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Re: [mythsoc] My two bits on HPV

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  • Kevin Bowring
    My goodness, I knew I should keep my mouth shut!!! Here I am, sitting in my office trying to work on my dissertation and now I have created a huge distraction
    Message 1 of 7 , Jun 30, 2003
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      My goodness, I knew I should keep my mouth shut!!! Here I am, sitting in my
      office trying to work on my dissertation and now I have created a huge
      distraction for myself. I will really have to reply to this later, because the
      answer is quite involved. But a brief, first approximation might be something
      like this:

      Coleridge, following a long philosophic tradition, distinguished between insights
      into the deep structure and meaning of existence which are a reflection of divine
      origin of things (Coleridge calls this Reason, or sometimes the platonic NOUS
      [Latin, Intellectus]), and more superficial insights have to do with means and
      ends or simple causes and effects (this he calls Understanding, or the platonic
      DIANOIA [Latin, Ratio]). Imagination is connected to the deeper form of insight,
      fancy to the more superficial and is characterized by a kind of rearrangement and
      cobbling together of things well known. Fancy, I would say, may be creative,
      inventive, and entertaining (it may also manifest itself as the worst forms of
      kitsch), but Imagination touches some deeper mystery--the mythic, the (Ugh,
      forgive me!) metaphysical. Tolkien's "subcreation" is closely related to
      Coleridge's Imagination.

      These matters are highly controversial in literary circles, of course. I just
      have to say that I am on the side of Owen Barfield's interpretation of all this;
      I would highly recommend his What Coleridge Thought for the details (chapters VII
      and VIII), as well as his Poetic Diction which approaches the same subject matter
      from a rather different direction.

      No doubt, others of you out there know a lot more about this than I do and will
      have some corrections, qualifications, and outright objections. That's one of
      the reasons why I joined this list. If someone better than myself (please God)
      doesn't clear all this up, I will try to put something together when I am at home
      and have to right books at my fingertips.

      Cheers,
      Kevin

      Elizabeth Apgar Triano wrote:

      > <<Coleridge made a distinction between
      > fantasy and imagination:>>
      >
      > He called them fancy and imagination, however. >>
      >
      > OK gentlemen. And how did he define them? And in which category did the
      > Xanadu fragment fall?
      >
      > and thank you Alexei for the dictionary info... I was hoping you would jump
      > in there. :-)
      >
      > Lizzie Triano
      > lizziewriter@...
      > amor vincit omnia
      >
      >
      > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
      >
      > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
    • Berni Phillips
      From: Kevin Bowring ... others, ... I just finished it as well. Yes, it had a hefty page count, but it never bored me and I zipped through
      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 30, 2003
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        From: "Kevin Bowring" <bowring@...>


        > Well, I just finish HPV. I am afraid I didn't enjoy it as much as the
        others,
        > and I agree that it was too long.

        I just finished it as well. Yes, it had a hefty page count, but it never
        bored me and I zipped through it in two days, so I would say it didn't feel
        too long to me.

        From here on, I'm going to go into spoiler territory, so

        SPOILER SPACE

        S

        P

        O

        I

        L

        E

        R


        S

        P

        A

        C

        E



        >During this book I kept re-imagining scenes in
        > forms that I would have liked better. Coleridge made a distinction
        between
        > fantasy and imagination: Rowling seems to operate from the former more
        than the
        > latter--she doesn't really seem to reach the "mythic" very often, and I
        keep
        > wanting to sense something deeper going on beneath the story surface.

        I felt this was a transitional book. Harry is so moody, he is much less
        likeable. It was kind of a shock to find out that his father tormented
        Snape when they were students. James Potter and Sirius were likened to Fred
        and George, but their bullying behavior was more like Malfoy and his
        cronies. It was inexcusable at any age. So maybe James wasn't the shining
        hero we've been led to believe. And Aunt Petunia is shown in a slightly
        more favorable light.

        I see the whole series as light fantasy -- not much of the mythic except in
        the creation of a hidden world of magic and her use of mythological
        creatures -- including the original ones which Hagrid brings into class.

        >I felt
        > this from the beginning, but the earlier book were enjoyable for their
        shear
        > inventiveness.

        I agree, this is one of the series' strongest charms. There was not much
        new except for Fred's and George's joke-shop inventions, which weren't
        terribly amusing to the reader.

        >Also, I want Harry to
        > grow as a character, but he seems much the same at the end of HPV as he
        does at
        > the beginning, despite everything that has happened.

        No, he doesn't really grow. He's stuck in an adolescent state of hormones
        and rebelliousness that isn't terribly attractive.

        Ginny Weasley, though -- keep your eye on that girl! Note how smoothly
        she's going through puberty, socially-speaking. She's picking and choosing
        which guys she wants to date, she's good at Quidditch, and she's showing
        strong skills as a wizard already.

        Another one who grew in this book was Neville. I was afraid that he was to
        be the one killed off, which would have been a pity as he is just now
        blossoming. Wouldn't it be a hoot if he were the one who kills Voldemort in
        the end after all?

        I found the death of Sirius didn't really touch me that much. He, too, was
        much less appealing in this book. We saw him as a teen, egging on James to
        torment Snape. He tries to live vicariously through Harry, egging him on to
        what he shouldn't. His death was nowhere near as touching as the torment
        Mrs. Weasley went through with the boggart showing her all her loved ones
        dead.

        It was good to get a good reason why Harry has to return to Privet Drive
        each summer and also that the Sorting Hat had wanted to put Hermione in
        Ravenclaw, where she so clearly belongs.

        Berni
      • Kevin Bowring
        ... I agree--I thought they were positively tedious, despite their usefulness against Umbridge. ... This was part of the problem with the book: over the course
        Message 3 of 7 , Jun 30, 2003
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          Berni Phillips wrote:

          > There was not much new except for Fred's and George's joke-shop inventions,
          > which weren't terribly amusing to the reader.

          I agree--I thought they were positively tedious, despite their usefulness against
          Umbridge.

          > No, he doesn't really grow. He's stuck in an adolescent state of hormones
          > and rebelliousness that isn't terribly attractive.

          This was part of the problem with the book: over the course of some 870 pages, a
          little growth would be good, even if as you rightly say this is a "transitional
          book".

          Also, I entirely agree with you about Ginny and Neville, although Ron and
          Hermione seemed a little flatter as characters.

          > I found the death of Sirius didn't really touch me that much. He, too, was
          > much less appealing in this book. We saw him as a teen, egging on James to
          > torment Snape. He tries to live vicariously through Harry, egging him on to
          > what he shouldn't. His death was nowhere near as touching as the torment
          > Mrs. Weasley went through with the boggart showing her all her loved ones
          > dead.

          This is exactly the kind of thing that was problematic to me. And because you
          don't feel strongly about the death of Sirius--a character I had really liked in
          the previous books--Harry's anger at Dumbledore seems forced and too peevish.
          Also, the confrontation between Harry and Dumbledore opened up enormous
          imaginative possibilities that, it seemed to me, never came to fruition. I hate
          it when I am imagining something better than what is in the book! I also found
          myself circling clunky phraseology. (Maybe I was just getting cranky from doing
          so much writing of my own.)

          > It was good to get a good reason why Harry has to return to Privet Drive
          > each summer and also that the Sorting Hat had wanted to put Hermione in
          > Ravenclaw, where she so clearly belongs.

          Again, couldn't agree more--but more could have been, should have been, done with
          it.

          Berni, I appreciated all your comments

          Kevin
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