Ms. Rowling Talks about The Veil

From Melissa Anelli’s weBlog, an excerpt from her new book, Harry, a History:

JKR: Everyone wanted to go beyond the veil.

MA: This is very canon-based, but there are some things that as a fan, there are things I just gotta know. A lot of fans see the veil as that separation –

JKR: It’s the divide between life and death. I tried to do a nod to that in the Tale of Three Brothers – she was separate from them as though through a veil. You can’t go back if you pass through that veil, you cannot come back. Or you can’t come back in any form that will make either person happy anyway.

But when they surround that veil [in Order of the Phoenix], I was trying to show that depending on their degree of skepticism or belief about what lay beyond – because Luna, of course, is [I believe this is meant to be ‘isn’t,’ but will check audio] a very skeptical character. Luna believes firmly in an afterlife. She’s very clear on that. And she feels them speaking or hears them speaking much more clearly than Harry does. This is the idea of faith. Harry thinks he can hear them; he’s drawn on. But Harry’s had a life that has been so imbued with death that he now has an uncharacteristically strong curiosity about the afterlife, especially for a boy of 15, as he is in Phoenix. Ron’s just scared, as I think Ron would be – he just knows this is something he doesn’t want to dabble with. Hermione, hyper-rational Hermione – ‘can’t hear anything, get away from the Veil.’ So if you walk through the veil, you’re dead.You’re dead. What you find on the other side, well, that’s the question.

Do I believe you go on? Yes, I do believe you go on. I do believe in an afterlife, although I’m absolutely doubt-ridden and always have been but there you are.

I had not anticipated, though really I should have done, how interested people would be to go beyond the veil. And lots of people, including Dan [Radcliffe], wanted to go through the veil. But then that shouldn’t surprise me because teenagers are very interested.

MA: Dan sort of does get to go beyond the veil.

JKR: Yeah, he does, but not literally through the veil.

MA: Not charging through. Ginny, Ginny can hear it because she’s been…

JKR: I think women are more likely to hear than men. [Ginny and Harry] really are soulmates. I think she’s like Harry. She’s got an intellectual curiosity and she’s got something of belief. Hermione [is] totally rational. “Let’s all back away from the Veil and let’s pretend we heard nothing.”

John, again. Well, HogPros? What do you think? Has she said anything substantial here? Has Ms. Annelli asked the right questions or gone along for the ride? Is there a ‘right question’ in asking a writer to discuss the meaning of story points or symbols? Does “learning” from the author that the Veil is a divider between life and death add to your understanding of the book or your experience of it? Does it diminish it?

H/T to Viktor for the email tip.


  1. Well, if you’re an intentionalist, it would seem this is pretty solidly in favor of there being a real afterlife conceived in the Potterverse.

  2. When I first read PHOENIX I was struck by the likenesses between the archway with veil and the doorway in PRINCE CASPIAN. The differences are the presence of the veil in the opening defined by the structure of the archway and the transparency of the opening in PC as well as the structures’ differing locations. In PHOENIX it is on a raised dais in the center of an amphitheatre-like room. In PC it is on a grassy open space.

    These loci are suggestive. In PHOENIX we get the feel of a clinical analysis situation, rather, to my mind, like the depictions of operating theatres from prior times where medical doctors in training observe the operation at hand. This leads me on to considering that perhaps the undelineated purpose of the room and archway is to study/observe the passage of individuals through the veil – which could be voluntary or executionary. At any rate, the ambiance is that of multiple witnesses to the events transpiring on the dais and archway. But the ambiance also suggests a materialistic set of presuppositions confining the possibilities of the encounter and its understanding. WE are underground in a darkened room amongst a crowd of seats and hemmed in and confined in the midst of a battle along with Harry et alia. But is that really other than a more acute picture of how death is viewed in our culture?

    Hemmed in by materialist structures and thought processes imbibed with mother’s milk, can we grasp the significance of the veil? It is opaque literally and figuratively to such an approach – even with magic as the utilization of nature by harmonic resonance – because here we pass beyond the material, beyond the e=mc2 confines of the universe we (seem) to inhabit by our limited paradigm. It is interesting that the witness to the beyond-the-veil is auditory, isn’t it? This suggests to me that another approach is needed than the one regarded as primary in our culture (“seeing is believing”). It echoes the theophany on Sinai/Horeb where the veil of the cloud conceals the LORD but where the Voice is such that the people seek its discontinuance for fear of their lives, and again, in the New Testament theophanies of Baptism and Transfiguration, as well as Paul’s Damascus road experience which are auditory also (though with elements of vision).

    But here we are clearly dealing with the transition moment from this life to another, what we call death. The message presented visually is the inability of the dominant cultural paradigm to comprehend the realities experienced. WE can see all around it, but only within the confines of our preconceptions. WE hear that there is more, but again, in proportion to our ability to not be confined by the dominant paradigm. Ron (the body) fears, Hermione rationalizes, Harry perceives.

    In comparison, the doorway in PC is transparent. Here the imagery is movement within the same level of creation – from Narnia to Earth, from one location of life as known to human experience to another very similar if different. There is of course natural correlation between the worlds. Suggestions of the afterlife can be drawn by analogy and have application to spiritual matters (Dante’s anagogical level of interpretation). The openness of the surroundings suggest the openness of the characters (and US) to the natural worlds in all their splendours. The passage requires faith in HEARING what Aslan says about the journey and its destination, but no hints from the other side are forthcoming from the passsageway.

    So, naturally as a Lewis fan for decades, one reflects on other doorways in and around Narnia: the wardrobe (LWW), doorway in the air (PC), the garden door (SC), door in the air (VDT), the stable door and the Door in Aslan’s country (LB). To quote Paul Ford (COMPANION TO NARNIA), “Between pp. 148 and 165 of the Collier rack-size paperback edition )of the LB) Lewis refers to ‘Door” and ‘Doorway” seventeen times, capitalizing them when heintends to signify the boundary between time and eternity, and leaving them in lower case to signify the death of an individual. The Collier trade paperback edtion does not preserve this distinction.” (footnote 2, p. 147)

    Interestingly, this distinction of capitalization is preserved in PHOENIX. The word veil is capitalized in the chapter title but only appears in lowercase when referring to Sirius’ death. And the synonymous word curtain is never capitalized either. Coincidence? Probably. But maybe not. JKR is a consumate planner and this distinction may have been planned. It would be interesting to ask her, given her love of Narnia.

    What JKR achieves in her depiction of this limnality – and does very well – is:

    “It’s the divide between life and death.”

    “But when they surround that veil [in Order of the Phoenix], I was trying to show that depending on their degree of skepticism or belief about what lay beyond – because Luna, of course, is [I believe this is meant to be ‘isn’t,’ but will check audio] a very skeptical character. Luna believes firmly in an afterlife. She’s very clear on that. And she feels them speaking or hears them speaking much more clearly than Harry does. This is the idea of faith. Harry thinks he can hear them; he’s drawn on. But Harry’s had a life that has been so imbued with death that he now has an uncharacteristically strong curiosity about the afterlife, especially for a boy of 15, as he is in Phoenix. Ron’s just scared, as I think Ron would be – he just knows this is something he doesn’t want to dabble with. Hermione, hyper-rational Hermione – ‘can’t hear anything, get away from the Veil.’ So if you walk through the veil, you’re dead.You’re dead. What you find on the other side, well, that’s the question.”

    “I had not anticipated, though really I should have done, how interested people would be to go beyond the veil.”

    With her comments on the individual characters following, I think JKR is pointing towards the distinctions I have made above – without delineating them precisely as images of our paradigmatic attitudes. Nevertheless she clearly affirms that she is evidencing the issue of life-after-death and the variety of responses available: affirmation (Luna), acceptance (Harry and Ginny), fear (Ron), and studied ignorance (Hermione).

    I think that this interview should affirm that JKR is deliberately evoking responses to limnality that our culture (Western, postmodern) refuses to address in its dominant paradigm and showing (and thereby planting possibilities for) other options as valid. If the overarching theme of HP is death and our responses to it, as I believe it to be, then she has done an admirable job of stretching our options under the guise of entertaining and instructive delight.

  3. fascinating observations inked!

    In order to avoid possible disappointment I would just like to point out that this extract will not appear in Melissa’s book. As she says:

    “..I tried pretty hard for an excuse to shoehorn this into the book. When I realized how hard I was trying, I stopped, and cut that part out. But you must hear this on-record discussion on the veil, which is Vault 27 entry number two – it falls under the category of confirmation of widely agreed-upon fan-theory:…”

  4. Arabella Figg says

    Once again, I will fail to achieve the heights of analysis, demonstrated by Inked above, but will add some simple thoughts.

    I think Melissa dropped the ball when she took the Dan bait (who cares?), and I believe her questions could have been deeper. But this is typical of Melissa/Emerson questions, given their age and maturity level. I’m sure John could have taken this in a much more interesting direction. I would have liked Melissa to go further regarding Rowling’s belief in the veil despite her doubts.

    Rowling does show how the characters represent the various attitudes toward death and this may be helpful to those who haven’t thought about it.

    I kept thinking of Jesus remonstrating about the Pharisees having eyes, but not seeing, and ears, but not hearing. He seemed to speak most about hearing/not hearing. Rowling also focuses on hearing. Both emphasize that we see with our eyes (visual proof not requiring faith) and should hear with our hearts (seeker sensitivity), which is what Harry, Luna and Ginny had.

    And I think of all the people who experienced Jesus when he was on earth having the same types of responses mentioned above–belief, curiosity, fear and rationality. Rowling doesn’t mention revulsion, exemplified by Voldemort.

    There were some things about the veil I found very mysterious. Was there only one? If not, what about those who died and didn’t go through this one (or did they)? Why was it in this amphitheater-like setting, one very like the Wizengamot judgment chamber? Why was the veil itself tattered? Were there specators there unseen (a cloud of witnesses)?. And it’s interesting that in this room, Harry and friends fight the “Death Eaters,” which term, in other instances could be a descriptive term for Christ victorious over death.

    Perhaps the veil does represent judgment and soul-fate; that we tend to see death in a “tattered,” [tainted] way, as if it is deterioration rather than restoration; that to go through the veil, means peaceful death-embracing or “eating.”

    WizWorld denizens die without going through that chamber’s veil; we see all sorts of people die elsewhere (again, or do they?). I agree, this ancient arch was a mystery subject of study and scrutiny.

    Also interesting is Rowling’s comment about Harry (along with Ginny) being intellectually curious, considering the strong viewpoint about him being as incurious as a rock.

    This doesn’t aid my understanding in any way, but I enjoyed Rowling’s comments. And perhaps what we might consider “wrong questions” can sometimes lead to places we wouldn’t otherwise explore.

    Kitties have no right or wrong questions, but they do a lot of exploring…

  5. Inked writes:

    “In PHOENIX we get the feel of a clinical analysis situation…, like the depictions of operating theatres from prior times where medical doctors in training observe the operation at hand…that perhaps the undelineated purpose of the room and archway is to study/observe the passage of individuals through the veil – which could be voluntary or executionary.”

    Rowling likens the physicality of the room to both “an amphitheater, or the courtroom in which Harry had been tried by the Wizengamot” (OotP, p. 773). I propose the amphitheater suggests a *performance* in some manner; one which allows for observation and evaluation as in the performance of life all around us. The descending placement of the benches suggests hierarchy of understanding: the less known, the lower and closer the benches in order to observe and learn the fundamentals. Elevation would then equate with the application of knowledge (wisdom) and the ability to *see* the bigger picture. (A tip of the hat to John’s DHL) Low-level observants would then be limited in scope, focused if you will upon specifics of the arch and its constant rippling movements. The higher the bench, the broader the view and by parallel, the greater the understanding of the arch/veil meaning…provided the audience member puts aside internal constraints and determines/chooses to continually humble self by crawling upwards. After all, Jo makes no mention of easily-attainable steps/aisles in this particular room. The benches are continuous on every level, thus re-emphasizing the idea of the Circle and the Center (see pages 19-20 of DHL for a much better explanation).

    We know that Harry et al enter this “dimly lit and rectangular” room with its pit-like center from the topmost levels and intersecting corners. Harry has a negative deja vu moment a la his Wizengamot experience at the start of OotP. For this reason I agree with Inked that there is a sense of the *executionary* in this place, but not so a *voluntary* one. Here a person could retreat/hide in the shadows should they eschew the presence of the arch altogether. Obviously, this puts the audience member in the dark-literally and figuratively. No knowledge is gained and chances are this person’s face is turned toward the corner in fear, seaking solace through chosen ignorance. A circular room would not provide such harbor. John writes in *The Deathly Hallows Lectures* that
    “The Center of Absolute, “God the Father…maker of everything
    visible and invisible,” is unknown except throught the Circle,
    His “Word” that creates” (p.28).
    The four-cornered room might suggest an absence of God and the reality of a trapped life; that being physical death and a passing on to somewhere else or nowhere. However, Jo clearly places the benches “all around the room and descending in steep steps like an amphitheater….” I believe the arch room has been created for observation, perhaps contemplation, but not a station of execution or sacrifice by Wizards or Muggles. The raised dais is centrally placed, allowing for an *encompassing* assessment for the serious investigator. The descending steps recall the levels of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. I suppose one could theorize that the closer to the arch/veil and its meaning, the more agonizing the punishment of one’s self until enlightenment occurs and spiritual ascendence/knowledge is obtained.

    For me, “dimly lit” suggests the least amount of understanding and perhaps, too, the solemnity associated with death. Initially, Harry’s curiosity is aroused by the visual content of the space, its lighting and design. He stands on the top-most level, furthest from the arch. At this point he is just an observer. When he makes the choice to “scramble down the benches one by one” (OotP, p. 773), Harry unknowingly commits to facing death head-on (again), this time drawn by his need to know what/who is on the other side of the fluttering veil. He senses a presence on the other side and finds nothing when he cautiously moves around the archway, but he is actively seeking! He has placed himself below the raised dais…a submissive, humbling posture; an unconscious acknowlegement of his limitations of understanding. Harry needs answers, he needs help, and his spirit is being drawn towards the ethereal veil. Where better to find what he seeks but at the very Center of the Circle where God has bridged our physical and spiritual lives at the moment of death by the death and resurrection of the Conqueror of death Himself? (Here is where I think Inked’s observation of voluntary/executionary actually intersects in a love/hate moment: that Christ willingly gave up his life as sacrifice on our behalf when satan intended to execute God’s Annointed for his own perverse means.) Before Harry descends, he is in semi-darkness; “dimly-lit”. Admittedly, Harry appears to be no more the wiser when he leaves this room following Hermione’s intervention. However, he is further along the way to becoming the man Dumbledore knows he will be, enabling our hero to defeat Lord Voldemort.

    And note: Harry’s descent is ultimately followed by Hermione, Ron, Neville, Ginny, and Luna. His first steps affect his friends. They, too, become questioners/seekers by his example. Are we not called to do the same, to lead and to follow?

  6. Well, it’s undeniably a step up from shipping questions.

    I currently expect very little from JKR’s commentary on the story. Pre-DH, it was understandable that she’d hedge and hold back, but post-DH is another matter. To my knowledge, she hasn’t given an interview in the last 14 months to anyone who has explored the books deeply and intelligently (I hope to find out I’m wrong). If she’s only granting access to the Melissa’s and Emerson’s of HP fandom, whose devotion to JKR and the story border on idolatry, then I have no hope at all because she’ll only be asked easy questions and there won’t be any intellectually rigorous follow-up. Boards like this take the position that the story has much, much more depth and complexity than is acknowledged by all but a minority of fans and critics. Yet so far when JKR is asked a question—a fairly good starting question that touches on the deeper meanings in the story—she typically IMO gives a relatively thin answer relative to what I hope and expect she could give. And sometimes she doesn’t appear to remember exactly what she wrote as is the case here.

    For instance, after reading the interview section regarding the veil, my first thought was that I expected the majority of readers to have long ago concluded that the veil is the divide or gateway between life and death. The reference to the Tale of Two Brothers was interesting, but we already knew from the story that once a person “goes on,” he or she cannot come back in a living form as before. Ghosts, who have chosen not to “go on,” only live a pale imitation of life that is neither fully here nor fully there as Sir Nicholas described it and that was the position of the woman in the Resurrection Stone part of the tale.

    JKR’s character commentary prompted me to reread the relevant sections in OotP. Death and attitudes toward it are THE theme of the story, so I was certainly interested in JKR’s faith versus reason comments regarding the reactions of the students toward the veil. Regarding the trio, I considered the characters in terms of John’s belief that they represent the body (Ron), the mind (Hermione), and the intellectus/spirit (Harry). However, she doesn’t appear to remember quite what she wrote in OotP.

    In the MA interview, JKR said, “Ron’s just scared, as I think Ron would be – he just knows this is something he doesn’t want to dabble with.” But if you reread the section, you’ll see that Ron was not at all frightened of the veil nor was he entranced by it as Harry, Ginny, and Neville were. Ron appears to have been curious about it (enough to examine it), but there isn’t a whiff of a suggestion that he was afraid of it. When they left the room, Hermione pulled the entranced Ginny from the veil while Ron pulled the entranced Neville from it. There is no suggestion that Ron was affected by the veil or evidence that he heard the voices, and if Ron represents the body, we wouldn’t expect him to be either entranced by it or afraid of it because the body does not “go on.”

    It was Hermione, not Ron, who was terrified of the veil (“She sounded scared, much more scared than she had in the room where the brains swam”). It’s true that Hermione could not hear any voices, but she was immediately alarmed by the veil and became increasingly frightened and shrill as the other students, especially Harry, got closer to it. Hermione tried to physically pull Harry away from it and finally broke the hold the veil had on Harry by reminding him that they were there to save Sirius. As they left the room, Harry asked Hermione, “What to you reckon that arch was?” Hermione answered, “I don’t know, but whatever it was, it was dangerous.” (OP34) And she was right to regard the arch as a danger to the earthly existence of the students. Reason may be preventing her from hearing the voices (acknowledging the possibility of an afterlife), but not from acknowledging the limits of earthly existence. But is JKR saying, through Hermione’s inability to hear the voices, that “pure” reason is an impediment to belief in an afterlife?

    Harry is clearly drawn to the veil to a greater degree than any other student, but is it just curiosity? He is described as taking almost involuntary steps toward the arch: “The gently rippling veil intrigued him; he felt a very strong inclination to climb up on the dais and walk through it.” and “without really meaning to put it there, he found his foot was on the dais.” Despite JKR’s interview comment that “Everyone wanted to go beyond the veil,” that does not appear to be the case. While the text only provides us with Harry’s thoughts, it’s clear from Hermione’s comments that she doesn’t want to get near it. Ron walks around the dais in detached curiosity without appearing to experience any pull toward it (he is not entranced by it as Ginny and Neville are). Ginny and Neville are entranced by it, but they are described as standing and gazing at it, not attempting to step onto the dais as Harry was. Luna stood listening to the voices, but she had no problem walking away from the arch.

    Why was Harry seemingly affected by the veil to a greater degree than the others? As the intellectus/spirit, did Harry comprehend (on an unconscious level) that by going through the veil he would reunite with his parents and also rid himself of the piece of Voldemort’s soul he was harboring? I don’t think the piece of soul was drawn to the veil only because we saw with the destruction of the Horcruxes that each soul fragment has a strong instinct for self-preservation. On the other hand, could the soul-piece be drawn to the place it should ultimately go? I think the arch is the ultimate example of those mentioned by John in the Hog’s Head “eyeball” podcast (Fat Lady portrait, Weasley’s car, tent, Hermione’s beaded bag, Room of Requirement, Platform 9 ¾ wall) where the inside is much bigger than the outside, the ultimate reality is inside, in this case beyond the veil. FYI – John probably already mentioned the veil in his book, but since I haven’t read it, I am only going by the podcast. It certainly strikes me now that Harry’s reaction to the veil looks toward Harry’s DH King’s Cross conversation with Dumbledore.

    Luna hears the voices more clearly than anyone and she also know there are “people in there” who (as we find out later in OotP) have “gone on.” But Luna is a character who believes in lots of bizarre things. As Hermione said of Luna, “Ginny’s told me all about her, apparently she’ll only believe in things as long as there’s no proof at all.” (OP13) Luna wears earrings made of dirigible plums, which we learned from Xenophilius, “enhance the ability to accept the extraordinary.” (DH20) And Luna does accept the existence of the extraordinary, even, apparently, the blatantly bogus. She has the strongest belief in an afterlife of all the students, but she also believes in the existence of Blibbering Humdingers, Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, Wrackspurts, and the Rotfang Conspiracy. Is Loony Luna an example of faith alone leading to acceptance of all manner of superstition? Or is Ravenclaw Luna an admirable example of untroubled faith standing ground against the ridicule of skeptics? Both?

    Women are more likely to hear the voices than men? Hermione is the only one we know for sure didn’t hear the voices, so is JKR saying men are more rational than women? It’s true that women are more likely than men to attend worship services, but I do wish JKR had explained what she meant by the association between sex and belief. Is JKR saying anything about faith alone and reason alone by juxtaposing Luna (who hears the voices more clearly than anyone else) and Hermione (who cannot hear anything at all)? Since JKR described Ginny as having a combination of intellectual curiosity and some degree of faith that allowed her to hear the voices, and since Ginny and Neville are described in an identical manner (“Ginny and Neville were staring, apparently entranced, at the veil too”) and both had to be pulled away from it by Hermione and Ron, I think she’s clearly saying that faith and reason are not opposed.

    MA started out with a good topic, but she did “go along for the ride.” My personal opinion is that the HP series should be judged on its merits as written, but I appreciate authorial comment that deeply explores the intent and meaning of the work as a whole and how JKR tried to realize that intent and meaning. I don’t guarantee I’d agree with her, but I’d love to hear her answers to good, probing questions and have the opportunity to compare her answers with the text.

    Inked makes interesting comments the location of the arch in an amphitheater, which suggests observation, which is consistent with the laboratory atmosphere of other rooms (like the Brain room) in the Department of Mysteries. My own take was that the amphitheater and stone benches suggest that the arch was transported in its original setting or that its original setting was replicated, which is suggestive of Greek and Roman amphitheaters. There is no doubt that the arch and veil are ancient: “upon this dais stood a stone archway that looked so ancient, cracked, and crumbling that Harry was amazed the thing was still standing.”

    The description of the room ties in nicely with the references to ancient persons and myths coursing through the book, and it is also suggestive of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, particularly in the voices, in the idea that this world is a shadow of a much greater reality. And since I’m chewing on the prophesies, I’m reminded of HP’s Trelawney and her association with ancient oracles uttering divine revelations in a frenzied state.

    I love Inked’s comparison to CL Lewis’s doorways and the differences between his and JKR’s. The fact that the “afterlife” is not visible through the HP archway is consistent with JKR’s interview comment that “What you find on the other side, well, that’s the question.”

    So my answer to John’s questions: I do believe there would be interest and value in having JKR comment on the books on a deep level, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. We would certainly get better answers from her if she allowed interviews with people who will challenge her about the deeper meaning of the books, but will she? And if she does, I hope she gives the series a reread first.

  7. I hadn’t thought of these questions until this morning, so here goes:

    Does the stone arch/veil have a *front* and consequently a *back*? If so, what importance would this hold in light of Sirius’ fall through the veil?

    We know that Sirius is at peace by Jo’s description in DH (Into the Forest Again) and I’ve always presumed he fell through the veil from the front-side, but I’ve never given the idea of front/peace, back/oblivion until now.

    What say ye, HogPro All-Pros?

  8. Oops….should have said “…but I’ve never given the idea of front/peace, back/oblivion much thought until now.”

    Re-engaging brain 🙂

  9. Guybrush_threepwood says

    Hello, John

    I wish I can email you this, but I don’t see a “contact the webmaster” link on your site so I will leave this question in the comment section. 🙂

    Did Jk rowling indeed write the mini books “Quidditch through the ages” and “fantastic beasts and where to find them” or did some editor simply get some subjects on the books and elaborated on them?

    other then that I’m really escited to read “Harry, a history” this fall, including the deathly hallows lectures. I’m glad to see there are still some exciting things coming from the world of J.K. rowling. I thought it would all end the minute I turned the last page of Hallows. However, it is kind of silly thinking that these franchises would actually stop. George Lucas and Rowling are making way too much money of their creations to suddenly put a stop to them. Remember when Lucas said that their would be no more space adventures after Episode III, now not only did we get another theatrical release this summer, but were getting a whole television show, including a live action one comin soon starring Madonna!! Also, remember when Rowling said that she would kill Harry after the last book? Then one day I read, “Maybe I’ll write one more book when Harry is an adult” To be honest, I don’t like the thought of these things stopping but sometimes you have to say goodbye to these things during the exciting part. Remember when C.S. lewis was asked if he would write anymore Narnia books, he stated that it is better to stop when the people are wanting more.

  10. Guybrush: As far as I know, Ms. Rowling’s having written the Hogwarts textbook has never been questioned. I suspect, too, if anyone could resist the pull of money in writing a Hogwarts sequel or prequel it would be Ms. Rowling. I would not be surprised, though, if Warner Brothers, following Amazon’s lead with *Beedle* doesn’t invoke the charity option to see if that won’t create at least a movie screenplay from the author. One book to create the funds necessary to defeat MS? I think she would start writing tomorrow.

    PJ: You lost me on front and back to the Veil. The ampitheatre setting and circular dais are supposed to suggest the “circle has no beginning” as Luna put it in DH, i.e., no front or back, just a center which is a principle or non-temporal non-local origin. With the King’s Cross experience post AK in Hallows, we see here the mystery of death as the unity of existence behind all surfaces (something I explain at length in *The Deathly Hallows Lecyures*).

    Felicity, I’m moving discussion of your Luna point to its own thread. Again, it is wonderful to have you back on the HogPro boards. Your find that Ms. Rowling misrepresented Ron’s reaction to the veil as fear when we have nothing in text for that position and when Hermione is clearly border line hysterical was golden.

  11. Sorry, John…I didn’t mean to derail re: the veil having a front/back. I was actually revisiting that room in my mind, circling the raised dais from the floor level when Jo’s description of Harry’s movement around the arch popped into focus.

    That’s why I asked the question! Thanks for answering 🙂

  12. I continue to be both pleased with Rowling’s dealing with death and also saddened that she did not incorporate actual resurrection theology into the story. It’s like she’s standing between platonism and the Resurrection. You “go on,” but there is no coming back. Christianity would not agree; heaven isn’t the end, it is the waystation back to the New Creation. The metaphysical level of her story is that the victory over death is heaven, not Christ bursting the hold of death over creation, and it is interesting to see how she reinterpreted 1 Cor. 15:26 away from bodily resurrection into some kind of ethereal, platonic, not-physical plane in DH.

  13. Ummm. You have to read my book!

    But in case you’re waiting for it to come to your library, please note right off that the palace Harry thinks of as King’s Cross is not “some kind of ethereal, platonic, not-physical plane.” Read the chapter again. It is a place where Harry is all but omniscient, where his thoughts create physical objects, and where the dead walk in radiant, luminous bodies, but it cannot be described as “non-physical.” Rowling takes great pains to have Harry confirm the sensually experienced reality of this non-local, atemporal place. Hence the importance of the final Dumbledore-Harry exchange.

    Which I explain in Chapter 5 of *The Deathly Hallows Lectures.* Harry is not in a “heaven” that is other but in the “kingdom of heaven” that is within, behind, and beneath the surfaces of reality, the “inside greater than the outside,” to use Lewis’ language and a Rowling theme.

    This is the New Creation, New Jerusalem, etc, because it is the unity of existence, the creative rational principle that is the Divine 2nd Hypostasis, the Logos that is in every man (John 1:9), the light of the world (John 8:12), and the eye that is the light of the body (Matthew 6:23; this passage being especially important because of the DH eye symbolism, Dumbledore’s luminescent body, and the Ariana gravestone scripture which is the verse in Matthew 6 immediately before it).

    Anyway, I don’t go into the resurrection theology in my book, but I’m confident if you do read that chapter you’ll see where you wrong to assume Rowling’s ‘afterlife’ is otherworldly and a cop out. She’s right in the heart of Coleridgean natural theology, which seems awe-fully biblical and patristic to me.

  14. John, once again, thanks for the correction. DHL hasn’t come in for me yet; I ordered it this week. I agree with your analysis, but what I think I was getting at is what seems (at least to me) to be this fundamental denial that we can come back from death in anything beyond the ghostly image by the resurrection stone, which is different from the emphasis of the New Testament on the redemption of this creation into the New Creation. (I don’t quite Harry’s resurrection here because he technically wasn’t actually dead, which was her point too).

    I think I was interacting less with the mystical King’s Cross, on which I basically agree with you, and more with her reinterpretation of 1 Cor. 15:26. The point of the verse is not what Hermione says it is. She says, “It means . . . you know . . . living beyond death. Living after death,” (p. 328). But this is precisely not what the verse is saying. She literally inverts the meaning of the text. It is saying that when we are physically resurrected, death will be defeated because it cannot hold us. She wants it to say that “going on” itself is victory over death, but in 1 Cor. 15, Paul’s point is that we die because the curse of death is still upon the world, but one day it too will be completely rolled back and everybody comes out of the graves. It is not speaking so much of life after death as it is speaking of life after life after death. So, I think, regardless of the mystical King’s Cross, she actually did reinterpret the passage into teaching that we go off to heaven when we die, instead of that we come back from heaven and get our bodies back. Maybe I’m over thinking the point, but as far as I can tell, that’s what she seems to be saying.

    I don’t think her theology is wholly Greek/gnostic (the soul escapes off to heaven forever and nevermind about this world) or wholly Scriptural (we will live in a glorified, physical creation which is this same creation, only without sin and with God present as He is in heaven, since after all, heaven comes to earth in the end). As far as I can see it in DH, and keep in mind I haven’t yet read the Lectures and I am more than happy to be wrong here, she seems to stand between the two.

  15. The challenging image Ms. Rowling gives us at King’s Cross is of an afterlife which is our *real life* even now, behind and within the surface reality we accept as complete. It is the “kingdom of heaven within us” that the Incarnate Logos came to proclaim and showed in the Transfiguration to his still unprepared disciples on Tabor.

    Hence Dumbledore’s amusement at Harry’s description of the palace he finds himself in as “King’s Cross” and his Parthian, Coleridgean answer about the reality in your head. Logos is the stuff and substance of mind and everything created beneath the appearances. It may not be gnostic in the heretical sense, if it is gnostic in the way Christ uses the word *gnosis* (and Sts. Paul, Clement, and others), but it is hermetic, sacramental Christianity of a transforming vision — contra a systematic and juridical Christianity — in the tradition of English writers from Blake and Coleridge through the Inklings.

    I look forward to reading your thoughts on *Lectures.*

  16. Admittedly, I am on shaky ground with regards to Coleridge and Blake aside from “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” and various chimney sweep poems by Blake (and his delightful sketches of Paradise Lost). Anything you would recommend beyond Lectures that would get into their philosophy or theology?

  17. My guide to Coleridge is James Cutsinger’s *The Form of the Transformed Vision* which may be out of print. To go to the Bard of Ottery St. Mary himself, try *Aids to Reflection.* There are at least two new books on the Romantic tradition vis a vis its influence on the Inklings but I haven’t read them and they’re UK presses and pricey (the one I saw this morning was 45 pounds).

  18. And, of course, there is Barfield’s *What Coleridge Thought.* Barfield, Lewis’ “wisest and best unofficial teacher,” wrote the laudatory introduction to Cutsinger’s book and Cutsinger spoke with him at some length while writing it.

  19. William Sommeret says

    If Harry can survive the Avada Kedavra curse, which is supposed to kill you instantly, logic would dictate that by going through the veil, instead of dying he would have (then) unknowingly killed one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes(?) to preserve his own life. Maybe?

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