Friday, 10 May 2013

"The only surviving woodcut shows that he had an exceptionally luxuriant beard."

When I signed up to the Harry Potter readalong of true awesomeness, I was expecting the usual- awesome discussions, arguments about various characters (*COUGH* Sirius *SPLUTTER* Snape), and mutual agreement that Luna and Neville are The Best. I've definitely gotten all of this and more, but the one thing I wasn't expecting was to get EXTRA HARRY POTTER- apart from, you know, the viewpoints of many people, I thought I pretty much knew what was what in the Potter-verse.

BUT. Clearly, I missed a crucial part of it.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard! This book is actually way better than I was expecting it to be, possibly because I didn't even know about Dumbledore's notes (GUYS! Dumbledore's notes!!) after each story, but mostly, I fear, because I'm an idiot. But anyway- the problem has been rectified now, thanks to Alice, and we can all rest easy now knowing that I have read Beedle the Bard.

I don't have a clue how to go about this post, but I'm just gonna take each story and say things about it (ok, I'm mainly going to say things about Dumbledore's notes. Yeah.)

The Wizard and the Hopping Pot
BE NICE TO PEOPLE is the clear message of this story, but also, you know, SHARE your skills if you can use them to help others, ok?
It IS nice to be exposed to stories that wizard children are told that teach them to be nice to muggles though, because sometimes it feels like the whole wizarding world kind of hates us, and that's just not cool.
ALSO, that witch who rewrote the stories in a GROSS way? Love her. Or, more specifically, this: "Mrs Bloxam's tale has met the same response from generations of wizarding children: uncontrollable retching, followed by an immediate demand to have the book taken from them and mashed into pulp."

The Fountain of Fair Fortune
Ok, so this story was kind of like The Wizard of Oz? You know, that end bit where they get symbols of the things they wanted because they actually already HAD them? And also no magic was really involved anywhere? This story was like that, at least in my brain.
I don't know... All I really care about is That Story about the ill-fated Hogwarts pantomime (Seriously. SERIOUSLY. That was amazing.) and also the fact that Lucius Malfoy's vendetta against Dumbledore started when he tried to get a book banned? I mean, REALLY, now he's just scraping the very bottom of the evil barrel. DON'T BAN BOOKS, MALFOY.
Also: "This exchange marked the beginning of Mr Malfoy's long campaign to have me removed from my post as Headmaster of Hogwarts, and of mine to have him removed from his position as Lord Voldemort's favourite Death Eater." Shit, Dumbledore, I think I love you...

The Warlock's Hairy Heart
I seriously dug this story because it has the kind of gruesomeness that I'm never not going to want. (Talk about a stupid sentence. I clearly mean 'I like tales of gruesomeness.' Duh.) It also hits all the Dumbledore-loves-Love buttons and yes. I like.
I was also REALLY pleased with JKR's footnote re: Warlocks, because did we have a discussion where we didn't know the difference between a Wizard and a Warlock? Or did I just have that conversation with myself? Either way- a Warlock is basically just a Wizard who is extra awesome. Which, I think we'll all agree is a very good thing to know!

Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump
Now THIS is pretty much The Emperor's New Clothes, amiright? Or at least it is to begin with, and then it turns into a kind of 'Haaa, aren't muggles silly?' kind of story. Which, I'm sorry, but how is a witch turning into a rabbit more likely than her turning into a tree? Exactly.
The notes talk a little bit about wizard-death and things, but Alley and I have been discussing how the paintings work (as in, are they a little bit alive after they're dead? Or just a kind of imprint of the dead person? Or... Something else?) and even though they're brought up here, they're still not really fully explained, so that was slightly disappointing.
BUT- it was all ok, because Professor McGonagall is the current Headmistress (we must assume) of Hogwarts! And that is just awesome.

The Tale of the Three Brothers
This story obviously has the most direct relevance to Harry Potter, even if it does kind of start off like The Three Billy Goats Gruff. (Juuust had to link to that because, what if you don't have that story in America?!) But yeah- technically it's the most interesting of the book because of that, but in a way it was also the least interesting, because I pretty much knew the story anyway.
BUT- One of my favourite parts of all of Harry Potter, I think, is when Harry, Ron and Hermione are discussing the Deathly Hallows and talk about which of them they'd choose, and their answers are SO reflective of their characters that it's just excellent. I just...
And then, of course, Dumbledore's thoughts on the subject are veeeery interesting, especially the potential existence of the Hallows (!!!) and their various dangers, and also the fact that even he (the greatest Wizard, maybe EVER) would find it easiest to refuse the Invisibility Cloak of the three. I feel like there's some kind of lack of bravery associated with the Invisibility Cloak, perhaps, but actually I think it's probably the one I'd choose... And the Elder Wand would be my last choice, if anyone wants to know! (Really not interested in Power. Really really.)
Favourite Footnote: "No witch has ever claimed to own the Elder Wand. Make of that what you will."
Nice work, JK. Nice work.

So, The Tales of Beedle the Bard! I will never miss it out again when I read Harry Potter. Aaaand, now I can read the Deathly Hallows, right? RIGHT?! (How can we only have one book left? I will be bereft after this. BEREFT.)


  1. I LOVE your Venn diagram! And of course we have the three billy goats gruff in the US. What kind of heathen do you think we are?

    I'm clearly the odd one out this week. I didn't care for Beedle's tales OR DUmbledore's commentary, and especially not JKR's footnotes. BOGUS, I say.

    1. Why thank you ma'am! And dude, I don't know! Some of our stuff is different and stuff! But I'm glad you are familiar.

      BUT DUMBLEDORE! DUMBLEDORE'S VOICE! IT IS AWESOME! *cries because you're being mean*

  2. I mean, was Lucius REALLY Voldie's favorite Death Eater? It never seemed like it. Dumbles needed to brush up on Death Eater hierarchy. Of course then they killed him so...

    I was hoping to get more insight on how the hell the paintings of dead people work, but Rowling didn't really add anything. Which I'm going to assume is because she hasn't really figured it out herself.

    I love your Venn diagram.

    1. Hmmmm. I don't know. But he did let Lucius lead the charge at the Ministry in OotP, AND gave him a Horcrux to look after, so it seems like he did like him a lot... (In devotional terms, Bellatrix should obvs be his favourite. But maybe she's too INSANE for that to be true.)

      Hahahaha, I totally assumed the same thing. They basically don't make any sense at all, but that's ok in books that involve magic, I suppose, because you can just go 'it's magic!' and cheat everyone out of everything.

      And lol, isn't it awesome? I was pretty pleased with myself! Side story: I totally made it on this educational website for kids. Oh yes.


    "All I really care about is That Story about the ill-fated Hogwarts pantomime"

    YESSSSS. Favorite. Especially the girls suddenly dueling each other and exploding worm thing.

    Also OF COURSE WE HAVE THE THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF. I was the smallest billy goat in a preschool play. And my mother said I did magnificently.

    1. I DID LINK MY POST! Maaan, I must have conditioned you to expect my inability to remember to do this...

      The exploding worm was SO GROSS and SO HILARIOUS and I just yes. More Hogwarts history, please. In fact, if we could all just read Hogwarts: A History, that would be GREAT.

      OK! I am pleased about this! And, awwww, I'll bet you were a spectacular tiny goat! I'm not sure if this is a compliment or not...

  4. Stupid Malfoy and his stupid trying to get a book banned because of wizard/human romance. Jerk.

    Ummmm I would TOTALLY pick the Invisibility Cloak. You would be such a ninja! And I could just hide under it and read alllllll day and no one would be able to find me. Muahahahaha.

    1. NO, LUCIUS! You've crossed a line when you try to ban books, man! Damn him.

      Sarah, we're clearly way smart. I just... The other two choices are clearly trick choices! Having that kind of power really isn't good for anyone, and there is just no POINT hanging out with the dead, really. Plus, you know, those things you said about the invisibility cloak! It's pretty awesome even without the negatives of the other things.

  5. About that no witches trying to claim the Elder Wand thing, I was getting all deep in my thinker about how maybe it's because witches don't crave power as much as the mens do, or maybe because the evil witches who would WANT such an implement have chosen to serve more powerful warlocks instead (i.e., Bellatrix). But then you provided that Venn diagram and my brain exploded in glee.

    I thank you.

    1. Hahaha, awesome.

      I was totally going, 'well, obviously women don't want power as much as men do' and stuff, but then I was like actually, FUCK THAT, I'm not having it (because, much as I don't really want power AT ALL, I refuse to believe that desire-of-power is somehow linked to penises) so I have decreed that it's alllll about the penis joke. I mean, COME ON, the Elder wand is a really LONG wand... Oh yes.

    2. It IS. Long and...quite thin and knobbly.

    3. *raises eyebrows* Hot.

  6. "now he's just scraping the very bottom of the evil barrel" << Lucius Malfoy, determined to get at every last drop of evil.

    YES about Warlock clarification. Super talented wizard who also rocks at hurting people.

    Your Venn diagram made me cry with mirth. WITH MIRTH. Fantastic. I'm already freaking out that we're starting our last book this week. What will we do when it's over? I think your right that it'll involve a lot of sad tweets.

  7. Oh my god, the Fountain story IS the Wizard of Oz. I had not realized that and now my mind is blown. And The Three Billy Goats Gruff... interesting. I think I heard that as a child but DEFINITELY wouldn't have made that connection, but I totally see it. Except that death comes 'round in the end, and the troll does not.