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Episode 26: Fantastic Beasts and the 2001 thirst for canon

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Episode 26: Fantastic Beasts and the 2001 thirst for canon

Episode 26 of the Lexicon Podcast focuses on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (the schoolbook released in 2001 and a new edition released this week), and Quidditch Through the Ages (the book that was originally published along with Fantastic Beasts in 2001).

We first talked a little bit about the process of how we add new content to the site. We first create stub entries (empty entries) and then we make a list of articles that need content and our editors work on the list.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2017 Edition)

We then talk about the news of the newly published edition of Fantastic Beasts and we discussed the Audiobook a little.

Steve asks Nick if he likes the new stuff. Nick comments that it is interesting reading again even the old stuff because now we have more of an idea of who the “writer” of this book actually is. Now that we have some context into the life of Newt Scamander things feel more connected reading this book where previously our only connection to it was the mentioning of it as being one of Harry’s Schoolbooks.

Steve mentions that an issue he has with the new introduction is that it felt to him as just a “blurb for the film.”

Steve mentions the 6 new beasts were fine but if you are going through the trouble, why not give us a lot more than 6. But if you are going to include 6 you really should include more, for example why isn’t Pukwudgie as you have the other 3 house animals, but omitted Pukwudgie. Nick points out that Pukwudgie might be classified as a “being” rather than a “beast” since Pukwudgies are intelligent enough to hold real conversations (like House Elves and Goblins).

Steve then asks about the audio version and Nick talks about his experience listening to it. Nick comments that it is both great and annoying that Eddie Redmayne reads the book “as” Newt Scamander. This bugs Nick because the introduction makes it clear that this new introduction is being written now, but being read by Newt Scamander with a voice identical to the Newt Scamander of 1926 at age 29 even though in 2017 he should now be 130.

Nick’s other problem with the new book is that the old schoolbook indicated that it was the 52nd edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but the new introduction indicates that the 2001 edition was a reprint of the first edition of the book.

Timeline problems in this book, some of the changes to connect to the film and the rest of the book series. For example, in 2001 Dumbledore was not alive. Of course, there were date issues no matter what, for even in the 2001 editions, the Quidditch Through the Ages.

After our arguments about inconsistency, we go back to talking about the audio book. We play a tiny clip of the audiobook (I highly recommend you go get a copy yourself to hear the rest) and talk about some of the interesting things, like the background sounds and the way he handles footnotes.

Steve then launches into the fandom history and talks about what the situation was like in 2001 when the schoolbooks set was released. These books are vastly different than the things that come out in like Pottermore Essays.

A significant portion of all of what we know about the Wizarding World beyond the events of the book comes from these 2 little books, we learn a history of magic through 2 very different perspectives, Sports and Zoology, and we talk about how if we had gotten A History of Magic or Hogwarts a History instead, it might not have been such a rich tapestry, a feeling of real people.

We mention that the new edition does not have the graffiti but it does have new artwork. The pictures in the original were drawn by Rowling and were canon, but the pictures in the new edition are not canon (but beautiful).

We talk about how some of the canon we get from these books are very subtle, for example, there’s a mention of an 1884 Daily Prophet article, which means that the Daily Prophet has been published for more than 100 years.

We have a conversation about Dragon Pox, which we know originally came from Peruvian Vipertooth Dragons but someone from England had a case of it in the 1100s, that implies that European wizards were aware of and even visiting the Americas (otherwise how else do they get a disease that comes from a dragon that lives in Peru) long before Muggles. Nick points out that the History of Magic in North America series on Pottermore has a statement in there saying the same thing, but it doesn’t imply that it was as far back as the 12th century.

“Though European explorers called it ‘the New World’ when they first reached the continent, wizards had known about America long before Muggles. Various modes of magical travel – brooms and Apparition among them – not to mention visions and premonitions, meant that even far-flung wizarding communities were in contact with each other from the Middle Ages onwards.”

It also could simply be that the Peruvian Vipertooth Dragon wasn’t named until well later and originally existed in places other than Peru.

Nick then forgets where to look up Thestral, Steve immediately remembers and says to look up Winged Horses because it was a part of that. Nick then notes that at least in the Google Play Books version, searching for “Thestral” or “Thestrals” doesn’t work and feels like an idiot for forgetting that Thestral was under W.

We get into a conversation about just how richly detailed the wizarding world in Rowling’s mind. Steve mentions how the books were so detailed that in 2001 he was able to draw up a map of the grounds of Hogwarts and a few years later when Rowling finally made up a map of her own, it matched almost exactly, not because he guessed well, but because the picture was so clear in her mind that the details that leaked out supported that map.

Support the Lexicon

If you haven’t got a copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages, we highly recommend you get it, and if you want to support the Lexicon at the same time, use the links above if you want to get them from Amazon and your purchase will help us out.

You could help us out by buying anything from Amazon as long as you use our link to Amazon, the Lexicon will get some credit from the purchases.

You can also support the Lexicon directly by becoming one of our Patrons on Patreon. At the end of April we will take all of the patrons we’ve received donations from and turn them into raffle tickets to raffle off the King Ice MACUSA Key Necklace we mentioned in the last podcast.

Our next podcast will likely be another J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World Crate unboxing since Nick received his shipping notification the same day this was recorded (the box has actually already arrived and I’m painfully avoiding opening it until we can record the unboxing). If you want to get your own J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World Crate from Loot Crate, go to lootcrate.com/hplexicon and use promo code HPLEXICON to get $3 off your order and support the Lexicon at the same time. The next crate (which will ship in May) is themed “The Dark Arts,” to find out more about that, check out Steve’s blog post about it (or just go to lootcrate.com/hplexicon and read it there).

Thanks as always to Harry and the Potters for allowing us to use their song for our theme music.

What struck us recently

Steve: Some of the great posts from our editor Cathy on the Lexicon’s Facebook Page and Twitter Feed. If you don’t like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter yet, you should, we have great posts going up every day, even more than just stuff from the lexicon, but related fandom news as well.

Nick: What caught me is from this very book. The little hints that more details are to come as more documents become declassified by the Ministry of Magic really excite me

“As more documents become declassified over the coming years, I will be freer to speak openly about my role during that dark period in our history.” — Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Foreward by the Author

Question of the Day

Did Dumbledore’s Portrait write the original foreward or did Dumbledore write it before he died? Also, can a portrait really be “Delighted?”

Please give your answer to this in the Pensieve below, or any other comments you have about the new edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Commentary

Notes

I (Nick) would like to apologize for the loud typing noise during this episode.  I've recently gotten a new mechanical keyboard, which is great for typing, but much louder than my previous keyboard.  I will endeavor to avoid typing while recording future episodes or try to constrict my typing to the laptop's keyboard instead of my full sized keyboard.

Pensieve (Comments)

  • Silverdoe25

    I sincerely hope that Nick’s issues with some of the small inconsistencies don’t prevent him from enjoying the book. I’m listening to the new audiobook while swimming laps at the gym. I must say that the added sound effects are very realistic. More than once this afternoon I thought something was sneaking up on me in the pool. As I was thinking about the Dumbledore introduction in the 2001 edition, an even more intriguing thought came to me: Did Rowling not know at that point that Dumbledore wouldn’t survive the series? We already know that certain characters’ fates weren’t decided. Perhaps in that space of time between Goblet and Order, Dumbledore’s fate had not yet been sealed. That could be the reason that the inconsistency exists!

    • The actual reason is a lot less interesting. In 2001, Rowling hadn’t settled on the timeline yet. She resisted the idea of pegging the stories to a particular range of years — you can see that, for example, in how carefully she avoids mentioning the dates on the prophecy in OP, even though she tells everything else written on it:

      “In spidery writing was written a date of some sixteen years previously, and below that…” (OP34)

      It was in 2001 that I created the timeline on the Lexicon based on clues in Chamber of Secrets and it took several years for Rowling to accept it as canon, even though all the clues were found in her text. She hadn’t actually planned it that way, but eventually it was clear that she’d inadvertently fixed the dates — which were actually the dates that she was initially planning the series.

      What happened to verify the dates was that Warner Bros wanted to put a timeline on the Chamber of Secrets DVD in 2003. The only timeline available was the one on the Lexicon, so they copied it and sent it to Rowling. She verified that it was correct and was therefore put on the DVD as official. However, that was still not a public acknowledgement from Rowling.

      In 2006, Rowling drew the Black Family Tree and placed Draco’s name at the bottom with the birthdate of 1980. This was the first public acknowledgement that the Lexicon’s timeline was in fact correct. And finally, she placed the actual dates in Deathly Hallows of the Potters’ deaths which made it complete certain.

      In short, she wrote the introduction to FB in 2001 before she had worked out that her series would actually be finished before that date.

      • Silverdoe25

        That darn reality getting in the way again. I remember now. Wasn’t Nearly Headless Nick’s 500th death day from Chamber the anchor for the timeline?

        • That’s exactly right!

          From CS8:

          Large, rotten fish were laid on handsome silver platters; cakes, burned charcoal-black, were heaped on salvers; there was a great maggoty haggis, a slab of cheese covered in furry green mold and, in pride of place, an enormous gray cake in the shape of a tombstone, with tar-like icing forming the words, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington died 31st October, 1492.

          and

          “Well, this Halloween will be my five hundredth deathday,” said Nearly Headless Nick, drawing himself up and looking dignified.

          1492 + 500 = 1992

          All other dates were derived from that one.

    • I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to the audiobook. Much like listening to the audiobooks of the Potter books which I just did a listen through recently, I find listening to it and reading it directly to be a different experience, and it really forces me to absorb it in a way my enthusiasm prevents me from doing when I’m reading them myself.

      The new canon is great. Yes I gripe at inconsistencies, but that’s something I do. See to me, I like to think of the wizarding world as real, and any time I see an inconsistency it yanks me out of that, it messes with my suspension of disbelief.

      Most of the time (as you can tell from my essays here) I try to do what I can to come up with a way to make the inconsistency make sense, for example trying to make the number of the Quidditch World Cup make sense, or come to grips with what some people see as an inconsistency in the way time travel works between PA, Pm, and CC.

      And yes, Dumbledore’s portrait could theoretically write a foreward and be delighted at how much the book raises for charity, and yes this could be something that Albus and Newt had been working on for years before the 2001 edition was released (who knows how long it took to convince the Ministry of Magic to allow what would otherwise be a clear violation of the International Statute of Secrecy in order to help all those children), but it is still an inconsistency, and so I still feel the need to talk about it.

      As for the reason, Steve described the real answer so no need for me to repeat him 🙂 I firmly agree that in 2001 Rowling had not yet decided when the books took place. I do believe that she knew Dumbledore was already going to die, because that is a relatively vital part of the hero’s journey. As long as Dumbledore was alive, there was no way Harry was going to be able to firmly take the lead in the quest to destroy Voldemort, so at some point, something had to take out Dumbledore. I don’t know if she was certain yet as to the exact circumstances of his death, she’s the only one that could answer that, but I do think she was already planning on brutally murdering Harry’s biggest mentor.

  • Virginia Ekblom

    Well, Dumbledore’s spirit might visit various portraits on occasion or if he sees fit. So it’s not that the portrait was delighted; more so that Dumbledore happened to be active in that particular portrait and he himself found it delightful.