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Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2007

    Meetiing Mr. Grangerr

    I met Mr. Granger 7/20/07 after his talk on his 'keys.. So many things fell into place in the Harry Potter series. I loved being a part of the Harry Potter night and meeting this very intersting gentleman with some great insight to the Harry Potter series. Also sharing with so very many people with the same interests. Costumes were great!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2007

    Literary Alchemy is the key to understanding the Harry Potter series

    John Granger has been one of the foremost champions of recognizing the importance of literary alchemy in the Harry Potter series. This is his fourth book examining and analyzing evidence from the wildly popular series. Many people simply scratch their heads and say, 'Alchemy? That weird pseudo-science that predated chemistry? The one where nuts tried to turn lead into gold?' Yup, that's the one. Except John Granger goes on to explain exactly what alchemy was and wasn't, and why our perceptions of the secretive practice are skewed. He also convincingly argues that literary alchemy is a longterm practice by notable authors such as Shakespeare, Milton, Blake, C.S. Lewis and James Joyce. Then he gives example after example of the evidence of alchemy in the Harry Potter books. Examples which cannot be simply coincidence. The one sad thing is that this book went to press before the long sought after quote to confirm Jo Rowling's preoccupation with alchemy was found. It turns out that this interview was from 1998, but it had not been one bandied about with regularity by the HP fandom. Simpson, Anne. 'Face to Face with J K Rowling: Casting a spell over young minds,' The Herald, 7 December 1998. The money words are these: 'I've never wanted to be a witch, but an alchemist, now that's a different matter. To invent this wizard world, I've learned a ridiculous amount about alchemy. Perhaps much of it I'll never use in the books, but I have to know in detail what magic can and cannot do in order to set the parameters and establish the stories' internal logic.' - J.K. Rowling. Bingo. In one fell swoop, John has been proven correct in his analysis that Jo Rowling uses literary alchemy in structuring her series. Other ways to tell alchemy plays a large role in the Harry Potter books is by looking at the illustration he chose for the cover of this book. Do you see the Golden Snitch? It's too bad that quote was found after 'Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader' was published, otherwise Granger's discourse on alchemy would have been different. He would not have written: 'As far as I know, and I am far from current on the track of reading Ms. Rowling's various interviews, she has made no such confessions 'about alchemy.'' Except now we know she has. Buy his books, read them over, and then please check out John's website and blog at hogwartsprofessor dot com and interact with him in regards to his theories and updates. He has graciously given his time to be an author in residence for Barnes & Noble university in these forums and has demonstrated his willingness to interact, dissect and theorize with other fans of the series. By interacting with John Granger you come away with the understanding that this series is much more than a spankin' good read, but that there are layers of meaning and structure beneath the text.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2007

    Thorough, Intelligent, and Accessible Unlocking

    Maybe you are a life-long learner sort, or a college professor interested in acquiring an insightful, but thoroughly accessible book about Rowling¿s series. Maybe you¿re a thoughtful Christian, who suspects the anti-Potter denunciations are not quite on the mark, but you can¿t quite articulate why. Maybe you just have a deep affection for the Harry Potter series and would like to discover more about the key techniques and overarching concerns embedded in these brilliant stories. Whatever the case, as long as you¿ve actually read the Harry Potter books, and as long as you have the sort of mind that likes to go beneath and beyond the surface, I believe that you will appreciate Granger¿s Unlocking Harry Potter. Thoroughly accessible and intelligent, Granger uses a writing style that is a mix of the professor who knows how to communicate credible arguments, and the fan who loves to talk to other fans about Harry, Hagrid, and house-elves (the high destiny of house-elves in number seven? Hmm...). Because there are a number of books about Harry Potter on the market, let me give you a brief explanation of Granger¿s goals, and a brief introduction to the chapters. His first and foremost goal is to argue that Rowling¿s Harry Potter series makes for serious, reflective reading, despite its obvious popular appeal. This he does most compellingly, by demonstrating Rowling¿s depth of intellect, literacy, and organizational powers. Granger also analyzes several fundamental aspects of both Rowling¿s storytelling formula and her underlying worldview (he calls them ¿keys¿). Because of Rowling¿s fidelity to her formula and her worldview, predictions can be made about the upcoming Deathly Hallows, which, of course, Granger goes ahead and makes. Chapter One discusses Rowling¿s first key ¿ narrative misdirection. This involves the ¿voice¿ of the story. So what, you may ask? Let me tell you, Granger¿s explanation of narrative misdirection, how Rowling uses it, and what it means in the big picture, is great stuff ¿ really great stuff. I¿m not giving anything away here ¿ you¿ll just have to plunk the money down and read it yourself. I think you¿ll be glad you spent the cash and the time. Chapter Two discusses Rowling¿s second key ¿ alchemy. Although I first thought this would be the most dreary and esoteric of topics, for me, this was the most eye-opening of the ¿keys.¿ This is the key I now refer to the most when speaking to people who dismiss Harry either because of intellectual snobbery or bible-based opposition. In both this book, and his previous book, Looking for God in Harry Potter, Granger gives a great corrective about the meaning of alchemy both in history and in the Potter books. From the insights into Ron¿s red hair and Hermione¿s chemically-significant initials, to the more systematic explanation of how all the Potter books reflect a deeply spiritual process of personal transformation, Unlocking Harry Potter serves the thoughtful reader very well. Chapter Three unpacks Rowling¿s storytelling formula, the third key, while also showing that her stories are not at all flatly formulaic. The beginning, middle, and end of Harry¿s yearly journeys all echo each other, for very significant reasons. It is also here that Granger predicts how, even though Half-Blood Prince seems to depart from the formula, in fact we will discover in the resolution of the seventh novel that the supposed departure is just another example of narrative misdirection (back to key one!) Chapter Fours and Five speak to Rowling¿s position of being ¿in¿ the postmodern world (the fourth key) while not being completely ¿of¿ the postmodern world (the fifth key). That is, both the things Rowling addresses, and the way she addresses them, speak our language, and thus we resonate with her narratives. On the other hand, as Granger demonstrates, she critiques some of the most destructive and deconstructive and tendencies of post

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2008

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