Hog's Head Conversations: Essays on Harry Potter. Edited by Travis Prinzi. Allentown, PA: Zossima Press, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-9822385-8-5.
Since the publishing of the last novel of the Harry Potter series, scholarly and popular assessment of the series continue to pour from the press. Some of these books are pointed at the scholarly community and others at a more popular audience. I believe this book is pointed at both. The writing is clear and readable for the generally educated public. The more scholarly, academic essays are in the last section. These essays are fun to read and add new insights to Harry Potter. The authors include well-well known Potter scholars and even an Inkling scholar, Colin Manlove. Some of the other authors are John Granger, Amy H. Sturgis, James W. Thomas, and others. The editor, Travis Prinzi, authored an excellent earlier work, Harry Potter and the Imagination.
All of the essays are worth reading. Some of the best are Colin Manlove's "The Literary Value of the Harry Potter Books," Thomas's "Repotting Harry Potter," Tumminio's "God and Harry Potter at Yale," and Sturgis's "When Harry Potter met Faerie." Manlove defend Harry Potter as great literature. Manlove is an acknowledged expert on fantasy literature and has written books on C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of narnia, and Christian Fantasy. Manlove analyses the structure of Harry Potter and how it compares with great literature. Thomas also focuses on the literary value on Harry Potter. He is professor of English at Pepperdine university and has written Repotting Harry Potter: A Professor's Book-by-Book Guide for the Serious Reader. In his essay he addresses two different critics of the Harry Potter Books, professional critics like Harold Bloom and Conservative Christians. Trumminio who teaches theology explores theological themes in the series. She also teaches a class at Yale called God and Harry Potter. Sturgis's essay provides evidence how Harry Potter contains similarities with the Lord of the Rings and fits Tolkien's and Lewis's criteria for a Faerie story. She also addresses the complaints that Harry Potter is too scary for kids and too childish for adults to read. Would Tolkien and Lewis read it if they were still alive?
These are just some of the excellent essays in this book. It was fun reading and I gained new insights about the series. These essays reaffirmed that there is a great depth to Harry Potter.