Monday, September 9, 2013

Reading: The Hogwarts Saga as Ring Composition and Ring Cycle by John Granger

Earlier this summer, as you may recall, I had the amazing opportunity to be a student guest on the wonderfully fantastic academic podcast titled Mugglenet Academia which looks at the Harry Potter books in a scholarly fashion.  Before the episode, host Keith Hawk sent me the subject material so that I could prepare my thoughts.  One of the subjects was ring composition.  I had never heard of ring composition before so I went online and started doing my research.  Right away I found out that Mugglenet Academia had done a bonus episode that focused on ring composition and co-host John Granger had written a book about it.  I decided to order the book and I listened to the podcast. 
Ever since that experience, my life has become all Potter.  It won't stay that way - I promise.  However, right now I feel a very strong connection to the books and studying the literary elements that go with them.  (Just a warning, there will be lots of Harry Potter posts for the next month or two).  After learning about ring composition, I no longer view the books in the same light as I used to.  It is so clear to me now that Rowling is in fact a genius and preplanned these books so well!  I mean, I always knew she was awesome but ring composition was the icing on the cake for me.
So now you are probably wondering - what is this ring composition (also known as ring cycle, ring theory, or circle theory)?  Ring composition is defined as a text coming into full circle.  The idea of a perfect circle is that it is perfectly round and closes perfectly.  There are no gaps.  One side of the circle will reflect the opposite side.  The same can be said about ring composition.  When a text contains these reflecting elements, where one scene is echoed later in the book or the series, it gives the reader a sense of closure and makes them feel as if they have come full circle.
Ring composition is not a new technique.  Many other fantasy writers have taken advantage of this style of writing including Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Suzanne Collins, etc.
In this book The Hogwarts Saga as Ring Composition and Ring Cycle, John Granger presents us with the argument that these books are not on the bestseller list by accident.  There is a reason why people are drawn to Harry Potter and other fantasy series of the like.  Granger talks about Rowling's literary merit as well as her IQ level, using her score in the popular computer game, Minesweeper, as an example of her attention to detail and patterns.  The book is also full of many helpful charts that provide an in depth look not only at the ring structure that exists throughout the series but in each book as an individual novel.  The results are quite fascinating.
Overall, this book is a great addition to any avid Harry Potter fans library however it isn't a must buy.  It is the typical Potter academia book - published semi-sloppily with many typos throughout the text but the detail oriented nature makes up for that.  If I am not mistaken, I'm almost positive the charts in the book can be found online in PDF format for free.  Plus, as I said earlier, there is a podcast talking all about ring composition on the bonus episodes on Mugglenet Academia.  Everything John Granger writes in this book can be easily accessed through Granger's blogs (the Hogwarts Professor) and Mugglenet or any other Harry Potter based website.  The theory itself has completely changed the way I view this series of books and reminds me why I love them so much.  I only hope I can add to this discussion someday because I love Harry Potter and I love studying Harry Potter.  I will give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

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