Search Results for: hanged man

J.K. Rowling, Margaret Thatcher both “Great Britons” So Says Morgan Stanley [JAB]

Thanks to our friends at we discover that J.K. Rowling has pulled double honors in winning both the Overall and Arts catagories of the Morgan Stanley Great Britons Awards for 2007.

According to the article in, Ms. Rowling qualified for double honors because:

A publishing phenomenon, JK Rowling has changed reading habits and patterns worldwide. The success of the Harry Potter books – the final novel in the series sold 11 million copies in its first 24 hours – has united a generation of children and parents in a genuine love of reading.

The judges felt Miss Rowling had transformed the world’s view of Britain and that her books are “brilliantly British”. That she also managed to top the best-seller list in France with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the first English-language author to do so, is a further testament to her global appeal.

[Read more…]

Harry & the Vatican–che non è di pani[JAB]

In early January of this year, Harry Potter e i doni della morte the Italian language version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows went on sale in Italy.

In its January 14-15th issue, the newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, dedicated a full page to a Pro vs. Con debate on the merits of the Harry Potter series as a whole. I have not been able to locate an English translation of the articles, however for those of you fluent in Italian, reprints of the originals are available here.

And then the fireworks began.

HogPro yvaine was first to weigh in with this observation from Agence France-Presse. While this summary does note that two sides were presented in the debate, it spends most of its ink describing how “…the future Pope Benedict XVI…” condemned the series in 2003. (More on this subject later…)

Shortly thereafter, John Granger forwarded me a note from Norwegian HogPro, Odd Sverre Hove calling attention to this article from Australia (what a small world the internet has given us!) which presents considerably more of the pro side of the debate, but focuses its discussion of the con side around the statment:

“Under the headline “The Double Face of Harry Potter”, an expert in English literature, Edoardo Rialti, argues in L’Osservatore Romano that the Pope – then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – was right to worry.”

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“What Difference Has Harry Made In Your Life?”

Hans Andrea of Harry Potter for Seekers web site and the Harry Potter for Seekers Yahoo Discussion Group wrote me last week about a discussion we’ve been having about The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreuz (about which exchange there will be a separate post soon). As a throwaway afterthought he asked if I’d answer a question posted at the Yahoo group:

“What would have been different in your life had Harry Potter books never existed? It does not have to be anything monumental, I mean these ARE just books, but any change will do.”

I learned later this question had been the source of much self-reflection at the Harry Potter for Grown-Ups group and it certainly brought some thoughtful responses from the Seekers at Hans’ place.

It’s that time of year, when the end meets the beginning, when by nature we will look backward to have a better idea of how to go forward. Having just posted my look backward at HogPro posts and Harry Potter events from 2007, I will close the year with an invitation and request for your reflections about the ways, if any, Harry has changed your way of thinking or seeing things. Is it deeper, decidedly different, or have you been dumbed down by all your time reading children’s book instead of Frithjof Schuon and Fyodor Dostoevski?

My life [Read more…]

Photos Never Lie? Ms. Rowling’s Seeming ‘Literary Alchemical’ Transformation

When I was a much younger man, I studied the alchemy of food and traditional cosmology with a man named Michio Kushi. One of Kushi sensei’s remarkable abilities was the ability to diagnose physical health and illness in an individual by looking at his or her face, as unbelievable as that may sound. My experience studying and working with him for two years and my reading in traditionalist literature since has convinced me that this is anything but hokum. The adage that “the face never lies” reflects a reality, though, certainly, when practiced by dilettantes or the uncharitable, facial diagnosis can be and often is abused. Mr. Kushi, as a rule (to which I saw only one exception in kindness), never shared what he saw in a person’s face unless asked in a private or public consultation. The legend of Socrates’ meeting with the “face reader” Zopyrus is instructive in understanding the value and the limits of this traditional art.

All that is only to explain my being simultaneously intrigued and skeptical when a post here suggested that a review of photographs taken of Ms. Rowling since the beginning of her success with Harry Potter ten years ago reflect an internal transformation of some kind. Here is that post and, with this person’s permission, the photographs she had posted on another Harry Potter site: [Read more…]

The Epilogue’s “All Was Well”: Context, Themes, and a Possible Literary Reference

A not uncommon reaction from serious readers who have tackled Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader and its chapters on literary alchemy has been, “Where can I read more about this?” or “What other authors can I read that write like this beside Ms. Rowling?” I met Travis Prinzi in his pre-Sword of Gryffindor days through this very question (and I can now refer readers to his web site’s essays on the subject as an excellent resource). My usual response is “Read C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy.” The alchemy is right on the surface (I think), it works in ways very much like what Ms. Rowling attempts, and the books can be found in every decent sized bookstore or library. Not to mention that Christian readers won’t think they’re visiting the dark side if they are reading St. Clive-Staples (St. Jack?); the three novels are very edifying as well as being great stories.

Lewis’ pre-Narnia fantasies are the perfect place to learn more about alchemical artistry in English literature, consequently, but there are other very good starting points. Shakespeare is the touchstone for the whole thing, of course; his plays are so stuffed with Hermetic references and meaning that it is hard to get through any of his plays without having to review Tillyard’s Elizabethan World Picture before, during, and after to keep track of the hierarchical and alchemical points that make Shakespeare the greatest. For readers who don’t care for either Shakespeare (and they are legion; supposedly J. R. R. Tolkien thought the Bard over-rated) or for Lewis, there is Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, which was, I suspect, his attempt at writing a Shakespearean historical and alchemical drama in the form of a novel. Poe, Mary Shelley, Hawthorne, and MacDonald, too, have a hermetic streak in their gothic work. Most Charles William’s novels, I am told, also have alchemical imagery and meaning; the standing joke about That Hideous Strength is that it is “a Charles Williams novel as written by C. S. Lewis.”

If this is true, I suspect it is because of Lewis and Williams’ love of poetry and, specifically, the poetry of the so-called Medieval and Renaissance periods. Poetry, from Shakespeare and the Metaphysical poets to Blake and Eliot, is the natural home of literary alchemy and the amber in which its magic has been preserved. Which brings us finally to the subject of this post: the question about the meaning of the last words in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: “All was Well.” “Why did Ms. Rowling end her 4100 page novel with those three words?”

I suspect she chose them because the thought completes the work of the Epilogue, because it ties together several themes and artistic threads, and because it echoes the ending of a famous piece of poetry that Ms. Rowling might want the reader to link with her efforts in the Harry Potter books. And, yes, I think it comes back to the alchemy. [Read more…]