Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows--book 7 title

I've been posting my thoughts on various forums and have yet to really post much here or on my live journal. So I'm posting both here and my live journal, in an attempt to organize my thoughts on the latest Christmas gift from Rowling--the title for book 7--Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I'm glad to see that John Granger now has a blog (I'll add the link later)--it's a bit easier than a forum to keep up with and accessible to more people.Several things have already been brought up--I think it was Rob (rapierpen) who said that Snape is the Keeper of the Keys for Harry, just as Hagrid was the Keeper of the Keys for Dumbledore. I like that as it brings the relationship between Harry and Snape into sharper focus and importance.The other is that hallows--which can be a verb or a noun, but sounds more like it's a noun in the title of book 7 (DH)--could also refer to things being hallowed in a deadly place--that from Sandra.

A lot of us, including me, have been jumping from graveyard to graveyard with that idea. There's the one that Harry has already visited in GOF where Riddle's family are buried. There's the graveyard--or the one we think he will find--when he visits Godric's Hollow, seeking more infomation about his parents. Then there is the one that Rowling has said is at Hogwarts--the one that Cuaron couldn't put somewhere in the 3rd movie, because that wasn't where it was located. We did see Dumbledore's tomb, but it didn't seem to be part of a graveyard, so there must be one somewhere else. Who is buried there is still unknown. Most likely, the three founders who were still at Hogwarts after Slytherin left. We do know that no other headmasters or headmistresses are buried there, however--Dumbledore was the first. But I've wondered if James and Lily might be buried there--if James did have some family connection to Gryffindor, that might be reason enough, especially given the heroic nature of their short fight against Voldemort.

But the other place that might be a possible place is the Death room at the Ministry of Magic. That veil just begs to be reintroduced. It's one of those things that people discussed for months on forums, but no one ever really asked Rowling about it, except in reference to Sirius's death--was he really dead and could he come back? But never--just what is the veil, how is it used and what does it do and will we see it again?

I think it's likely that Harry will learn something important about his parents when he visits Godric's Hollow. I wonder if that will lead him back to the Ministry. The other room waiting for his discovery is the one that was locked--the one Dumbledore told him was filled with a great and terrible power, reminiscent of part of the story by Charles Williams, Descent into Hell, which I recently finished reading.

Those rooms both were so prominent in OotP, but then have not been mentioned again, or explained. The Death room, with the veil, seems that it could be something connected to Deathly Hallows--either a place where people are hallowed (as a saintly connection), or that the veil is a way to connect with saints of the past. I know, that's all too religious for many people. But it's very hard to go any place with that title without making religious connections. To ignore the meanings of the word, whether it is a verb or a noun, says that Rowling didn't do her research into the word properly. And the one thing we all should have learned by now, is that she is one woman who chooses and uses words very carefully, with the intent that her words will give us all the clues we need--but we will only see the full connection after we've finished the book.

Back to Snape--I always seem to get back to Snape. It's just doesn't seem to fit that he will turn back into the cardboard cutout of a baddie, after all the little hints we've had that there is much more to his story than Harry knows. Rob suggested that Snape is Harry's Keeper of the Keys, and that fits very well with my view that it will be Snape who works along side Harry to defeat Voldemort. But for any sort of cooperation between them--and I'm not looking for friendship, as that would seem out of character for Snape in particular--there has to be a resolution of their anger and hatred. They have to forgive one another; Harry has to forgive Snape for whatever part Snape played in James and Lily's deaths, and Snape has to forgive Harry for being his father's son. As for Snape's role in Dumbledore's death, there has to be more to it than what Harry (and we) thinks he saw on the Tower. Harry can't use the power of the love that Dumbledore kept saying he had with all that anger and bitterness getting in the way. And Snape can't be useful to Harry while he still is filled with hatred for Harry based on Harry's father and godfather.

The other thing that crossed my mind the other day--nothing to do with DH (Deathly Hallows), at least not directly--is that we still don't know what Snape's patronus is. But when I was reading a portion of Order of the Phoenix, there was a brief description of a thestral, as having bat-like wings. Rowling has described Snape as bat-like so many times that many have thought it means he is a vampire (sorry John), but couldn't it mean that his patronus is actually a thestral?

Hagrid describes thestral in OotP (US), on page 446:

". . . they aren' unlucky, they're dead clever an' useful! 'Course, this lot don' get a lot of work, it's mainly jus' pullin' the school carriages unless Dumbledore's takin' a long jouney an' don' want ter Apparate--"

And later, Hagrid gives more information about thestrals, p. 448-9:

". . . good stuff abou' thestrals. Well, once they're tamed, like this lot, yeh'll never be lost again. 'Mazin' senses o' direction, jus' tell 'em where yeh want ter go--"

And there is Snape, who hasn't been used to his full potential in teaching the students, as we saw from the abundent information in his old Potions text; Snape is just out there, waiting to guide Harry along the way in the final stage of his journey/quest. Snape, whose patronus if it is a thestral, is somewhat frightening and sinister, yet not at all evil or frightening when one understands him. It only take knowing the proper way to look at him.


(I've written a bit more on the idea of Snape's Patronus being a thestral in it's own topic, but I've left this part here, because of the thoughtful comments--and I didn't want to lose that part.)


Antoinette said...

Hi Pat - I'm just as excited about the release of the title!! The Dutch title was released the same day: "Harry Potter en de dodelijke heiligen". Which - literally translated back to English - is: "Harry Potter and the Deadly Saints". Mind you: deadly - not deathly!

I love reading all the discussions about the title and what it might mean!


Eeyore said...

It's interesting when they start translating--I wonder if that translation will change when the books come out? Deadly and deathly sound similar but the meanings are just a little bit different.

It's also interesting that they've gone with saints, rather than some sort of place, which is what a lot of people are trying to make it.

Can't wait for the book!

Nice to hear from you, Antoinette--

Hugs, Pat

merlin said...

I loved Williams' Descent into Hell, although it has been years since I have read it, so I can't call to mind where exactly you are connecting to the descriptions of the love room, but I'm sure they're there ... It's a great book from what I remember of it (although a much more psychological landscape tot it ... I gave that and War in Heaven as a Christmas present to a friend and he said he really liked WiH but had difficulty making it too far into DiH when he tried to start reading it on a plane to a tradeshow, which made sense to me after pondering that the DiH landscape really is more psychological vs the more physical lanscape of WiH)

I like the considerations you have here on the Deathly Hallows. 2 things came to mind from Anotionette's relating the Dutch Title:

The standard English translation of the traditional Vulgate Latin of the Lord's Prayer: from sanctifcatur to "hallowed" (be Thy Name)... the Latin is obviously the root from the English "Saint" is coming (but I'm beginning to sound too much like John Granger there, which I say only jokingly ... just that I thought he stated the case a little too strongly that English speakers in western culture will automatically jump to the Lord's Prayer/Our Father without any other connections coming to mind at a strong level ... given that many, at least those who would even call to mind the line from the prayer, are familiar with the fact that "halloween" [very Gothic, and thus associations with Rowling and Potter right off the bat] comes from "all hallows eve" and that it is the day before All Saints Day and connected with, even if they don't automatically make the connection the "All Hallows Eve" is literally "All Saints Eve" ... which connects with my second thought ... so I will jump to that now).

The second thing really interests me, especially being as you have just mentioned here the Riddle graveyard in GOF: From the first time I read the whole thing of the shades emerging from Voldy's wand and circling the dueling pair and assailing Voldy to help Harry escape, that image struck me as "Communion of the Saints" and St Paul's "cloud of witnesses. I'm not saying I think she was necessarily going for that as something specific for the reader "to get" or that she is trying to be a "champion" of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. But I do think that as somebody well familiar with the literature of Western Catholic Europe, she would be familiar with the concept as an image and that the similarity is entirely too striking to be accidental ... that I think it is a primary image that she is using here (not nessesarily a primary referent, or thing symbolized, but that it is the primary image that she is using to symbolize what it is thatt she is symbolize, a sense of family/community that helps the individual, that can also extend beyond the realm of "those who are currently 'alive'" and that can utilize and function through/inconnection with the physical universe, such as the traces of the victims left behind in the wand and accessible through priori incantatem ... all of which is a more mystical concept that she is directly symbolizing, although not necessarily the communion of saints doctrine per se that is the direct referent in the symbolization, but I do think it is the image she is drawing on in order to to symbolize what she sis symbolizing).
In this case, as antionette's relating of the English translation of the Dutch title points to, from Voldy's perspective, those shades in the Riddle graveyard in GOF(and maybe others that will make an appearance in book 7?) really are "deadly saints."

Having said all that I just wanted to toss in a couple extra considerations that have been bumping around in my brain on the title.

It seems to me like the most probable referent would be the founders graves at Hogwarts (I'm not really well versed here ... from what you said it sounded like she said it exists there and I am taking your statement that she stopped the director of POA movie from isnerting it "because it is not there" as being "there" in book 3 [ie "there" refering to time-text placement in the series], which would lend much support to the specific "deathly hallows" being the founders graves ... if she has had in mind all along that there is a specific set of Graves but did not want the information out yet [although she accidentally leaked it via the interchaneg with the director of POA], which would indicate that it is important information to be gaurded).

Here are some guesses on specifcs and some of my rational behind them.

I think that these graves will be the specifc referents of the title and stated as such in the text (and hence my saying I think them the primary referents. I think that all the rest I am talking about in this comment are/will be really symbolized in the title, but on the level of meaning that is properly symbolization, and that these will be the primary physical referent. I think that it is also possible that the "location" of departed souls who still have a role to play (ie beyond the veil) may be a secondary "physical" referent, and the connection bewteen these referents would be the concept of the departed and their "resting place" (either of the body in a graveyard or tomb or of the soul in that place beyond the veil) and the role that they play as "deadly" to Woldy while still operating from that "place," as well as their threat to Harry - not meaning that they are "menacing" to him in and of themselves, but that his connection with them in the fight against Voldy puts him in a place, or maybe a state, where there is more pull for him to cross that line in a way that makes him no longer able to exist on this side of the veil as a "living person," just by the nature of the place/state itself).

My first line of reasoning as to the foudners graves being the specific primary referent of the title is that in all 6 books thus far the title object is some particular thing or person introduced specifically in that book, and unknown before the point of the particular book. We knew Snape before HBP but we did not know this title, which is almost an alter-persona. We've known he has a lot of unknown facets to his personality; we have known that he has serious personality/identity issues tied up with his rivalry with Sirius and James, but we did not know that he sort of embodied these issues in this particular "persona" that is indicated on a much more concrete level when he gives it a title. More importantly, we enounter it in a specific physical object introduced specifically in HBP ... the potions book. In a way this book is a lot like Riddles diary in COS ... a sort of concrete encapsulation of this self-cocncept/persona (although not on the level of the diary as a Horcrux, which, as I say in the next point, is, I think, reminiscent of idolatry ... in support of the "idol reading" of Horcruxes I would offer the role Slytherin plays in Voldy's self-conception, the diary as Horcrux and its tight position with the statue of Salazar Slytherin in the end of COS, the depiction of Ginny Weasely laying between the feet of that statue and the standard, and well-known, idolatry image of the god Molech with children being sacrificed in its arms [this article from the Jewish Encyclopedia list numerous OT passages concerning Molech worship: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=718&letter=M ... and this article draws on Smiths Bible Dictionary and the Encyclopedia of the gods and describes the particular element of the burning in the ourstretched arms: http://www.themystica.com/mythical-folk/articles/molech.html ... it is a pretty commonly known image, and one that sticks with you, I knew of it generally as a kid). I think that in book 7 the title will refer to a concrete specific thing that we have not encountered yet (that is on the level of physical referent ... as I say in the next point I like the Horcruxes as a symbolic referent, as "deathly hallows" as in "unholy hallows" ... idols)

Secondly, I think that the graves will be undergound ... as Granger points out in the hidden key, all of the past books have involved the underground (through the trap door in SS/PS, the chamber in COS, the passage under the willow in POA, the Ministry in OotP - in GOF it is a graveyard above ground, but this connects with below ground graves and one can also appeal to the literary tradition on the "location" of the netherworld in Homer and Virgil ... and in HBP, I would say the cave fits the bill, but that there is a neat development befitting a pentultimate book in that it has a second half that is equally far above ground, atop the tower).

The second reason I like the graves below ground is that it hooks up with another etymological connection that some have discovered, the connection with the word "hollow." The place I myslef lit upon this connection of meanings is in Native American religion. A number of years ago I found myself hiking, boating, camping and swimming at Lake Powell in Southern Utah with a friend. It is a large canyon on the Colorado river with many branching side canyons. when they damned the river at the base, the canyon filled, and up one of the side canyons they discovered some old cliff dwellings which they restored ... you just pull up your boat and climb up a little and there is a state personell there that will tell you about the different rooms etc. On the back there is a little room you climb down into, and it is a worship room with a little fireplace and chimney for fire to be used in reverencing the spirits etc. around the walls there are niches in which they would place carved, for lack of a better term here, idols. In other words, they were places in the wall hollowed out for the images of what they hallowed. I am guessing the graves will fit this image type - the hallowed grounds of founders (who were so central to Voldy's self-conception, as evidenced in that he wanted their artifacts to house pieces of his soul, and, on the guesses of myself and many, so central to Harry undoing Voldemort) will be in a place hollowed out, underground.

And my last guess on specifics is that the entrance to the graves will not be in the grounds, but somehwere in the castle itself. I have 2 reasons for guessing this. The first is that from what I can discern in the texts, I stick with a chiastic reading of the structure in which book 7 corresponds to book 1 (rather than the structure suggested by Red Hen and others in Who Killed Albus Dumbledore, where book 7 corresponds to book 3, which, as I have said, does not strike me as being as "tidy" for a meta-structure of a 7 book series, and chiasm is a well-studied structuring device with a well documented heavy usage in classical literature) ... in which case an entrance within the castle itself is more fitting, since the trap door in PS/SS was in the castle, and the locus of final action directly beneath the school itself.
My second reason is connected with the whole thing of the "saints" image. It was a well known practice in Medieval Catholicism, the predominant religious cult of the Christian part of the classical literature Rowling studied (and just in case any are not familiar with the word as I am using it here in its technical usage ... I am not using it in the modern sense of "fringe groups that break off from major religions" etc - the technical use is of the material aspects of religious worship - in Biblical Judaism there is the "cult of the Temple" meaning the specific rubrics and objects of Temple Sacrifice - the modern usage owed in part to references to the "cults of the Saints" but originally this means not "fringe groups that got radically and fanatically into this or that saint," but rather the specific practices of veneration, for examples specifically formulated prayers to the particular saint for their intercession, meaning their own prayers to Christ on one's behalf, with emphasis on the aspect that it is only through Christ that any of it is done and Christ is the only one worshipped as deity, the saints are only venerated or honored) ... a well known practice that the bones/relics of saints, especially martyrs, were kept beneath the altar, often times (cf the movie on Thomas Becket, which begins and ends with the king praying at a tomb underneath the cathedral altar, which is reached by a set of steps that go down under the altar in the front, the tomb of Saint Peter has also be discovered beneath the Bascilica in Rome ... even in contemporary churches in America in which the altars are more portable, the practice is still to have relics in the altar, by way of an "altar stone," a flat stone of standard size with a relic encased/embedded in it, that can be fit into a place made for it [hollowed out, if you will] in the portable altar)
I think that all in all, within the framework of what Granger has discussed as Rowling being a post-modern writer, she is the brand of PoMo who realizes it as a freedom from the "modern" to draw also upon pre-modern models (which were viewed as "superstitious" and antiquated by the moderns) and find the continuities between the pre-modern and the post-modern, and that her propensity thus far for using the pre-modern in her post-modern work, points in the direction of her finding it attractive to have the entrance to "hallows" be within the building.

Well, make that 3 reasons ... in some interview in recent times Rowling said she had a dream of herself as Harry rummaging through the great hall looking for a Horcrux. AS Narrator she knew where it was and as Harry she did not, but the hall was also operated by the waiters and waitresses at the cafe where she has written much of the work ... it may or may not have been a fully consious fun little very veiled tip off, but I suspect it is at least a subconscious slip in releasing info ... that's my guess on it at least.

I also like the Horcruxes as symbolic referents of the title. this is a brief point that connects mainly with what I mentioned above about the "hollowing" meaning in connection with idolatry. In an attempt to avoid making any too rash statement on Native-American religious practice, in light of what could be said on the impact of the Church's thought concerning "insurmountable ignorance" in relation to those religious practices ... but I definitely think Voldy's Horcruxes fit the role of "idols"
(in short, I believe that there is a latent bu deep connection in idolatry between "image worship" [Greek = Eidos-Latria, or ido-latry] and "self worship" [Greek would = "idios latria", or the worship of things that are peculiar to one's self, like idioms are peculiar to a particular language and idiosynchracies to a particular personality ... and if you take the attachment of the latria [worship] to a particular "crafted" physical object, which is characteristic of idol worship, and combine it with the self worship, the Horcrux works as a pretty neat image, taking a piece of one's soul and attaching it to a physical object)


I liked what Granger had to say on "hallowing" as a "calling."

I need to preface my own considerations on this with a statement of what they are for me. For me they come paritally from study of Judaica and the Old Testament/Hebrew Scripture. It would be a long and arduous task/road to construct a solid "argument" for using these sources for explicating Rowling's work if own is thinking about it in the vein of proof-texting etc, which I'm not. For me, I think the stuff is there, having made it into Rowling's mind in the form of (and by way of) concrete instances where it has come from Biblical and post-Biblical Judaic culture into Medieval Christian culture. I would offer a couple of instances in support of such occurances being the kind of thing that actually does happen.
The first is from a talk presented by Jeanne LaHaie this past summer at Lumos, on Jewish name magic in the middle ages as a possible image source for the fear of saying Voldy's name (which seems to be ubiquetous among both the MOM loyal crowd and the Death Eaters, outside of Harry and DD ... and Voldy himself is definitely pre-occupied with names) and the Jewish legends, first encountered in and around Prague in the middle ages (if I remember correctly from the talk), of a Holy Rabbi making a golem for the protection of the Jewish community there by placing one of the names of God on the forehead of the (which, incidentally, had the danger of becoming unruly if it became self-aware, and might cause trouble by not submitting to its own dissolution by the removal of the name once its purpose of protection had been served ... and the concern with self-awareness/autonomy reminds me mych of DD's comments on how imprudent it would have been of Voldy to make Naginni a Horcrux). The second is the AK killing curse, which is obviously modeled on "abracadabra" ... at one point on the MM blog I analyzed the actual AK curse from Hebrew cognates that seemed just too strong to be coincidence, with the AVD and DVR roots in Hebrew (or ABD and DBR - the "b" and "d" being the same letter in Hebrew and other Semitic languages), and a really neat friend/woman from Australia, whose initials also happen to be JKR, came back having looked up the etymology of "abracadabra" and found that several possibilities existed from Chaldean and Aramaic, generally yeilding "vanish like/as a/this word" and that it was used in medieval times on talismans, often in a triangulated repeated formation, as a protection against illness or attempt to rid oneself of such.
(Aside: I once pondered, prompted in my musings by the work that had been done on stage magic in HBP, if at one time the practices within stage magic more clearly mirrored the actual etymologies of the phrases "abracadabra" and "hocus pocus" - in present lore it seems to me like they are thought of as basically undifferentiated as "magic words" - but it would be interesting if at one time in stage magic the former had been used primarily when making things disappear, mirroring the "vanish like/with a/this word" origin, and the latter used primarily when making things re-appear, mirroring that it originally developed as a "magic/voodoo-type" derogitory term as a put down on the vast medieval Catholic consideration of the Mass and the doctrine of Trans-substantiation, as a put down on the Latin words of institution, "Hoc Est Meus Corpus" - thus "Hocus Pocus" used for making things appear magically)

Having said all that, the thing that interested me in John Granger's HogPro ponderings on the Dethly Hallows name, augmented by others here and there, is the "calling" strand of the word. I think that he is on to something with the connection to Harry having a "calling" like the prophets and apostles, but I think it is a more latent or subtle one, not meaning "less there" but that it pervades the texts on a different level of meaning. I just thought I would toss in some other stuff here from what I see in some Hebraic instances that connect it with "the sacred".

In the Hebrew texts there is a verb for "call" that is transliterated "Qara," and it receives a wide range of usage but most connected with the sacred, actions by the deity or actions connected with sacred roles or with cult. The first is a simple meaning of "read" and, in this context, really "proclaim." Jeremiah tells Baruch to "Qara" to the king the scroll of the "Word of the LORD" (DVR YHWH) that Jeremiah from the LORD and dictated to Baruch (his scribe). The verb is the same used when God calls the light "day" and the dark "night." It is also used of special naming by humans ... Adam "calls" (same verb) the living creatures, gave them names, in Genesis 2, and he says of the woman that she shall be called (same verb) woman (some strands of exegesis posit that there is a significance to the difference between this instance and the naming of "Eve" after the fall and that the fact that it says "he called her name Eve" is conditioned by the setting of that within the curse/judgment after the fall - that the use of "name" was only with the animals earlier, not with the woman, and that the form here indicates this act of naming, versus the earlier naming, as part of the tension now introduced between the sexes as - this is part of a feminist reading, some of which I can see the point of and other parts I might disagree with, but my main interest in mentioning it is the use of the term "name" in a context that has the possibility of being negative somehow and the similarity with the name focus in Harry Potter and Voldy's name and name magic etc - a concept of unique properties in the term/concept ... in Jewish culture and the tradition out of which the Masorete scribes added vowel points to the Hebrew OT text, the name of the LORD [YHWH] would not be pronounced in reading in the Synagogue, and so they put the vowel points of "Adonai" [lord] under it to remind the cantor to say "Adonia" rather than "Yahwen" [this is actually where the mistaken name "Jehovah" comes from in the King James ... it is what you get if you don't understand the system and actually try to pronouce the consonants YHWH with the vowel points of "Adonia"], and in current Jewish prayer books [ a Siddur] the copy of the Torah in it does not even have the 4-consonant form at all, it is "HaSheim" - "The Name")
The one that sticks out to me most in connection with the concept of the sacred is that the verb is used formulaicly to refer to cultic worship of Yahweh. In Genesis 4:26, after Seth calls the name of his son Enosh, it says that at this time men began to "call on the name of the LORD" and in Genesis 12:8 Abram builds an altar to the LORD and "called on the name of the LORD" ... all the same verb ... which is also used (to get back to Granger's concept of a "calling" of a person to a mission etc) in 1 Samuel 2: 4 when God calls Sammuel in the middle of the (the famous passage where Sammuel, as a boy, goes in severl times to Eli, thinking it is Eli who has been calling his name).

All of that to say that while I think the primaryh referent of the "hallows" in the 7th Harry Potter book will be the graves of the founders underground at Hogwarts, and maybe on a larger level "the grave" in general as the "keeper" of the souls of those who have departed this life via Voldy's AK etc but who still have a role to play in the final undoing of him (ie a "communion of Saints" that includes both the founders as foundational and those such as Lily and James as specific martyrs in what Granger is terming Voldewar I and II), and possibly connected with their place beyond the veil the room in the MOM and the juxtaposition/connection of that location ... while I think this set of images and locations etc will be the primary referents of the title, I think there is also a connection between them the "sideline" meanings of the "hallow" title in the various strands of the English meaning, which seem disparate in English but if you look back further in the Judeo-Christian tradition you can find more actual thematic connection between the seemingly disparate meanings and that that older thematic connection does make it through into the themes of Rowling's work. And I think information like Antionette provided on the Dutch title provides some great supporting info that helps tie the together the likely primary meanings with some of the great stuff John and others have speculated on from the English possibilities of the word.