[This is the second essay comparing the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games trilogy. Part 1 was posted on January 30, 2013.]
In the first entry of this series, we examined Harry Potter’s and Katniss Everdeen’s journeys along the “Hero’s Path”, what Joseph Campbell called the great human “monomyth”. This time, let’s look briefly at ways in which both series tap into another literary tradition: the Dystopia. Continue reading
There’s not a lot of universe-changing news this week, but there is the announcement that J.J. Abrams is set to direct the next Star Wars movie. Abrams is known for his work on Star Trek, which is a weird qualification for a Star Wars director, and Lost, which is–by all report at the Pub here–a superb one. According to the linked article, Michael Arndt, writer of Toy Story 3, is set to write the screenplay, which is another hopeful sign. Might the next Star Wars be a worthy heir to the legacy of A New Hope?
io9 has some of Abrams’ thoughts on the job, and GeekTyrant has embedded a video in which Abrams talks about Star Wars as good storytelling. Related articles are available at MTV.com and Deadline Hollywood.
In slightly less directly related articles: Turks get in a tiff over a ‘Jabba’s Palace’ Lego toy; apparently they think it looks too much like the Hagia Sophia. io9’s Rand Simberg questions the original cost estimate for building a Death Star, and Charlie Jane Anders highlights a set of R2D2 high heels. The TOMS posted in the comments are likewise adorable.
Aside from being mega-hot, bestselling fiction and film, there are actually quite a few similarities between J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, both on the surface and deep within their structural and thematic cores. These similarities might account for the reason fans of one series often become fans of the other, and also why these books are worthy of study as literature and not to be dismissed as merely “children’s stories” (as if children’s stories weren’t some of the most profound works ever written…but that’s another essay). Hogwarts Professor John Granger has examined some of these similarities at his blog site, including the literary alchemy of both works, their ring composition, and underlying morality. But there’s still a lot of ground to cover. This series of essays will compare Harry Potter and the Hunger Games in three areas:
- Part I. Harry, Katniss & the mythic Hero’s Journey;
- Part II. Hogwarts, Panem & the Dystopian Literary tradition; and
- Part III. Blood Sport in Panem & Hogwarts.
OK. Onto Part I.—
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:
Here is a bonus essay to the two-part series on Classical influences in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. Enjoy. [Previously, “The Hunger Games: Gifts of the Gods” was published on August 6, 2012.]y,
As I was recently reading an historical murder mystery set at the Olympic Games in ancient Greece, I recognized another echo between Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy and the Classical world: the veneration of Hunger Games’ tributes and the superstar status earned by Olympic champions.
It takes some doing to beat Harry Potter in any form of sales record, but this week, Amazon reported that the Hunger Games trilogy “has suppl
anted Harry Potter as the best-selling series of all time on the website.” (Link and quote from EW’s Shelf Life.) Said Blogengamot member Arabella when forwarding this link, “That’s what JK gets for not releasing to ebook sooner and on Amazon.” Straight-up truth, there. Amazon’s figures include ebook sales, but Amazon has never been allowed to sell the digitized Potter books.
Amazon has more to offer literary fans this week, with a book of essays by YA authors on the Hunger Games books. This anthology can be augmented with a booster pack, which includes essays on the movies. Also, Twilight fans may be interested in Joel and Ella Emmett’s Twilight for Life: Finding Meaning in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight–and in Life.
And in other news:
The International Reading Association’s Engage site has posted a fascinating interview with Shannon Hale, covering some topics of likely interest to the Pub. For instance, here’s Ms. Hale on getting young boys to read about girls:
The Olympics have been on everyone’s mind and television these last couple of weeks, and apparently a giant Voldemort waged war against Mary Popp
inses (yes, plural) during the opening ceremonies. Between J.K. Rowling reading Peter Pan and Rupert Grint carrying the torch, our Harry didn’t have to show up himself to get good representation in his home country. It sounds like children’s literature in general got fair play in Danny Boyle’s opening ceremonies.
I wouldn’t know, because I don’t have a TV and can’t be bothered to look it all up on the Internet. What I can be bothered to do is come up with a bunch of Potter- and other fiction-related links for an Around the Common Room post (credit where credit’s due: the Blogengamot helped!) Here it is.
First–and this one is so important that multiple people sent it to me–NPR has finally announced its voter-chosen “100 Best-Ever Teen Novels.” Guess who’s number one? Number two is not much less surprising, nor is number three. Twilight hit the list at number 27, and I’m pleased because Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl made the cut (at #80; superb fairy tale retelling, and I voted for it myself).
Upon the list’s release, the Internet took note: female authors may struggle in every other genre, but they write a fair percentage of the favorites in YA. Middle-grade author Nathan Bransford asks, in a positive way, why.
Meanwhile, in fantasy and science fiction:
[This is the second essay in a two-part series on classical influences in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. The first –“The Hunger Games: How Glorious Fall the Valiant (‘Careers’ as Spartan Warriors)” — was published on May 28, 2012.]
Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins has acknowledged that her series was significantly influenced by classical mythology and history, especially the Greek myth of “Theseus and the Minotaur” and the gladiator games of ancient Rome (Collins, “A Conversation”). But there are other classical stories that bear a striking resemblance to the events in the Hunger Games arena. In the timely descent of those little silver parachutes – each one delivering life-saving food, medicine, or tools – readers can see an echo in the gifts and aid the Olympian gods sent to their chosen heroes in Greek mythology. Likewise, the manipulation of the arena’s environment by the all-powerful Game Makers is reminiscent of the way the gods used weather and other natural elements to help or hinder mortal champions. Two famous classical tales particularly illustrate these ideas.