New Cover, New Substack Posts, and a Journey to Wales

Since our last posting here at the HogwartsProfessor weblog, Rowling, Inc., has released the cover for The Running Grave with the attendant story tease and summary, the HogwartsProfessor Substack site has been active with posts on a variety of exciting topics, and I have confirmed my reservations (and packed) this week for a trip to Swansea University in Wales, a journey I begin in just a few hours. Here are a few notes for those of you who stop by our old haunts before I leave for the airport.

The Strike 7 Cover and Story Blurb

I read about the cover and tease release via and had these three thoughts about the images chosen:

(1) The yellow or gold touches suggest the end of literary alchemy and the dawn at the end of Deathly Hallows

(2) The Cromier pier location in Norfolk we have seen before in Rowling twitter headers and is a fit with the locale described in the teaser paragraphs.

(3) The picture itself is reminiscent of an oriental pagoda, Torii, or paifang, a point of spiritual passage, entry way, or gate. I’m hopeful that this hint is a pointer to the psycho-spiritual content of the seventh book with its I Ching epigraphs.

I’d also note that a a fan had tweeted a mock-up of this scene as a cover for the upcoming novel months ago.

This is either a remarkable coincidence or suggestive that the marketing team responsible for promoting Rowling-Galbraith mysteries is especially attentive to the series’ social media mavens. Perhaps a little of both?

About the teaser paragraphs, I was only reminded that discussing them at any length here or elsewhere is to become an unpaid adjunct member of said marketing team. I have played that role for as long as I can remember writing about Rowling’s incipient releases — and think I’ll pass on speculating about what it may mean this time.

In brief, the Agency is headed to Norfolk, Robin is going undercover into a religious cult, and Strike has plenty to reflect on with respect to his childhood experiences nearby; who needs to prime the pump of pre-publication sales any more than that exciting story-line? I very much look forward to reading Strike7 in September and writing then about its Deathly Hallows echoes, ring structure, alchemical notes, prophetic epigraphs, and mythological backdrops — if any of those elements appear.

HogwartsProfessor Substack Posts

Since my last update here at the beginning of last month, the HogwartsProfessor staff have been very busy over at the Substack site writing about The Running Grave and related topics.

Elizabeth Baird-Hardy, our resident movie and Hunger Games expert, shared her insights about the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes trailer. I am not a fan of movie adaptations as a rule and those made of Suzanne Collins’ novels were especially ironic and bad; Prof Hardy’s notes were very encouraging, however, and I suspect on the strength of her arguments I should go the theater on the day of release.

Nick Jeffrey wrote two posts, one on The Black Dog in English literature with special attention to Rowling’s use of the image, and another this morning on literary mimics, parodists, and satirists, ‘The King’s Canary,’ that discusses both a Dylan Thomas work that may have been the model for Owen Quine’s Bombyx Mori and a contemporary writer that seems determined to say unkind things about The Presence, albeit covertly in story. Each Jeffrey post rewards the time invested in reading them several fold with pleasure and valuable information available nowhere else.

I wrote about the choice of the I Ching as the source of epigraphs in Strike 7. I happened in a series of synchronous discoveries, the most notable in a grocery store storage room, to stumble on a Jungian commentary on and translation of the Oracle by Rudolf Ritsema and Stephen Karcher, which book pointed to a very promising possibility of why Rowling-Galbraith chose to ‘go there’ for her Running Grave chapter headers.

I began what will be a series of posts about the soul’s journey to perfection in spirit depicted in allegory in Rowling’s work, with a review of the several attempts that have been made to read the Hogwarts Saga as a retelling of Prudentius’ poem, Psychomachia. This introductory post will be followed soon by one exploring the choice of the name ‘Prudence’ for Strike’s half-sister, a Jungian analyst with whom he seems certain to be meeting in the early going of Running Grave, an encounter that may parallel the opening chapter of Deathly Hallows and the death of Charity. Will Prudence in ‘Running Grave’ Suffer a Fate Similar to Charity’s in ‘Deathly Hallows’? A Look Back at a Neglected Aspect of Psychomachian Allegory in Harry Potter

That series was put aside by the advent of Evan Willis’ theory about why the Cormoran Strike novels will be a ten book series. In anticipation of this effort, I laid out why I thought the Parallel Series Idea suggested strongly that Rowling’s detective fiction, if indeed it is a ten book set, is best thought of as seven in number with three add-ons not especially important to the integrity of the ring cycle. I included in that post my best guess about who will die in Running Grave the way Dobby did in Deathly Hallows and who will pay the part of Kreacher. If Running Grave is ‘Deathly Hallows 2,’ What Strike Series Characters will Play the Parts of Dobby and Kreacher?

Evan Willis’ post, Why the Cormoran Strike Novels Are a Ten Book Series, exploded my PSI-generated idea of seven + three with a brilliant numerological exposition and exploration of Rowling’s artistry and meaning. In brief, he argues that the two mythological backdrops to the Strike series, ‘Castor and Pollux’ and ‘Eros and Psyche,’ both involve the parting of the principal players before their eventual reunion and that this will be what happens in the Strike novels post Running Grave with their return to one another only in Strike 10. He explains that Rowling’s parallel series work will continue in Strike 8, 90, and 10, albeit with Casual Vacancy, The Ickabog, and The Christmas Pig as her standards or foils. The geometric figure he invokes as Rowling’s guiding structure for the first and second set of ten books written in parallel is the tetractys.

Willis’ synthesis of sacred geometry, alchemy, mythology, hermetic symbolism, tarot, I Ching, and Rowling’s parallel writing is, frankly, the most exciting and boundary-stretching bit of Rowling analysis in many years. I wrote a post in response (and in admiration) to explain the tradition of numerological symbolism in the English Greats, to note that Running Grave will reveal whether Willis has hit a grand slam or struck out in his swing for the fences (his structure-based predictions are that specific), and to share an alternative ten point symbol that may be used in Strike 7 as an echo of the “triangular eye,” the symbol of the Deathly Hallows. Is Tetractys Theory the Best Explanation of Why the Cormoran Strike Series is Ten Books in Length?

Please join us over at the HogwartsProfessor Substack site for extraordinary posts like these!

Trip to Swansea University in Wales

In two hours, I depart from Oklahoma City for Dallas and then London. God willing, I will wind up Wednesday in Wales for the graduation ceremonies at Swansea University. I have been given a pair of Guest Tickets, one of which will be used by my host, Nick Jeffrey, and the other is available for you to claim. Drop me a note in the comment boxes below if you’re interested and will be in the area!

I am being interviewed by the University’s alumni office for a write-up in their magazine; I hope the story angle will be about my scholarship rather than than my age, which is of course well above the average new PhD’s, my Walter Mitty existence as a Potter Pundit, or (egad) Rowling’s controversial, not to say “radioactive,” status. I promise to provide a link to the story should it ever be published online.

I remain hopeful that my thesis will be published one day as well. Until then, I’ll share tomorrow over at the Substack site a keynote talk I gave at St Andrews University on my first trip to the UK more than ten years ago now. Be sure to subscribe — it’s free — so that will come directly to your inbox! The World Turned Inside-Out and Right-Side Up: Harry Potter has More to Teach Us about Literary Criticism than Literary Criticism does about Harry Potter.


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