Harry Potter: a world of new imaginings

By Tania Chakraborti, Gale Ambassador at Durham University
Tania is a Gale student ambassador and final year English Literature and History student at Durham University. During her time at Durham she has engaged with student journalism, student theatre, and is currently President of the English Literature Society. She finds Gale’s resources invaluable to her studies and is currently using them to explore a dissertation on Winston Churchill’s rhetoric towards India.

Since 1997 when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published, the Harry Potter series has sold over 500 million copies across the globe, making it the best-selling book series of all time. Of course, I don’t need to tell you this, the wide-reaching influence of Harry Potter is apparent enough for all to see: with a multi-billion-dollar film franchise, a West End Show and even a theme park at Universal Studios Florida, this magical world is clearly subsumed into a mode of popular culture. Any attempt at a brand new interpretation of Harry’s exciting venture into the world of wizardry seems old news, even impossible. Yet, through utilising Gale’s impressive wealth of resources, novel, innovative and informative interpretations of the well-known books can still provide fresh takes on the series.

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The Ever-Changing State of Literary Criticism

By Larry Trudeau
Larry has been an editor at Gale for over 25 years, and loves doing deep research amid the library stacks. A recent vacation included a day set aside to explore the astonishing Burton Historical Collection at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library.

I was recently reviewing an entry on Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations for an upcoming volume of Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism (NCLC), and was surprised—delighted, really—to see that we were including two reviews of the novel from 1861, the year it was published in book form.

What’s more, there was another article from 1877, in which the reviewer recalled the experience of reading the novel as it came out in weekly installments, between December 1860 and August 1961, in Dickens’s own magazine, All the Year Round. The reviewer, Edwin P. Whipple (how’s that for a good, Victorian-sounding name?), extolled Dickens’s skill at constructing his great novel essentially on the fly, with deadlines constantly looming. “When the novel is read as a whole,” Whipple marveled, “we perceive how carefully the author had prepared us for the catastrophe; but it required feminine sagacity and insight to detect the secret on which the plot turns, as the novel first appeared in weekly parts.” (Feminine sagacity and insight—another echo from another century!)

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Happy Birthday Charlotte Brontë!

Charlotte-Bronte1

April 21st would be Charlotte Brontë’s 200th birthday. As Jane Eyre is my favourite book and as a fan of Brontë’s in general, I jumped at the chance to do a little research on her and her work. I knew that some letters of Brontë’s had been published in The Times in the early 20th century, so I used those and Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography (both available via Gale Artemis: Primary Sources) to do a little digging. Having read Jane Eyre every year for the past 20 or so years I thought I knew everything there was to know about its history, but I was a little surprised by some of the things I found out…

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Who is Thomas Watters?

Liping-1

I was checking through the transcript of Diaries and Travel Journals of Ernest Satow (a British diplomat who made his career in China and Japan) the other day when I came across the name of “Thomas Watters”.  Satow met and had dinner with him on November 4, 1883 during the former’s holiday leave in London.

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Dorothy L. Sayers and The Mysterious English

Chatham House

Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957) is probably best remembered for her gripping crime novels, and her creation of the much-loved, aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey. It is perhaps less commonly known that, beyond her carefully-woven fictional tales, Sayers also possessed a keen interest in politics and current affairs. In August 1940, it was this interest that prompted Sayers to deliver a speech at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, in London.

Sayers’ speech was entitled The Mysterious English, and the 15-page transcript has been digitised as part of the Chatham House Online Archive .1 As one would expect, the oration is full of Sayers’ characteristic wit and humour, and the document offers a unique insight into the author’s attitudes and opinions.

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