Tag Archives: Madeleine L’Engle

The Scariest Harry Potter Book is… Chamber of Secrets

cos-uk-adult-jacket-artGreat. I have to be the first person to disagree with J.K. Rowling–and possibly with everyone who read Deathly Hallows’ Bathilda Bagshot chapter at four o’clock in the morning after a midnight release party… oh, wait, I did that, too. That was terrifying.

But I well remember being afraid to read Chamber of Secrets in anything but the broadest of daylight. Ah, Chamber of Secrets. How do I fear thee? Let me count the ways:

  • It’s more or less a murder mystery with a psychopath at its center
  • Said psychopath likes to leave creepy messages on stone walls in finger-painted rooster blood
  • There’s cold, hungry, murderous, disembodied whispering that only our hero can hear
  • People and cats are getting Petrified
  • There are snakes. And Harry discovers he has a Dark wizard’s gift in being able to talk to said snakes.
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Around the Common Room: December 7, 2012

In the cheerful spirit of Happy Hoggy Days, here’s a gift many a Harry Potter fan should enjoy: a Harry Potter and Philosophy podcast put together by Keith Hawk at MuggleNet, starring our own Carrie-Ann Biondi and two of her students! Says Carrie-Ann:

It’s kind of a survey-ish discussion among the five of us ranging over a variety of questions and issues in philosophy and literature that John Granger came up with, so it’s very accessible to a wide audience.

Listen and enjoy! And now, here’s your roundup of the week’s news:

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Around the Common Room: November 30, 2012

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:

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Around the Common Room: September 13, 2012

Excitement for fall and winter movie releases is building, and a lot of this week’s news seems to be movie-based. First, David from The Warden’s Walk is hosting a read-through of The Hobbit, beginning in late September and ending just before the movie comes out. Whether you’re a fan of the book or have never read it, and whether or not you plan to see the movie, this sounds like a great event to check out.

The young Potter actors have made headlines for a lot of reasons, but now Emma Watson’s got a scandalous one through no fault of her own: she’s apparently this year’s most dangerous celebrity to search for online. Cyber criminals use her name to attract potential victims; according to USA Today (link above), searching for her name gives you a one-in-eight chance of landing on a malicious site. It’s a strangely unfitting fate for someone so hardworking and serious as she appears to be. Her new film, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, releases September 21.

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Journey to the Sea, Issue 10

Journey to the Sea, Issue 10 came out this past week!  There’s an interview with pub patron, sometimes guest author, and our favorite Lovecraft scholar, Amy H. Sturgis, as well as an article on the fourth volume of L’Engle’s Time Quintet. I hope to find time to interact with some of this in the upcoming week (after Wednesday, when I take a professional certification exam in electrophysiology, which exam is kind of a big deal).

For those pub patrons itching to jump into the Augustana College assignment: You may begin tomorrow, April 6!

Monday Magical Musings: Children Only?

Discuss:

“The artist…must retain the vision which includes angels and dragons and unicorns and all the lovely creatures which our world put in a box and marked Children Only. ~ Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

  • Why are supernatural beings considered kids’ stuff?
  • What benefit does the adult derive from these “lovely creatures”?
  • What do you say to people who think you’re nuts for liking “kids’ stories”?

Monday Magical Musings: Language, Imagination, and Justice

“If our vocabulary dwindles to a few shopworn words, we are setting ourselves up for takeover by a dictator. When language becomes exhausted, our freedom dwindles – we cannot think; we do not recognize danger. Injustice strikes us as no more than ‘the way things are’.”  ~ Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water. Colorado Springs: Shaw Books, 1972. p. 37.

  • What is L’Engle saying here?  Is she right?
  • How does creative language help in the fight against injustice?
  • Where do we see this play out inside Harry Potter, and in our culture relating to Harry Potter and other imaginative fiction?