Celebrate Sir Terry Pratchett’s Birthday with New Editions!

Since I first discovered that Sir Terry Pratchett shared a birthday with a family member (who is also a big fan), I think of theAbout Sir Terry - Sir Terry Pratchett beloved and belated author every year on April 28. Today, which would have been Sir Terry’s seventy-fourth birthday, is the first official Terry Pratchett Day, which will be celebrated this year with new editions of his novels, beginning with six of his fabulous Discworld books, the ones in the “Witches” series plus one stand-alone. If  you have never experienced the joy and madness that is Discworld, these books are a great place to begin. Discworld often has connections to another wizarding world, although the Unseen University is probably less enticing than Hogwarts if one were choosing an institution of magical education.  Rincewind, Pratchett’s endearingly failed “Wizzard,” undoubtedly flunked his OWLS, but he is good value as entertainment!

Equal Rites, Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade, and Carpe JLords and Ladies Paperback 2022ugulum, along with Small Gods, are all getting splendid new covers, released today. This summer will see new-cover releases for the Wizards series, and, appropriately, on October 27 the Death series, WILL ALL BE RELEASED (I am rather partial to Pratchett’s cat-loving fellow in the long black robe, capital letters and all). That group will include the wonderful Hogfather. Next year will see the release of the City Watch novels and several others. So, if you love Discworld and need an excuse to buy new editions, or if you want to share this wonderful series with someone else, this is a good time to gift yourself or a loved one in honor of Sir Terry on his birthday! If you are not yet a fan of the fantastic world that travels through space on the back of a turtle (really!), and you need a place to start, you can begin at the beginning with The Colour of Magic, but Discworld is the sort of place you can just drop into from anywhere, so I highly recommend the re-working of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lords and Ladies, which is in the series being released today. Happy Terry Pratchett Day!

Jacob Kowalski’s Wand in ‘Secrets’

still have not seen Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore yet but I saw this short promotional film at the Wizarding World twitter feed and thought of one reviewer’s border-line disgust with the Jacob Kowalski subplot. He marveled that Dumbledore would be so foolish and indifferent to the dangers the No-Maj would be in with only a fake wand. It turns out, of course, that Jacob’s presence was critical to the story-flip at the Grindelwald camp’s Supreme Mugwump Election victory party but, despite that little bit of fore-sight brilliance on DDore’s part, why else does Jacob the Muggle figure so much in this tale of a wizard civil war? And what’s with the prop wand?

I think, among several great answers to my question about what in Beasts3, the film franchise’s story turn, points most clearly to the finish we will see in Beasts5, the series finale, the best is that the ending — Dumbledore’s defeat of Grindelwald despite the Bad Guy having the unconquerable Elder Wand — will come down to Mad Max’s disregard and disdain for the Muggle and Jacob being the true master of the Death Stick, from the Subway scene at Beast1’s finale.

What do you think?

Rowling 2016: The Beasts Political Theme is Anti-Populist, Pro Status Quo

I believe this video was made at the 2016 premiere of the Fantastic Beasts film franchise which was on 10 November 2016, the week after President’s Trump’s stunning victory over Hilary Clinton and four and a half months after Brexit was approved in a UK-wide referendum. Rowling was keen then to say, though she planned the film three and half years prior to its release, she had intentionally been writing about populist politicians working to upend the status quo. The actors who play Newt Scamander and Jacob Kowalski echo her comments and insist that the first movie and series are all about the politics of the present time. Dan Fogler said he thought viewers had a lot to learn from Rowling’s “wisdom” in this regard.

I think the first film’s anti-populist message is fairly muted but that it picks up significantly in Crimes and is front and center in Secrets. See my post last week about the embedded depiction of the 2020 US Presidential election in the third Beasts film. That allegory within the story has too many one-to-one correspondences for me to accept without proofs beyond this 2016 testimony that she plotted Secrets as it was filmed way back in 2011. Of course, just as there is a lot of J. K. Rowling in the Trelawney prophetess character, maybe there is a little prophetess in The Presence.

The mistake that can be made in reading political allegory — one that usually is made — is in neglecting every other dimension of a story for its topical content once that content is identified and explained. Those, for example, who enjoy explicating the Lord of the Rings as a transparency for WWI, WWII, and about the atomic bomb, in my experience, rarely ‘get’ the significant spiritual artistry and meaning of Tolkien’s masterpiece that transcends historical tit for tat allegory (“Sauron is Hitler!”).

So with the Beasts films political content, I think. The topical, current events fare is certainly there, as I’ve written and Rowling testifies above. But is it the “wisdom” of the stories? I think the psychomachia of Credence Barebones, the dragon and phoenix story of Grindelwald and Dumbledore that Lana Whited surfaced so cogently, the Qilin fantastic beast as soul-exteriorizing device, and the four element alchemical quality of the principal players pursuit of marriage with the ‘Gold-stone’ sisters are the greater part of that. The politics is a relative side-show to those main attractions.

Let me know what you think.

The Rowling Library ‘Secrets’ Issue: Must Read for Fantastic Beasts Fans

The two websites I take seriously in Rowling-Galbraith fandom are StrikeFans and The Rowling Library (TRL). Patricio Tarantino at TRL as I have written before is that rara avis who is connected to Rowling, Inc., is popular with fandom and conversant with their concerns, and who is a respected member of Potter Punditry and Royal Society of Rowling Readers. The latest issue of TRL’s online magazine is out, a double-helping exclusively devoted to the new Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore film. There are at least seven articles in it that will be of real interest to serious readers here, namely:

10. DIPLOMACY IN THE WIZARDING WORLD: an up close look at what the film reveals about the nature and operations of The International Confederation of Wizards;

17. THE AVADA KEDAVRA SCENE: there’s real problem for readers of Goblet of Fire who watch Secrets of Dumbledore, namely, the blocking of a supposedly unblockable curse.

22. WHERE DOES THE QILIN COME FROM? Readers of Beatrice Groves’ posts on this subject will find a different perspective here that complements and expands in some ways what Professor Groves has taught us.

26. THE MIRROR DIMENSION: The center-piece of the double-issue that reflects (sic) and speculates (again…) on the hidden inner reality or “mirror dimension” to which Dumbledore has access in Secrets. Nota Bene!

33. TO END OR NOT TO END: There has been quite a bit of discussion about whether to end the series here because the box office take has been bad enough that Warner Brothers has to be worried about recouping their investment in this blockbuster bust of a movie. TRL tackles the topic head on.

38. WHEN DOES THE FILM TAKE PLACE? 1932 seems the most credible answer from TRL’s examination of the miniscule typed evidence, but this causes all sorts of problems. Take Buntyy and her memory, for example…

46. PARQUE LAGE:  If you asked, as I did, “What happened to Brazil?” TRL has your answers.

You can download the issue here. Enjoy this collection of great Secrets of Dumbledore explorations — and let me know (and Patricio, too, he’ll read this post’s comments I’m pretty sure) what you think!

New Book from David Martin, Hogwarts Tournament of Houses Champion!

Christos Anesti!

Some grand good news today, besides the victory over death that is! David Martin, long time friend of this weblog and senior member of the Hufflepuff squad that that won the premiere series of ‘Hogwarts Tournament of Champions,’ has written a book, Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches and Other Thoughts about Harry Potter, which is now available on Amazon. You can follow David on Twitter @DavidTheHufflep and in Instagram at DavidTheHufflepuff. 

David spoke with Louise Freeman about his experiences at ‘Tournament of Champions’ in her “I could not have survived without my colleagues:” David Martin of Hufflepuff Gives the Inside Scoop on the Tournament of Houses. He doesn’t say much there about the book beyond that he is working on a sequel (‘How to Win Friends and Influence Wizards: Learning Social Skills from the Harry Potter Novels’) but here is what the book’s Amazon page says about Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches and Other Thoughts about Harry Potter:

The book blurb goes like this:

  • What were the charms that Ron used to win Hermione’s heart?
  • Why do wizards use old-fashioned things?
  • What do Americans misunderstand about the Harry Potter books?
  • Could there be a connection between the Harry Potter novels and Little Women?
  • What is blood status really about?
  • What is the connection between D-Day in World War II and the way Harry and Hermione use the time turner to save Sirius Black and Buckbeak?
  • Why is it important that Voldemort’s wand is made of wood from a yew tree?
  • What advice would Ginny Weasley give about how to handle boys?

These and many other topics are covered in this collection of essays (along with two chapters of comical fan fiction) mostly based on presentations made by David the Hufflepuff at Harry Potter conferences. Laugh some, learn, some, and deepen your appreciation of the Harry Potter books.

David Martin is a grandfather who has been reading, thinking about, and writing about Harry Potter for more than twenty years.

One thing David did mention in the interview was something he was working on, an essay “on the symbolism of trees, which was a pure wild guess. I said, I’ll bet there’s something there. Let’s take a look. And by golly, I found some rather surprising things.” I have his permission to share it today with HogwartsProfessor readers, an especially apt one for Pascha. Read that essay after the jump and be sure to chack out David’s new book, Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches and Other Thoughts about Harry PotterCongratulations, David, on the book and again for your team victory on Tournament of Champions! [Read more…]