Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What's behind a name?

I know that there is probably a website out there that traces the source of all of the character names in the Harry Potter series but I haven't looked at it.

That's why I was amazed to find the name "Mundungus" in a book I am reading: Laurence Sterne's 18th Century comic travelogue, A Sentimental Journey. The notes to Penguin Classics version of this book explains that "Mundungus" is the author's nickname for Dr. Samuel Sharp, a travelogue writer from the 1760s.

Is it possible that this is where J.K. came up with the wonderfully descriptive name for the sneak thief Mundungus Fletcher? What a great source of names!

This experience, of course, reminded me of the fact that I also found the name Hermione used in another 18th-Century work of fiction. To be honest, I can't remember if it was in Charlotte Lennox's The Female Quixote or one of the Anne Radcliffe novels I just read but I was pleased to see it anyway.

As I said, for many readers of this blog, this may come as no surprise but, for me, it's a joyful discovery. And it doesn't surprise me that Ms. Rowling is well-versed in the rich history of women's writing in England.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"R" has a lot of good stuff to say about my last post

I recently had the good fortune to receive a number of comments on my last post, "Rowling and the art of the family", by a reader who identified him or herself only as "R".

I seem to have struck a nerve with R in some of the things I said in that post and R's response is fantastic. This is a person who really knows the Harry Potter books well and obviously loves them. Since the comments R created were broken into five parts (Blogspot limits how long each comment can be), I have taken the liberty of copying them all into a single entry into the blog itself.

I have also taken the liberty of replacing a couple of swear words with "[*]" since young people read this blog and I have deleted the half sentences at the end of some paragraphs that got cut off by the comment function. Other than that, what follows are R's words. Thanks, R, for taking the time to read and to respond. You might not always agree with me but I'm glad you're willing to explain to me where you feel I've gone wrong. I hope you will find stuff in other entries on this blog that you find more acceptable (or that prompt more fantastic responses).

That being said, here is R's response to my blog entry:

What I think? I think that this post is pretty stupid. No offense but what are you trying to say? That J.K. Rowling is a horrible family hater? First thing first, only because you write about something doesn't mean you think about it the same way. But since you didn't get the point during any of the seven books: HP is very pro family. James died so save Lily and Harry. Lily died so save her son. Sirius died to save Harry. Molly and Arthur would have died for their children and for Harry and Molly's biggest fear was to lose them. What says more about love and family than "I'd die for my family."

Just because some characters aren't in a relationship or have children doesn't mean they don't worship families or don't know how to love. But it's also one of the greatest things about Harry Potter and the difference between HP and Twilight. “Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity."
But to the next part of your text: "Think about that: Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape, Sprout, Hagrid, Lupin, Lockhart, Flitwick, Trelawny, Moody, Slughorn, Quirrell, Pomfrey, even Umbridge... They're in live-in positions and yet not one of them is shown with a spouse and not one of them mentions a spouse. Sure, Lupin eventually marries Tonks but, at the time they're teaching, they are single. No matter their age."

First thing first: Dumbledore is gay. Do you really expect him to find a wife? Next thing: Snape is still in love with Lily. He would have married her some day if she required his love but she didn't. Poor Snape but that doesn't say anything about family. Quirrell traveled after his 7th year and was possessed by Voldemort ever since ... But I guess Voldemort would have been a great daddy. To Lupin: He marries Tonks so where is the problem? Oh because he wasn't married right after he left school? Excuse me, I forgot that people aren't allowed to live their own lives.
"And then ask yourself the question: how many of the families in the Harry Potter series have more than one child?" More than you named. You forgot Fleur for example. Also you forgot the "Next generation". Harry has three kids. Ron and Hermoine have two kids. George has two children. But to the characters without siblings:

Harry: I'm sure his parents would have been were happy to have more than one kid. A shame they [*] died when their first born was a year old.

Neville: I'm sure his parents would have been were happy to have more than one kid. A shame they [*] went insane when their first born was a year old.

Voldemort: I don't know if his mother would have wanted another child after the heartbreak with Tom Riddle Sr but we will never know because she died during [*] childbirth.

Luna: I'm sure her parents would have loved another child. To bad her mother died when Luna was still a kid.

Hagrid: Nope, Hagrid DOES have a brother. Only a halfsibling but still.

"Of the five main child characters in the novels (Harry, Hermione, Ron, Neville and Voldemort), three are parentless, one abandons her parents to join the magical world and the fifth is Ron of the massive family." There are reasons for three of them being parentless and this reason is not Rowling’s hate towards families. Hermoine also didn't abandon her parents to join the magical world, you [*] idiot. The deleted their memories of her so they wouldn't get killed during Voldemort War II. It was said from the very beginning of their journey in book seven that as soon as Voldemort was defeated, Hermoine would give her parents their memories back. Hermoine did this to save them and it did break her heart. And "Ron's massive family"? There is no way to please you, is there? Either there aren't enough kids or there are too many. And again: The book isn't supposed to be lovey-dovey no-one dies everybody's happy and has a perfect family with 2.5 children.

PS: "Your comment will be visible after approval." There is no way in hell you're going to approve of my comment, is there? So I really wasted one hour of my life. Yippie-Ya-Yeah.