Around the Common Room: April 27, 2012

The Hunger Games is still big news, and while not nearly all of our links are related to that story, we’ve got a cluster of them. First, in serious thought: Brian Green, by way of Fr. Robert Barron, commented on the stories with the aid of a little Rene Girard theology. Also, the New York Times recently held a discussion on the idea of Katniss as radical female hero and woman warrior.

In the lighter forms of news, Katniss makes Tor’s Top Ten Favorite Fictional Archers, sharing notoriety with Robin Hood, Cupid, and Legolas, among others. Also, the tale is inspiring baby name trends; Katniss, Rue and Primrose are all pretty enough (if a little… well, unique to that story) to reasonably achieve some popularity. But Cato–really? He must have come off a lot better in the movie than the book.

On the theme of games–any games–Yahoo’s Unplugged blog has Fiction’s Most Famous Games, and How to Play Them for Real. Quidditch makes the list. So does Pooh-sticks, of course.

One of the great genre-blending novels, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, recently turned 50. NPR weighs in on the unlikely wonder of the story, and Barnes and Noble Review discusses “the amalgam of space opera and theurgy” that helps make the book the intellectual and spiritual delight that it is.

In J.K. Rowling news, she somehow didn’t make Time’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World (apparently Claire Danes and Rihanna have contributed more to society?) She did, however, make Sir Peter Blake’s 80th-Birthday re-draw of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album cover. Meanwhile, over at The Atlantic Wire, adult YA reader Jen Doll begs–speaking for many of us in the process–“Please Don’t Grow Up, J.K. Rowling!

In awesome Potter fan news, ran an interesting and beautifully titled “From Muggle to Media Mogul” piece on Emerson Spartz this week.

Lewis and Tolkien talk seems to be common lately. Time recently re-ran a 1947 cover story on Lewis. The Egotist Club’s Melpomene, speaking over at Pages Unbound, wrote a beautiful post titled “She Who Weeps: The Value of Sorrow in Tolkien”. Lev Grossman, in a piece titled “The Magician’s Book: Actual Smart Things about C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien”, comments at Good Report on Laura Miller’s work, The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia. Grossman makes the common harsh judgment on Lewis’ treatment of Susan, so to counter that: here, as linked in Good Report’s comments, is Andrew Rilstone’s old piece “Lipstick on my Scholar”, which expresses a positively indefensible perspective on the relative merits of Pullman and Rowling, but nonetheless provides an excellent deconstruction of the Susan myth.

And in the miscellaneous:

Fantasy author L.B. Gale has a few recent win-the-internet posts, with Top 15 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Honeymoon Destinations, 12 Best Words and Phrases from Invented Languages in Science Fiction/Fantasy, and Ten Unforgettable Deus Ex Machina Moments in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

In WTF moments, Cthulhu has recently undergone an image transformation; The Guardian notes that he’s now cuddly.

And lastly we return to the New York Times, where Elizabeth D. Samet takes on the very crux of nerd culture: The Grand Allusion. It’s a fascinating piece, questioning the endless little inside jokes most of us dorky literary types love to throw into our conversation for the surprise and delight of anyone who will understand. As PotterMom05 notes, it also makes an interesting addition to the discussion of shared text–or in this case, non-shared text. Helpful or harmful, of course, we’ve been making these references for centuries; it’s doubtful that anyone plans on stopping now.

Special thanks to revgeorge and PotterMom05 for providing at least half of these links. Your butterbeer’s on me tonight, you two.

4 thoughts on “Around the Common Room: April 27, 2012

  1. I loved “The Grand Allusion” article, and then immediately wanted to play the Styx album (and title track) that the title seems to be playing on. 🙂

    I can hardly believe that A Wrinkle in Time is 50! I much prefer the cover art from the edition at bought at an elementary school book fair in the ’70s (pictured here):

    to the blander 50th anniversary edition pictured in the link above.

  2. Great post, Jenna, and I’ve only read two links so far. The NYT HG discussion is worth a post on its own because there’s so much to discuss, especially Katniss as referential, gender-neutral, new kind of American literary and cinema hero. I recommend you all read this.

    Brian Green’s article on how we love to scapegoat contestants on reality shows and how scapegoating works in the HG is poignantly true. In particular dystopian stories are like reality shows, in which we, removed and comfortable, get to speculate on how we ourselves would do, and enjoy the “destruction” of villains, or just “other.”

    I hope to add more later.

  3. Gah, SO many wrongly-faced quotation marks. Hopefully I have them all fixed now…

    cbiondi, OK, I LOVE that cover. Love it. I’ve never seen it before.

    PotterMom05, mead it is! That’s a favorite of mine, too. (Actually, it beats every last butterbeer recipe I’ve tried. I’m tempted to see what can be accomplished with real butter and a can of PBR.)

    Arabella, you’re right; a few of these posts could’ve been made into full discussions, and probably deserved to be. So many of them that it was overwhelming, actually. I’m not opposed to seeing any of these taken that direction, so if it’s something you’d like to do, feel free!

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