'Christmas Pig' is Rowling's Best Work
Change My Mind!
The next ‘Rowling Studies’ podcast will be a discussion about The Christmas Pig. That is in keeping with the season, of course, as we will be posting it in the interval between Western Christmas and Orthodox Nativity, but we are excited about this book because Nick Jeffery and I both think it is the best thing Rowling has written as a stand-alone work — and for diametrically different reasons. Nick’s ‘Top Three’ books per the Lake or biographical and bibliographical perspective, Rowling’s life and literature influences, and my ‘Top Three’ books along Shed or ‘artistry and meaning’ lines only have one book in common: The Christmas Pig. It is the Rowling work each of us recommends to those who ask us for the best one book to read for an appreciation of what Rowling is about.
Why is that? We’ve recorded the show and will be sending it to you at the end of the month with a detailed answer to that question. I hope you’ll let us know your questions, thoughts, and concerns about Christmas Pig in the comment boxes in response to what we said during the program.
To foster and prolong that discussion I want to post links here to the remarkable Christmas Pig commentary that was published on the HogwartsProfessor weblog in the wake of its publication in late 2021. Taken together, it is some of the best work written there in its more than twenty-year run with contributions from Nick Jeffery, Beatrice Groves, Evan Willis, Elizabeth Baird Hardy, and myself.
Nick Jeffery on the moderator channels discussion behind the scenes at HogwartsProfessor had predicted after The Ickabog’s appearance in 2020 that Rowling had another children’s book in preparation. He predicted this with real confidence which, frankly, rather startled me. No one to my knowledge had ever figured out Rowling’s next publication of a stand-alone book before its publication. I asked Nick to explain how he knew this in advance of Team Rowling’s announcement; see his ‘Beginning at the Beginning: A History of The Christmas Pig’ for that explanation as well as his brief history of the genesis of each of Rowling’s writing projects.
My contribution to the conversation was a series of nine posts, a Perennialist Reading of Christmas Pig. That series serves as an introduction to literature as an extra-liturgical sacred art — and the critical difference between ‘sacred art’ and ‘religious art’ — as well as a deep dive into the heart of Rowling’s shortest novel and most concentrated example of her best artistry.
Nick and I touch on most of the subjects discussed in his or my posts in our ‘Rowling Studies’ conversation; if you want to know more about what we discussed after listening to the Christmas Pig episode, follow those links to the full exposition.
And there’s more! Elizabeth Baird-Hardy wrote about ‘The Faerie Queene and Christmas Pig’ and Beatrice Groves wrote ‘Christmas Miracles in A Christmas Carol and The Christmas Pig.’ I’ll close with Evan Willis’ “For the Straightforward Path Was Lost”: A Few Starting Notes on The Christmas Pig’ because it was the spectacular starting point of the HogwartsProfessor exegesis effort, one that Nick and I discussed throughout the podcast.
On behalf of all the faculty at HogwartsProfessor, I wish you a merry twelve days of Christmas, and, for the Orthodox Christians among us, in anticipation of the Nativity celebration, may God grant you a joyous Feast and a re-birth of Christ within your hearts.
We have fun and exciting plans for the New Year and thank you both for your having joined us in 2023 and in advance for your continued support in 2024!