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» Thursday, March 01, 2012Potter Parables and Peter's Part
I was listening to podcasts while working today and happened to listen to Pottercast #227, "Pundits Play the Name Game," which I had just downloaded at random from what was available. This the podcast put on by the fan site "The Leaky Cauldron" and the broadcast was three of the regulars analyzing the names Rowling used in the series.
This was particularly interesting because one of the panelists was John Granger, who has written several books about meaning in the Potter series, but is most well known for Looking for God in Harry Potter. Granger is a practicing Christian who initially forbade his children to read the books, having been turned off by the witchcraft themes. However, he didn't feel he could forbid his children to read them without reading them first to be able to tell them why they were unsuitable. Upon reading the books, he was pleased and surprised by the good v. evil themes in the books and changed his mind about them. I saw Finding God several times in Borders, but never bought it.
This was a delightful show, as they examined the literary derivations of the names, which they noted came heavily from Dickens and Victor Hugo, and even Thackeray, not to mention Latin derivations and inside jokes. Of course Harry's sacrifice parallels that of Christ and Voldemort is a clear Satan-figure (he even parallels Lucifer as being rather a "fallen angel," rescued by Dumbledore from his sterile orphanage and shown kindness, being elevated to prefect and a promising future only to betray those who helped him)—these are all rather obvious. I was, however, surprised when they noted things like the names of the other players on the Quidditch team were all related to churches. When they explained it I was quite amused: [Katie] Bell, Angel[ina] Johnson, [Alicia] Spinnet (piano), and [Oliver Wood] olivewood! Plus the game has a "seeker" who must attain "the light," a.k.a. The Golden Snitch. There were dozens of fun or thoughtful analyses of this type, and it was great fun to listen to.
I also had on BBC 4X and was listening to their adaptation of Gaudy Night. I became aware that Ian Carmichael's voice sounded rather husky and older, so checked out the production. Carmichael had recorded almost all the Lord Peter Wimsey stories in seven- and eight-part radio productions back in the 1970s, about at the same time he was doing the television versions of five of the books. They had done at least three of the Harriet Vane stories, but not the Oxford story, Gaudy Night, about sinister goings-on at Harriet's university reunion. But Ian Carmichael had always wanted to do that one, to complete the set as it were, and in 2005 BBC audio books recorded this five-part adaptation. Ian Carmichael was 85 when he did the story; it's no wonder he sounds older!
It's a bit of a static production, as a lot of it is Harriet's narrative, but so good to hear! Hopefully they do the end properly!
[Later: they did! Oh, and Lord St. George is in the story, too, unlike the Petherbridge/Walter version.]