Last Wednesday, of course, was Harry Potter’s thirty third birthday. Ah, kids grow up so fast nowadays. 🙂 Anyway, Happy Belated Birthday, Harry!! Very glad that all is still well with you.
It was also Joanne Rowling’s birthday, too, as strangely enough she and Harry share the date, July 31st. Hmmm, she’s only one year older than me. Anyway, John Granger has a post on the birthdays over at Hogwarts Professor. He has three thoughts on it, which I sum up here. 1) Have you ever had or attended a birthday party for Harry and/or Rowling; 2) What would you write to Rowling in a birthday card; and 3) If it was your birthday and Rowling said she’d answer one question as a gift for you, what would that question be. Check out Granger’s post and also feel free to share your answers here.
[This is a bonus essay to my series on numerology in the Harry Potter books. I had originally intended to stop at seven essays, but some people have asked me to write about a couple additional numbers. The previous essay – “Harry Potter Numerology: Twelve (Abundance)” – was published on November 4, 2012.]
Since I began writing this series, several people have asked me if I thought J.K. Rowling intended for her numbers to have specific meanings? Or if it’s coincidence (e.g. coincidence that every time an Eleven pops up something transforms)? Or if I’m just seeing things where I want to see things? Well, there is no stronger case for Rowling’s intentional use of number symbolism (that I have found) than The Number Thirteen.
What a week it’s been for the Potterverse. No sooner do we get back from donating our copies of The Casual Vacancy to the used bookstore, than we discover that the entire Harry Potter series was written under a pseudonym, and that the real author is a retired bank manager named Robert Q. Galbraith, O.B.E.
No—wait. That didn’t happen.
While the main site was under assault and shut down by the nargles and other nasty creatures, The Hogshead Forum has been plugging along. A small but dedicated cadre has kept it alive. Right now, some of the main topics are 2013 Books Read, Stuff We Watched on DVD or BD, What’s Playing at the Movies 2013. There are also many other topics that occasionally get some play as well as many older topics that have languished a bit. The Forum is still a great place to start topics on whatever subject you might find interesting. Consider checking it out and giving it a whirl. Maybe revive some old topics. Here’s a great one to try. 😉
You may have heard this news already but I thought it worth posting and thinking about. To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the start of the Harry Potter series, Scholastic, the U.S. publisher, will release all seven books with new cover art. Kazu Kibuishi, a graphic novelist, will be doing the new artwork. This will only be on the trade paperback editions. The artwork of Mary GrandPre, who did the original U.S. covers, will still appear on the hardback and digest paperback editions. Scholastic will also release the boxed set of the “school” books, namely Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
As to why Scholastic is releasing the books with new artwork, Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic Trade Publishing says, “In the last year, we’d been thinking of how to make Harry Potter accessible and relevant to a new audience of eight- and nine-year-olds…We started the Harry Potter Book Club as a way to bring kids, some of whom maybe only knew the movies, back to the books, and introduce this wonderful world to them. Mary’s covers are so iconic to all of us, and they will remain on the U.S. hardcover and digest paperback editions. But we were trying to figure out a new look, with new appeal, and with the 15th anniversary coming up, it seemed like a good idea to hook into that.”
Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer has been chosen to write one of eleven new Doctor Who short books, and the big speculation of the week is that J.K. Rowling may be chosen to write another. Colfer’s much-revered name was the first to be released; other news will hopefully be coming soon.
A series longer in the making than Harry Potter released its finale on the eighth of January: Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time epic began with The Eye of the World in 1990 and now, after Jordan’s death in 2007, has been completed (from Jordan’s notes) by Brandon Sanderson with A Memory of Light. Jordan’s story is known for worldbuilding almost unrivaled in its depth and range, a cast of characters large enough to fill a decent-sized small town, a high page count–fourteen books averaging over 800 pages apiece, a fantastic magic system, a handful of repetitive descriptors, and–to its loyal fans–a great deal of awesomeness. One of those loyal fans happens to be writing this blog post, and can hardly stand the wait for her copy to come in the mail.
Brandon Sanderson’s release post offers some final details: for instance, that Jordan himself wrote the ending before he died, and why the ebook release has been delayed. Also, Tor art director Irene Gallo toured the bindery as the book was in production, and posted a long set of pictures from the process.
There are rumors–again, only rumors, but still–that Universal may be getting the rights to create a Middle-Earth theme park. It seems likely that a satisfactory recipe for lembas will be as difficult to come up with as a satisfactory recipe for butterbeer.
The following is a guest post by commenter Christine aka Nana. She graciously agreed to share this essay she wrote some while back on the trips that Harry took into the Forbidden Forest. It is a good complement to Kris Swank’s post on Harry Potter Numerology: Seven (Completion). Enjoy!
Considering the number seven and its relationship to Harry’s journey, I wondered how many times he actually went into the Forbidden Forest because I always felt each time was significant.
The Forbidden Forest is the deep place, a place of mystery, and a fearful place because it is not certain what we will find there. It is also a place of initiation where we make acquaintance with the unconscious. Harry did indeed enter the Forest seven times. Each provided him the opportunity to face his fears and acquire knowledge about the world and himself.
As this post goes up, it’s still November 29 by my clock, on account of which: Happy Birthday, C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle! Born exactly twenty years apart–Lewis in 1898 and L’Engle in 1918–the two authors must have shared a trace of magic along with a birthday, for few children’s books have been more loved than The Chronicles of Narnia and A Wrinkle in Time. Here’s to Jack and Madeleine, both of whom have been loved by many of us for nearly all our reading lives.
Fairy tale writer and aficionado L.C. Ricardo, has written a beautiful piece on symbolism and meaning in fairy tales, which was just published on the webzine Enchanted Conversation. From L.C.:
That is not to say that fairy tales are mere allegory. Perhaps this one-sided interpretation carries some blame for people’s frustration in“telling the same story over and over again.” If a tower is always a phallic symbol and the maiden either imprisoned or protected from the masculine, we rob the tower of its first childhood impression. That of something tall, stone, unreachable. Something enchanted, according to that which makes up its very definition. And from there—who knows what it could be?
Do you agree with her on the openness of interpretation, or disagree? What do you think of the universality and personal appeal of fairy tales and fantasy literature? Feel free to hold forth in the combox.
Here’s the news from the week: