Rowling Library #29: Rowling Forgeries

Rowling Library #29: Rowling Forgeries


The Rowling Library online magazine is a delight and I always find something in it that I enjoy. Check out TheRowlingLibrary.com to download your copy.

This month’s issue feaures a story about the business of selling Harry Potter books with forged J. K. Rowling signatures. I don’t own one and I have never been tempted to buy one (I do own an unopened Amazon overnight box from 2007 with a mint copy of Deathly Hallows inside I may ask the Presence to autograph should I ever be found worthy of a visitation but that’s as far as my interest goes). And I still found the article fascinating.

If you don’t subscribe — it is free and they only ask for Patreon support if you are so moved — you’re missing out on some fun and some decent articles thoughtfully laid out. Contribute $2 a month and get three issues of the Daily Prophet each week. Highly Recommended.

 

Four New Potter Books from JKR? No.

Four New Potter Books from JKR? No.


On the 24th of May this year, PotterMore announced that it would be publishing four new ebooks about the Wizarding World. That post explicitly says that the four titles are non-fiction, tied closely to the British Library exhibition on the History of Magic, and in fact “adaptations” of the audiobook script written from the books published consequent to History of Magic displays.

I received several emails from around the world asking what I thought of the “four new Potter books” which some readers thought had to have been written by Rowling. This was not an unreasonable leap if you read stories about the PotterMore announcement that suggested just that.

The rumor and the subsequent excitement in fandom led to this announcement on 4 June from JKRowling.com, ‘Is J. K. Rowling Writing More Harry Potter books?’:

There has been some press misreporting recently that J.K. Rowling is about to publish four more Harry Potter stories. Just to clear this up, these are not books written by J.K. Rowling.

It is a series of four short non-fiction eBooks, to be published by Pottermore Publishing, inspired by the British Library exhibition and its companion books Harry Potter: A History of Magic.

The A Journey Through… series of eBooks contains no new material by J.K. Rowling and are bite size e-reads, each themed by Hogwarts lessons, with material adapted from the companion audiobook narrated by Natalie Dormer. They have been published in this format to make the content available in other languages for the first time.

For more information about these eBooks, go to Pottermore.com.

Three Notes:

(1) Not By Rowling: Again, “Nothing to see here, folks; please move along.” These are fan-servicing units for profit, full stop. Nothing original, nothing from Rowling, and nothing but a re-packaging of material adapted from a library exhibit.

(2) The Titles: Harry Potter: A Journey Through Charms and Defence Against the Dark ArtsHarry Potter: A Journey Through Potions and HerbologyHarry Potter: A Journey Through Divination and Astronomy, and Harry Potter: A Journey Through Care of Magical Creatures. The books on potions and charms come out 27 June.

(3) Will I Buy It? I will almost certainly pick up, that is, download the Divinations and Potions books because my thesis discusses the alchemy and astrology embedded in Harry Potter. I confess to feeling foolish for spending that money, though I haven’t yet, because I have no reason to expect that there will be new material or things I have seen but forgotten (just as good as new material in the end) in this profit-taking re-packaging.

Your thoughts?

 

 

http://www.snitchseeker.com/harry-potter-news/j-k-rowlings-team-squashes-rumors-that-she-has-written-four-new-harry-potter-books-112697/

 

A Psychological Reading of ‘Journey from Platform Nine and Three Quarters’


I met Dr Janina Scarlet at MISTI-Con 2015 at which Group That Shall Not Be Named gathering she and I were the headliners. I moderated a panel that featured her explanation of ‘Superhero-Therapy’ and the role that reading stories can play in creating or re-fashioning a positive idea of ourselves. She is a licensed clinical psychologist, teacher of acceptance and commitment therapy, and a “full-time witch” (her words).

To the point, she is posting podcasts at her website, Superhero-Therapy.com, that are chapter-by chapter readings of the seven Harry Potter novels from a psychologist’s perspective. Dr Louise Freeman, HogwartsProfessor.com certified Potter Pundit and Psychology professor at Mary Baldwin University, was Dr Scarlet’s special guest for her reading of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone chapter 6, ‘The Journey from Platform Nine and Three Quarters.’

I don’t listen to podcasts as a rule (especially ones I am on) but I was curious about this series and, having been in several podcasts with Dr Freeman and an admirer of all her popular literature analysis, I knew her part would reward a listening. I wasn’t disappointed! Check out the conversation at Superhero-Therapy.com — it’s only half an hour — and let me know what you think.

Passing of ‘Game of Thrones’


I have passed on reading the R. R. Martin Game of Thrones novels or watching the teevee adaptations of them. I have done this despite the requests from audiences at talks and in private correspondence that I read, watch, and share my thinking at HogwartsProfessor on the written or filmed series. I’m just not interested enough to tackle the many long books — and I don’t even own a television.

Rev George, a long time friend of this blog and correspondent, thought I would enjoy Tom Luongo’s review of the last episode in Thrones, ‘The Passing of Game of Thrones.’ He was right; I haven’t any idea if he is correct in his assessment of either original or the adapted series, but Luongo reads the books from a perspective I admire and share to greater than lesser degree.

Game of Thrones was a story built on classic archetypal, mytho-poetic storytelling ideas. But with the goal of undercutting them, of taking a more post-modernist approach, to just show chaos without structure and purpose, no ending could ever be satisfying.

As consumers, when we start a book or a movie we can go on a journey into hell and back again as long as once we’re finished the ride was worth it.

The story has to illuminate fundamental truths, not spit on them.

And what makes the series finale such a failure was the unwillingness of the writers to at the last moment embrace some traditional storytelling conventions and anchor the chaos of Westeros in a lesson that can be passed from generation to generation.

By betraying the arcs of main characters like John Snow, Arya Stark and Daenerys Targaryen Weiss and Benioff set themselves up for the backlash they are getting now. And with good reason.

Heroic storytelling requires heroes to rise to their pivotal moments and, through their actions, create the opportunity for radical change. They are born out of and rise above the chaos of their times to make the hard choices and sacrifices necessary to preserve the world and build the foundation for the next one.

Stories are not reality. Stories are meant as reflections of the world we live in. They exist to help us make sense of the senseless.

Game of Thrones fails, Luongo believes, because the artists involved “have lost the plot of humanity’s struggle” simultaneously to resist the chaos Game celebrates (contra Tolkien) and to create an “institutional order …sufficient to act as a brake on humanity’s worst impulses.” This, he explains, is a function of the author and teevee savants being so “thoroughly ingrained” in “post modern Marxism” as to be oblivious of the evils of chaos and the human need for boundaries lest we be animals.

Read the whole thing.

I don’t know if what he says is true of the novels or their adaptation because I couldn’t tell if the many story references he makes to back his points are accurate or as crazed as what the Harry Haters have said and exorcists are saying about the Wizarding World. But I think his concerns are important ones, validly applied or not.

If you’ve watched the show and read Luongo’s review, let me know what you think!

D-Day and Harry Potter:The Longest Day

D-Day and Harry Potter:The Longest Day


Last Thursday, 6 June 2019, was the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Hitler’s Fortress Europe in 1944. ‘Operation Neptune,’ usually known just as D-Day, remains the largest invasion from the sea against a fortified beach-head. It led to the liberation of France and eventually to victory on WWII’s Western Front.

D-Day is often called ‘The Longest Day’ because of Cornelius Ryan’s 1959 popular history of the invasion that had that title as well as the blockbuster film made in 1962 based on the book. David Martin wrote me on Thursday, 6 June this year, to suggest that Rowling deliberately made the longest day in the Hogwarts Saga the 50th anniversary of the invasion, 6 June 1994, as a kind of tribute. 

We should, of course, honor the heroes of D-Day – June sixth, 1944.  That day is sometimes called “the longest day” because of the great struggle and because of the uncertainty as the whole world waited for the outcome.  There is a classic film about D-Day with the title “The Longest Day.”

J. K. Rowling appears to have honored that day in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  One of the few specific dates given in the Harry Potter novels is the date of Buckbeak’s scheduled execution – June sixth.  (Prisoner, page 400) 

The year would have been 1994 – fifty years, to the day, after D-Day.  In Prisoner June sixth, 1994, is the day when Hermione used her Time-Turner to take Harry and herself back three hours.  Thus they experienced a 27 hour day – their longest day.

Since none of us mere Muggles has yet mastered legilimency it is doubtful that we will ever discover all the hidden meanings and references in J. K. Rowling’s books.

A fascinating possibility, especially in a book with so many Nazi-Death Eater correspondences that more than one critic has suggested the series is an extended WWII allegory (e.g., Voldemort is Hitler, the Weasley-Delacour wedding is the Anglo-French alliance, etc.). MuggleNet gives the date as 9 June on its calendar but the Lexicon timeline for Prisoner has it as 6 June 1994 as David writes.

What do you think? Is the 6 June 1994 longest day in Harry Potter a word-play hat-tip to the Longest Day invasion of Europe in 1994?

T. M. Doran’s ‘The Lucifer Ego’


I am a serious fan of T. M. Doran’s novels. I have read, enjoyed, and recommended everything he’s published since I stumbled upon his Toward the Gleam back in 2010. You can read my ’10 Questions Interview’ with him  about Gleam here and about his Terrapin here. Doran’s Iota is another excellent read.

When I heard that he had written a sequel to Gleam, consequently, I was all over it. I read The Lucifer Ego when it came out last summer and re-read it today. I recommend it to you for four reasons.

(1) Lucifer Ego is a Thriller-Mystery featuring a Great Trio of Characters — and The Lord of the Rings: Toward the Gleam told the tale of John Hill’s discovery of an ancient manuscript and his struggle to understand what it reports while protecting it from the wicked men trying to steal it. It is a barely disguised historical fiction turning on J. R. R. Tolkien and how he came to write LOTR with a great cast of characters to include C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, and even Winston Churchill. We get glimpses of Tolkien, Lewis, and some of the Gleam characters in a few Lucifer Ego brief-flashback chapters, but the adventure in the sequel is contemporary England, France, Bosnia, and Germany and what the three new heroes, a paleoarcheologist, a psychologist, and an Intelligence agent for MI6, have to do to find the ancient manuscript. Hill/Tolkien had left it in a monastery but a mad monk had made off with it…

(2) Doran Can Write: Reading J. K. Rowling for two decades and discussing it with serious readers for almost as long have given me an appreciation of and taste for writers who are writing as much about other stories inside their own works as they are about the stories they’re telling in the surface plot. Rowling does this with her mythological story scaffolding, references to favorite books, and alchemical and Christian symbolism. Doran in The Lucifer Ego is all about texts ranging from Virgil’s Aeneid to The Lord of the Rings, which you’d expect, but also with interior stories characters are trying to figure out (the best being a children’s book called Beakie the Turtle) and a master villain whose psychological super power is creating narratives to manipulate anyone and everyone he meets to do his bidding. Like most good books, repeated reading reveals the careful drops and structuring you miss on the first quick page-turning.

(3) There’s a Message: Doran is someone who gets the spiritual crisis and the philosophical errors that define our age. He doesn’t beat you over the head with the meaning he wants you to walk away with, but, by having the bad guys act on ideas they believe and discuss and by presenting the good guys’ struggle with temptations both with respect to these ideas and their own internal issues, the reader confronts them, too, and, as Doran said in my Gleam discussion with him, 

I desired to expose these crooked ideas while, as Tolkien might have said, respecting the freedom of readers to reach their own conclusions. I wanted the malignant characters in the story to be more than one-dimensional, even if they were unattractive; in this mission, I struggled as Lewis described struggling with The Screwtape Letters. Like Tolkien, Lewis, and Chesterton, I wanted readers holding different beliefs to be able to ponder and reflect on the ideas in the story, while still enjoying a (hopefully) rousing story.

A writer and story craftsman who thinks seriously, presents challenging ideas in his novels, and yet one who respects intelligent readers sufficiently not to have to draw out the moral of the story in painfully obvious fashion — Doran is a keeper. And The Lucifer Ego is worth every minute you give it because of that care and respect, if Iota may be his best book in this regard.

(4) Good News and Bad News: I don’t think someone who hasn’t read Toward the Gleam will get half the enjoyment of the reader who has — which is just one more reason to get a copy of Gleam. The odd thing and good news was that, after reading the first book, I didn’t think a sequel was possible or even desirable. I looked forward to re-reading the book, as I do with everything Doran has written, but I was more than satisfied with the ending. With The Lucifer Ego and its three heroes, I again cannot see how they can continue the story, at least not with the ‘Manuscript that Becomes Lord of the Rings‘ backdrop, but I want very much for there to be more Lyle-Sam-and-Beatrice adventures.

Rowling on Draco as Werewolf

Rowling on Draco as Werewolf


The better fan theories, based on speculation from canon and tested in conversation at conferences and in internet debates, were not “Draco is a Werewolf” or Snape = Vampire as this article and her tweet suggest. The interesting speculation was that Draco was bitten by a werewolf, probably Fenrir, but not one fully transformed (just as was Bill Weasley) and that Snape’s father was a muggle vampire so, as son of vampire and a witch, Severus was a Half ‘blood-prince‘ and half-blood Prince, but not a real, teeth-to-the-neck vampire needing blood, etc. The two, as with so many Rowling characters, were liminal figures between worlds not conforming to type (and to people’s prejudices). Think ‘Hagrid as Half-Giant.’

If Rowling wanted to close down these conversations, she had her opportunity before July 2007. Now she is just asserting her command of all disputes to protect the Wizarding World and Warner Bros Franchises. 

Which, of course, is her right. I am at least as free, however, to ignore her claims to perpetual authority and updates, especially when she misrepresents the serious reader speculation she is dismissing.

I say this is “sad” because the excellent discussions about the psychological aspects of Snape as vampire and the Malfoys as elitist werewolves have been closed in the minds of many by Rowling’s imprimatur in reverse. Shame on her.

Thank you, David, for sending!

John

Stephen Fry Recordings of Harry Potter?

Stephen Fry Recordings of Harry Potter?


A letter in my inbox this morning:

Hi John, 

My husband and I listen routinely to Jim Dale’s reading of the HP series. I wanted to also listen to the English version read by Stephen Fry.

I clicked on a website about buying a set and it took me to an obvious dark web site that started downloading something on my computer and flashing multiple popups of porn content. An unpleasant experience and scary to boot. I am now spooked about searching for it.  My local library doesn’t have it.

Do you have a suggestion for a reliable site and a reasonable price?

Thought I would ask the guru of all things Harry Potter! Thank  you!

Kathleen

Great question, Kathleen, and one I really wish I had an easy answer to. The site you refer to is akin to the HPAudioBooks.club website, the first thing to pop up in a google search for ‘Harry Potter Stephen Fry.’ It offers you the audiobooks read by Fry for free — in exchange for access to your computer’s inner workings and all your data. Some deal!

It used to be that you couldn’t buy the Fry recordings in the United States because Bloomsbury did not have publishing rights here, Scholastic did (and does), and Scholastic published the Jim Dale recordings. This agreement held over into the Audible versions available via Pottermore. End of story unless you purchased the Fry books through Amazon.co.uk as CDs and paid the trans-atlantic shipping fee (still an option if you’re willing to sign up for a UK Amazon membership). Which was tough for families that routinely listen to Dale while driving on long trips or fans who work out while tuned in to Harry’s adventures.

It seems, though, that this barrier has been relaxed, albeit at a price. The complete Stephen Fry readings of the seven Harry Potter novels can be had via Amazon for ~$275, more than 100 CDs at more than $350 off the list price. That’s no bargain if you don’t like CDs and if you’ve purchased the Audible audiobooks as read by Jim Dale for $15 each, the whole set instantly downloaded for just over $100 (and plenty of us are doing just that; 7 of the top 11 fiction books this week at Amazon.com are the PotterMore print and audio editions of Harry Potter).

Nota bene: I don’t know if that Fry ‘Complete Set’ will be available for long. It is listed as a ‘paperback’ which seems a dodge on the Amazon system controls to keep the Bloomsbury audiobooks off the American market. If you want a set and don’t live close to the Canadian border (the Fry recordings can be bought anywhere in Canada… Travis Prinzi raves on Fry’s recordings over Dale’s — he lives in Rochester, NY, so getting them did not require even a long drive for him), you may want to make the purchase promptly.

I’m no expert in this sort of thing so I open the floor to the HogPro All-Pros and whatever suggestions they may have for Kathleen and her desire to buy some Stephen Fry audiobooks. Do you know of any deals Kathleen can use to get copies of the Fry audiobooks?

Two quick Stephen Fry notes: (1) The “he pocketed it” story and (2) it was Fry who took Rowling to ‘Pratt’s Club’ in London where Cormoran Strike meets Jasper Chiswell (and Pratt’s is not happy about it?).

‘Hunger Games’ Theme Park in China


I am a fan-boy for everything Suzanne Collins writes. I loved her five Gregor the Overlander books, I think that The Hunger Games trilogy is as good and in some ways better than Harry Potter, and I’ve even read and enjoyed Year of the Jungle. I have only seen the movie adaptation of Collins’ first Hunger Games novel; I thought the film so bizarrely tone-deaf to everything that book was about — an assault on the Gamesmakers of the Capitol-ist regime today — that I avoided the next three movies made by the Gamesmakers to celebrate Gamesmakers as the real heroes of the Resistance. See ‘Gamesmakers Hijack Story: Capitol Wins Hunger Games Again’ for more on that. 

As unfortunate and perhaps inevitable as the beyond satire ‘transformation in adaptation’ experience to be had in the movie making of Collins’ anti-Gamesmakers novels, today I learned that Lionsgate has opened a Hunger Games theme park in the People’s Republic of China.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Some of Lionsgate’s most popular film franchises from “Hunger Games” to “Twilight” will be brought to life when the studio opens what it calls the world’s first vertical theme park in China this summer.

Lionsgate Entertainment World will offer several adventures including a virtual reality motorcycle ride based on “Twilight,” a maximum-security prison breakout like in “Escape Plan” and a replica of The Capitol lobby from “Hunger Games,” complete with shops where guests can fashion themselves in the film’s distinctive couture….

Based on the four-part film series starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, park goers will journey through a motion simulator 3D ride experience called The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Flight Rebel Escape. It starts on the streets before riders board a vehicle that gets picked up by a hovercraft that flies through The Capitol.

Guests will also have the opportunity to venture around the lobby area of The Capitol where they can get their hair, makeup and even nails done to look like a citizen of the “Hunger Games” films, including the look of chaperone Effie Trinket.

Restaurants will feature a “Hunger Games”-themed menu with different dishes inspired by the film’s various districts.

This would be the People’s Republic of China with a million or more Muslims in concentration camps, the China that is using facial recognition software and social media tracking and accounting to police the behavior of its citizens, and the China that has “relaxed” its one child program — and continues to force women to have abortions, a procedure of government sanctioned and sponsored violence-akin-to-rape and murder. The China that is a living, dynamic, totalitarian-state nightmare and Orwellian hell. The Capitol writ larger than even the United States, Collins’ more obvious target in her book series.

This China is where Lionsgate is building a theme park with Hunger Games rides, on which park-goers, playing the part of Resistance Rebels, tour the Capitol — and can get made-up to play the part of the citizens of the Capitol. You know, the people for whom the Hunger Games, the last-man standing contest of tribute-children from the Districts murdering one another in state-sponsored entertainment, are designed as reality television programming.

This theme park is so far beyond satire as to be physically sickening. I want very much to believe that Suzanne Collins has nothing to do with this but have to ask myself if that isn’t risibly naive on my part.

New Deluxe Illustrated ‘Goblet of Fire’


Charles Dickens pretty much invented the profit-taking side of publishing new editions of his books for extra cash for only new packaging. Bloomsbury and Scholastic, though, with their new covers editions of the seven Harry Potter novels and the versions color-coded for each Hogwarts house are at least as shamelessly returning to the Potter well for a fresh infusion of fan dollars and pounds.

The latest round is Bloomsbury’s “Deluxe Illustrated” hardcover edition of Goblet of Fire in slipcase, illustrations by Jim Kay. No collection of Potter books will be complete without it. The deluxe book, if ordered today, comes with a “black tote bag with gold foil” and the Illustrated, plebian edition with a “cream tote bag.” The one you want costs £127 which translates to ~$160 US.

The twist beyond that price point? It’s only for sale in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Ireland, and Australia.

This offer is open to UK and ROI residents only, while stocks last. Terms & Conditions apply. If you are located outside of the UK/Republic of Ireland please order Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Illustrated Edition here, or the Deluxe Illustrated Edition here. Please note, if you are located in United States or the Phillippines, unfortunately we do not have rights to sell the book with title “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Illustrated Edition“.

Note in those gifs from the twitter announcement that both the Bloomsbury and the WizardingWorld logos are included in the bottom corners. It seems that Scholastic has been shut out of this alliance at least temporarily so that the only North Americans who can shell out for the slipcase book and black tote “with gold foil” will be citizens of Canada and Mexico that have cash to burn.

No big deal, I guess, unless you are an American who collects Potter editions — and I have to suspect that, as collectors, they are used to, even excited about, this kind of challenge. No doubt the more avid of this set of Potter-philes have friends or fellow collectors in the UK , ROI, or down under with whom they have mutual assistance agreements for exclusive release or limited edition products and books.

Will you be missing this chance to buy the Deluxe Illustrated edition? If you live in the privileged countries, have you ordered your book and tote? Let me know in the comment boxes below!