Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Novena for J. K. Rowling

Nancy Brown has started a novena of prayer for the great author J. K. Rowling, who is presently writing the seventh and final episode of the Harry Potter story.

When there are so many evils, difficulties, and problems in our world, it may seem rather strange to think of praying for an author - especially one who is writing what most consider a "children's story" and "a fantasy". But in God's amazing world sometimes such simple things will have more profound effects on the future than any number of scientific discoveries or civic actions - or even the media.

And then there is the debate over the "goodness" of the Potter story - an evaluation which obviously cannot be completed until the story is complete:

"Are you working?"
"No, I was reading a detective story."
"Oh. Is it - is it good?"
"I don't know. It's reasonably well written. But I can't tell whether it's good until I've finished it."
[John Dickson Carr, The Dead Man's Knock, p. 2]
Alas, far too often I have been reading detective stories rather than working, though a good deal of my work is often spent in detecting the errors in my own work, or the work of others. GKC pointed out this remarkable link between the ultimate "progress" of an individual and the nature of a "story":
Another example might be found, not in the problem of evil, but in what is called the problem of progress. One of the ablest agnostics of the age once asked me whether I thought mankind grew better or grew worse or remained the same. He was confident that the alternative covered all possibilities. He did not see that it only covered patterns and not pictures; processes and not stories. I asked him whether he thought that Mr. Smith of Golder's Green got better or worse or remained exactly the same between the age of thirty and forty. It then seemed to dawn on him that it would rather depend on Mr. Smith; and how he chose to go on. It had never occurred to him that it might depend on how mankind chose to go on; and that its course was not a straight line or an upward or downward curve, but a track like that of a man across a valley, going where he liked and stopping where he chose, going into a church or falling drunk in a ditch. The life of man is a story; an adventure story; and in our vision the same is true even of the story of God.
[GKC, The Everlasting Man CW2:377-8]
And the same holds true for Mr. Harry Potter of Godric's Hollow - an adventure which hints of Tolkien, but also of GKC's Thursday and all the great detective stories of the past.

Hence it is a good thing that we pray for Joanne Rowling, for like Harriet Vane and Dorothy Sayers, "...she writes detective stories and in detective stories virtue is always triumphant. They're the purest literature we have." [D. L. Sayers, Strong Poison, p. 127]

Indeed! May virtue be triumphant for Harry and for J. K. Rowling!


At 10 October, 2006 14:59, Blogger love2learnmom said...

Good idea! Ria and I are also anxious to find out how Lemony Snicket's series concludes this Friday. Though we've enjoyed most of it so far, he has given us a few reasons to worry. I think we're almost equally eager to discover how the author turns out as how the story turns out.

At 14 October, 2006 14:08, Blogger gigi said...

What all do you know about him??? On the back of the book, didn't say he was a private detective or something???

At 17 October, 2006 00:39, Blogger love2learnmom said...

I think that was the author speaking in character. He seems to keep a very low profile in real life. Ria and I read the final book this weekend and thought it was rather anticlimactic. Kind of a strange series, though with some interesting themes and he obviously loves poetry and language. The final book also used some rather strange symbolism that seemed deliberate but to no particular purpose. Maybe I just didn't get it.


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