Monday, November 21, 2005

Smith of Wootton Major edited Verlyn Flieger

As I mentioned that I was fortunate enough on Saturday to pick up the library's copy of the new "extended edition" (which makes it sound like a DVD !) of Smith of Wootton Major edited by Verlyn Flieger. This little hardback not only contains Tolkien's final story, but also Pauline Baynes' original illustrations. In addition to this Flieger has included her own Afterword, the "Genesis of the story" (Tolkien's note to Clyde Kilby), Tolkien's draft introduction to The Golden Key (from which the story's idea sprang), a Time Scheme and list of Characters, Tolkien's Suggestions for the ending of the story, his Smith of Wootton Major essay, a reproduction of the Hybrid (part typescript, part manuscript) and a transcription of 'The Great Cake' (as the original story was called), the Lake of Tears drafts and transcriptions, and finally explanatory Notes on the text.

All this for a mere £14.99 and with an attractive Pauline Baynes dust jacket too. I can recommend this edition; The Smith of Wootton Major story itself always moves me when I read it, and the extra are a real bonus, particularly Tolkien's essay on the story.

* * * * * *

I'm a member of a forum where discussion of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has been raging - and people keep saying that Harry is a Horcrux, which is why he has to die (according to Trelawney's prophecy). Someone even suggested this is how Harry got the powers that he shares with Voldemort...

But I refute this...

As Dumbledore explains in Half-Blood Prince, one makes a Horcrux after a murder has been committed (using a very specific spell) and since Voldemort was rendered very insubstantial by the rebounding Avada Kedavra spell, he was in no shape to make Harry into a Horcrux... Although Dumbledore believes that Voldemort planned to use Harry's murder to make a final Horcrux, there is no implication in the text that he was going to use Harry AS a Horcrux... (I've literally just re-read the book, finishing it Saturday, so all this is fresh in my mind.) Dumbledore suggests that Voldemort used Nagini (the snake) to make his final Horcrux once he'd killed Frank, the gardener who looked after the Riddle House, at the start of GoF; but Dumbledore believes it was a very dangerous thing to do, given that Nagini can think and move for herself, since there is always the possibility of the snake leaving Voldemort, or indeed of her being killed. Yes there's the possibility of Horcruxes being destroyed, but one needs to know what object is the Horcrux and where it is before one can destroy - and since Voldemort believes he's the only one who knows of his creation of them, inanimate objects are much safer repositories for the pieces of his soul, and less likely to be accidentally destroyed...

Harry's sharing of Voldemort's powers are the result of the failed Avada Kedavra spell - normally the AK leaves a person unmarked (see the opening chapter of Goblet of Fire on this one - when the three Riddles are found) - but because of Lily's sacrifice for Harry, an ancient magic was invoked which protected Harry from the spell's full effects. It gave him the scar, through which some of Voldemort's powers were passed: ie. Parseltongue (the ability to speak to snakes) and Legilimency (the power to enter another's mind).

But Harry is not a Horcrux !!

The bit about "Neither can live whilst the other survives" merely relates to the fact that Voldemort wants Harry dead, fearing him as a rival, and Harry wants Voldemort dead by way of revenge. Quite clearly it's NOT literally true, or one of them would be dead by now - Harry's almost 17 by the end of HBP, and clearly still alive, as is Voldemort... And as J K Rowling has pointed out, the prophecy is only relevant because they are making it relevant. If both of them chose to ignore it, they could go their own ways without one of them having to die. But Voldemort is incapable of ignoring the one he believes to be a rival, and as a consequence Harry cannot ignore the prophecy because Voldemort won't rest until Harry is dead or he himself has been killed.

Oh, and to all the doubters Dumbledore is dead ! Much as I loved Dumbledore, we just have to accept the fact that all the adults who stood between Harry and danger are gone. He has to be a man now. (The weirdest theory I've heard of late is that Dumbledore is an unregistered Animagus and his animal form is a Phoenix... I think not !)

6 comments:

Kelly said...

Goodness, that's a horrible theory re: Harry. I hope you are correct and he is not a horcrux. I trust your reading, thank god.

Michele said...

Have you not heard that one before Kelly ? It's been circulating for some time, but I keep arguing against it ! I do hope JKR isn't going to prove me wrong (but somehow I doubt she will - the fact that the last word of the final book is still "scar" gives me hope !)

Today's theory is that Harry will have to give up his magic in order to defeat Voldemort. But I pointed out that such an ending would be too much of a Lord of the Rings ending ! And whilst the HP books are full of LotR imagery, I don't think JKR will go that far (I really hope not !)

Dave said...

Howdy Sass!

Just wanted to say - I agree entirely about Dumbledore being dead...and you're even winning me over about Harry not being a Horcrux (though I think employing logic in these situations is entirely unfair!)

Michele said...

Ah well, I'm a former programmer (and a secret Vulcan) so logic comes naturally... :-D

Jill said...

Sorry, I'm just reading this now - what forum are you on? Sounds like an interesting one.

Harry won't die or be left mutilated, for so very many reasons (psychological implications for child audience - not part of the school story genre - won't sell in the future if readers know they're just getting to get to know and love a character who's going to die - etc). But Harry's scar can be a horcrux, along the lines of the figurine-thing in Robin McKinley's Spindle's End.

Michele said...

I simply cannot see how anyone can argue that Harry or anything about his person can be a Horcrux. Please explain to me HOW Voldemort could have done this spell - either before Harry's parents were killed, or afterwards (given his disembodied state)...

The forum is for the British SF & Fantasy magazine SFX.