Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Word to All You Harry Potterites Out There


Here is an amazing new book about Harry Potter.

I became aware of this book when the author was doing her research, and wrote me asking me about J.K. Rowling's Chestertonian connections. I gladly provided her with the information I had (all of which I'd previously revealed to you on this blog, about Jo's name being on the roster of the UK Chesterton Society, etc.) and in return, she's mailed me one of the first copies of her lovely book, Does Harry Potter Tickle Sleeping Dragons?

If the title reminds you of a certain quote by CS Lewis, it should. I had this quote in my book, The Mystery of Harry Potter, too.

If my book left any doubts in your mind about the Christianity of JKR or the Christian undertones: Remember how I said it was "Christian Fiction in Disguise"? Well, this new book by Harry Potter expert Nancy Solon Villaluz is going to convince you beyond the shadow of a doubt that my statement is absolutely spot on.

Oops, apparently I tickled something there.
Revised copy:

For you followers of any of the Harry Potter analysis-type books out there: I believe this book does more, goes deeper, tells more, explains more, finds out more: in short, this book takes off where my own book ends. And maybe some other books, too.

So anyone with a continued interest in Harry Potter, or anyone who would like to definitively prove to someone that these books are, indeed, Christian fiction, that Rowling is a fellow Inkling along with Lewis and Tolkien, although remaining, "slightly different" as Jo herself has said and Villaluz quotes frequently in her book: then Go Get This Book. Put it on your Christmas or other Religious Holiday Wish List. This lady has done a TON of research, more than anyone I've ever read on this subject. I was enormously impressed. Elephantinely impressed.

OK, just to tantalize you just a bit further--speaking of Christmas--Villaluz has actually counted up the number of times the word "Christmas" is used in Harry Potter's 4000 page series. She has compared the British and US editions. She has listened to every podcast and interview Jo Rowling has ever given. She even discovered Jo's real thoughts and backstory about Dumbledore--and it's so amazing, I know why the press never picked up on it. I think you will be rather pleased at the results of that research.

Bottom line: This is the best Harry Potter in-depth uncover-all-secrets-the-author-tried-to-hide book ever.

19 comments:

  1. Does it tackle the issue of "wizard euthanasia?" The way Dumbledore was killed off still does not sit well with me. :-(

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  2. You are getting me all excited about the very idea of reading Harry Potter with an eye for analysis of the occult vs non-occult positions!

    But how can I even start when the Vatican Exorcist said not to read Harry Potter?

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  3. Mom: Yes, it handled the issue of Dumbledore's death to my satisfaction. And explained a few other things in book 7 that I didn't get when I read them.

    OFL: I guess you have to decide. Is it dogma or doctrine what novels you read? The book is a novel, a fairy tale. Read Does Harry Potter Tickle Sleeping Dragons first and then you'll know what to do.

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  4. Where is available from? Any ideas?

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  5. I'm pretty sure that right now it is only available through amazon.com but possibly barnes and noble has it as well. The link in my review takes you to the amazon site.

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  6. A couple folks recently recommended this to me as well. I'm hoping to have time to get around to it sometime in the near future.

    "Deeper than Granger?" I'm curious what Granger you've read. From the standpoint of literary criticism, I'm not sure how much "deeper" one can go, if you're familiar with The Deathly Hallows Lectures specifically.

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  7. Maria Sanchez11/29/2008 4:32 AM

    Hi. I happened to have posted about this book over on Travis Prinzi's great site. I just finished it and, Ms. Brown, I agree with you completely! Anyway, I shall post my same response to Mr. Prinzi here to help:

    "Travis, fear not! The Solon Villaluz book is definitely not reading in things that aren't there. Absolutely not. I will try to give some small examples to help clarify things. In addition to being a long-time haunter of your website, I, myself, am a fan and great respecter of John Granger and I both own, and have thoroughly read, every one of John's Potter-related books including “The Deathly Hallows Lectures.” No one is doubting John’s expertise; but one mortal person can't possibly notice everything; not even - with all due respect - John Granger. Here's one example of something new about Rowling's alchemy: while Granger's eye-imagery is also a valid interpretation, on page 243 of "Does Harry Potter Tickle Sleeping Dragons?" Mrs. Villaluz points out that the symbol of the Deathly Hallows represents false-holy-grail like images as the Holy Trinity; with the Elder Wand as the all-powerful God the Father, The Resurrection Stone as Jesus the Resurrection and the Stone the Builder's Rejected and the triangle as the Holy Spirit: describing that in medieval alchemy the upward pointing triangle always represents flame, and in Christianity, the Holy Spirit is often represented by fire/flame, and all three (the circle, the line and triangle) are all within the triangle which, in the medieval church, symbolized the trinity. (She explains it better than I just did.) This alchemical-flame, triangular representation of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with this symbol has not been covered by John Granger, to my recollection, which is surprising since he's such an alchemy expert. (That is intended as a complement to Mr. Granger.) For another, at the beginning of "How Harry Cast His Spell," Granger says that none of Rowling's characters ever practice real witchcraft, but Mr. Granger was apparently mistaken; Ms. Villaluz proves Rowling's apparent intention that her evil characters (but not her good ones) actually do practice real witchcraft - and how that fact actually makes Potterverse more compatible with Christianity because “evil is truly evil.” Also, we all remember Mr. Granger hypothesizing that “ ‘Arry Potter” was Christ allegory as an “Heir-y Potter”; Mrs. Villaluz gives a better explanation of Harry’s name using Ms. Rowling’s own patterns/words/Canon/interviews. For another, Mr. Granger said that Snape’s doe Patronus was only “sort of” Goudge’s Little White Horse, but this compelling new analysis proves otherwise. Mr. Granger also said something to the effect that; if being Pilgrims Progress/Christianity is what started the Harry Potter firestorm, he’ll eat his hat: but the excellently-organized massive wealth of information in this new book proves that he just may have to do that. Certainly this isn’t a competition. Obviously, Mrs. Villaluz and Mr. Granger are playing on the same team! But a team needs a variety of different players with a variety of different skills. Mrs. Villaluz obviously has great respect for John Granger because she gives his “The Hidden Key to Harry Potter” one of the only other-author nods in her entire book and paints that particular book in a positive light as doing battle against the Harry-haters. (Though she does make a quick, valid point that Mr. Granger used to have one “Hidden Key” about Harry’s Christianity and now has branched out to “many keys” that are more secular… which I have also noticed, too, as Mr. Granger’s focus is much less on Harry’s Christianity than at first and is now moreso into Dickens, Dante, etc., even Mr. Granger’s upcoming book – announced on your recent podcast and in one of his recent books – sounds very literary-professor, not so much Christian.) So Travis, it is not in alchemy and “transformed vision eye-imagery” that Mrs. Villaluz’ wonderful new book goes deeper, it is specifically in Harry’s intentionally-written-by-Rowling Christianity… an area where Granger focuses less and less with each of his books. (Though I still very much enjoy his books.) Undoubtedly, Mr. Granger, himself, would find this new book and all of its new information… tons of new information and insights… very exciting! So I say, hooray for another excellent pro-Harry Christian author in our midst: Dumbledore would be pleased and encourage unity among us. (Though I have no proof that Mrs. Villaluz is Christian, but her writing and extensive knowledge very,very strongly suggest that she is.) Mr. Prinzi, I can only imagine how busy you are, but as a Harry Potter expert yourself, you should really bump this book to the very top of your reading list… and hopefully John Granger will, too. Then, we can all celebrate! Hope this helps. Best wishes, Maria."

    Good job with your wonderful review of this amazing book, Ms. Brown.

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  8. Maria, I've responded over at The Hog's Head!

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  9. Maria Sanchez11/29/2008 5:02 PM

    Ms. Brown, I seemed to have accidentally started something, so I want to have it all explained here. I posted a link to this Chesterton review by Ms. Brown over on Travis Prinzi’s site. John Granger joined in the discussion saying this:

    JOHN GRANGER SAID: “ …I haven’t read Ms. Villaluz’ book so I’d best refrain from entering this discussion. The reviewer at the Chesterton Society blog saying this new book is “better, deeper” etc. than what I have written has not read Deathly Hallows Lectures; I asked if she had — and she withdrew her comment immediately with an apology.”

    The entire discussion can be found here: http://thehogshead.org/blackfriday3/#comment-397588

    I feel that it’s important to also include my reply here because it relates directly to Ms. Brown’s review and the problem I have accidentally caused. I replied:

    “Revgeorge: no she does not posit that it's Christian for Christians. Mrs. Villaluz doesn't posit anything. The whole book is written more like a very thorough, entertaining court case. Solid evidence is presented, not the author's opinions. She presents evidence whereby Ms. Rowling herself posits that she was writing in a Christian fashion for all seekers, most especially Rowling for herself.”

    “Mr. Prinzi: I'm so glad to hear you say this isn't a "John vs. other authors." Sorry if I misunderstood. I also think it's important to note that, on the dust jacket, Mrs. Villaluz says she worked on this book long before DH, for a total of five years. I'd say that her ability to resists jumping on the "what will happen in book seven" and "try to make money on HP" bandwagons all these years bodes well for her character. It really shows in the quality of her exceptional work, too. “

    “Mr. Granger: what an honor that you've joined in! It's funny that I only posted this to try to win the free copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard and it's led here. I, in fact, am up on all your books, and - again with all due respect - I don't think the Chesterton reviewer was off base in any of her comments which covered a broad range. You and Mrs. Villaluz just have different gifts in different areas and she has tackled a lot of information that no one else has ever done so thoroughly. (Again, her five years of patient research and writing shine through and makes her book very unique.) As you said, it is wise for you to refrain from this conversation for now, but you also said that your new book "include chapters" on this type of thing; "Does Harry Potter Tickle Sleeping Dragons?" is entirely an exploration of these types of things: ergo, you can see why a whole book necessarily goes deeper than a few chapters in your upcoming books or even your previous books. When you read it someday, you will see. "Does Harry Potter Tickle Sleeping Dragons?" is more focused in certain areas than your books are, but really that shouldn't have been taken as an insult in any way. It's too bad you took offense and approached a reviewer to change their statement that many of us who have read "Does Harry Potter Tickle Sleeping Dragons?" and your books found very accurate just because the reviewer has read/is familiar with your work (which could be many of your published books) but not the most recent. Since you yourself haven't read Mrs. Villaluz' book and can't make an accurate comparison between her work and yours, that seems hypocritical. (Sorry, but I have to call a spade a spade.) Perhaps you owe the Chesterton reviewer an apology as well. Nonetheless, do keep writing, Mr. Granger: I am greatly looking forward to your new book. Good luck with your writing deadlines, too. (I plan to go back to being a mere observer now.)”

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  10. Maria Sanchez11/29/2008 5:11 PM

    One last thing, Ms. Brown: you seem to have shown extraordinary grace under pressure. It's just too bad you had to be pressured at all. :-(

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  11. Maria, thanks for that, I really appreciate it.

    My respect for Does Harry Potter Tickle Sleeping Dragons? and its author has been raised; my respect for other HP-analysis authors has changed.

    I really like your analogy of the courtroom, Maria. The book does take the reader on a journey of discovery, by mainly using the evidence of Jo's own words, which is incredible, considering the time and effort spent researching it.

    I maintain that this is the best book I've read on HP, and I include my own in with that.

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  12. So unfortunate this situation has become such a frustrating and tense one! As much of it seemed to develop as a result of comments posted at my blog, I just thought I'd toss a few thoughts out there in hope of some sort of peaceable resolution.

    Every reader is entitled to their opinions, and I have no credibility to comment on the merit of Does Harry Potter Tickle Sleeping Dragons, as I've yet to read the book. I plan to, and I'll most certainly write a review at The Hog's Head. When that time comes, I'd be more than happy if Ms. Brown and Ms. Sanchez join the discussion, as you are both such big fans of the book.

    That said, it seems to me that the initial request Mr. Granger made - that the controversial statement be based on full knowledge or not made at all - is a fair one and not hypocritical in the least. Mr. Granger hasn't made any judgment call on Ms. Villaluz's book and its comparison with his own because he has not read it. That's fair. The controversial comment here was not fair, even if Ms. Sanchez agrees with it, and, indeed, even if the statement is true. Does that make sense, or am I missing something?

    It would really be unfortunate if this dispute lingered amongst adult, Christian Harry Potter fans. I'm most glad that more books are out there, putting out ideas about the series, and I'm looking forward to this one's contribution to the discussion.

    I'm also looking forward to examining the merits of the initial (controversial) claim, as well as the merits of Ms. Villaluz's arguments. I hope that when that time comes, we'll all be able to discuss, and even disagree, in a peaceable, gracious way. Unless there's something I'm missing, I'm not sure there needs to be any loss of respect for folks in this discussion. We're all in the same discussion, and I hope our ability to have it reasonably and graciously will be evident in time.

    Now, on to a particular point of interest for me. The "courtroom" analogy. I see a flaw in it, and I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this. "Solid evidence is presented, not the author's opinions" is often a claim made by people attempting to back up their arguments/research. If I had a dollar for every time Richard Abanes made that comment in conversation with me or Mr. Granger ... And we all know what his "just the fact" and "just Ms. Rowling's words" type of research looks like.

    Wouldn't you agree that the selection of and interpretation of one's "evidence" is almost always a matter of opinion?

    I'm also fairly uncomfortable with the insinuation that waiting for Book 7 to arrive before writing a book means that someone's character is better than those who wrote prior to Book 7. I mean, that would mean my character is a very good one, and I know myself well enough to know that's a terribly flawed statement. I know a few pre-Book 7 authors whose characters are far better than my own.

    Thoughts?

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  13. +JMJ+

    When I saw this post, Nancy, my eyebrows shot up a bit. The last time I checked, parents had more to worry from Twilight than from Harry Potter--and I don't mean just the occult elements!

    Not that Chestertonians are pulled hither and thither by the latest fads, of course! Yet how is it over in your part of the world? How are Catholics there reacting to Stephenie Meyer's new series.

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  14. I think most Catholics can see Twilight for what it is: a pre-teen and teen intro to addictive romance novels.

    I see no redemptive content, there is nothing to recommend about the series.

    Sometimes the mass of people are right about a book, and sometimes they are wrong about a book.

    One huge giveaway is the vast majority of females who like the series.

    I read the first one--barely could get through it. I do not recommend them.

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  15. Christianity and Harry Potter should not even be in the same sentence. If you need to read a good book read Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan.

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  16. Oh ye of little faith...many will not read Pilgrim's Progress due to the old fashioned nature and language. What would you suggest for today's pilgrims?

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  17. Not Harry Potter that's for sure.

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  18. Thank you, I assumed that already.

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  19. I am a long time fan of Harry Potter but the comments raised in this book do present the stories in a new light. One thing that does concern me is that although Christmas is indeed mentioned many times, Harry never at any time enters a church of any denomination. Pagan and Christian traditions are in any case closely linked and who is to say which came first.

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