is also “Triangle of Art” to consider:

    Note the conection to a scrvying mirror (Sirius connection?). But as Joyce pointed out to me separately, the triangle seems to have a line running down the center so it might (or might not) negate it as alchemical symbol.

    We’ve been chatting about the UK Kids cover and if you zoom in on the jpeg a bit you can see that the kids have scortch marks on their faces and defensive arm wounds. It you focus in on Harry’s glasses, they seem to be reflecting something big that is white in the center (flames?). It seems like the trio must have encountered a dragon(s) from some sort of tunnel (Gringotts? Hogwarts? Flamel’s former lair?). But the strange positioning of their bodies seem to indicate that they are being blow backwards, with the treasure following them. Note that the booty features armor, and the helmet has a curled dragon on top with a ruby in the center. So dragons’ are likely guarding Godric Gryffindore’s suit of armour (and we have Dobby holding up the SOG just so we don’t miss the reference). Also, you can see the scar on his forehead, so it isn’t gone at this point in the story (it’s hard to see on the US cover, but he does have a locket around his neck). Let me know if you want me to forward a blown up powerpoint slide.

    My two cents on the US cover…you have dibs on the Severus angle and Joyce on Fawkes….he is reaching out for something. to grab. Harry looks very confident, Voldy pissed. I am thinking that he has accioed the Sword of Gryffindore as Voldemort is reaching out as well. Harry was reminded in GOF to play to his strengths.

  5. I thought of an ACCIO scene, too, but how does he do that without a wand? On to the Red Hens’s reflections!

  6. Joyce, Odell, the Red Hen, checks in with some prescient ideas:

    Well, the US covers have *always* turned out to really be depicting something from a genuine scene that is in the book, usually one right toward the end, And the UK adult covers have always been proved to show what turned out to be a relevant object. The UK kids covers have sometimes been a bit odd. IIRC one of them showed people on a flying carpet, which was a real head-scratcher.

    Admittedly some of the early US covers were sort of collage assemblages of elements rather than depcting a *specific* scene, but the lat two have been specific scene illustrations, and I suspect this one is too. But we haven’t a definite context for what it shows us, just some fairly strong hints.

    The rubble in the foreground on the US cover consists of both wood and stone and seems to be in three pieces. The curtains are frayed. The collonade in the background has some cracked stonework. Whether that means it’s a place already in disrepair (probably) or whether there has been some battle damage is not clear. The Hall of the Veil had several doors and the Archway was of stone and pointed. No reference to any sort of woodwork in that room. At least not in OotP.

    I can’t remember if any of the ceilings at the DoM were like the one in the Great Hall and reflected the sky. The Hall of the Veil was described only as dimly-lit. But it was already dark by the time Harry and his friends got there last time. If the Dementor mist was already begining to rise that would have hidden stars. It wouldn’t have been evident if the room was charmed to reflect the sky.

    But it does open the possibility that the scene is in the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Which we know *does* have a ceiling that reflects the sky. Or, it could be in some completely new location.

    I suspect it *is* a room with a charmed ceiling though. There seem to be shadows of the arches behind the arches themselves on the left side of the picture and that wouldn’t happen outdoors.

    And the lack of any indication of movement of the figures in the background suggests they may be witnesses rather than partcipants. They could even be statues.

    Harry is clearly inclined to welcome whatever is off-camera to the upper right, Voldemort is clearly not. Any number of possibilities there. Among them Fawkes, who has usually been referenced in some manner when Harry has had a face-off with Tom. (Not in PS/SS, since we hadn’t been introduced to Fawkes yet then. But every time since then.)

    I tend to agree that the circle-in-triangle is probably meant to be alchemical. Whatever it is, it will probably be mentioned in passing in the book. No real point in speculating now.

    The copies of the US cover that Wendy sent me links for don’t have any lettering. But with that background a metalic red would be a no-brainer.

    The UK kids edition is bizarre. The laws of gravity seem to have been suspended. Makes me wonder if they are all under water. Harry looks as if he might be swimming, certainly and the treasure drifting in response to a sudden current. The creature holding the sword is *probably* a House Elf, but it could be a Goblin, and this could be Gringotts. It’s got the same sulfurous “sky” showing through the opening though. And as has been pointed out by Wendy, the kids all look rather scuffed up. There are guard dragons at Gringotts.

    But there are other possibilities on this matter as well. One of these is a strongroom connected with B&B. Particularly if Borgin & Burke did manage to get Hepzibah’s heirs to sell them the Goblin-worked armor. For something very like it seems to be in evidence. (As is a golden cup with two handles.)

    It’s also been pointed out to me that this could also be some sort of treasure room at Hogwarts itself. Possibly accessed through the Room of Hiden Things. I’m not convinced. But it is a possibility.

  7. Except for the scorch marks on their arms (which seems like a detail the artist could only get from text?), the UK kids cover looks like something s/he drew without having seen the book — which, as Joyce points out, has happened before. I’m skeptical about anything of value coming from that cover. Or, for that matter, from the Scholastic cover, besides the blood red lettering on the front.

    But isn’t this fun? “ACCIO 21 July!”

  8. Mike Harris-Stone says

    One other detail on the U.S. cover: it seems to me that Harry and L.V. are down in some sort of hole and that the “figures” are actually just the outlines of heads peering down at them. From the random way the ‘heads’ are placed, I’d say they were people rather than statues, as I’d expect statues to be evenly spaced, but who can say?!

    The other question is whether the rubble comes from the ceiling when Harry and L.V. broke into here or what it is. The piece of stone on the right looks a little bit like a headstone. Could this location be the “Deathly Hallows” of the title?

    Love the site and the speculation here by the way!

  9. The only thing I have to offer that doesn’t seem to have been mentioned, (maybe because everyone else figured this out already), but the locket has to be the Slytherin locket for it has an “S” and it has emeralds. That’s on the UK adult cover and must be what is around Harry’s neck in the US cover.

    There is a symbolic meaning that I think can be attached to it, that of the amphisbaena. It is a mythological creature of a snake having two heads on either end, but there are some animals that are real. The first is the myth, the second is a photograph of a real strange looking reptile.

    Amphibaena alba:

    The snake in the globe reminds me of another mythological snake creature, that of the ouroboros, which is a snake that is shown in a circle and eating itself.

    Both are important in alchemy, although I would not want to try and explain that which I have only a cursory understanding.

    If anyone owns the book “Bestiary of Christ” by Louis Charbonneau-Lassay there is a chapter devoted to both creatures and an illustration which looks eerily like the Slytherin locket. It comes from a gold plaque from the sword belt of King Caribert, 6th century and is found on page 437.

    Another thought is that on the cover of the U.S. art appears that Harry and Voldemort are surrounded by people. Possibly Death Eaters. Then again, maybe they’ve passed beyond the veil and these are the dead who Harry and Luna heard speaking to them before. The veil looks shredded and there appears to be broken beams which could have been support structures.

    I was struck by the absence of wands for both Harry and Voldemort. Maybe they’ve both been broken at this point in time. However, it does appear that Harry is using the amulet of the Slytherin locket as a protection against the evil surrounding him.

    ‘Tis thought provoking, indeed.


  10. While I haven’t finished my essay on the theme of Light & Dark and Sun & Moon in Harry Potter, the cover indicates that Voldemort will appear in daylight in Deathly Hallows, something he has never done in the past. All of his appearances to date have been in darkness, as Rowling is careful to note each and every time if you pay attention to the text.

  11. Hello, John! Actually, other than noting that the American cover is far more beautiful and evocative than the British one, I don’t have a lot to add here. As in OOTP and HBP, I’m pretty sure this is an emotional, climactic scene, but it won’t make sense (to me, anyway) until I read the book. My sister, who maintains a myspace page for her library, had some interesting thoughts at this link:

    She noticed a little wolf-creature running up to the ice-castle. Remus, maybe? Or someone else?

    I am suddenly feeling a little more hopeful about the final book after having seen the U.S. and adult covers. The British kid’s cover conveys nothing to me, I’m afraid. 😉

  12. Here is a link to some artwork that reminds me of what we are seeing in the cover. I am looking for more, so when I find them I will send them over.'s,%20Execution%20of%20Spanish%20Rebels%20under%20Napoleon.jpg

  13. Swythyv, whose essay in Who Killed Albus Dumbledore? on Remus and Nymphadora (and all we missed in their relationship) is a must read, checks in with these thoughts on the just revealed Deathly Hallows covers. Prepare to be startled….

    The concept of a Slytherin “locket” might turn out to be a bit of a device worth watching. You touch on the illustration’s resemblance to a belt plaque – a practical and ceremonial article.

    I’m not sure that c.1000 Brits had the type of jewelry we consider “lockets.” Whatever that thing is, I suspect that it had a more interesting – and possibly even practical – purpose than enclosing a nice cameo of Mrs. Slytherin and the girls. ;D

    I lack education in the field, but shortly after HBP some knowledgeable person posted pictures of what contemporary artisans *did* make: reliquaries. And while Slytherin hasn’t been presented to us as someone likely to carry about saintly remains, we might do well to ask ourselves what he *would* put in there.

    Something small and intensely valuable. Something important. Something useful. Something that he would keep on his person. Something that he would bequeath to an heir.

    I am convinced that Salazar Slytherin did not leave Hogwarts for any reasons of house rivalries or even the ridiculous student body selection disagreement that we’ve been fed. He programmed the Hat to his own satisfaction, and it admits half-bloods to this day.

    I won’t bore you with it, but I think Sal lost a bid to be “Headmaster” – master of Hogwarts.
    Hogwarts at the time was not merely a school but the seat of government of the wizarding world thereabouts. The Founders were invited and encouraged by that person in charge: a peacemaker, obviously, for whom they all must have had a good deal of personal regard.

    The uproar the Sorting Hat describes in OotP is quite resonant of the sort of chaos that would attend such a community trying to choose that person’s successor. I speculate that Sal lost, and not to one of the other Founders, either – to a powerful, *muggle-parented* sorcerer with whom he could not be reconciled.

    Sal didn’t leave, then, because he mistrusted muggle-parented *students* – let alone plant a basilisk to murder them. I seriously doubt that any Head of a Hogwarts house could or would undertake such a crime. No, I think Sal had serious reservations about how this change of management would play out, and that his basilisk was meant as insurance against the rise of a dangerous tyrant. The rest is the spin of self-serving pure-bloods. ;D

    Thus, we may profitably speculate about what Slytherin’s Locket would *contain* – given the legend that an heir of Slytherin might return to Hogwarts to liberate it and set things right.

    respectfully, and wearing my newspaper hat

  14. Wow. What a thought.

    Here’s another spin on possibilities….

    If the view we enjoy looking in through the curtains on the Scholastic cover is, indeed, a peek through the parted veil in the Death Chamber of the Department of Mysteries, just what is going on — and from whose perspective are we seeing things?

    Remember the back pages of children’s magazines in the 70’s and 80’s that had contests in which you were supposed to write in with captions for funny pictures? The winners were almost always the ones that turned the picture upside-down from what you thought it was about when you first saw it. “That’s not a pretty girl at a soda-shop counter; it’s Ahab talking to Queequeeg!”

    How about the locket, with the Slytherin oouroboros, acting as the amulet about the neck of the Green Knight, i.e., keeping Harry’s life intact regardless of what happens to his body? Could Harry and the Dark Lord, doing battle in the Department of Mysteries, either blast the Veiled Archway or both go through it on the “next great adventure”? Taking one more wild step, could Severus be disarming them in the scene depicted — and we are seeing what Professor Snape sees?

    If I send this off-the-wall conjecture into a psychologist with two box tops from Cap’n Crunch, will he send me a Jungian Analyst’s Decoder Ring?

  15. John said:

    But isn’t this fun? “ACCIO 21 July!”

    Yes, John, this is great fun. I love all the things people have pointed out. And I like that idea that we might be seeing what Snape is seeing.

    I’m probably repeating what someone else has pointed out about the tattered curtains. It might be the veil, but it seems too wide for the description in the book. The cover art on the first book had a curtain that looked new, so perhaps this is just the closing curtain for the last book, and not something that is actually “in” the scene we are seeing.

    Some have said that the locket can’t be Slytherin’s because it isn’t shiny. True, but it might not shine if the light wasn’t directly on it. It’s also possible that the locket is the fake one that he started carrying around to remind himself about what he had to do.

    My other thought was that if it is the Slytherin locket/Horcrux, that Harry has destoyed it and is wearing much like Dumbledore wore the destroyed ring Horcrux–a clear message to Voldemort that he is fighting him by destroying his Horcruxes.

    Is it July yet?

  16. I have been thinking that the veil theory is sounding better and better. It’s apocoliptic, a new beginning perhaps. Harry appears to be saint- like and sacrificial. If we are right and they are fighting in the DOM, then what if they somehow start reversing the veil’s powers, shatter it and the dead come to the rescue at world’s end defeating LV. Just like the dead did in LOTR.

  17. Ms. George says

    Hello John, you and your comment section have given me much to think about, as always.
    I think that the locket will be the first Horcrux Harry goes for, if it is the locket in Grimmauld Place. It will then become his marker, or talisman, for the rest of the search.
    Harry’s posturing in the US cover does appear ‘saintly’ but I really hope that doesn’t end up being the case. Didn’t Snape once call him ‘Saint Potter’ or was that Malfoy?
    The one new question I’d like to pose: what is reflected in Harry’s glasses in the UK children’s edition? It looks like fire…
    Let me know if you get the Jungian Analyst’s Decoder Ring, I almost have enough box tops and I’m curious as to what it looks like.

  18. Just a thought, could this perspective be an elven one? It’s sort of looking up, and a short house-elf could be a contender.

  19. “DRAMATIC” is the first impression I got from the US cover: like a backlit stage, framed by curtains and watched by spectators, or an arena. Definately the final showdown scene.

    Why no wands … wandless magic as only the most powerful wizards can perform? …

    Why are they not facing each other? What can possibly direct their focus “offstage” at such a climactic moment?

    Their body language is interesting:
    > Harry’s stance is more balanced and in control; his hand seems to be summoning, or upholding, something or casting some sort of energy.
    He appears to be on the offensive.
    > Voldy’s stance seems to suggest slight imbalance, and it is unclear whether he too is summoning something, or if he is repelling it? He almost looks as is stretching his arm out in defense.

    Could it be that Harry is destroying Voldy’s Dark Mark in the sky (turning the sky orange instead of green? Light over dark …)

    And why are they wearing the same-colored robes? It makes them look more united than enemies.

    Very enigmatic. Very exciting …

  20. Regarding Harry’s glasses in the UK child version, the figure seems to me to be a white or light-robed figure with just a hint of a flesh-colored head, better reflected in one lense than the other. As for the positions of the threesome, it looks as if they’re being pulled (sucked?) back toward the stone circle behind them. Some of the jewels and phials (?) also seem to be more prominent than others.

    Getting very excited about July!

  21. US Version:
    I agree with most of the chatter about this being the Ministry of Magic room where Sirius Black fell through the veil.

    I remember this room being surrounded by arched doors and stone benches. The veil itself was tattered and black hung from a stone archway upon a wooden dais. I’m pretty convinced the US cover art represents a clear image of this room looking out from within the veil. If I continue this assumption the broken wood is most likely being the ruins of the wooden dais. The veil isn’t black, but if this image is *looking out* from within the veil, the inside of the veil could possibly be this orange color.

    I’ll go head and throw out a possible scenario for some feedback- all of you are much better at this than I am. So, for a moment, let’s assume the Slytherin locket is in fact a horcruxe stolen by Regulus Black and kept within Black house. Could it be possible Sirius was wearing the locket when he fell through the veil? If so, I’m assuming at some point within the story LV discovers that Harry is tracking down and destroying his horcruxes, they race to try and retrieve the lost locket where Sirius fell through.

    I’ll leave it open for some discussion- if so worthy.

    UK Version:
    The clouds are very interesting. The image within the clouds that jumps right out is what appears to be Lilly looking up towards the castle. This image appears very clear to me, if you don’t see this image, I can attempt to identify it more explicitly for some feedback. The Patronus stag is looking up, towards the clouds. A possible connection?

    Most of the chatter the image of the Harry, Ron, and Hermione surrounded by the treasure’s location is within Gringotts. For some reason, maybe it’s the vague reflection within Harry’s glasses, but this place reminds me of the Chamber of Secrets in the hall where Harry killed the Basilisk.

    Well that’s about it, not much of a theory, just some opinions I thought I’d share.

  22. Om John Granger’s personal boards we have talked extensivly about there being a beheading at the end of book 7. It could possibly be a gallows that has been destroyed. The curtains look tattered, Harry is wearing something around his neck and it is not shiny, more like a cloth bag (medicine). I wonder if Harry is looking at his Father symbol. He has many, but since the patronus is part of the cover, maybe the stag or James.

    I keep making passes on the up close versions and have been studying Harry’s eyes and it looks like there is a definite reflection of some sort in his glasses and in his eye. One eye is normal but the other almost looks reptillian or cat like. I looked closer and tried to see if there was a far away object in the reflectio and it looks like a creature with wings flying and sometimes I look at it and see an owl reflection as if it is up close. Wierd or maybe not. If it is a stag or Buckbeak, it is a Christ symbol. Guys we are being bombarded with Christian symbolism at it’s best visually. I am thrilled!!!!!!!!!

  23. I am going to have to echo the expecto look on Harry’s face. He looks like adoration, humility, expecting to see the Father and ecstacy. Could be any of those or all of them. I like the thought of him seeing his Stag or any other Christ symbol.

  24. Hi Friends,

    When I first saw the UK cover art for Book 6 a scripture came to my mind as I poured over the cover: Ephesians 6 (13-18). I’ve done a short post at my blog ( on it. Do you think it’s a coincidence?

    Here’s the link:


  25. Wierd Zoe, I actually read the same passage this weekend and totally agree with you that it is the armor of God we are seeing on the U.K. cover. I strongly believe it is a very saintly book we are dealing with. As Malfoy said in COS “Saint Potter”.

  26. thisoldhobbit says

    I read somewhere that beginning with Order of the Phoenix, the artist who does the US covers was not allowed to read the books, but instead was given specific instructions by Rowling herself as to what should be depicted on the front and back. That is why the style of the artwork changed so much after Goblet of Fire.

  27. Thisoldhobbit,

    That idea doesn’t seem to make any logical sense. Because there are images at the beginning of each chapter. Things that you can only glean from reading the text in order for it to make sense.

    I doubt that JKR is sitting around and deciding what will be the cover art as well as the illustrating art for each chapter.

    I know that JKR has a lot of power now, more than other authors, but I gotta tell you, authors do not have much say about their covers.

    And, a lot of times, even if it is specifically written into their contract, they might not have the final say on the title of their book. The publishers choose what the covers will look like, by and large, as well as what the titles will be.

    Besides, if you go back and look at the artwork on the back cover of Prisoner of Azkaban, it looks a lot like the artwork for Order of the Phoenix.

    I just do not believe your underlying premise. It sounds more like Urban Legend than anything else.

    Oh, and most authors don’t get to choose who their illustrator is either.


  28. I must beg to differ on POA cover looking like OOTP. They are dramatically different in mood, color, value, style, perspective, expression etc.. OOTP looks more mature, dark, forboding and serious. Very different if you ask me.

  29. Athena and thisoldhobbit, I do remember seeing the illustrator for the UK children’s version of one of the earlier books in an interview. He said that he had not read the books, but that JKR had told him what to put on the cover. But I think that Mary Grand Pre does get an advance copy so that she can do the chapter art, which as Athena points out, would be very difficult if she hadn’t read the books.

    It’s intersting to me that the same illustrator has done all the US books, but the UK ones are done by different people. And it’s been nearly impossible to find out who the UK illustrators are–I’ve looked, just because I was curious, but maybe I’m just not looking in the right places. I can’t check my books, because I have the Scholastic books, except I do have a copy of Philospher’s Stone.

    Athena, it does sound like JKR has a whole lot more control over her books than most authors, and frankly, I’d be surprised if she didn’t.


  30. It seems to me that JKR *would* have a say as to anything appearing on a cover three months in advance of the book, especially if what appears may reveal (or not reveal) important aspects of the tome.

  31. Eeyore and Scriptor,

    Jo’s ability to have a strong say about her books has only happened due to her phenomenal success. If the series had been just a reliable mid-list title, it is doubtful that she would have the clout to determine the title and cover art.

    Most authors do not have that kind of power if they are published by large houses. If it is a smaller publisher, say Ten Speed Press (one of my favorite small to mid-sized publishing houses) that could be a different story. Smaller houses can treat authors with a more personalized attention than the bigger houses.

    That’s because big houses have a large number of titles produced each year, and they are more concerned about what the marketing department says, etc.

    I say this as someone who is polishing a manuscript for my first novel and have been reading all kinds of agent/author blogs to better understand the industry.

    We have only to look back and know that Scholastic insisted on changing the title on JKR’s first book because they didn’t think American children would want to read anything with the word “Philosopher” in the title. She didn’t have the clout at that time to insist they keep her title.

    She has it now, but she didn’t then.

    Anne Rice has it written into her contracts that no one will change her manuscripts. They are to be taken as she submits them. No line edits of any kind.

    Frankly, I think every author could use the help of another set of eyes looking for errors, or ways to tighten text. Anne Rice disagrees and her success has gotten her to a point in her career where she can play the prima donna and insist on such things. Most authors cannot.

    If they tried, they would be looked at askance.

    Instead, authors are best served to be as professional as possible and say the Serenity Prayer as often as possible when dealing with their agents, editors and publishers. Hopefully everyone will then want to work with them for books in the future.

  32. Thanks, athena, for explaining the process. How close are you to the whole publishing part of your book?

    The thing with JKR is that I remember reading that she was so pleased to have Scholastic willing to publish her first book that she didn’t argue about the title but later regretted it. I imagine that we all will regret that title change at some point, as it seems to be very obvious now that the alchemy connection was intended and important. I wonder if they (Scholastic) will ever go back and correct that error and re-publish the first book under it’s correct title.

    That’s amazing that Anne Rice has that written in her contract–is she that good? I’ve heard her talk about her books, but I’ve never read one.

    And back to JKR–she does now seem to have a lot of control, though it sounds like she does go through the editing process, which I agree, would be beneficial to most authors. Sometimes when you write something and keep reading it over it is clear to you, but when someone else reads it, they’ll find the indiscrepencies because they don’t know everything the author is thinking.

  33. Wow, lots of good stuff … sorry I got to this thread late but I have had my head buried in Hebrew Masoretic and Greek Septuagint texts recently.

    I was just going to add to some of what Red Hen and others said, and I have only glanced over the comments here but I am sure mine will be far less brilliant and more characterized by lacunae etc.

    The covers of the US books actually do all seem to be scenes from the books, although I agree there is more collage type stuff in 1 and 4. Actually 1 is the one that might not be a “discrete text scene” in that Harry is flying and catching a snitch but he is not in robes and it may be more just the whole “Harry finds out he really likes to fly and play Quidditch” and you also have fluffy tucked away in a corner of the castle in the background etc. The GOF US cover also has more collage elements such as Snuffles’ head peering over a hedge and the egg representing the first and second tasks etc, but the scene does seem to be at least in the majority the maze scene, with 4 champions and one element I’ll mention in a moment that seems like it might sort of relate here (I’m sure it has been noted by many already but I don’t know if it has come up in connection to the present artwork or not so I’ll throw it up). Books 2 and 3 US covers are, respectively, Harry being carried out of the chamber by Fawkeswith Harry holding tail feathers and Harry and Hermione riding Bukcbeack to save Sirius. An interesting thing is that in all of the first three his robes look like a super hero cape (including book 1, so I guess he actually is wearing robes in book 1 … interestingly though the cape is always red), and in 5 they look more like the typical “cloaked figure” etc. I don’t think as much can be determined from all of that except that it does seem typical to have a scene from the books and usually a climactic ultimate scene or at least pent-ultimate scene, like the maze as the climax of the tournament (on that one notice also the legs sticking up of the spider after Harry and Cedric nailed it together).

    As Athena said, some of the choices, especially before the books became as big as they are now, may be from other factors than some general principle that Rowling likes and advocates with regards to the texts, but it would seem that by this point they would at least be respecting her opinion on the matter. The other thing in this regard is that the style of the US covers as seemed to me to mirror the tone of the texts themselves in “growing” alongside the lead characters. I would have been very shocked to read Morfin refering to Merope as a “little slut” in book 1, but not in book 6 and I think Rowling has consciously geared the level of tone to the age of the protaonists and their peers at school. The US cover art seems to follow the same pattern. The early ones are geared towards a younger audience, Harry is always smiling, red like a super heros cap rather than the dark robes/cloak of book 5 (book 5 also had collage elements if you look at the back, at least if I remember rightly, I don’t remember Moddy being at the Ministry fight etc, but maybe he was)

    Now, as far as the curtains on book 7 and the cover of book 4 (I still hold to some form of chiastic structuring as the meta-structure of the series on some level, but on the covers it seems to me like there are too many elements in play to try to push anything concrete as far as a specific element like this as a definitive clue but I do think it possible there is something in it, the eveidence just would not bear me pushing too hard on it and it is thus more just an intuition thing), I did not notice this until just tonite looking at the cover of book 4. On the cover of book 4 there is a “framing” element similar to the curtains on book 7: some nasty looking gumbs with some gnarly looking sharp teeth in them … in other words, I am pretty sure you are looking at Harry from inside the mouth of an attacking blast ended skrewt. I am sure I am not the first to notice this element on the GOF cover and I am sure it is so old hat to many that it did not come up (myself always being “fashionably late” as I am), but I just thought that might give a clue to the positioning of the perspective in book 7 US cover, since they are done by the same artist, who seems to have, at least in these two covers, a thing for Point of View as an element, some type of framing element that indicates something in the POV, and yields an element on the cover that you don’t catch at first sight. Obvioulsy nobody actually got eaten by a skrewt in book 4 so you are not a particular character, but I would say on book 7 the perspective very well might be from the other side of the veil. I’m not sure if you would be meant to be a particular character there either, though, but maybe – just not conclusive to me. The lower POV could definitely be a POV of an elf but in book 6 US cover you had the same POV (and in book 5 also but less exageratedly) but there was no house elf there (unless it is refering to Sirius using Kreacher? 🙂 but then how would the artist know a future plot revelation point like that. Or maybe you are one of the inferi? I don’t say that sarcastically at all … it is possible but it would take a high level of philosophical and religious commitment and abstraction from the world of the work as distinctly Christian on the part of the artist. Not impossible, but not really at the same level of simply using a Christ pose on book 7 cover because you realize from the tradition that that is what the author is doing whose work you are illustrating … this would be a level of saying somthing about the audience themselves in regards to Christian thought, that our perspective is from that of the skrewt in book 4 [more on how a skrewt can symbolize a human in a moment] or of a walking corpse if we do not have the grace of Christ, or as partaking in life always with one foot behind the veil etc. … which is, as I said, possible but a higher level of abstraction and, at best, not anywhere near as evidently so as the Christ pose on book 7)

    The only other thing I would note is the blast ended skrewt itself in connecttion to Hagrid and the Rubedo stage. I have always thought that the magical animals are an important auxiliary image. Based in your work John, it is particularly the half breeds. a Hippogryff is half horse half Gryffin, and a Griffyn is half lion half eagle etc. the blast ended skrewt is also a hybrid actually bred by Hagrid, if I remember correctly. On the more “human” level what I will call the “half-breed hermeneutic” moves into a half giant, half human wizard like Hagrid, and more particularly a half-breed for whom both parts are human and the two human elements mixed are muggle and magical. Here the two-part structure comes directly to the issue of the human person, our biological part and our non-biological part (I still side with a bi-partite anthropology of body-spirit if I have to side with one of the “partite” language models, but I don’t think either of those models, bi-partite or tri-partite, or the “partite” language altogether, does justice to the reality of the human person [it is like Horcruxes and the soul: you CAN split it up, it is doable … but not a good thing] … but then people could accuse that I have been reading too much Heiddegger and now see Plato as the boogie man over all, including his tripartite division, but I would have to look and verify if that is a trip division w/in the person as a whole [anthropology] or only w/in the soul [psych-ology], I know in medeival times they talked about 3 types of souls: vegetative, sensate/animal and intellectual [and I think Rowling, in her own way, actually includes nuances of this in some of the work, in a sort of “you should have at least some respect for all living and growing things” like Mandrakes, which I do not take to be, as some fundamentalist anti-Harry types tried to tell me once, an acceptance of abortion, but rather just saying “yes, it is just a plant/animal and it is entirely all right to kill it to meet your needs, but you should still have respect for all living and growing things in general and not go willy nilly burning down forest simply to prove you’re not a pantheist tree-hugger”] and I know that bipartite anthropology taken absolutely would yield the same dualism that Appolinarius got nailed for at first Constantinople in 381, I believe … which is why I like Rowling so much, her images in some places fit Bip anthropology and in some places fit Trip Anthro, which is pretty much very true to the mysterious richness of the reality of the human person … can’t really be pinned down or defined in such “quantitative” language)

    Anway, the key Half breed that includes the two sides of humanity, muggle and magic … Severus Snape of course. Harry’s mother was muggle-born as was Hermione, which is also a crossing, but Snape is the one where it is really central: full blood muggle and full blood witch in a central imagery of marriage.

    Oh yeah, almost forgot I wanted to throw this in (the mention of the marriage that begot Snape reminded me) – whoever used the language of “apocalyptic” with regards to the veil … right on, and conncected to the marriage imagery (I have taken heat for it before but I’ll say it again … how do you read an unbreakable vow without hearing “till death do us part?” I’m not saying Narcissa is a polygamist, just that the marriage imagery as life and death/vow is there as part of the imagery background Rowling is drawing on) … the term “apocalypse” originally means “unveiling” and originates in the culmination of the Jewish wedding ceremony when the bride and groom retire and the groom removes the veil on his bride’s face (also used by Dante – the revelation of Grace and love of God to Dante atop mount Purgatory is done by Beatrice lifting her veil in successive stages, firth the smile is revealed and that is a particular level of revelation, and then the eyes and that level leads him up into the heavens in the Paradiso … here it is not a wedding betwen Dante and Beatrice specifically, but her unveiling of her face is a symbol of the wedding of humanity with God that is called salvation and rectifies all the adultery charges leveled by prophets like Hosea and Jeremiah in the Old Testament) … it has been noted by some too that in the ancient world you find veils in 2 place primarily, on women and in temples. I think all this imagery tends to run in a cluster for a reason, and think it’s cool you can sort of see some of it coming through even in the cover art.

    Yeah, tell me about it … Accio 7/21/07 … try studying Hebrew and 20th century German philosophy when all you can think about is how many days left till the release 🙂

  34. sorry, meant to say Regulus using Kreacher, as in some fo the theories that he might have used him to do the switch

    and also didn’t completely get my thought out on book 4 cover … the skrewt teeth and gumbs are from the book scene itself because a skrewt is one of the animals in the maze

    and my eyewas caught be somebody mentioning the patronus in a cover, and I couldn’t tell if they were saying it was in the American cover or the UK kids or what (btw, the american is one of the coolest pictures I have seen in a while, I saved it and put it up as my wall paper on my desktop computer) … I tried to scan back through but there is a lot there and all I found was some possible mention of the reflection in Harry’s glasses on the UK kids cover, but if there was something in the US cover, and whoever said that reads this and has the time, could you toss back up the patronus locale in the US cover … I have loved the comments here, great stuff and pointed some stuff I hadn’t noticed, like the bag around the neck … great stuff

  35. Brett, great insights! Thanks for all the comments about the Unbreakable Vow–I really had dismissed it as similar to a marriage vow, and still think that it’s quite different, in that one doesn’t drop dead if they don’t adhere to all the promises–though maybe it’s a spiritual death. But that’s really another topic….

    About that book 4 cover, though. I took the cover off my book and laid it flat, and it’s not a skrewt that we see on the front, but the back or tail of a dragon. On the back cover, when you follow it along, you find the dragon’s wings. The cover also includes the goblet of fire held in a hand coming through the hedge of the maze. So perhaps that’s really supposed to be the triwizard cup since it’s in a youth’s hand. On the inside flap, there is something larger that could be the goblet of fire, or it could be Dumbledore’s pensieve. We also have Harry, who on that cover, is looking straight at us, rather than us looking up at him.

    Which leads me to the POV that I’d never paid much attention to. But you are right–on all the other covers, we are seeing Harry from below or slightly below. And I’d never paid attention to the color of Harry’s cape being red on the first four books, but there it is, plain as day. How ever did I miss that one! It’s easy to explain on the first cover, as those could be his Quidditch robes, but not on the others. Even on the 7th book, his robes are a reddish brown, and not cape-like at all.

    But I digress–the POV. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie, “Keeping Mum”. It has nothing to do with Harry Potter except that Maggie Smith is in it. But on the audio-commentary, the director talks about the POV he chose to use whenever Maggie Smith’s character was on screen. It always started slightly below her and slowly zoomed in. And then at the end of the movie, that POV is used for a different character to show the transference of Smith’s character’s traits to another. The point of using that “below” POV, according to him, was to draw attention to her character and to set her apart from all the other characters who are shown straight on.

    So if you look at the HP covers, with that in mind, you get the same sort of feeling–Harry is the important one in the story and is being set apart. The only time we have someone else on his level is on book 2 and 3, when Ginny and Hermione, respectively, are flying with him. Book 7 is nearly straight on, but because Harry is looking and reaching up, it gives the feeling that we are a bit below him. Also, as the viewer is closer to Voldemort, it definitely shows that we are below the scene.

    As for the artist’s conceptions, I’ve always liked Mary GrandPre’s work, especially on the last three, where, as you say, the artwork and the characters have grown up. There is more subtlety and more depth in them. It’s my understanding that she gets an advance copy of the book to read before she does the cover illustration, but that the UK artists, who have not all been the same, only get notes from JKR on what to include on the cover, without having read the books.

    I know with Mary GrandPre’s work, I always look at the cover, wonder what all the things could mean, and then am amazed that I couldn’t figure out some of the more important parts of the plot from the art work. One thing that I noticed also, is that Snape has never appeared on any of the books–rather interesting, since most of us, no matter where we fall on his loyalty, put a lot of importance on his character. The closest he has come to being on any of the covers is his Advanced Potions book on the UK adult version for Half-Blood Prince.

    One more thing I just thought of–the background characters on each book do have to do with something significant in each book. On the first book, it’s all about Harry and Quidditch on the front, with only the unicorn in the main background, and Fluffy off to one side with the castle. But Albus and an owl and a key are on the back, framed by those curtains. So there we have some main elements of the story–the new world for Harry, the threat and quest, and a Christ figure. The inside front flap has someone sneaking along at night carrying a candle, presumably Harry.

    I can’t comment on the second book cover, as my daughter took it to a friend’s house and it came home naked–the book, not my daughter. And usually on-line they only show the front cover, but I remember that Harry is flying upwards with Ginny, hanging onto Fawkes–a Christ symbol again.

    Prisoner of Azkaban, though, has some interesting things as well. Again, we see Harry flying and we are below. This time he’s with Ginny on Buckbeak, another Christ symbol. The Marauders are all on that cover, if you include the flaps–Prongs inside the back cover, Sirius running across the grounds, and Peter inside the front cover. The dementor lurks on the back and Crookshanks is under the Whomping Willow. The framing there is around Harry and Ginny as they are flying by the castle window, where we see a shadow of Sirius. And later, Sirius does always seem to be somewhat in the shadows, now that I think of it.

    The only thing to add to Goblet of Fire, is that the framing is done by the maze. And the cover shows the other champions behind him, rather than his friends. Sirius, as you said, is peaking over the hedge, and there is something that looks like it could be the giant squid entangled in the maze on the back cover flap, and then something else that could be a skrewt or one of the water creatures–not a merperson, though. I don’t remember dementors in GOF–were there any? But it looks like there is one on the cover, near the stands with the spectators at the tasks–unless that’s to represent the lurking Lord Voldemort.

    I love the Order of the Phoenix cover. When I first started reading the book, I thought it must be at twelve, Grimmauld Place. Then by book’s end, I realized it was at the Ministry, with the eerie blue light and the candles. The framing this time is more like the smoke from many candles as it swirls on both end flaps. And of course, on the back, the Order is represented by Tonks, Lupin and Moody, with Sirius is the background. We see Harry from slightly below, but he is looking up, which again, puts us below whatever is going on.

    Half-Blood Prince, definitely has us below Harry and Dumbledore, and on the back, we are above Ron, Hermione, and Ginny, and looking up at the Dark Mark with them. There isn’t much more on this cover, except Hogwarts in the background and possibly Neville, then some very undefined students.

    I agree that I like the progression of the art work to match the maturation of the characters and the story. The first ones were very geared towards appealing to children, and while the latter ones are still not “adult” covers, they do have a quality that shows that these aren’t just little children’s books any longer. (I have to say though, that I always felt they were not just for children–JKR has managed to tell a story that has so many layers, that a younger child can enjoy them, but teens and adults of all ages find so much more in them–obviously, all one has to do is look at the types of discussions that we all have about the books.)

    Back to Deathly Hallows–sorry to wander so off topic, but it’s all Brett’s fault for starting the comparisions–LOL. This cover in particular seems to have such simplicity in the art work, yet so much complexity. I’m so excited by what is shown and implied, and yet not at all explained. I look at this cover every day on my lap top, as it’s my wallpaper as well. I can hardly stand the wait as I watch the countdown clock on my desktop.


  36. Pat,
    Great Stuff. Grateful for the correction on the GOf cover … I got into the series between books 4 and 5 and only finished 4 a month or so before 5 came out and so I have the trade paperback and the frontcover ends at the spine and there is a generic checker pattern on the spine and then something sort of non-descript on the back cover.

    I think the trade paperbacks must be cropped too, which seems consistent with the two versions available for viewing on the Leaky Cauldron page, because I have only some of the elements you listed in the first 3 books and no inside flap art.

    On the matter of the dementor in book 4, I forgot to put that in my comments, because the dementor presence in book 4 is actually a key part of my reading of the works. I agree with Red Hen’s theory that the dementors play more of a part in the “creation” (or rather “un-creation”) of Voldemart and that the MOM is much more culpable than we have heretofor thought (a very PoMo theme), particularly in their alliance with creatures that are Voldy’s “natual allies.” Part of my chiastic reading of the series thus far is that there is a mini-chiasm in the center, book 3, 4 and 5, characterized by Dementor presence on screen or at least “JUST off screen” … in book 3 they are introduced, in book 5 we see Harry doing what Arthrur Weasely, in his “Protection of Muggles Act,” thinks is the true responsibility of all wizards, protecting a muggle (Dudley) from a magical creature/power such as a dementor. In book 4 we have the ultimate act of inhumanity, the worse-than-death penalty: Cornelius Fudge brings a dementor to Hogwarts for his own “protection” and we actually have a full kiss performed on Barty Crouch Jr, right smack dab in the dead middle of the 7 book series.

    Great Stuff on POV, one of the things that is so exciting to me and makes me love the works all the more is how they lend themselves to this braoder ranger of artistic expression being taken up into the works.

    So, one final comment that came to me recently and had me pretty excited on this whole thing. I think the orange sky/ceiling on the book 7 cover means something, maybe not a central image set but certainly a secondary image set that I think can be shown as likely in the works thus far, especially in a chiastic reading (which I, of course, never tire of talking about, although I am sure some wish I would stop babbling LOL). Particularly it is the fact that it so resembles blazing fire. I was realizing the motif of colored fire recently when rambling on to a newly accepted Philosophy PhD student who will begin studies here at Fordham U in the fall, when he was on a visitation weekend recently and I was going on about my fascination with the lightning struck boy, particularly in regards to common images that had come up recently in my own studies in the book of Jeremiah for a class in the book. The professor who teaches that class has recently, within the past year or two, published an essay on Jeremiah and text and context in an essay collection book called “Troubling Jeremiah.” She took the title for her individual piece from a medeival Rabbinic description of the Torah as written with “Black Fire on White Fire” – the meaning dancing elusivley and enticingly like fire just behind the written text. I was describing to this guy how Rowling had used colored fire in book 1 with the potions riddle (I would have to look to make sure but I think it was purple fire ahead and white fire behind), and just today I was realizing that that was not the only place … in the goblet of fire you have blue fire, and now on the cover of book 7 you have an orange cloudiness that is very much the color of real fire. On a chiastica reading that is 1-4-7, the two extreme segments and the cruxt. Like I said I don’t think this is necessarily a primary image set, but rather a secondary one, but I would not be surprised if we find some fire element in a significant place in the culminating events of Deathly Hallows.

  37. Marmee March says

    Here’s a question I haven’t seen or heard anyone ask yet, although I haven’t searched the big website forums. I just sent an e-owl to Travis Prinzi over at Sword of Gryffindor on this question as well. On the US cover, is Harry without his scar? Always before, GrandPre has drawn it right in between his eyebrows, so that it is discernible if not prominent, even on the cover of Half-Blood Prince. Some images on the web of previous covers may not show it clearly, but on the books, it isn’t hidden. What are all your thoughts?

  38. MM,I had looked for that myself when first seeing the covers, especially with all of the discussion that has gone on of the scar as possible horcrux and the issues of the need to destroy the horcruxes, to see if anything might be discernable enought to be a clue (like if it clearly wasn’t there that would, at this point, before book 7 is out, be a point in favor of at least the scar-crux theory). The conclusion I came to was that with the hair blowing the way it seems to be I could not tell clearly one way or the other, if the scar was there or not. Now, I have a standardly decent flatscreen monitor but I don’t do any real graphics art and so don’t have the tech wherewithal of programs like Adobe photoshop etc to blow it up and get a really good close look at it … in other words, the question of it is is there or not could be answered much more definitively than I am able, which you may have already done or not.

    But even the “lessened pronouncement” even if it is there, as you said, seems to be a shift. It could just be a teaser but it could also be indicative of a substantial change, such as something having happened to the scar by the point in book 7 of whatever scene we have represented there … like the removal of a horcrux. I personally tend to think the scar will always be there, but if it is a horcrux and is removed I would think this would cause it to be noticably fainter, more of a memorial than an active element. We have seen Rowling before use scars that never fully fade, like the line “I will not tell lies” etched on the back of Harry’s hand (this is a possible argument I see in favor of Delores Umbridge as one of the poisons in the initial DADA potions riddle from SS/PS, that she gave Harry a scar like Voldemort, more like forced himself to give himself a scar, which we see as stull visible enough for him brandish against Rufus Scrimgeour’s jingoism in “A Very Frosty Christmas” in HBP … I’m not saying I see it as conclusive that she is a poison but I could see it helping that argument). In this case even a fainter presence than on previous covers could be an indicator that the scar was a horcrux that has been removed by the point in the book of the cover incedent. But I think it is too unclear to tell for sure till the book is out. And I am also glad somebody else brought up the question because I had sort of wondered about it myself but that question had sort of drifted to the back with all the other stuff coming out, so I am glad you asked it and reminded me.

    Here is another I dea I had. The past 2 covers have caused different of us to think of different things that have been not the right ones in the end. Pat mentioned thinking when she started into the book that the cover might be #12 Grimmauld place and it turned out to be the circle room in the ministry. When I saw the cover to book 6 I immediately thought of the pensieve and then when it was being used so much throught I just assumed I was right and they just chose green as a sort of ominous Harry Potter type tone, until I got to the end and there was actually a basin that glowed green (which is another reason I tend to think the orange color could be more than accidental, as in more than an enchanted cieling and the sky just happens to be orange outside at the time, that it could have some source more directly linked with fire). The veil room could be a red herring for a location we have never met before … or it could be dead on. Either way, all this speculation is a lot of fun and I think brings out a lot of good comments and observations from the first 6 books and gets them in the hands of a community for some really good discussion of the books in general.

  39. Brett, in one of your posts–or a couple–you’ve mentioned the significance of color. I looked in PS/SS and it was purple fire behind them, through which Hermione was able to return and black fire ahead, which led Harry to Quirrel and Voldemort. Interesting tyring to picture black fire–nice oxymoron, that one, as it combines the symbolism of the color black–

    (quoted from “An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols”, by J. C. Cooper, 1978, p. 39-40):
    “primordial darkness; the Void; evil; the darkness of death; shame; despair; destruction; corruption; grief; sadness; humiliation; renunciation; gravity; constancy. Black also signifies Time, hard, pitiless and irrational and is associated with the dark aspect of the Great Mother, especially as Kali who is Kala. . . Black or blue-black is the colour of chaos.”

    “Alchemic: The absence of color; the first stage of the Great Work; dissolution; fermentation; the sinister; descent into hell.”

    “Christian: The Prince of Darkness; Hell; death; sorrow; mourning; humiliation; spiritual darkness; despair; corruption; evil arts. It is the colour used for masses for the dead and for Good Friday.”

    Now, that you made me look back at the colors in the first book, it seems very much to foreshadow all that is coming for Harry–the darkness (evil) that he must battle, all the darkness of his emotions that he has to confront, both from his past, present and future–all in line with the Alchemical work that is beginning for him.

    Even though the color of the 5th book (the nigredo stage) is blue, the blue that is described throughout the book is a blue-black sort of image, which also fits with the description of the color “black”.

    From the same book, green is the most interesting color–I won’t quote all of it as it’s also one of the longest explanations, which is due, more than likely to its having near opposite meanings:

    “GREEN Ambivalent as both life and death in the vernal green of life and the livid green of death. . . . Compounded of blue and yellow, heaven and earth combined, green forms the mystic colour; it also combines the cold blue light of the intellect with the emotional warmth of the yellow sun to produce wisdom of equality, hope, renewal of life and resurrection.”

    Alchemic: The Green Lion or Green Dragon is the beginning of the Great Work; the young corn god; growth; hope.”

    “Christian: Vernal green is immortality; hope; the growth of the Holy Spirit in man; life; triumph over death and Spring over Winter. It is also initiation; good works; and in medieval times it became the colour of the Trinity, Epiphany and St John the Evangelist. Pale green is equated with Satan, evil and death.”

    So thinking about the color of the basin, all the times that we see green in the books–Slytherin robes, green ink, people wearing green. such as McGonagall in green robes and of course the Slytherins in green (including Fudge with his lime green bowler hat–which would be a lighter shade rather than a darker one–a clue that he is evil?), and especially Harry’s eye color–the symbolism for the color green takes on a lot of ambiguous meanings.

    I’m going to have to think about colors in all the books some more, but right now, it’s time for a cup of tea, while I do my pondering. A lot of the symbolic meanings of color do seem to fit in rather well with what we see going on in the books. I really wish we could tell the colors better of Deathly Hallows–sometimes they look more red than orange and sometimes more yellow than orange. I’m still thinking about that one. Of course, they also could represent gold, which would have to do with the result of the Alchemical work.


  40. Not sure if you have seen the deluxe edition cover art. I hate to gloat, but my prediction based on E. Nesbit and the fact that I put two and two together to come up with the prediction that Harry riding a dragon was to be placed in the red book. Well, here it is. Sorry for the vanity. I know others have predicted it too, just not like me.

  41. Super Travel Insurance says

    hi, the vernal green of life and the livid green of death. . . . Compounded of blue and yellow, heaven and earth combined, green forms the mystic coloure he scar by the point in book 7 of whatever scene we have represented there … like the removal of a horcrux.

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