Search Results for: hanged man

Holy Friday: The Potter’s Field

The Holy Friday Vespers service in the Orthodox Christian tradition is known for the reading of ‘The Twelve Passion Gospels.’ In the Fifth Gospel reading (St. Matthew 27:3-32), we hear:

Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned by betraying innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? You see to it! Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood. And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the LORD directed me.
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Elizabeth Goudge: “All Shall Be Well”

What is the meaning of the Deathly Hallows final words, “All was well”? Was Ms. Rowling referring to a favorite author or poet in choosing them?

For serious readers of Harry Potter, these are important questions, right? I’ve taken some long looks at this previously and the best I came up with was Eliot’s “All shall be well” in The Four Quartets which, in turn, is an echo of Julian of Norwich. Odd Sverre Hove in Bergen, Norway, rocked my world Tuesday in finding what I think is the more likely source of Ms. Rowling’s fare-well “All was well.” [Read more…]

On Critical Reception of Harry Potter and Twilight Part 5: Iconological Criticism and Best Sellers (A)

For Part 1 of this post, click here. for Part 2, click here, for part 3, click here, and for part 4, click here, or just scroll down the home page.

No, I haven’t finished the edits to Harry Potter’s Bookshelf: The Great Books Behind the Hogwarts Adventures. But I’m making good progress.

The whole point of Bookshelf is to introduce the context of English literature in which Harry Potter is written to give a better understanding of Ms. Rowling’s novels while at the same time using these books to introduce a range of English literature subjects and authors to Potter-philes who slept through their survey classes or majored in Engineering. As the Shared Text of our generation, Harry is uniquely and wonderfully qualified for this multi-didactic-tasking.

Bookshelf is organized, for example, in ten chapters that fall into four categories corresponding to the four levels of meaning acknowledged by iconological criticism (surface, moral, allegorical, and anagogical). Though it is a very short book relative to other things I’ve written and most of it is about authors and books “behind the Hogwarts Adventures,” it still serves as an introduction to what is a new way of thinking about books for most (especially, I’m afraid, if they majored in English) if only because of its layout. Today, I want to begin here, before jumping into an iconological look at what contemporary critics missed in both the Potter novels and the Twilight Saga, what I couldn’t do in Bookshelf, namely, give a longish account of why and how reading at four levels works, even when authors more than likely did not set out or resolve while editing to “write like Dante.” [Read more…]

On Critical Reception of Harry Potter and Twilight: “It’s Deja Vu All Over Again” (Part 3: Artifact)

For Part 1 of this post, click here. for Part 2, click here, or just scroll down on the home page.

I went to the library tonight to pick up Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on CD (I am driving to Connecticut tomorrow for a Zossima Press lunch and to sit in on a class at Yale; they’re reading Goblet and discussing Christology so I thought I’d listen to Jim Dale telling the TriWizard Tournament story on the long drive up 287N). Our local library has a wonderful woman at the helm and she teased me because it took me so long to find the Potter CDs. “Your children would have been able to find them right away.” Because she knows what I write and talk about, she asked me why I needed the audio versions of Goblet and what I was thinking about these days.

I took a deep breath and said I was reading Twilight. After reading this afternoon one self-anointed Potter maven’s disdain for my suggestions here that there is something more than Harlequin Romance in Stephenie Meyer’s books, I half expected her to laugh or do the eyeball-rolling headshake dance. Instead she asked what I thought of them, obviously very interested, and, when I expressed my doubts that teenage girls were the niche audience propelling these books to sales approaching 20 million, she laughed. She admitted that her experience was only anecdotal, but that what she had noticed was readers of every age, male and female, asking for, borrowing, and reading the library’s copies or their own in the library. Other than Harry Potter, she’s never seen anything like that.

I share this conversation for you to make of it what you will. It doesn’t demonstrate anything conclusive, of course, but it makes me think I’m not silly for thinking I’ve seen this situation before (“deja vu all over again”). The desire to bottle and stopper the Twilight Saga phenomenon as a tweenie fad is similar to the insistence in media and reviews for several years that Ms. Rowling’s novels were “just for children” and their success was due to kids loving Goosebump like stories, their susceptibility to clever marketing, and the madness of crowds. Potter mania couldn’t be about the stories being masterfully written and having transcendent meaning. [Read more…]

Guest Post: Anamnesis elements in Harry Potter

A guest post sent to me by Dr. Patrick Fodor of John Woods Community College in Quincy, Illinois, whom I met at my talk there last month. It’s not for the faint of heart or for anyone not familiar with sacramental Christianity but it rewards attentive reading. Thank you, Dr. Fodor! [Read more…]