Culture: July 2007 Archives

Potter thoughts

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Last night I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final installment of the seven-book series. Wow. All I will say at this point is that I am very impressed with the way J. K. Rowling tied everything together. There's a depth here that I've never seen in recent children's literature, with many echoes of classical literature.

I went looking for serious online discussions about plot points and literary allusions. Initially, I found some blogs that were inhabited by "fanfic" types -- people who will take a science fiction or fantasy universe and extend it with their own stories. Some of them were rather upset with the way things turned out -- not so much the main conclusion of the book but the fact that the romantic couples they had been cheering for didn't come to pass.

I found better. Here are some links that will be of interest to fans of the series, but only if you've already finished the book, because they are full of spoilers.

First, Rowling has given an exclusive interview to NBC, and you can find it on the MSNBC website. They've cut the interview into a couple of dozen separate stories all linked from that page. Now that the final book is out, Rowling is very happy to clarify plot points and to tell us about details that for various reasons were left on the cutting room floor. (For example, she "knows" much more about the futures of the various characters that she left out of the epilogue, which she didn't want to become too unwieldy.) At some point in the future, she plans to take her notes and publish a definitive encyclopedia of the Harry Potter universe.

Second, Entertainment Weekly did an entire issue about the final book release, including an interview with the actor who plays Harry in the movies about his reaction to reading the final book.

I found both of these via an unofficial but well-designed fan site called The Leaky Cauldron.

I finally found a couple of sites providing some serious literary discussion of the series and the final book, delving into structure, literary technique, and classical and religious allusions, from a Christian perspective: The Sword of Gryffindor by Travis Prinzi and Hogwarts Professor by John Granger. Prinzi is a Presbyterian and is getting a graduate degree to become an English teacher. Granger is an Orthodox Christian and a Latin teacher.

Granger wrote a book, Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader, and you can find brief descriptions of those five keys here. With the release of Deathly Hallows, he has posted a series of 25 thought-provoking discussion questions; I'm starting to go through them with my son as a starting point for our own discussions.

Both Prinzi and Granger started out as "Harry Haters" before becoming fans of the series. In an interview, Granger tells how he first encountered the books:

I read the first book in order to explain to my oldest daughter, who had been given a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, why we don't read serial trash like this. I assumed it was something like Goosebumps. I didn't know anything about Christian objections to the book. I read it – and loved it. Ms. Rowling is a classicist and an acerbic critic of Muggledom. The alchemy and profound Christian imagery of the books I thought (and still think) were wonderful and edifying.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Culture category from July 2007.

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