Right before the seventh Harry Potter book was released I read an interesting collection of literary criticism, The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter, edited by Laura Whited. The ideas that came from academic articles were very interesting - some reinforced connections I had made with the Harry Potter books, others presented new ideas (I keep hoping Whited will publish a new edition of her book with essays and articles encomapssing all seven books). When John Granger published Harry Potter's Bookshelf, a piece more on the literary criticism side than the religious side, I was really eager to pick it up.
Granger presents some interesting parallels between JKR's seven novels and other literary tropes and genres. I hadn't even thought of the "school-boy" novel, which Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone fits perfectly, because I hadn't read Tom Brown's School Days or any other novels in the boarding school genre. Granger also ties the three stages of alchemy - nigredo, albedo, and rubedo - into the three final books in the series. It's very interesting how the principles dovetail with the narrative.
The one thing I wished this book had was a little more meat. Granger's theories seem well-supported in some chapters, like the alchemy one, but are superficial in others, the Austen chapter in particular. It seemed a little "lit crit lite," more for the layman than the serious scholar which is something I find irritating, like the writer assumes you can't handle and indepth discussion. Granger splits between good texutal analysis and tangential conjecture; while the book was enjoyable I just wish there had been a little more.
Clear Off Your Shelves Challenge Count: 11/14