Page 11, 28th February 2003

28th February 2003
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Page 11, 28th February 2003 — Jumping •
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Organisations: New Age
Locations: Phoenix, Rome

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Jumping •

the gun the gun

The next Harry Potter isn't out until the summer, but a new book claims to know what is in it, says Stratford Caldecott

The Hidden Key to Harry Potter by John Granger, Gracewing £13.99

Now that J K . Rowling has delivered the text of the fifth Harry Potter book to her publishers. Bloomsbury, we can expect a mounting fever of excitement and speculation as the June publication date gets closer.

There will be leaks and rumours of leaks. Already the publishers have , released two tiny teasers from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: fragments of the new book that tell us. ( I) that it opens, as the others have done. in Privet Drive, and (2) that in the course of the book Dumbledore will divulge a great secret to Harry.

John Granger thinks he knows a lot more than that. He knows it not because he has privileged access to Joanne Rowling, but because he has discovered The Hidden Key to Harry Potter (the title of his own book, recently published by Zossima Press in the United States and distributed over here by Gracewing).

Granger believes he has decoded Rowling's books and can see the direction in which they are taking us. Most controversially, he believes Rowling is a deeply Christian writer, and that her stories should be situated firmly in the Inklings tradition of C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien, and hehind them of G K Chesterton and George MacDonald. He shows that her literary pedigree is more distinguished than many have realised, since it includes, alongside the Inklings, such figures as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Tolstoy.

His theory may delight Rowling fans, but it will not please those who have been determined to see Rowling as an agent of the Occult, determined to subvert Christian belief. On the contrary, he argues, these books are helping to evangelise our culture. Granger's view recently received indirect support from Rome, when Rowling was described as a Christian writer at the Vatican press conference which launched an important document on the New Age movement.

The range of influences Granger traces in the Potter books is broad, and includes a great deal of literature on alchemy; but these influences are quite compatible with Christianity in the way J K Rowling uses them. Alchemy, for her, is not really about turning base metals into gold or pro

longing life with a Philosopher's Stone, but is a system of symbolism.

It describes the transformation of the soul on a spiritual path towards God. In fact, Granger regards Rowling as what he calls a "Christian Symbolist" writer par excellence.

So, what does Granger predict will happen in the fifth book?

After taking us through the influences and underlying spiritual themes of the published novels, and analysing the amusing word-play that frequently gives us clues to the meanings intended by the author. Granger thinks he has found a structural formula.

Using this, he predicts that The Order of the Phoenix begins in Privet Drive. Romance a la Jane Austen will flourish at Hogwarts. Voldeinort will sweep to power. Duinbledore's resistance movement will be suppressed as a terrorist organisation by the new regime.

Dumbledore will tell Harry the great secret (pretty obvious by now): that Harry is the Heir of Gryffyndor. And after this, by the end of the hook, thinks Granger, the worst will happen. Durnbledore must die.

Now it has to be admitted that that is a fairly unambiguous prediction. If it comes true. maybe Granger's book, too, may start to jump magically off the shelves, as people wonder what else he may have got right,




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