sigune: (Mischief)
I am late to the party, but after three years in fandom I find that I can’t just pretend I haven’t read the last book. So I review. Warning: I am trying to be fair, but it is not easy.

Note: I have read the book only once, but will reread soon.

My views on Deathly Hallows )

Lit Crit )

Morals, Snape, and Dumbledore, with Mucho Feeling )
sigune: (Default)
I have a recurring obsession with the war in Gaul, conducted by Gaius Julius Caesar between 58 and 51 BC. This is slightly strange in view of my pretty anti-violent, anti-military and mostly un-bloodthirsty nature, but there you go. These days I'm contemplating a comic - a fairly impossible project of which I will be posting the first sketches soon. Meanwhile, I am sharing a few musings in the shape of a sort of essay/column/meta thingy :-).

War in Gaul, and Why Belgium is called Belgium )
sigune: (Sleeping Mientje)
In September 2005, when [ profile] omniocular was started, I in a bout of shocking vanity offered myself up for membership, and sent the mods an e-mail with links to my drawings and stories. [ profile] omniocular is, should you be unfamiliar with it, a closed community for gen art and fic that maintains a quality standard – and I, being a perfectionist who refuses to deliver anything that is not as good as I think I can get it (which is not necessarily saying much), thought I would see whether my hard work met the community’s standards. It is after all a fact that a considerable percentage of those who comment favourably on my art and stories are people who have over time become friends of mine, and affection might very well make them a little blind to my artistic shortcomings, so I was rather interested in the judgement of people I didn’t know.

The verdict came a few days later: the mods took me in, but only as an artist; they kindly asked me not to use my membership for posting stories. I have to confess that this was rather the opposite of what I had expected to be told, because whereas I have no training whatsoever as an artist, I supposed I was ever so slightly qualified when it came to fiction writing, if only because I had spent four years studying literature. Of course I know that being a decent reader and essayist doesn’t make one a decent fiction writer as well, but my connection with and education concerning text has always seemed deeper and more – sanctioned than that which I have with the visual arts. This is just to say I was a little surprised, though not exactly upset.

Because I take everything I do disturbingly seriously, I asked the mods what, in their opinion, were my mistakes as a writer, so that I could try to remedy them in the future. Their answer was that I did too much telling and too little showing.

I have to say that at first I was at a loss as to what this meant. Though I do polish and rewrite a lot, I had never paid any special attention to the aspects of showing and telling, and if I was honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what they meant. Some time later, however, I saw [ profile] jen_deben mention something about showing and telling in connection with the rewrite of her novel, so I gathered my courage and asked her to please have a look at two of my stories and explain to me how to distinguish between them, which she kindly agreed to do. The stories came back with lots of very useful comments (*hugs Jen*) – and it dawned on me that ‘too much telling’ doesn’t quite cover what I do :D. I hardly do anything else than tell! Some of my stories, like The Dark Night of the Soul, don’t have as much as a single moment of showing. Only … those happen to be my favourites. There was something funny going on here, but I didn’t give it much thought, and instead while writing tried to remember to increase my ‘showing’, though I rather doubt that I was succesful.

Now, with Deathly Hallows ominously appearing on the horizon, and my languishing WIP of Doom in peril of not getting finished in time, I have once again started to wonder about the whole showing/telling issue. And once more, while going through the existing fragments of said WIP of Doom, I realised that the passages I am most satisfied with are almost purely … telling. It became obvious to me that I would never earn a quality seal of the Omniocular variety if I persisted in committing writerly crimes like that, and worse, relishing in them :D. But are they indeed crimes? Please allow me to present you my dilemma. Read more... )
sigune: (Young Aloysius Crumrin)
Before I took my little hop over the ocean, some of you asked me to post my essay on Slytherin House, so this is me keeping my promise. Although I have worked on it pretty long and treated the subject with great seriousness (that's me!), I still feel that this essay is a WIP, and not just because its questions won't be answered until Book 7 has been well and truly published and devoured. I just have this annoying thirst for thoroughness and getting everything right, but in this case I'm not sure I can manage on my own. I would therefore love to hear any theories, reactions or reflections you might have, so that one day I will be able to adapt this piece and make it something with which I can be really happy.

One thing: I did my best not to judge the wizarding world by Muggle standards, and I tried to stray as little as possible from the information we have been given in books and interviews; I order myself to keep a strict divide between meta and fanfic.

Here goes, then.

The Slytherin Question

Slytherin House, many readers of the Harry Potter books agree, is a stain on the blazon of Hogwarts. Recruiting and sequestering the cunning, the ambitious, and those of purest blood, it has a singular propensity for producing villains. Nearly all of Harry’s antagonists are Slytherins: Draco and Lucius Malfoy, Severus Snape, and Lord Voldemort himself are the most notable. ‘And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee…’ says the gospel of Saint Mark; and in the now infamous Mugglenet/Leaky Cauldron interview, Emerson Spartz and Melissa Anelli quite understandably ask why Slytherin House is not simply abolished and its residents dispersed over the other three houses, none of which have a bad reputation at all (Part Three). Rowling replies that Slytherin must stay, that it represents the human flaws, and that ‘if only’ they could be embraced, the result would be ‘an unstoppable force’ (ibid.). It is the same message given by the Sorting Hat in Order of the Phoenix (186-7): strength is born of unity. Besides, Rowling says in the same interview, the Slytherins are not all bad.

It seems, however, that the text does not bear out her words. More often than not, Slytherins are described as unattractive or downright ugly; they are also mean, unengaging, and morally suspect on account of their association with Dark Arts and an ideology that discriminates on the basis of blood purity. Though the other Hogwarts houses contain their share of irritating or unpleasant people – Hufflepuff House can boast Zacharias Smith, Ravenclaw has the sneak Marietta Edgecombe, and Cormac McLaggen is a Gryffindor – Slytherin House does not have a single student with whom Harry or his friends are on speaking terms. Then again, there seem to be no depths to which Slytherins will not sink; they even populate the Inquisitorial Squad for the utterly awful Dolores Umbridge. Outside of the books, too, J. K. Rowling uses Slytherin students as denominators for everything young men and women should not be – recently in a rant on her website she dubbed ‘empty-headed, self-obsessed girls’ who care too much about appearances ‘Pansy Parkinsons’ – Pansy being cast as the anti-Hermione (“For Girls Only, Probably”).

With only one more book to go, it is time to wonder whether the reader is to expect anything good from Slytherin after all, or whether we are dealing with another Crookshanks – Hermione’s cat, whose extraordinary intelligence has only ever been explained outside of the novels (World Book Day Chat). Read more... )
sigune: (eyebrows)
This mini-essay is entirely the fault of [ profile] lunafish, who triggered these ramblings by half a sentence at Mugglenet Fanfiction Forums... She touched upon the similarities between Snape and Harry, and I threw Voldemort into the mix.

Read more... )
sigune: (eyebrows)
Ah, brilliant: by the time everybody has become really tired of theories, mine is finally ready. I claim in my defence that I was delayed in reading Half-Blood Prince to begin with, and then there was that ... shock ... that made me miss whole shards of text because I could not believe what I was reading and so just rushed on. I will definitely have to reread everything (instead of just snippets) when I have calmed down a little.

As you can imagine, my main concern with this book and the next centres on Severus Snape. The events in Half-Blood Prince blew me off my feet, to the point that I thought I had seen the last of my fanficcing fun – but I am happy to say that I have recovered my senses in the meantime and have every intention of merrily going on with my writing.
Oh yes: I trust Severus Snape. That is to say, he still makes perfect sense to me.

I have formed a somewhat rough analysis of and theory about Snape’s behaviour in Half-Blood Prince – hopefully a little dissimilar from those you will have read so far – and which, if you feel like it, you are very welcome to delve into and comment upon (please do!). It will become more refined as I reread, but I do think it has some useful points already.

Here it is, in a long (but, I like to think, not dry) essay for those who think they are up to stomaching yet another theory :-).

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Hogwarts


Part the First: Sevvie and Cissy (*ahem* forgive me…)
More )

Part the Second: Black Wizard, White Wizard – or, Dumbledore’s Fatal Mistake
Spoilers... )



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