Category Archives: Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone


The Scariest Harry Potter Book?

All Hallows’ Read is fast approaching. If you’re wondering what scary book you should be giving to family, friends, and random folks on the street, all of us at The Hog’s Head agree that Harry Potter would be a great choice. What better time than All Hallows’ Read to give someone a book about witches and wizards battling scary stuff?

Ah, but which one though? Which Harry Potter book is the scariest, creepiest, shiveriest, flesh-crawlingest, heebie-jeebiest one of them all? And here, all of us at The Hog’s Head can’t agree at all! Or hardly. We’ve each got a favourite shiver, a most prized behind-the-sofa moment, a top candidate for the jibblies from our own most feared book, and we’ve all got suitably chilling reasons why.

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The Strange Case of Professor Quirrell

[Note: Since Breaking Dawn Part 1 is nearly upon us, I’m starting a series of articles looking at villains and folklore motifs in the Harry Potter series. Hey, any time is good for some serious Potter talk, right? These are forming part of a larger project I’m writing on HP. Beginning at the beginning, here’s HPPS and a look at Professor Quirrell’s jokes.]

Professor Quirrell is not the first character most people would associate with humour. For most of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, he seems a genial buffoon, garnering a few laughs at his general ineptitude, but perhaps more to be pitied than laughed at. But in his denouement, he holds up his actions in the book at an object of ridicule: next to the sinister and villainous Snape, he says, “who’d suspect p-p-poor st-stuttering P-Professor Quirrell?” (209).

There is, of course, a metafictional aspect to this statement, as Rowling reveals the device whereby she mislead her readers to suspect the wrong person. Quirrell himself presents his characterisation as a joke, stuttering affability overlaying a violent, ruthless drive for power. Implicit here is another, cruelly jibe, and a simultaneous compliment to his own intelligence: no one suspected him. His performance throughout the story has been an elaborate, vicious joke on everyone at Hogwarts.

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Sorcerer's Stone Week, Day 5: The Dumbledore Denouement

One of the key moments of each book is the “Dumbledore Denouement” – the final conversation, after the story's climax, in which Dumbledore and Harry have a little chat about what happened.  

Here's a little assignment for Day 5 of Sorcerer's Stone

Week.  With the knowledge of Dumbledore's backstory in mind, go back and re-read the few pages of chapter 17 of Sorcerer's Stone which comprise this final conversation with Harry after the battle over the stone.  

What strikes you about this conversation now?  How do you read it differently than when you first read it?  What new meanings do Dumbledore's words take on, if any?  What was Rowling really trying to accomplish with Dumbledore in these pages?  Maybe a better question: What was Dumbledore really trying to accomplish with Harry in these few pages?


Sorcerer's Stone Week, Day 4: The Snape Story

It seemed pretty evident in the first book that Severus Snape was going to be an intriguing character.  This is a post dedicated to the greasy potions master.

 Several questions for consideration and comment:

  • In what clever ways did Rowling set up the Snape plot in book one?  
  • Any Snape foreshadowing that you missed in the discussion from Day 2?
  • Reflect on your initial encounter with the character of Snape in reading book one for the first time compared with how you read him in book one now.
  • Anything else you want to discuss concerning Snape in Sorcerer's Stone.

Socerer's Stone Week, Day 3: Cover to Cover Day

Today is the “official” 10th anniversary of the U.S. release of the first Harry Potter book. Scholastic is celebrating with a cover-to-cover day. The book is being read cover to cover from the seat in New York City from which J.K. Rowling read last year.

Keep up w

ith the whole day here!

Also, today is the “official” release date of the 10th anniversary edition of Sorcerer's Stone (though many got their copies early).


Sorcerer's Stone Week, Day 2: Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is when an author drops subtle hints or clues about something coming later in the story.  Rowling did a lot of this, and she's brilliant at it.  And of course, there's plenty of foreshadowing in Sorcerer's Stone.  Day 2 discussion focuses on Rowling's use of foreshadowing in the first novel, and it's a simple discussion starter:

Now that you've got t

he knowledge of all seven books, where do you see clever foreshadowing in Book 1?  What's your favorite foreshadowing from the first book?  What things from the first book have taken on new and enhanced meaning since the release of Deathly Hallows?

One of my favorites is Sirius's motorbike – a device which seemed so innocuous in book one, but which ended up belonging to one of the key players in the story and being the means of magical escape from Privet Drive for book 7.  Think about Rowling's parallelism here: Sirius's bike brings Harry to 4 Privet Drive for the beginning of his 7 years there, and it takes him away at the end of his 7 years there.


Sorcerer's Stone Week, Day 1

Today, we begin our celebration of the 10 year anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the U.S.  The book was unfortunately renamed for publication in the U.S. (originally titled Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone – sadly, this eliminated one of the first concrete alchemical references, at least in the U.S. editions).  While it's my practice here at The Hog's Head to use the book's original name, I'll be using the U.S. name for just this week, since it's a spe

cific celebration of the U.S. release.

There will be lots of fun discussion this week, but this intro post is sort of a free-for-all discussion.  Tell us about your experience with the first Harry Potter book.  Favorite quotes?  Favorite moments?  Did you start reading it when it was released, or did you come to the series later in the game?  

I was given a copy of the first book back when I was, for religious reasons which I now consider quite silly, opposed to even reading the books.  Begrudgingly, I gave it a try, but I set it down after a chapter or two; I was determined not to like it.  Probably a year later, I decided to watch the movie.  Enough of the book's magic had been translated onto the screen to convince me to re-read the books, and I flew through the five that were available at the time.


Sorcerer’s Stone Shipping?

Leaky is reporting that the 10th anniversary edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone has (accidentally?) been shipped to some who have pre-ordered it.  

Any Hog’s Head patrons have their copy yet? 

Kind of frustrating that some will be able to examine the new material before others.  Either way, we’ll still be having Sorcerer’s Stone Week, starting on the day the book is “officially” released.

Pre-order your copy today.  Hey, you might get it before the rest of us.