"J.K. Rowling among the Inklings"

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Troels Forchhammer

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Oct 10, 2010, 6:25:41 PM10/10/10
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Jason Fisher has produced a blog entry titled "J.K. Rowling among the
Inklings", [1] commenting some parallels Jason has noticed between
passages in Rowling's works and couple of passages in Williams'
novel, _War in Heaven_.

I have no idea whether Rowling knows Williams, or if this particular
idea may exist elsewhere (with a possible source of inspiration
common to the two) -- if anyone knows, I'm sure Jason would be
delighted to learn more.

What attracted my attention, however, was the statement that
But Rowling, like Sayers, is frequently described as an
“honorary Inkling”, or said to be following in the
tradition of the Inklings. The latter is certainly true.

Is Rowling really 'following in the tradition of the Inklings'? Just
because people say it, that doesn't make it true, of course. I was an
avid Rowling enthusiast for some years, but my enthusiasm began to
cool after the fifth book (_Harry Potter and the Order of the
Phoenix_) and since the last of the Potter books (_Harry Potter and
the Deathly Hallows_) it has been more or less dead, though I still
consider the third book in particular to be a very good (children's)
book. When I was following the news about Rowling, I saw many
laudatory claims about Rowling's writings that I, even then, found
questionable, but I haven't been following things for the last 4 - 5
years, and much may have happened in the meantime.

In this particular blog entry, Jason is invoking Charles Williams,
and I have to admit that besides Tolkien's work, I have read next to
nothing of the Inklings (the Narnia books in a Danish translation
targeted at children is, IIRC, all), so I am _not_ going to judge
whether the above statement is actually true; hence my bringing it up
here.

With respect to Tolkien, I can see some parallels in Rowling's works,
but not enough that I would say that she is following in the
tradition of Tolkien -- for that to have been true, there would, in
my opinion, have had to be a greater parallel in the ways the two
authors use and relate to their source material, but what about the
other Inklings?

Are there any particular Inkling(s) in whose tradition Rowling can be
said to follow more closely?

Is there a common denominator for the Inklings in which tradition
Rowling follows? And just to whet the appetite for discussion, I
would say that I am highly sceptical of the claims of Rowling's
Christianity as an inspiration for the books: while I can see much in
both Tolkien's and Lewis' work that relies on their Christian
_faith_, I see nothing of that sort in Rowling's work. There is
Christian culture and Christian ethics, but not specifically
Christian faith or spirituality (here I am more inclined to agree
with the views ostensibly supported the then Cardinal Ratzinger [2]).

Is it correct that Rowling is 'following in the tradition Inklings'?
And if so, in what way(s) is this correct?

[1] Jason Fisher, _Lingwë - Musings of a Fish_, "J.K. Rowling among
the Inklings", Friday, October 8, 2010
<http://lingwe.blogspot.com/2010/10/jk-rowling-among-inklings.html>
<http://preview.tinyurl.com/2ctb2sl>

[2] See e.g.
<http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2005/jul/05071301.html> or
<http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/rita-skeeter-covers-the-vatican/>


X-posted: rec.arts.books.tolkien;
alt.fan.tolkien
alt.books.inklings
alt.fan.harry-potter

--
Troels Forchhammer <troelsfo(a)googlewave.com>
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

It is useless to meet revenge with revenge: it will heal
nothing.
- Frodo Baggins, /The Return of the King/ (J.R.R. Tolkien)

John W Kennedy

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Oct 10, 2010, 8:55:15 PM10/10/10
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On 2010-10-10 18:25:41 -0400, Troels Forchhammer said:
> I have no idea whether Rowling knows Williams, or if this particular
> idea may exist elsewhere (with a possible source of inspiration
> common to the two) -- if anyone knows, I'm sure Jason would be
> delighted to learn more.

I do not know offhand of anything earlier than "War in Heaven", but the
same description applies to what is called "the Tarnhelm Effect" in the
Lord Darcy series.

Actually, I can think of one earlier example.

“You’re nearly the first Fairy I ever saw. Have you ever seen any
people besides me?”
“Plenty!” said Bruno. “We see’em when we walk in the road.”
“But they ca’n’t see you. How is it they never tread on you?”
“Ca’n’t tread on us,” said Bruno, looking amused at my ignorance. “Why,
suppose oo’re walking, here--so--” (making little marks on the ground)
“and suppose there’s a Fairy--that’s me--walking here. Very well then,
oo put one foot here, and one foot here, so oo doosn’t tread on the
Fairy.”
-- "Sylvie & Bruno"

--
John W Kennedy
"The grand art mastered the thudding hammer of Thor
And the heart of our lord Taliessin determined the war."
-- Charles Williams. "Mount Badon"

Steve Hayes

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Oct 10, 2010, 10:49:40 PM10/10/10
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On Mon, 11 Oct 2010 00:25:41 +0200, Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

>Jason Fisher has produced a blog entry titled "J.K. Rowling among the
>Inklings", [1] commenting some parallels Jason has noticed between
>passages in Rowling's works and couple of passages in Williams'
>novel, _War in Heaven_.
>
>I have no idea whether Rowling knows Williams, or if this particular
>idea may exist elsewhere (with a possible source of inspiration
>common to the two) -- if anyone knows, I'm sure Jason would be
>delighted to learn more.
>
>What attracted my attention, however, was the statement that
> But Rowling, like Sayers, is frequently described as an

> ?onorary Inkling? or said to be following in the

> tradition of the Inklings. The latter is certainly true.

One of the reasons Sayers is sometimes described as an "honorary Inkling" is
that she was a fairly close friend of some of the Inklings, though she never
attended any of their gatherings. That would not, of course, apply to Rowling.

>
>Is Rowling really 'following in the tradition of the Inklings'? Just
>because people say it, that doesn't make it true, of course. I was an
>avid Rowling enthusiast for some years, but my enthusiasm began to
>cool after the fifth book (_Harry Potter and the Order of the
>Phoenix_) and since the last of the Potter books (_Harry Potter and
>the Deathly Hallows_) it has been more or less dead, though I still
>consider the third book in particular to be a very good (children's)
>book. When I was following the news about Rowling, I saw many
>laudatory claims about Rowling's writings that I, even then, found
>questionable, but I haven't been following things for the last 4 - 5
>years, and much may have happened in the meantime.

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" is certainly the one I liked least
of the Harry Potter books, though I thought the series picked up a bit towards
the end. But I still liked the first three books best.

They have in common with the Narnia series and "The Hobbit" the genre of being
children's fantasy, but I don't think that is enough to make anyone an
honorary Inkling. The other Inklings didn't write children's fantasies, and
some of them didn't write anything at all.

The thing about the Harry Potter books is that they came after a dearth of
decent children's books. For a long time all you could get was R.L. Stein and
the "Goosebumps" series, which were mediocre, to say the least. And now you
have the "I'm a lovesick teenage vegeterian vampire" kind of thing which are
as bad as the "Goosebumps" lot, though my son, who works in a bookshop, says
they are now selling a lot less of those than of Harry Potter.

>In this particular blog entry, Jason is invoking Charles Williams,
>and I have to admit that besides Tolkien's work, I have read next to
>nothing of the Inklings (the Narnia books in a Danish translation
>targeted at children is, IIRC, all), so I am _not_ going to judge
>whether the above statement is actually true; hence my bringing it up
>here.

I've been meaning to read his blog post, but haven't yet. I see little
resemblance. Neil Gaiman's "American gods" and "Neverwhere" are a lot closer
to Charles Williams than the Harry Potter books are, but I'm not sure that
that would make him an honorary Inkling.

Over the past few years I've challenged Williams and other Inklings fans to
write books in the Charles Williams genre in NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing
Month), but there have been no takers.

--
Steve Hayes
Web: http://hayesfam.bravehost.com/litmain.htm
http://www.goodreads.com/hayesstw
http://www.bookcrossing.com/mybookshelf/Methodius

Dirk Thierbach

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Oct 11, 2010, 2:59:56 AM10/11/10
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Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@thisisfake.invalid> wrote:
> What attracted my attention, however, was the statement that
> But Rowling, like Sayers, is frequently described as an
> ?honorary Inkling?, or said to be following in the
> tradition of the Inklings. The latter is certainly true.
>
> Is Rowling really 'following in the tradition of the Inklings'?

I guess to answer this question one would first have to agree what
this "tradition" is in the first place.

In a very loose sense, the appeal of Harry Potter is the same as
LotR or Narnia -- a subcreated world, where this subcreation is used
to say something fundamental about human nature. But that does apply
to lots of SF and F.

In a more strict sense, there are less similarities.

> In this particular blog entry, Jason is invoking Charles Williams,

> [1] Jason Fisher, _Lingwë - Musings of a Fish_, "J.K. Rowling among
> the Inklings", Friday, October 8, 2010
> <http://lingwe.blogspot.com/2010/10/jk-rowling-among-inklings.html>

What he gets hung up on (an "unplottable" house) looks like a common
"gimmick": I can think of several SF/F works with "invisible" houses;
the Wandering Magic Shop is proabably an instance, of this, too; and I
wouldn't be surprised if there are fairy tales with a similar idea.

- Dirk

Clams Canino

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Oct 11, 2010, 5:38:26 AM10/11/10
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"Steve Hayes" <haye...@telkomsa.net> wrote in message

> They have in common with the Narnia series and "The Hobbit" the genre of
> being
> children's fantasy, but I don't think that is enough to make anyone an
> honorary Inkling. The other Inklings didn't write children's fantasies,
> and
> some of them didn't write anything at all.

I think that's the sticky point. This whole "tradition of the Inklings"
notion is quite vague and smells more of someone trying to sell an article
then anything else.

-W


John W Kennedy

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Oct 11, 2010, 12:03:42 PM10/11/10
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On 2010-10-10 22:49:40 -0400, Steve Hayes said:
> One of the reasons Sayers is sometimes described as an "honorary Inkling" is
> that she was a fairly close friend of some of the Inklings, though she never
> attended any of their gatherings. That would not, of course, apply to Rowling.

Sayers was also a popular writer (which Rowling certainly is), a
language scholar (which Rowling is, properly speaking, not, but she
knows a few languages), and an Oxonian. In addition, Sayers was, like
most of the famous Inklings, a Christian, which Rowling is, at least to
the extent that she self-identifies as Christian and has generally
Christian-compatible sentiments.

> Over the past few years I've challenged Williams and other Inklings fans to
> write books in the Charles Williams genre in NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing
> Month), but there have been no takers.

It is not impossible to write after the manner of Charles Williams
(under the Mercy), but it is an experience rich with terror, as though
one were to dream of juggling live wildcats and find it waking truth,
for his prose, yet more his poetry, subsists in a continuum of
morphemes quivering with yet-untapped power and sanctity. Few have the
courage, humility, and concentration to long hold open the
phosphorescent portal between holy humanity and holy sanity.

Steve Hayes

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Oct 11, 2010, 1:42:45 PM10/11/10
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On Mon, 11 Oct 2010 05:38:26 -0400, "Clams Canino" <cc-m...@earthdink.net>
wrote:

Sell an article?

To whom?

Hari Seldon

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Oct 11, 2010, 4:55:22 PM10/11/10
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"Troels Forchhammer" <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> schreef in bericht
news:Xns9E0E45AD...@130.133.4.11...
> [1] Jason Fisher, _Lingwė - Musings of a Fish_, "J.K. Rowling among

> the Inklings", Friday, October 8, 2010
> <http://lingwe.blogspot.com/2010/10/jk-rowling-among-inklings.html>
> <http://preview.tinyurl.com/2ctb2sl>
>
> [2] See e.g.
> <http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2005/jul/05071301.html> or
> <http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/rita-skeeter-covers-the-vatican/>
>
>
> X-posted: rec.arts.books.tolkien;
> alt.fan.tolkien
> alt.books.inklings
> alt.fan.harry-potter
>
> --
> Troels Forchhammer <troelsfo(a)googlewave.com>
> Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
> Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.
>
> It is useless to meet revenge with revenge: it will heal
> nothing.
> - Frodo Baggins, /The Return of the King/ (J.R.R. Tolkien)

There is one aspect that certainly applies 1:1 to the books of Rowling and
one member of the Inkling-club.

"Oh my God! Please! No more Elves!!!"

That thought came up regular while reading on Doby and all.

That said. Book 4 of Rowling was indeed the weakest of all - should have
been 240 pages instead of 500. On the other hand, kudos for Rowling
finishing the tale after book 4 and 5 and keeping up a high level of
quality. Compared to works of Herbert or Zelazny she actually managed to
stand and deliver which the Dune- or Amber-tale missed, imho. Even the
before unpublished or unfinished tales of Tolkien do prove - again imho -
why they were not published before. They just lack quality. The one serie
that stays strong that I can come up with is Vance's Demon Princes (but
that's SF).

On the Inkling club, imho Rowling didn't have a (deeper) allegory of
christianity that Tolkien and Lewis for instance, framed in their works.

Lewis wrote brilliant fairytale, Tolkien wrote brilliant mythological.
Rowling did a fine job on combingin these two writing the HP's. Let's hope
more of that quality will come.

I guess like most of you all, I love the lore in Tolkiens world - and HP had
less lore... Narnia had less lore than HP.


Weland

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Oct 11, 2010, 7:55:54 PM10/11/10
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I'm with Steve. While I have enjoyed the Potter series, even the movies
to some extent, I don't see the connection. The post skirts by, barely,
the fallacy of saying "A looks like Z, therefore A is Z".

I would say that one of the traditions Rowling is following is Lewis and
Tolkien, rather than the Inklings. And it should be no surprise: she's
educated in the British system, read Classics, and is heavily influenced
by the Arthurian tradition and Chaucer as well as classical texts like
the Aeneid and the Odyssey. There's no question she's influenced by the
same texts as Lewis and Tolkien, and in addition by those authors as
well as by T. H. White among other things. So sure, following at least
in part the tradition of the "Inklings", but hardly an honorary Inkling.

Weland

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Oct 11, 2010, 7:56:34 PM10/11/10
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On 10/11/2010 12:42 PM, Steve Hayes wrote:
> On Mon, 11 Oct 2010 05:38:26 -0400, "Clams Canino"<cc-m...@earthdink.net>
> wrote:
>
>>
>> "Steve Hayes"<haye...@telkomsa.net> wrote in message
>>
>>> They have in common with the Narnia series and "The Hobbit" the genre of
>>> being
>>> children's fantasy, but I don't think that is enough to make anyone an
>>> honorary Inkling. The other Inklings didn't write children's fantasies,
>>> and
>>> some of them didn't write anything at all.
>>
>> I think that's the sticky point. This whole "tradition of the Inklings"
>> notion is quite vague and smells more of someone trying to sell an article
>> then anything else.
>
> Sell an article?
>
> To whom?
>
>

Not "sell" perhaps, but get another published.

Weland

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Oct 11, 2010, 8:03:18 PM10/11/10
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On 10/11/2010 11:03 AM, John W Kennedy wrote:
> On 2010-10-10 22:49:40 -0400, Steve Hayes said:
>> One of the reasons Sayers is sometimes described as an "honorary
>> Inkling" is
>> that she was a fairly close friend of some of the Inklings, though she
>> never
>> attended any of their gatherings. That would not, of course, apply to
>> Rowling.
>
> Sayers was also a popular writer (which Rowling certainly is), a
> language scholar (which Rowling is, properly speaking, not, but she
> knows a few languages), and an Oxonian. In addition, Sayers was, like
> most of the famous Inklings, a Christian, which Rowling is, at least to
> the extent that she self-identifies as Christian and has generally
> Christian-compatible sentiments..


Hmm, I wonder what makes Sayers a "language scholar" and Rowling not?
Sayers read Modern Languages and Medieval Literature. Rowling did
French and Classics. Sayers did some work on Dante. Rowling worked as
a language specialist and translator for Amnesty International. What
makes Sayers a "language scholar", but Rowling not? Both did work in
modern and classical languages, both have worked in modern languages in
a professional capacity.

Steve Hayes

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Oct 11, 2010, 9:41:23 PM10/11/10
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On Mon, 11 Oct 2010 18:55:54 -0500, Weland <gi...@poetic.com> wrote:

>I would say that one of the traditions Rowling is following is Lewis and
>Tolkien, rather than the Inklings. And it should be no surprise: she's
>educated in the British system, read Classics, and is heavily influenced
>by the Arthurian tradition and Chaucer as well as classical texts like
>the Aeneid and the Odyssey. There's no question she's influenced by the
>same texts as Lewis and Tolkien, and in addition by those authors as
>well as by T. H. White among other things. So sure, following at least
>in part the tradition of the "Inklings", but hardly an honorary Inkling.

After reading Jason's blog, I blogged about it here:

http://khanya.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/j-k-rowling-among-the-inklings/

and Jason commented on one aspect of it thus:

"As a matter of macroscopic comparison, I would probably agree with you,
Steve. (And remember, Gaiman was much influenced by the Inklings himself.) I
was really just drawing a comparison on this specific motif. However, there
are some other general similarities between Williams and Rowling, e.g., the
location of a supernatural world alongside (and usually invisible to) the
humdrum reality of the hoi polloi, the humorous and often parodic treatment of
class differences, vocations, etc. But I wasn’t trying to say Williams for a
major influence — or even any influence at all — on Rowling. It just struck me
as possible this motif in her novels came from Williams. There’s no evidence
of it, of course."

And if it comes down to the "hidden building motif" common to Williams and
Rowling, I remember a ghost story that was read to me by a teacher at school,
about a man who stayed in a hotel that had no room 13 - there was just a 12
and 14 - but during the night room 12 where he was staying suddenly altered
and a room 13 appeared. Perhaps both Williams and Rowling were influenced by
that story, or others like it. And Lewis used a similar one in gateways to
Narnia - now you see it, now you don't.

Another point of similarity, not specifically mentioned by Jason, but which
can be seen, is that both Williams (in "Many Dimensions") and Rowling satirise
British bureaucracy.

And when it comes to "the location of a supernatural world alongside (and
usually invisible to) the humdrum reality of the hoi polloi" Alan Garner's
children's books, especially "Elidor", do that too. That book would surely
make Garner an "honorary Inkling" too.

John W Kennedy

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Oct 11, 2010, 10:19:32 PM10/11/10
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On 2010-10-11 20:03:18 -0400, Weland said:

> On 10/11/2010 11:03 AM, John W Kennedy wrote:
>> On 2010-10-10 22:49:40 -0400, Steve Hayes said:
>>> One of the reasons Sayers is sometimes described as an "honorary
>>> Inkling" is
>>> that she was a fairly close friend of some of the Inklings, though she
>>> never
>>> attended any of their gatherings. That would not, of course, apply to
>>> Rowling.
>>
>> Sayers was also a popular writer (which Rowling certainly is), a
>> language scholar (which Rowling is, properly speaking, not, but she
>> knows a few languages), and an Oxonian. In addition, Sayers was, like
>> most of the famous Inklings, a Christian, which Rowling is, at least to
>> the extent that she self-identifies as Christian and has generally
>> Christian-compatible sentiments..
>
>
> Hmm, I wonder what makes Sayers a "language scholar" and Rowling not?
> Sayers read Modern Languages and Medieval Literature. Rowling did
> French and Classics. Sayers did some work on Dante. Rowling worked as
> a language specialist and translator for Amnesty International. What
> makes Sayers a "language scholar", but Rowling not? Both did work in
> modern and classical languages, both have worked in modern languages in
> a professional capacity.

I suspect you are confusing two different meanings of "modern
language". And Sayers did a good deal more than "some work" on Dante,
not to mention also translating the Song of Roland and other texts. (In
fact, the IAU uses her translation of the Song of Roland for the naming
theme of features of Iapetus.)

Clams Canino

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Oct 11, 2010, 10:48:49 PM10/11/10
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"Weland" <gi...@poetic.com> wrote in message

> Not "sell" perhaps, but get another published.

Yes... I used the term "sell" loosely. I trust my intent was clear.

-W


Paul S. Person

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Oct 12, 2010, 1:30:19 PM10/12/10
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On Mon, 11 Oct 2010 22:55:22 +0200, "Hari Seldon"
<Roel....@philips.nl> wrote:

<snippo>

>That said. Book 4 of Rowling was indeed the weakest of all - should have
>been 240 pages instead of 500. On the other hand, kudos for Rowling
>finishing the tale after book 4 and 5 and keeping up a high level of
>quality. Compared to works of Herbert or Zelazny she actually managed to
>stand and deliver which the Dune- or Amber-tale missed, imho. Even the
>before unpublished or unfinished tales of Tolkien do prove - again imho -
>why they were not published before. They just lack quality. The one serie
>that stays strong that I can come up with is Vance's Demon Princes (but
>that's SF).

Of course, she had two advantages:
1) She had a defined end-point, that is, she knew the entire story
(please note that I do not say in how much detail she knew it, as it
may have been just an outline) before she started writing.
2) She lived long enough to finish it.

In the first case, I doubt that Herbert had such an outline before he
wrote /Dune/, and Zelazny's first Amber series was completed, it is
the second series that just ends, and which may or may not have had an
overall plot before it was started.

In the second case, IIRC, both Herbert and Zelazny died before they
could get the next book out. Which might or might not have been the
book that wrapped up the series.

And, in the case of Herbert, Washington State had discovered that it
was home to a /very/ popular and successful author, who had not
bothered to pay his B&O tax for several years. This gave Herbert a
financial incentive to spin the tale out as long as possible. So he
may or may not have ever actually wrapped it up. Yes, I know, his
heirs have put out a pair of novels purportedly based on Herbert's
plot outline for the end of the series, but if the publicity value of
that assertion is considered, the possibility that it was no such
thing must also be considered. Especially if they still had back B&O
taxes to pay.

Note: B&O taxes are an amazing invention by which the State of
Washington extracts, from each business, a percentage of its income --
which, as I understand it, includes any monies provided for startup! A
business can be paying B&O taxes on the money it gets from investors
for years before actually starting business operations, if it happens
to be the sort of business that takes a few years to start up. To be
fair, there is a lower limit below which the tax need not be paid, so
very small and not particularly successful business just have to file
a return to show that they don't owe the tax.
--
"Nature must be explained in
her own terms through
the experience of our senses."

Hari Seldon

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Oct 12, 2010, 4:05:10 PM10/12/10
to
<snip>


Thanks for the reply! Apreciate it! Didn;t know about the tax-Herbert story.
But even in the first series of Zelazny I found book 5 kind of disappointed.
The story was so ultimate Epic that the solution to let Random be king was
ultimately disappointing. In series II Zelazny tried different writing
styles (James Joyce anyone?) and that didn;t work. I absolutely love Dune,
read Children of Dune and scanned the rest and threw it away. Same with the
Merlin-Zelazny story... Rowling on the other hand.. .I *read*, while she was
loaded, she continued...

richard e white

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Oct 12, 2010, 5:26:06 PM10/12/10
to
Weland wrote:

I will have to admit I've never heard of the defanistion before.
who came up with it?
--
Richard The Blind Typer.
Lets hear it for talking computers.
Try the Olympus DM-520 for digital music and Audio books!


Jeff Urs

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Oct 13, 2010, 1:39:42 AM10/13/10
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On Oct 12, 4:05 pm, "Hari Seldon" <Roel.Pie...@philips.nl> wrote:
> Thanks for the reply! Apreciate it! Didn;t know about the tax-Herbert story.
> But even in the first series of Zelazny I found book 5 kind of disappointed.
> The story was so ultimate Epic that the solution to let Random be king was
> ultimately disappointing. In series II Zelazny tried different writing
> styles (James Joyce anyone?) and that didn;t work. I absolutely love Dune,
> read Children of Dune and scanned the rest and threw it away. Same with the
> Merlin-Zelazny story... Rowling on the other hand.. .I *read*, while she was
> loaded, she continued...

IMO, _Dune_ by itself and Amber after _The Courts of Chaos_ are as
complete as Harry Potter after _The Deathly Hallows_. All the
important issues have been resolved, leaving nothing more that really
needs to be said. (And, really, who else but Random was there, except
for Corwin himself, who -- understandably -- no longer wanted it?)

--
Jeff

Weland

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Oct 14, 2010, 12:34:51 AM10/14/10
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On 10/11/2010 9:19 PM, John W Kennedy wrote:
> On 2010-10-11 20:03:18 -0400, Weland said:
>
>> On 10/11/2010 11:03 AM, John W Kennedy wrote:
>>> On 2010-10-10 22:49:40 -0400, Steve Hayes said:
>>>> One of the reasons Sayers is sometimes described as an "honorary
>>>> Inkling" is
>>>> that she was a fairly close friend of some of the Inklings, though she
>>>> never
>>>> attended any of their gatherings. That would not, of course, apply to
>>>> Rowling.
>>>
>>> Sayers was also a popular writer (which Rowling certainly is), a
>>> language scholar (which Rowling is, properly speaking, not, but she
>>> knows a few languages), and an Oxonian. In addition, Sayers was, like
>>> most of the famous Inklings, a Christian, which Rowling is, at least to
>>> the extent that she self-identifies as Christian and has generally
>>> Christian-compatible sentiments..
>>
>>
>> Hmm, I wonder what makes Sayers a "language scholar" and Rowling not?
>> Sayers read Modern Languages and Medieval Literature. Rowling did
>> French and Classics. Sayers did some work on Dante. Rowling worked as
>> a language specialist and translator for Amnesty International. What
>> makes Sayers a "language scholar", but Rowling not? Both did work in
>> modern and classical languages, both have worked in modern languages
>> in a professional capacity.
>
> I suspect you are confusing two different meanings of "modern language".

I doubt it.

> And Sayers did a good deal more than "some work" on Dante, not to
> mention also translating the Song of Roland and other texts.

You fail to answer the question. Her work on Dante is well known. It
took her years. Her "translation" of Roland is fine, but anyone with a
decent understanding of either Latin or French can do it. Rowling has
both. So again, I fail to see why one would call Sayers a "language
scholar" and not Rowling, the latter who again has both educational
training in languages, and worked professionally as a translator (not to
mention her use of classical and medieval texts sometimes quite
extensively in HP).

(In fact,
> the IAU uses her translation of the Song of Roland for the naming theme
> of features of Iapetus.)

I don't take the IAU as a measure of the quality of a translation or who
is or is not a "language scholar."

derek

unread,
Oct 14, 2010, 9:11:06 AM10/14/10
to

I'm not even confident about their definition of what is, or isn't, a
planet - which is far more within their field of expertise :-)

John W Kennedy

unread,
Oct 14, 2010, 7:36:36 PM10/14/10
to

You are if you regard OF and MnF as the same language.

>> And Sayers did a good deal more than "some work" on Dante, not to
>> mention also translating the Song of Roland and other texts.
>
> You fail to answer the question. Her work on Dante is well known. It
> took her years. Her "translation" of Roland is fine, but anyone with a
> decent understanding of either Latin or French can do it.

That's like saying anyone with a decent understanding of English can
read Sir Gawayn & þe Grene Knyȝt

Weland

unread,
Oct 14, 2010, 10:46:44 PM10/14/10
to

You are the one confused. They are the same language, just at different
periods. And for the intelligent, it isn't hard to go from one to the
other and back.


>
>>> And Sayers did a good deal more than "some work" on Dante, not to
>>> mention also translating the Song of Roland and other texts.
>>
>> You fail to answer the question. Her work on Dante is well known. It
>> took her years. Her "translation" of Roland is fine, but anyone with a
>> decent understanding of either Latin or French can do it.
>
> That's like saying anyone with a decent understanding of English can
> read Sir Gawayn & þe Grene Knyȝt


Happens to be true. I teach the text to undergraduates in Middle English.

Weland

unread,
Oct 14, 2010, 11:19:26 PM10/14/10
to
On 10/11/2010 8:41 PM, Steve Hayes wrote:
> On Mon, 11 Oct 2010 18:55:54 -0500, Weland<gi...@poetic.com> wrote:
>
>> I would say that one of the traditions Rowling is following is Lewis and
>> Tolkien, rather than the Inklings. And it should be no surprise: she's
>> educated in the British system, read Classics, and is heavily influenced
>> by the Arthurian tradition and Chaucer as well as classical texts like
>> the Aeneid and the Odyssey. There's no question she's influenced by the
>> same texts as Lewis and Tolkien, and in addition by those authors as
>> well as by T. H. White among other things. So sure, following at least
>> in part the tradition of the "Inklings", but hardly an honorary Inkling.
>
> After reading Jason's blog, I blogged about it here:
>
> http://khanya.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/j-k-rowling-among-the-inklings/
>
> and Jason commented on one aspect of it thus:
>
> "As a matter of macroscopic comparison, I would probably agree with you,
> Steve. (And remember, Gaiman was much influenced by the Inklings himself.) I
> was really just drawing a comparison on this specific motif. However, there
> are some other general similarities between Williams and Rowling, e.g., the
> location of a supernatural world alongside (and usually invisible to) the
> humdrum reality of the hoi polloi, the humorous and often parodic treatment of
> class differences, vocations, etc. But I wasn�t trying to say Williams for a
> major influence � or even any influence at all � on Rowling. It just struck me
> as possible this motif in her novels came from Williams. There�s no evidence

> of it, of course."
>
> And if it comes down to the "hidden building motif" common to Williams and
> Rowling, I remember a ghost story that was read to me by a teacher at school,
> about a man who stayed in a hotel that had no room 13 - there was just a 12
> and 14 - but during the night room 12 where he was staying suddenly altered
> and a room 13 appeared. Perhaps both Williams and Rowling were influenced by
> that story, or others like it. And Lewis used a similar one in gateways to
> Narnia - now you see it, now you don't.

House of Lost Play, Arthurian Romances, Christianity is built on the
assumption of an unseen world around us that we could see if only we had
spiritual vision...which saints do; Dickens even shows us a whole world
of spirits wandering around unseen....folktales have hidden buildings
and places.

> Another point of similarity, not specifically mentioned by Jason, but which
> can be seen, is that both Williams (in "Many Dimensions") and Rowling satirise
> British bureaucracy.

Not peculiar to these two authors either.

richard e white

unread,
Oct 16, 2010, 11:52:40 AM10/16/10
to
Weland wrote:

> On 10/11/2010 8:41 PM, Steve Hayes wrote:
> > On Mon, 11 Oct 2010 18:55:54 -0500, Weland<gi...@poetic.com> wrote:
> >
> >> I would say that one of the traditions Rowling is following is Lewis and
> >> Tolkien, rather than the Inklings. And it should be no surprise: she's
> >> educated in the British system, read Classics, and is heavily influenced
> >> by the Arthurian tradition and Chaucer as well as classical texts like
> >> the Aeneid and the Odyssey. There's no question she's influenced by the
> >> same texts as Lewis and Tolkien, and in addition by those authors as
> >> well as by T. H. White among other things. So sure, following at least
> >> in part the tradition of the "Inklings", but hardly an honorary Inkling.
> >
> > After reading Jason's blog, I blogged about it here:
> >
> > http://khanya.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/j-k-rowling-among-the-inklings/
> >
> > and Jason commented on one aspect of it thus:
> >
> > "As a matter of macroscopic comparison, I would probably agree with you,
> > Steve. (And remember, Gaiman was much influenced by the Inklings himself.) I
> > was really just drawing a comparison on this specific motif. However, there
> > are some other general similarities between Williams and Rowling, e.g., the
> > location of a supernatural world alongside (and usually invisible to) the
> > humdrum reality of the hoi polloi, the humorous and often parodic treatment of

> > class differences, vocations, etc. But I wasn’t trying to say Williams for a
> > major influence — or even any influence at all — on Rowling. It just struck me
> > as possible this motif in her novels came from Williams. There’s no evidence


> > of it, of course."
> >
> > And if it comes down to the "hidden building motif" common to Williams and
> > Rowling, I remember a ghost story that was read to me by a teacher at school,
> > about a man who stayed in a hotel that had no room 13 - there was just a 12
> > and 14 - but during the night room 12 where he was staying suddenly altered
> > and a room 13 appeared. Perhaps both Williams and Rowling were influenced by
> > that story, or others like it. And Lewis used a similar one in gateways to
> > Narnia - now you see it, now you don't.
>
> House of Lost Play, Arthurian Romances, Christianity is built on the
> assumption of an unseen world around us that we could see if only we had
> spiritual vision...which saints do; Dickens even shows us a whole world
> of spirits wandering around unseen....folktales have hidden buildings
> and places.
>
> > Another point of similarity, not specifically mentioned by Jason, but which
> > can be seen, is that both Williams (in "Many Dimensions") and Rowling satirise
> > British bureaucracy.
>
> Not peculiar to these two authors either.
>
> > And when it comes to "the location of a supernatural world alongside (and
> > usually invisible to) the humdrum reality of the hoi polloi" Alan Garner's
> > children's books, especially "Elidor", do that too. That book would surely
> > make Garner an "honorary Inkling" too.
> >
> >
> >
> >

If a spiritual vision is the center of the idea, then JKR's books don't fit. "The
red pyramid" might fit if a Christian view isn't required.
So the question is it only a Christian unseen world which sets these writers aside,
or is it just an unseen world?

richard e white

unread,
Oct 16, 2010, 11:56:41 AM10/16/10
to
Jeff Urs wrote:

The problem in potter is that it is hard to belive everything was instantly fine.
No clean up, no hunting for people who slipped out the back. In fact no one even
explained how the Minster job went to shakabolt. Its like saying everything is
done after the vase hits the ground. The clean up was important as well. But
like so many movies the crash was better then what went on next.the

Matthew Woodcraft

unread,
Oct 16, 2010, 12:06:42 PM10/16/10
to
Weland <gi...@poetic.com> writes:

> Hmm, I wonder what makes Sayers a "language scholar" and Rowling not?
> Sayers read Modern Languages and Medieval Literature. Rowling did
> French and Classics. Sayers did some work on Dante. Rowling worked as
> a language specialist and translator for Amnesty International. What
> makes Sayers a "language scholar", but Rowling not? Both did work in
> modern and classical languages, both have worked in modern languages
> in a professional capacity.

It looks to me that this says "Sayers did some scholarly work and
Rowling hasn't, so why do people call Sayers a language scholar but not
Rowling?" (which would answer itself).

Presumably that's not what you're saying, but it isn't obvious whether
you're surprised that people consider translations and commentaries on
Dante to be scholarly work, or that people don't count translation work
for Amnesty International as scholarly.

Neither seems surprising to me.

-M-

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 17, 2010, 4:34:10 PM10/17/10
to
In message <news:i90863$cuu$1...@news.eternal-september.org>
Weland <gi...@poetic.com> spoke these staves:
>
> On 10/10/2010 9:49 PM, Steve Hayes wrote:
>>

<snip>

>> One of the reasons Sayers is sometimes described as an "honorary
>> Inkling" is that she was a fairly close friend of some of the
>> Inklings, though she never attended any of their gatherings. That
>> would not, of course, apply to Rowling.

I think we should look at the 'in the tradition of the Inklings' part
rather than waste too much effort on the 'honourary Inkling'
statement -- the latter is, as you point out, attributed to Sayers
because of some very specific historical circumstances and it is
nonsensical to attribute it to Rowling or any other author who didn't
belong to these particular historical circumstances.

Dirk said that

||| I guess to answer this question one would first have to agree
||| what this "tradition" is in the first place.

which I think is a very relevant question -- what, if anything, is
the 'tradition of the Inklings'? As I said, I am (in the present
company) particularly unknowledgeable about other Inklings than
Tolkien, but as Steve has pointed out, the Inklings' literary
production spans very widely (with some of them, as I understand it,
publishing nothing and others only non-fiction).

<snip>

> I would say that one of the traditions Rowling is following is
> Lewis and Tolkien, rather than the Inklings. And it should be no
> surprise: she's educated in the British system,

[...]


> There's no question she's influenced by the same texts as Lewis
> and Tolkien, and in addition by those authors as well as by T. H.
> White among other things. So sure, following at least in part
> the tradition of the "Inklings", but hardly an honorary Inkling.

But, as you put it here, you seem to imply that this tradition is
merely the tradition of any reasonably well-educated British fantasy
author? I'm sure much of the same could be said, for instance, of
Philip Pullman . . .

Is there anything that distinguishes the Inklings from the broader
background of British twentieth-century (sub-creative?) literature?

I'm fishing here, I know, but though there has been a lot of writing
about the Inklings, I don't think I have seen it suggested that their
work belongs to a common 'tradition' -- if anything the 'tradition'
was one of communality, of testing ideas on each other and openly
discussing each others' work, but this would, as I understand it, be
particularly inappropriate for Rowling who appears to have worked
very much alone.

--
Troels Forchhammer <troelsfo(a)googlewave.com>
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

For animals, the entire universe has been neatly divided
into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from,
and (d) rocks.
- /Equal Rites/ (Terry Pratchett)

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 17, 2010, 5:05:28 PM10/17/10
to
In message <news:4CB9CA48...@cox.net> richard e white
<chip...@cox.net> spoke these staves:

> Weland wrote:
>
>> On 10/11/2010 8:41 PM, Steve Hayes wrote:
>>>

<snip and re-arranging>

>>> Another point of similarity, not specifically mentioned by
>>> Jason, but which can be seen, is that both Williams (in "Many
>>> Dimensions") and Rowling satirise British bureaucracy.
>>
>> Not peculiar to these two authors either.

No, hardly ;-)

Bureaucracy seems a common target of satire in any form of narrative
art -- whether film, comic-book (there's a delicious _Asterix_ that I
remember), poetry or prose (and possibly in other art-forms as well).
This seems more to be a tradition of artists ;-)

>>> And if it comes down to the "hidden building motif" common to
>>> Williams and Rowling, I remember a ghost story

<snip specifics>


>>> Perhaps both Williams and Rowling were influenced by that story,
>>> or others like it. And Lewis used a similar one in gateways to
>>> Narnia - now you see it, now you don't.
>>
>> House of Lost Play, Arthurian Romances, Christianity is built on
>> the assumption of an unseen world around us that we could see if
>> only we had spiritual vision...which saints do; Dickens even
>> shows us a whole world of spirits wandering around unseen....

I can see how the ieda of a spiritual world could translate into the
magical world both of Lewis and Rowling, but would you say that this
whole 'now you see it, now you don't' theme (at least as employed by,
say, Western fantasy authors) is derived from this Christian idea of
an unseen world?

>> folktales have hidden buildings and places.

aplenty . . . ;-)

>>> And when it comes to "the location of a supernatural world
>>> alongside (and usually invisible to) the humdrum reality of the
>>> hoi polloi" Alan Garner's children's books, especially

>>> "Elidor", do that too. That book would s urely make Garner an


>>> "honorary Inkling" too.
>
> If a spiritual vision is the center of the idea, then JKR's books
> don't fit.

Right, I quite agree.

And Rowling's books also doesn't have the same fundamental Christian
basis to them that do Tolkien's books and the Narnia books -- there
is, in my honest opinion, no sense of providence in Rowling's work,
none of the 'trust in God' that I get both in Lewis' Narnia books
and, far more subtly, in Tolkien's work. In both the Narnia books and
the Middle-earth books, the Christianity of the author is worked into
the causal basis of their sub-created world: trusting in providence,
for instance, actually does work in both worlds.

> "The red pyramid" might fit if a Christian view isn't required.

If we speak of the Inklings, then I do believe that the Christian
view would be required if any spirituality is a part of the
tradition. That is -- either the 'tradition of the Inklings' is
explicitly Christian, or there is no aspect of spirituality in it.

> So the question is it only a Christian unseen world which sets
> these writers aside, or is it just an unseen world?

And does even a 'Christian unseen world' set them apart? Or is this
such a common feature that it isn't defining of any particular group
of authors?

--
Troels Forchhammer <troelsfo(a)googlewave.com>
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

++ Divide By Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot ++
- /Hogfather/ (Terry Pratchett)

Steve Hayes

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Oct 17, 2010, 5:33:11 PM10/17/10
to

One of their traditions was reading their work to each other.

Did Rowling discuss her work with anyone while she was writing it?

><snip>
>
>> I would say that one of the traditions Rowling is following is
>> Lewis and Tolkien, rather than the Inklings. And it should be no
>> surprise: she's educated in the British system,
>[...]
>> There's no question she's influenced by the same texts as Lewis
>> and Tolkien, and in addition by those authors as well as by T. H.
>> White among other things. So sure, following at least in part
>> the tradition of the "Inklings", but hardly an honorary Inkling.
>
>But, as you put it here, you seem to imply that this tradition is
>merely the tradition of any reasonably well-educated British fantasy
>author? I'm sure much of the same could be said, for instance, of
>Philip Pullman . . .
>
>Is there anything that distinguishes the Inklings from the broader
>background of British twentieth-century (sub-creative?) literature?
>
>I'm fishing here, I know, but though there has been a lot of writing
>about the Inklings, I don't think I have seen it suggested that their
>work belongs to a common 'tradition' -- if anything the 'tradition'
>was one of communality, of testing ideas on each other and openly
>discussing each others' work, but this would, as I understand it, be
>particularly inappropriate for Rowling who appears to have worked
>very much alone.

Yes, and I think the same applies to Pullman.

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Oct 18, 2010, 3:38:59 AM10/18/10
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@thisisfake.invalid> wrote:
> In message <news:4CB9CA48...@cox.net> richard e white
> <chip...@cox.net> spoke these staves:

>> If a spiritual vision is the center of the idea, then JKR's books
>> don't fit.

> Right, I quite agree.

I'm actually not so sure. Critics thought for a long time that
the LotR was completely devoid of any reference to Christian themes.

> And Rowling's books also doesn't have the same fundamental Christian
> basis to them that do Tolkien's books and the Narnia books -- there
> is, in my honest opinion, no sense of providence in Rowling's work,

Just because Tolkien worked in the "providence" theme doesn't
mean that Rowling should, too.

> none of the 'trust in God' that I get both in Lewis' Narnia books

Well, Narnia is in many places a very thinly veiled Christian
allegory. If Lewis just built in the "trust of God" theme, the Narnia
books would be a lot less annoying in this respect.

> and, far more subtly, in Tolkien's work. In both the Narnia books and
> the Middle-earth books, the Christianity of the author is worked into
> the causal basis of their sub-created world:

But Harry Potter is also about the fight of Good against Evil, and
about the fact that power corrupts, and that sometimes people have to
make sacrifices to be able to save others.

I have not read the HP books often enough to be able to draw a clear
parallel to Christian ideas, but I wouldn't rule out that some
closer inspection would find the one thing or the other.

Maybe I should do a re-reading :-)

- Dirk

Dirk Thierbach

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Oct 18, 2010, 3:29:55 AM10/18/10
to
Steve Hayes <haye...@telkomsa.net> wrote:
> On Sun, 17 Oct 2010 22:34:10 +0200, Troels Forchhammer
> <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

>>Dirk said that
>>||| I guess to answer this question one would first have to agree
>>||| what this "tradition" is in the first place.
>>which I think is a very relevant question -- what, if anything, is
>>the 'tradition of the Inklings'?

> One of their traditions was reading their work to each other.

Well, I hardly think that the original author even thought remotely
about this aspect when he stated that "Rowling writes in the tradition
of the inklings".

- Dirk

Steve Hayes

unread,
Oct 18, 2010, 6:55:49 AM10/18/10
to
On Mon, 18 Oct 2010 09:38:59 +0200, Dirk Thierbach
<dthie...@usenet.arcornews.de> wrote:

>Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@thisisfake.invalid> wrote:
>> In message <news:4CB9CA48...@cox.net> richard e white
>> <chip...@cox.net> spoke these staves:
>
>>> If a spiritual vision is the center of the idea, then JKR's books
>>> don't fit.
>
>> Right, I quite agree.
>
>I'm actually not so sure. Critics thought for a long time that
>the LotR was completely devoid of any reference to Christian themes.

Which critics would those be?

>> And Rowling's books also doesn't have the same fundamental Christian
>> basis to them that do Tolkien's books and the Narnia books -- there
>> is, in my honest opinion, no sense of providence in Rowling's work,
>
>Just because Tolkien worked in the "providence" theme doesn't
>mean that Rowling should, too.

No, it doesn't mean she should, it just means that she didn't, and that her
books are therefore different in that respect.

>> none of the 'trust in God' that I get both in Lewis' Narnia books
>
>Well, Narnia is in many places a very thinly veiled Christian
>allegory. If Lewis just built in the "trust of God" theme, the Narnia
>books would be a lot less annoying in this respect.

Not really an allegory.

>
>> and, far more subtly, in Tolkien's work. In both the Narnia books and
>> the Middle-earth books, the Christianity of the author is worked into
>> the causal basis of their sub-created world:
>
>But Harry Potter is also about the fight of Good against Evil, and
>about the fact that power corrupts, and that sometimes people have to
>make sacrifices to be able to save others.

Yes indeed.

I'd say that Rowling's books are informed by Christian ethics, but they are
not, as in the work of Lewis, Tolkien and Williams, fitted into a Christian
mythological framework.

>
>I have not read the HP books often enough to be able to draw a clear
>parallel to Christian ideas, but I wouldn't rule out that some
>closer inspection would find the one thing or the other.
>
>Maybe I should do a re-reading :-)

It's clear enough in some of the books. One can see there Christian ethics and
Christian values, but without the Christian mythological underpinning that one
finds in Lewis, Tolkien & Co.

Rowling manages to make her stories moral without being moralistic, and that
is one of the nice things about them.

Lewis occasionally lapses into moralism -- his advice about not locking
oneself in a wardrobe sounds a bit like something devised to promote the
health and safety regulations of a nanny state.

Julian Bradfield

unread,
Oct 18, 2010, 7:02:12 AM10/18/10
to
On 2010-10-18, Steve Hayes <haye...@telkomsa.net> wrote:
> It's clear enough in some of the books. One can see there Christian ethics and
> Christian values, but without the Christian mythological underpinning that one
> finds in Lewis, Tolkien & Co.

Could you give an example of something that is specifically Christian
ethics and Christian values, rather than ethics and values shared by
many cultures?

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Oct 18, 2010, 8:51:01 AM10/18/10
to
Steve Hayes <haye...@telkomsa.net> wrote:
> On Mon, 18 Oct 2010 09:38:59 +0200, Dirk Thierbach
> <dthie...@usenet.arcornews.de> wrote:

>>Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@thisisfake.invalid> wrote:
>>> In message <news:4CB9CA48...@cox.net> richard e white
>>> <chip...@cox.net> spoke these staves:

>>>> If a spiritual vision is the center of the idea, then JKR's books
>>>> don't fit.

>>> Right, I quite agree.
>>
>>I'm actually not so sure. Critics thought for a long time that
>>the LotR was completely devoid of any reference to Christian themes.

> Which critics would those be?

Whichever critics the person who stated this was referring to; he
didn't name any in particular. And no, at the moment can't remember
where I read that. OTOH, I'm not at all surprised by it, so I consider
it likely to be true.

>>> And Rowling's books also doesn't have the same fundamental Christian
>>> basis to them that do Tolkien's books and the Narnia books -- there
>>> is, in my honest opinion, no sense of providence in Rowling's work,

>>Just because Tolkien worked in the "providence" theme doesn't
>>mean that Rowling should, too.

> No, it doesn't mean she should, it just means that she didn't, and that her
> books are therefore different in that respect.

Of course they are, but that doesn't mean that in order to "write in
the tradition of the Inlings" one should take that approach. Especially
since I'd say that this particular theme is especially emphasized by
Tolkien, and a lot less by the other Inklings, as far as I know them
(people who have read more from the other Inklings than I did please
correct me if I'm wrong).

>>> none of the 'trust in God' that I get both in Lewis' Narnia books

>>Well, Narnia is in many places a very thinly veiled Christian
>>allegory. If Lewis just built in the "trust of God" theme, the Narnia
>>books would be a lot less annoying in this respect.

> Not really an allegory.

Well, I consider using a "lion" for "Christ" pretty much an allegory,
for example. Whatever you like to call it.

There's a very clear cut one-to-one correspondence between between
very particular characters or actions in Narnia and very particular,
easy to identify counterparts in Christian teachings.

Or, to use Tolkien's words, there's a quite limited "applicability".

>>But Harry Potter is also about the fight of Good against Evil, and
>>about the fact that power corrupts, and that sometimes people have to
>>make sacrifices to be able to save others.

> Yes indeed.
>
> I'd say that Rowling's books are informed by Christian ethics, but they are
> not, as in the work of Lewis, Tolkien and Williams, fitted into a Christian
> mythological framework.

What exactly do you mean by a "Christian mythological framework"?

>>I have not read the HP books often enough to be able to draw a clear
>>parallel to Christian ideas, but I wouldn't rule out that some
>>closer inspection would find the one thing or the other.
>>
>>Maybe I should do a re-reading :-)

> It's clear enough in some of the books.

Can you give some concrete examples?

> One can see there Christian ethics and Christian values, but without
> the Christian mythological underpinning that one finds in Lewis,
> Tolkien & Co.

As I wrote, I don't think I understand what you mean here.

> Rowling manages to make her stories moral without being moralistic, and that
> is one of the nice things about them.

Yep. Though "morality" by itself doesn't mean "Christian". That's why
I'd prefer to have a closer look.

> Lewis occasionally lapses into moralism

For rather large values of "occasionally", bordering on "often".

- Dirk

Steve Morrison

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Oct 18, 2010, 2:46:29 PM10/18/10
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:

> With respect to Tolkien, I can see some parallels in Rowling's works,
> but not enough that I would say that she is following in the
> tradition of Tolkien -- for that to have been true, there would, in
> my opinion, have had to be a greater parallel in the ways the two
> authors use and relate to their source material, but what about the
> other Inklings?

I've always been underwhelmed by the supposed signs of Tolkienian
influence on Rowling, e.g. "the Whomping Willow is just like Old
Man Willow!" or "Tolkien wrote a poem with the line /He battled
with the Dumbledors/!" They mostly seem explainable by common
sources, a common interest in obscure and archaic words, and sheer
coincidence (when you're looking for possible parallels in a long
and complicated source you'd expect a lot of false positives due
to coincidence, and the likelihood is more than squared when the
later work is even longer and more intricate!) The one such claim
that does look plausible is the number of hobbit names which
reappear in the Potter books: Proudfoot, Everard, Odo, Puddifoot,
etc.

> Is there a common denominator for the Inklings in which tradition
> Rowling follows? And just to whet the appetite for discussion, I
> would say that I am highly sceptical of the claims of Rowling's
> Christianity as an inspiration for the books: while I can see much in
> both Tolkien's and Lewis' work that relies on their Christian
> _faith_, I see nothing of that sort in Rowling's work. There is
> Christian culture and Christian ethics, but not specifically
> Christian faith or spirituality (here I am more inclined to agree
> with the views ostensibly supported the then Cardinal Ratzinger [2]).

I do take the "Christian symbolism" claims more seriously.
First, there is the obvious Crucifixion parallel in the way Harry
saves the world at the end of /Deathly Hallows/! And that book also
has a number of allusions to crosses, quotes from the New Testament,
etc. But long before it was published, some analysts did see
traditional Christian symbolism in the series: references to stags,
griffins, phoenixes, etc. The go-to man for this is John Granger,
who runs the "Hogwarts Professor" web site at
http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com (and I see that one of your links
goes to an article on that site). There is also Travis Prinzi's
site "The Hog's Head" at http://thehogshead.org/ where such things
are frequently discussed; the latter has a forum where you could
ask questions if anyone is interested. There is also at least one
book specifically on the subject, though I haven't read it:
http://outskirtspress.com/webpage.php?ISBN=9781432741129

Steve Hayes

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Oct 18, 2010, 9:13:59 PM10/18/10
to
On Mon, 18 Oct 2010 11:02:12 +0000 (UTC), Julian Bradfield <j...@inf.ed.ac.uk>
wrote:

No.

John W Kennedy

unread,
Oct 18, 2010, 9:41:19 PM10/18/10
to
On 2010-10-18 03:38:59 -0400, Dirk Thierbach said:

> Well, Narnia is in many places a very thinly veiled Christian
> allegory.

No it isn't. You might as well call "Ben-Hur" a Christian allegory.

John W Kennedy

unread,
Oct 18, 2010, 9:51:46 PM10/18/10
to
On 2010-10-18 08:51:01 -0400, Dirk Thierbach said:

> Steve Hayes <haye...@telkomsa.net> wrote:
>> On Mon, 18 Oct 2010 09:38:59 +0200, Dirk Thierbach
>> <dthie...@usenet.arcornews.de> wrote:
>
>>> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@thisisfake.invalid> wrote:
>>>> In message <news:4CB9CA48...@cox.net> richard e white
>>>> <chip...@cox.net> spoke these staves:
>
>>>>> If a spiritual vision is the center of the idea, then JKR's books
>>>>> don't fit.
>
>>>> Right, I quite agree.
>>>
>>> I'm actually not so sure. Critics thought for a long time that
>>> the LotR was completely devoid of any reference to Christian themes.
>
>> Which critics would those be?
>
> Whichever critics the person who stated this was referring to; he
> didn't name any in particular. And no, at the moment can't remember
> where I read that. OTOH, I'm not at all surprised by it, so I consider
> it likely to be true.

At least one of the original book reviews in the 50s said in so many
words that there was no "religion" in LotR. I don't offhand recall
which (not Lewis or Auden, certainly).

As to Christianity in "Harry Potter", check out the Oprah interview.

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Oct 19, 2010, 3:33:48 AM10/19/10
to
Steve Morrison <rim...@toast.net> wrote:
> I've always been underwhelmed by the supposed signs of Tolkienian
> influence on Rowling, e.g. "the Whomping Willow is just like Old
> Man Willow!" or "Tolkien wrote a poem with the line /He battled
> with the Dumbledors/!" They mostly seem explainable by common
> sources, a common interest in obscure and archaic words, and sheer
> coincidence (when you're looking for possible parallels in a long
> and complicated source you'd expect a lot of false positives due
> to coincidence, and the likelihood is more than squared when the
> later work is even longer and more intricate!)

I completely agree.

> The one such claim that does look plausible is the number of hobbit
> names which reappear in the Potter books: Proudfoot, Everard, Odo,
> Puddifoot, etc.

I wouldn't count that one: Rowling uses names very differently from
Tolkien, though both have fun with names in their own. And AFAIK
(someone correct me if I'm wrong), these are all common English last
names.

> I do take the "Christian symbolism" claims more seriously.
> First, there is the obvious Crucifixion parallel in the way Harry
> saves the world at the end of /Deathly Hallows/!

As I said, I only read DH once, at that was some time ago, so I
don't really feel qualified for a discussion about details.

OTOH, form me the parallel "Harry = Christ" seems to be as silly as
the parallel "Gandalf = Christ", because Gandalf was "resurrected" as
well. If Rowling really did write this with the intention of a
parallel, then I am somewhat disappointed.

> And that book also has a number of allusions to crosses, quotes from
> the New Testament, etc. But long before it was published, some
> analysts did see traditional Christian symbolism in the series:
> references to stags, griffins, phoenixes, etc. The go-to man for
> this is John Granger, who runs the "Hogwarts Professor" web site at
> http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com

I've read some of the articles there, and it's intersting stuff.

(Though either the site doesn't like my uncommon browser, or some
of the content is gone. I can't see the article in

http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/the-christian-content-of-deathly-hallows-a/

for example, only the comments).

OTOH, Granger seriously proposes to see Gilderoy Lockhart as a parallel
to Philip Pullman, which I think is totally nuts. So I'm a bit wary now
of what he writes.

- Dirk

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Oct 19, 2010, 3:18:25 AM10/19/10
to
John W Kennedy <jwk...@attglobal.net> wrote:
> On 2010-10-18 03:38:59 -0400, Dirk Thierbach said:

>> Well, Narnia is in many places a very thinly veiled Christian
>> allegory.

> No it isn't. You might as well call "Ben-Hur" a Christian allegory.

But I don't call Ben-Hur a Christian allegory. OTOH, I still call
Narnia a very thinly veiled Christian allegory. Now what? :-)

- Dirk


Steve Hayes

unread,
Oct 19, 2010, 8:33:49 AM10/19/10
to
On Tue, 19 Oct 2010 09:33:48 +0200, Dirk Thierbach
<dthie...@usenet.arcornews.de> wrote:


>OTOH, Granger seriously proposes to see Gilderoy Lockhart as a parallel
>to Philip Pullman, which I think is totally nuts. So I'm a bit wary now
>of what he writes.

Now THAT would be an allegory, however veiled.

derek

unread,
Oct 19, 2010, 8:46:03 AM10/19/10
to
On Oct 18, 3:46 pm, Steve Morrison <rima...@toast.net> wrote:
>
> I've always been underwhelmed by the supposed signs of Tolkienian
> influence on Rowling, e.g. "the Whomping Willow is just like Old
> Man Willow!" or "Tolkien wrote a poem with the line /He battled
> with the Dumbledors/!" They mostly seem explainable by common
> sources, a common interest in obscure and archaic words, and sheer
> coincidence

and borrowing! There's no reason that one can't borrow a good thing
without being "in the tradition of..."/

> I do take the "Christian symbolism" claims more seriously.
> First, there is the obvious Crucifixion parallel in the way Harry
> saves the world at the end of /Deathly Hallows/! And that book also
> has a number of allusions to crosses, quotes from the New Testament,
> etc.

yes.

> But long before it was published, some analysts did see
> traditional Christian symbolism in the series: references to stags,
> griffins, phoenixes, etc.

Oh, please. Those are all pre-Christian. And if Christianity
borrowed them, does that make Christianity "in the tradition of
paganism"?

derek

unread,
Oct 19, 2010, 8:50:08 AM10/19/10
to
On Oct 18, 10:41 pm, John W Kennedy <jwke...@attglobal.net> wrote:
> On 2010-10-18 03:38:59 -0400, Dirk Thierbach said:
>
> > Well, Narnia is in many places a very thinly veiled Christian
> > allegory.
>
> No it isn't. You might as well call "Ben-Hur" a Christian allegory.

Of course Narnia isn't an allegory - it doesn't have any naked women.
As far as I can recall, not a single one.

But if we take the more commonly used definition (from
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/allegory: "the expression by
means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or
generalizations about human existence; also : an instance (as in a
story or painting) of such expression"), of course Narnia is a
Christian allegory. If the first 6 books aren't enough to convince
you, /The Last Battle/ is just rampant with allegory.

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Oct 19, 2010, 10:31:33 AM10/19/10
to
Steve Hayes <haye...@telkomsa.net> wrote:
> On Tue, 19 Oct 2010 09:33:48 +0200, Dirk Thierbach
> <dthie...@usenet.arcornews.de> wrote:

>>OTOH, Granger seriously proposes to see Gilderoy Lockhart as a parallel
>>to Philip Pullman, which I think is totally nuts. So I'm a bit wary now
>>of what he writes.

> Now THAT would be an allegory, however veiled.

I think we use two different very definitions of "allegory". I suppose
mine is closer to the one Tolkien uses in his foreword. But as I said,
I don't mind what you call it. I'm happy to use a different term, if
you propose one.

- Dirk


Steve Hayes

unread,
Oct 19, 2010, 11:10:36 AM10/19/10
to
On Tue, 19 Oct 2010 16:31:33 +0200, Dirk Thierbach
<dthie...@usenet.arcornews.de> wrote:

>Steve Hayes <haye...@telkomsa.net> wrote:
>> On Tue, 19 Oct 2010 09:33:48 +0200, Dirk Thierbach
>> <dthie...@usenet.arcornews.de> wrote:
>
>>>OTOH, Granger seriously proposes to see Gilderoy Lockhart as a parallel
>>>to Philip Pullman, which I think is totally nuts. So I'm a bit wary now
>>>of what he writes.
>
>> Now THAT would be an allegory, however veiled.
>
>I think we use two different very definitions of "allegory". I suppose
>mine is closer to the one Tolkien uses in his foreword. But as I said,
>I don't mind what you call it. I'm happy to use a different term, if
>you propose one.

Tolkien doesn't define it, but I suspect that he uses it with the standard
meaning.

Allegory, a figurative narrative or description, conveying a veiled moral
meaning: an extended metaphor. As C.S. Lewis argues in The Allegory of Love,
the medieval mind tended to think naturally in allegorical terms. Allegorical
works of great vitality continued to be produced, ranging from Spenser's
Faerie Queene and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, both of which use
personifications of abstract qualities, to Dryden's political allegory Absalom
and Achitophel, which conceals real identities.

(The concise Oxford companion to English literature, Margaret Drabble & Jenny
Stringer (eds), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1986).

And, of course, one of the great 20th-century allegories was George Orwell's
"Animal farm".

Paul S. Person

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Oct 19, 2010, 1:37:53 PM10/19/10
to

Perhaps it depends on just how thin the veil is ...
--
"Nature must be explained in
her own terms through
the experience of our senses."

richard e white

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Oct 19, 2010, 3:33:00 PM10/19/10
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:

It is a rather commen theam, and by itsself I don't think it is enugf to
define a group of writers. And when they add people who don't even write
into the group, it sounds more like a name for a book club with the same
vage idea.

richard e white

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Oct 19, 2010, 3:45:19 PM10/19/10
to
Dirk Thierbach wrote:

Its only there if you look to find it. It does back several values which
are Christian. However, the problem is they are found in other areas as
well. The good verses evil can't really be used to prove anything. It is
to commen in writing just to make things easyer.
The train sceen with a dead DD and a living harry is much closer, but it
on;ly points to an unknown after life. Still I will axcept it does lean
twords Christ, but not just his teachings. It could also point to Islam,
jewish and many other tradistional religions. The x-mass and easter
holidays are a better indeacation. The problem is that you don't have to
be Christian to observe them in todays culture.

Troels Forchhammer

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Oct 19, 2010, 6:42:27 PM10/19/10
to
In message <news:a59ob6ptqcq3isnea...@4ax.com>
Steve Hayes <haye...@telkomsa.net> spoke these staves:
>
> On Mon, 18 Oct 2010 09:38:59 +0200, Dirk Thierbach
> <dthie...@usenet.arcornews.de> wrote:
>>
>> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@thisisfake.invalid> wrote:
>>>
>>> In message <news:4CB9CA48...@cox.net> richard e white
>>> <chip...@cox.net> spoke these staves:
>>>>
>>>> If a spiritual vision is the center of the idea, then JKR's
>>>> books don't fit.
>>
>>> Right, I quite agree.
>>
>> I'm actually not so sure.

I took it to mean that the 'invisible' (or at least parallel) wizard
world in the Harry Potter books does not rely on some special spirit
vision to see: it is actually there, visibile to all; protected in a
few places (the unplottable houses, for instance), but mostly
protected by making those forget what they have seen who do see
without being intended to. In other words: in the Harry Potter
books, you do not have to have some special spiritual, or even
magical, quality in order to see the hidden world.

>> Critics thought for a long time that the
>> LotR was completely devoid of any reference to Christian themes.
>
> Which critics would those be?

The only one that I know of is Lin Carter, whose criticism David
Bratman has countered recently on the Mythsoc mailing list with
repost at his blog: <http://calimac.livejournal.com/474130.html>
Since I haven't actually read Carter's criticism myself, I have
nothing further to add to David's comments.

>>> And Rowling's books also doesn't have the same fundamental
>>> Christian basis to them that do Tolkien's books and the Narnia
>>> books -- there is, in my honest opinion, no sense of providence
>>> in Rowling's work,
>>
>> Just because Tolkien worked in the "providence" theme doesn't mean
>> that Rowling should, too.
>
> No, it doesn't mean she should, it just means that she didn't, and
> that her books are therefore different in that respect.

Exactly -- I only meant to point out a difference, not to imply any
value judgement.

It was intended as one example -- many other could be conceived -- of
why I don't consider Rowling to be a 'Christian author' in the same
way as e.g. Tolkien and Lewis. The Christianity present in Rowling's
books is, as I see it, equivalent to the that of a personal atheist
who has grown up in a Christian culture celebrating Christian
holidays such as Christmas and Easter etc. and whose personal ethics
are heavily influenced by Christian thought. Rowling describes
herself as Christian, and I have no quarrel with that, but looking
only at the Potter books, I could not have inferred more than the
above.

<snip>

> I'd say that Rowling's books are informed by Christian ethics, but
> they are not, as in the work of Lewis, Tolkien and Williams,
> fitted into a Christian mythological framework.

That, I think, is a very good way to put it. I don't know about
Williams, but I'd say that Tolkien and Lewis (at least in the Narnia
books) also fit their sub-creations into a Christian _theological_
framework -- but you may include this, when you speak of their
Christian mythological framework?

--
Troels Forchhammer <troelsfo(a)googlewave.com>
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

"He deserves death."
"Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve
death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to
them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in
judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."
- Frodo and Gandalf, /The Fellowship of the Ring/ (J.R.R. Tolkien)

derek

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Oct 19, 2010, 7:20:23 PM10/19/10
to
On Oct 19, 12:10 pm, Steve Hayes <hayes...@telkomsa.net> wrote:
> On Tue, 19 Oct 2010 16:31:33 +0200, Dirk Thierbach
>
> <dthierb...@usenet.arcornews.de> wrote:

> >Steve Hayes <hayes...@telkomsa.net> wrote:
> >> On Tue, 19 Oct 2010 09:33:48 +0200, Dirk Thierbach
> >> <dthierb...@usenet.arcornews.de> wrote:
>
> >>>OTOH, Granger seriously proposes to see Gilderoy Lockhart as a parallel
> >>>to Philip Pullman, which I think is totally nuts. So I'm a bit wary now
> >>>of what he writes.
>
> >> Now THAT would be an allegory, however veiled.
>
> >I think we use two different very definitions of "allegory". I suppose
> >mine is closer to the one Tolkien uses in his foreword. But as I said,
> >I don't mind what you call it. I'm happy to use a different term, if
> >you propose one.
>
> Tolkien doesn't define it, but I suspect that he uses it with the standard
> meaning.
>
> Allegory, a figurative narrative or description, conveying a veiled moral
> meaning: an extended metaphor

Funny. Tolkien always insisted LOTR was _not_ allegory, and yet it
certainly fits that description. So, no, Tolkien definitely did not
use that definition. His was much narrower.

>. As C.S. Lewis argues in The Allegory of Love,
> the medieval mind tended to think naturally in allegorical terms. Allegorical
> works of great vitality continued to be produced, ranging from Spenser's
> Faerie Queene and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, both of which use
> personifications of abstract qualities, to Dryden's political allegory Absalom
> and Achitophel, which conceals real identities.

And which the Narnia books very clearly also fit.


>
> And, of course, one of the great 20th-century allegories was George Orwell's
> "Animal farm".

No doubt about it. You can practically name all the animals for the
people they represent (of course, you _can_ name all of them, but
there are disagreements about who's who).

derek

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Oct 19, 2010, 7:22:33 PM10/19/10
to
On Oct 19, 2:37 pm, Paul S. Person <psper...@ix.netscom.com.invalid>
wrote:

> On Tue, 19 Oct 2010 09:18:25 +0200, Dirk Thierbach
>
> <dthierb...@usenet.arcornews.de> wrote:

> >John W Kennedy <jwke...@attglobal.net> wrote:
> >> On 2010-10-18 03:38:59 -0400, Dirk Thierbach said:
>
> >>> Well, Narnia is in many places a very thinly veiled Christian
> >>> allegory.
>
> >> No it isn't. You might as well call "Ben-Hur" a Christian allegory.
>
> >But I don't call Ben-Hur a Christian allegory. OTOH, I still call
> >Narnia a very thinly veiled Christian allegory. Now what? :-)
>
> Perhaps it depends on just how thin the veil is ...

I've avoided watching Ben Hur for decades, so have no recollection
whether it constitutes allegory - I do recall first seeing it in my
Jesus freak period, and not getting the Easter connection. The veil
over Narnia is pretty thin, though.

derek

unread,
Oct 19, 2010, 7:32:10 PM10/19/10
to
On Oct 19, 4:45 pm, richard e white <chiph...@cox.net> wrote:
> Dirk Thierbach wrote:

> > But Harry Potter is also about the fight of Good against Evil, and
> > about the fact that power corrupts, and that sometimes people have to
> > make sacrifices to be able to save others.
>
> > I have not read the HP books often enough to be able to draw a clear
> > parallel to Christian ideas, but I wouldn't rule out that some
> > closer inspection would find the one thing or the other.
>
> > Maybe I should do a re-reading :-)
>

> Its only there if you look to find it.  It does back several values which
> are Christian.  However, the problem is they are found in other areas as
> well.  The good verses evil can't really be used to prove anything.  It is
> to commen in writing just to make things easyer.

I completely agree - imo, it's an apologia (I _know_ I shouldn't be
using words like that in an argument involving Kennedy and Person, but
I _think_ I have it right) to justify Rowling's use of themes that
fundamentalist churches call witchcraft, and therefore ispo facto
(oops, I did again) evil.

> Richard The Blind Typer.
> Lets hear it for talking computers.

Are you using "listening computers", too? Your typos look like
something a computer heard, rather than artifacts of the qwerty
keyboard. In any case, lets hear it for assistive technologies of all
kinds!

derek

unread,
Oct 19, 2010, 7:40:36 PM10/19/10
to
On Oct 19, 7:42 pm, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
wrote:

>
> I took it to mean that the 'invisible' (or at least parallel) wizard
> world in the Harry Potter books does not rely on some special spirit
> vision to see: it is actually there, visibile to all;

Ohmigod! We're back to Ringwraiths :-)

> >> Critics thought for a long time that the
> >> LotR was completely devoid of any reference to Christian themes.
>
> > Which critics would those be?
>
> The only one that I know of is Lin Carter, whose criticism David
> Bratman has countered recently on the Mythsoc mailing list with
> repost at his blog: <http://calimac.livejournal.com/474130.html>  
> Since I haven't actually read Carter's criticism myself, I have
> nothing further to add to David's comments.

Hmm. I'll have to look, but if it _is_ Carter, I would expect it to
be something more along the lines of "No Christianity to see here,
move along now", than an honest "I can't see any Christian themes
here". Admittedly, we're all seeing it with the hindsight of /The
Silmarillion/ - without knowing the roots of LOTR, you won't recognize
some of the themes - but at the very least you have to admit a
creator, and a Mary figure.

> It was intended as one example -- many other could be conceived -- of
> why I don't consider Rowling to be a 'Christian author' in the same
> way as e.g. Tolkien and Lewis. The Christianity present in Rowling's
> books is, as I see it, equivalent to the that of a personal atheist
> who has grown up in a Christian culture celebrating Christian
> holidays such as Christmas and Easter etc. and whose personal ethics
> are heavily influenced by Christian thought.

I like that description, and I think if she wasn't having to defend
herself from the Christian Right, Rowling might too...

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 19, 2010, 7:40:35 PM10/19/10
to
In message
<c5ac95e3-b01d-403b...@g13g2000yqj.googlegroups.com>
derek <de...@pointerstop.ca> spoke these staves:

>
> On Oct 18, 3:46 pm, Steve Morrison <rima...@toast.net> wrote:
>>
>> I've always been underwhelmed by the supposed signs of Tolkienian
>> influence on Rowling,

Me too.

As someone pointed out, Rowling did study languages at a British
university (I forget which languages and which university), and so
presumably knows a lot of the sources that Tolkien also knew. I
wonder where this whole Tolkien/Inklings-influencing-Rowling-idea
comes from?

>> They mostly seem explainable by common sources, a common interest
>> in obscure and archaic words, and sheer coincidence
>
> and borrowing! There's no reason that one can't borrow a good thing
> without being "in the tradition of..."/

Fishing for a particuly good morsel in the soup is not only allowed,
but also encouraged . . . ;-)

Still, I think that in most cases Steve is right that it might just
as well be a matter of Tolkien and Rowling fishing out the same
morsel for their own dishes more than Rowling fishing for a
Tolkien-morsel.

>> I do take the "Christian symbolism" claims more seriously.

Both yes and no. Symbolism isn't faith -- in fact Christian
symbolism is a cultural phenomenon rather than one of faith, and
thus it fits well with what I've said elsewhere that there is
nothing in the Harry Potter books that shows that Rowling is more
than a well-educated woman raised in a Christian culture and sharing
the ethics of the predominantly Christian society to which she
belongs.

>> First, there is the obvious Crucifixion parallel in the way Harry
>> saves the world at the end of /Deathly Hallows/! And that book also
>> has a number of allusions to crosses, quotes from the New Testament,
>> etc.

None of this, however, suggests more than that she is a
well-educated member of a (mostly) Christian society. The question
of her personal faith came up as the series began to sell in huge
numbers in the US (which wasn't until after _Prisoner of Azkaban_
had been published in the UK) and some of the Christian groups there
began to ban it. Rowling's first statements were along the lines
that she believed in Christ, but disliked organised religion. I do
believe that some of the additional trappings of Christianity in the
latter half of the series are due more to the absurd claims of
supporting witch-craft (the situation was not made easier, I
suppose, by practicing Wiccans (sp?) calling in to radio shows
asking her if she was 'craft or muggle'[1]) than to any deep desire
on the part of Rowling to encumber her story with them.

[1]
<http://www.hp-lexicon.org/library/ref/intvw/19991012_TheConnection.html#part21>
<http://tinyurl.com/bzl4n>

>> But long before it was published, some analysts did see
>> traditional Christian symbolism in the series: references to
>> stags, griffins, phoenixes, etc.
>
> Oh, please. Those are all pre-Christian.

It is, in my honest opinion, a matter of people seeing what they
want to see. The whole question of Christianity in the Harry Potter
books only arose because of the aforementioned absurd claims from
certain US-based Christian (and Wicca) groups who claimed that the
books supported and promoted witchcraft. I'd say that it is fairly
obvious that they do not, but it was apparently not enough that they
didn't promote witchcraft / Wicca: it had to be shown that they did
promote Christian faith, and so some defenders found what they
sought for. As I see it :-)

> And if Christianity borrowed them, does that make Christianity "in
> the tradition of paganism"?

Well, it _is_, I'd say ;-)

And not just because it borrowed heavily of pagan symbolism, but
also because it adapted and adopted pagan traditions, in many cases
giving them a Christian content but otherwise touching them only
very little: in other words, direct and explicit borrowing in order
to ease the transition for the pagans (I know this was done in what
appears to be a systematic manner in Scandinavia, but I cannot say
how wide-spread this practice has been elsewhere). I am sure that
other arguements could also be made to show how Christianity in many
other was are 'in the tradition of paganism'.

--
Troels Forchhammer <troelsfo(a)googlewave.com>
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom
of thought which they avoid.
- Soren Kierkegaard

Troels Forchhammer

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Oct 19, 2010, 8:22:49 PM10/19/10
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In message <news:w5KdnYihxLaRCyHR...@posted.toastnet>
Steve Morrison <rim...@toast.net> spoke these staves:
>
> Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>>
>> I would say that I am highly sceptical of the claims of Rowling's
>> Christianity as an inspiration for the books: while I can see
>> much in both Tolkien's and Lewis' work that relies on their
>> Christian _faith_, I see nothing of that sort in Rowling's work.
>> There is Christian culture and Christian ethics, but not
>> specifically Christian faith or spirituality
>
> I do take the "Christian symbolism" claims more seriously.
> First, there is the obvious Crucifixion parallel in the way Harry
> saves the world at the end of /Deathly Hallows/! And that book
> also has a number of allusions to crosses, quotes from the New
> Testament, etc.

If this is supposed to make Rowling's work 'Christian' in some way,
then, by that standard, Tolkien's work in its various parts can be
argued to be Finnish pagan, Old Norse Asatru, ancient Greek pagan and
possibly more besides . . .

Rowling places her work in a clearly Christian _cultural_ framework,
and all of the above are, in my view, cultural references, just as
the images of her characters celebrating both Christmas and Easter
(in both cases, by the way, emphasizing the old pagan elements of the
modern holidays while having nothing clearly Christian [with the
possible exception of the Christmas carols sung by the armor suits at
Hogwarts]). As pointed out elsewhere, some people believing in
witchcraft have seen the Potter books as showing their culture and
their traditions very, very well indeed.

Turning again Tolkien, Christian culture is clearly not the only
culture that influenced his work (or Rowling's, for that matter) and
there are many -- even some very clear -- references to pagan
cultures in Tolkien's writings, but we never stop to ask whether
Tolkien was pagan, because he went further than to include cultural
references.

As David Bratman says
The reason [Tolkien's] pagan warriors don't worship false
gods is that, through the Elves, and they through the
Valar, have unfiltered access to the truth about the
spiritual universe. (The truth as Tolkien sees it, of
course, but as an author he has the right to make his
Catholic theology the unfettered truth within his own
fiction.) They don't need false gods; they have the real
God.
<http://calimac.livejournal.com/474130.html>

I quite agree that there are _many_ references in Rowling's books to
Christian culture: symbolism, holidays, quotations and other direct
borrowings from the Biblical story (you mention the Crucifixion
parallel in _Deathly Hallows_), but I do not think that this is
enough to make it a Christian story.

It is the final step of making her Christian theology 'the unfettered
truth within [her] own fiction' that I do _not_ see in Rowling's work
-- actually I cannot see that her work offers _any_ theological
framework as an unfettered truth, which is, of course, _not_ the same
as saying that it makes an atheistic framework its unfettered truth
(there are some hints, at least, at a spiritual framework, but this
is not, in my opinion, particularly Christian).

--
Troels Forchhammer <troelsfo(a)googlewave.com>
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters.
- Aragorn "Strider", /Two Towers/ (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Steve Hayes

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Oct 19, 2010, 10:48:55 PM10/19/10
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On Wed, 20 Oct 2010 00:42:27 +0200, Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>