Rattenbury–The Sequel: Puns Surrounding the Lethal White Killers.

J.K Rowling’s novels employ multiple types of humor. One of the more subtle is her fondness for puns. For example, Vernon Dursley, drill-maker, is described as wearing his most “boring” tie. The use of the word “serious” in the text upticks significantly in Prisoner of Azkaban, compared to earlier books, pointing to the importance of Sirius Black. The Cormoran Strike series also includes such word-play. For example, in Lethal White, the Norfolk commune is described as “still, for Strike’s money, the worst place that Leda had ever taken them.” As we learn later, this is one of several places that Leda frittered away Rokeby’s child support payments, meaning, she was literally giving them Strike’s money.

After several listens through the Ink Black Heart audiobook, I have begun working back through the rest of the series, in reverse order. I am currently finishing up Lethal White. During my last listen, I spied some puns relating to Raff, Kinvara and the Rattenbury murder, for whom the noisy young Chiswell terrior is named. If you are unaware of this connection, please read my first post on the topic, then come back here to continue after the jump.

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Arresting Your Mom: Tom Burke’s Mother as Janice in the BBC Troubled Blood?

Cormoran Strike actor Tom Burke gave a recent interview to The Guardian where he dropped a super-strong hint about his real-life mother’s role in the Troubled Blood TV adaptation. Actress Anna Calder-Marshall was announced as part of the cast last February, but her exact role has yet to be mentioned. Given the familial relationship to title star Burke, many speculated that Ms. Calder-Marshall would be Aunt Joan Nancarrow.  However, Burke’s recent statement suggests otherwise:

Doesn’t your mother, Anna Calder-Marshall, appear in the new series?
She does and she’s fantastic in it. The first scene we had was also with Carol MacReady, who’s a wonderful actor. Her and my mum go way back and it was a joy to be in a scene with both of them. I haven’t acted with my parents in a long while, since doing Victoria Wood sketches and silly stuff in local theatre in Kent.

Carol MacReady plays Irene, making it almost inevitable that Ms. Calder-Marshall is Janice. Is there any other character you would expect to be in a scene with both Strike and Irene?

If true, this will be a nice bit of Strike-trivia going forward. Can anyone think of another detective-killer duo played by a real-life parent-offspring pair?

I suggest reading the full interview; it has some interesting tidbits not only about Troubled Blood, but about Burke’s late godfather, Alan Rickman.

Hat-tip to Strikefans.com!

Beatrice Groves: Rowling’s Process- Insights from a 2015 Interview

Beatrice Groves, Research Lecturer and tutor at Trinity College, Oxford, and author of  Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, has written a Hogwarts Professor Guest Post: Rowling’s Process – Insights from a 2015 Interview. Join me after the jump for the insights Prof. Groves’ found, in an interview J. K. Rowling gave seven years ago today, to publicise Career of Evil. [Read more…]

Farewell to Alastair Fowler, Mythopoetic Scholar Extraordinaire

Time's Purpled Masquers a book by Alastair FowlerOn October 9, a bright scholarly light left the world, with hardly a whisper in the press or online. Alastair Fowler, CBE, FBA, and distinguished literary critic and poet, studied under C.S. Lewis at Oxford and received his degrees from there before going on to teach at universities in his native Scotland, England, and the United States from the early 1960s until the late 1990s. Our readers here have surely felt the influence of Fowler, whether or not they realize it. He edited Lewis’s brilliant Spenser’s Images of Life, and, since he extrapolated upon Lewis’s notes and lectures, Fowler’s input upon this brilliant volume, published four years after Lewis’s death, was vital. He made numerous contributions to literary scholarship, particularly upon the works of John Milton and Edmund Spenser.

His edited volume of Paradise Lost, along with his Spenser and the Numbers of Time both made important additions to scholarship in the 1960s, but he was still publishing in the early 2000s, producing How to Write and often criticizing the growing influence of new historicism. Considering Lewis’s abhorrence of “the personal heresy,” it is not surprising Fowler was suspicious of a critical trend that often focuses less on texts and more on the author’s personal life and issues of power and culture.   Spenser's Images of Life. by Lewis, C.S. Edited by Alastair Fowler: (1967)  | Raptis Rare Books

His scholarship on Spenser provides vital tools for understanding some of the crucial symbols that come into play in Troubled Blood: ChrisC mentioned Fowler in our comments here as Louise Freeman pondered possibilities prior to the novel’s publication two years ago and a few months ago as John Granger speculated on Ink-Black Heart before its release. Thank you, Chris, for making that great connection! A brief Google search reveals no other articles linking Fowler to the Strike novels, but it would certainly have been interesting to hear his take on Strike and Spenser.

Although it is unlikely that any of us who study Lewis, Milton, and Spenser have not, somewhere, used or been influenced by Fowler’s scholarship, his death has not received much public attention. A brief obituary in the Times gives his honorifics but none of his publications or other literary achievements, simply listing his family. Since he and his wife, who passed away three years ago, were married for 68 years, and he was apparently loved by his children and grandchildren, his personal achievements were pretty spectacular. Sadly, his tremendous academic impact, which should continue upon the printed page for many years to come, does not have the interest of an internet trend or celebrity scandal. However, we here at Hogwarts Professor will continue to be grateful for his contribution to the study of important authors and for the tools he has given us.

Thank you, as well, to ChrisC for those great comment shout-outs and for letting us know of the passing of this brilliant scholarly voice.

Hogwarts Happy Halloween Highlights

The Hallowe'en at Hogwarts crossword | Wizarding WorldHappy Halloween! While we can’t boast giant-sized Hagrid jack-o-lanterns or actual ghosts sailing through the Great Hall as we enjoy a goblet of pumpkin juice, we can highlight a few seasonal activities for Hogwarts fans. We can also celebrate the ways in which the Wizarding World has affected the celebration of Halloween. At my Muggle school’s delightful Spooktacular celebration this past week, I counted numerous Harrys, Hermiones, and other Hogwarts students among our visitors. They were all delighted when I immediately recognized them and complimented them (although I did tease the Slytherins just a bit). A few years ago, my entire department had a Hogwarts theme. As I head out to my community’s very popular annual family-friendly celebration tomorrow evening, I expect to see numerous characters and decorations that would not be there had J.K. Rowling never created a lonely boy wizard with a distinctive scar. [Read more…]