Friday, December 02, 2005

Harry Potter the heir to Faust?

I missed seeing A N Wilson's article in Monday's Telegraph because of the computer problems to which I referred yesterday, so some of you may have seen this already (although I've not seen any mention of it on any of the Blogs I read my way through this morning !) Wilson comments:

Many of us will have spent a few hours recently watching Lord Voldemort resume his - or Ralph Fiennes's - corporeal shape, in the film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I thought it was a scene so terrifying that it could hardly be watched, but after pulling myself together and realising I was responsible for the younger members of the party, I turned to the two seven-year-olds to my right and saw their faces wreathed in callous grins.

Perhaps you need to be grown-up to appreciate how frightening Voldemort is. Cyril Connolly said that Aleister Crowley was the missing link between Hitler and someone else, but I always forget who the someone else was. Voldemort is in this tradition: the mage who abuses his power, who indeed lives for power and believes, as he announces in the first of the J K Rowling books, that there is no good or evil, only power.

Magic can still be seen as the ultimate expression of this intellectually false perception, and the damage it does has been the theme of many a great book.

(I still haven't seen the fourth HP film so I still haven't seen the best acting without a nose yet - I'm hoping to get to see the film finally on Dec. 10th !)

Anyway, Wilson then goes on to discuss Faust, with regard to the books of E M Butler that were written half a century ago: The Myth of the Magus, Ritual Magic and The Fortunes of Faust. Apparently, explains Wilson, the original Faust was mostly a fraudulent trickster who combined (according to Butler) "a minimum of pharmaceutical knowledge with a maximum of malice".

This is an interesting article - and makes me curious about Faust - but that curiosity will have to wait until after January 15 to be indulged as I must concentrate as much energy as possible on finishing my Tolkien reading for the Encyclopaedia piece.


Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for mentioning this!

Michele said...

You're welcome ! I thought it would be of interest to some of my readers - glad to see I wasn't wrong...