Scriptorium Daily Podcast: On Potter Canon

Biola University’s John Mark Reynolds asked me to record a podcast with his Middlebrow crew when I was out there speaking last month. It was posted tonight at Scriptorium Daily and I recommend it to you, especially for Prof. Reynolds’ defense of his position on what constitutes canon, “text only.” He makes a compelling argument that “text and nothing but the text” is the best bet of the serious reader thinking about the free play of his or her imagination.

And, yes, I’d love to read what you think. Jump Right In.

Get Thee to!

For those of you who have been holding off on purchasing The Deathly Hallows Lectures in the hope that Santa and Rudolph will bring you a copy or that the urge to understand the literary alchemy, Christian content, and eye and mirror symbolism of the series finale might pass, please go to the new and beautiful Zossima Press website and read the introduction to Lectures. And then buy your autographed copy right there!

If that wasn’t enough, Travis Prinzi and the house-elves that work for him have posted two audio files from the Wake Forest C. S. Lewis Conference, which talks are included in Views from Wake Forest, the Zossima Press collection of the best talks given there. I was at both Walter Hooper’s talk and James Como’s lecture in Wake Forest; I’m confident that after listening to them, you’ll want to read them and the other conference topics in Views.

Great things over at! Get thee hither, AllPro.

MacDonald’s Lilith and The Mirror of Erised

For those of you celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, here is something I “discovered” the other day that, if you are like me you will find interesting. I put the scare-quotes around “discovered” both because I wasn’t looking for it and because I suspect this is old news to many of you. If, like me, you are just waking up to the myriad and important symbolic uses of “glass” or “mirror” in scripture, hermetic epistemology, and imaginative literature, finding a tall mirror that is a passage to another world within our own in an attic is eerily reminiscent of The Mirror of Erised, which Harry finds on his first trek under the Invisibility Cloak on Christmas his first year.

Check out this very short chapter from George MacDonald’s Lilith (1895): [Read more…]

No Romance in Mystery? What Sayers Wrote

I am writing the Dorothy Sayers & Charles Dickens chapter of Harry Meets Hamlet and Scrooge: The Literary Companion to Harry Potter (Penguin, 2009) and I thought I could share here something I found that some of you may find interesting. As you know, Ms. Rowling mentioned Dorothy Sayers in the Spartz/Annelli interview in 2005:

There’s a theory — this applies to detective novels, and then Harry, which is not really a detective novel, but it feels like one sometimes — that you should not have romantic intrigue in a detective book. Dorothy L. Sayers, who is queen of the genre, said — and then broke her own rule, but said — that there is no place for romance in a detective story except that it can be useful to camouflage other people’s motives. That’s true; it is a very useful trick. I’ve used that on Percy and I’ve used that to a degree on Tonks in this book, as a red herring. But having said that, I disagree inasmuch as mine are very character-driven books, and it’s so important, therefore, that we see these characters fall in love, which is a necessary part of life.

All well and good. I think I found the essay today in which Dorothy Sayers wrote this (or something very much like this) and share the relevant passage for your reflection and comment: [Read more…]

Transformed Vision: Harry’s Odyssey in Sight

Much of my book, The Deathly Hallows Lectures, is about the eye and mirror symbolism of Ms. Rowling’s Harry Potter series finale. We have the eyeball in the mirror, the eyeballs in the Locket Horcrux, the triangular eye of the Deathly Hallows symbol, Lily’s green eyes in Snape’s agony and death, and Mad-Eye’s surviving eye-dentity and its burial. I argue that figuring out the meaning of the eyes is the way to turn what Ms. Rowling describes as “the key” to the books, the parting words of Albus Dumbledure to Harry at King’s Cross, the lines she says she “waited seventeen years to write.”

While thinking today about Harry’s transformed or corrected vision, a reader wrote me to ask about the Thestrals and why Harry, who was at his parents’ execution, could not see Thestrals before he saw Cedric die. I answered politely (Harry almost certainly did not see his father die and it is probable he did not grasp that the green flash that killed his mother meant her death, if he saw it at all) but the question grew on me. Harry’s experience of death enables him to see what previously had been invisible to him. Cedric’s death changes his capacity to discern reality.

One point, one question. [Read more…]