03 November 2009

Harry Potter's Bookshelf

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


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  3. Anonymous11:05 PM

    I like this article but..last night i went to the midnight premiere of harry potter and the half blood prince! I was honestly so disappointed! was it just me or did it seem very choppy and for some reason didn't feel like it was a harry potter movie. Don't get me wrong some of the parts in it were either really funny or somewhat scary but i really was not satisfied. I don't know, what did you think?? Am i wrong? Give me your opinions..

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  4. Well, Roges, you're posting a comment about a movie adaptation that premiered in July 2009 on a post about a lit crit book review in October 2009...but you went to the movie premiere last night (11/19/09)....odd.

    For my opinion on the movie you might want to check my post on HBP 7/15/09 ;)