The Bad Beginning
Finishing up with Harry Potter
Potter emerged in the late 90s. Global entertainment powerhouses.
Written, produced from complex industry content on maximizing opportunities in the marketing
The Bad Beginning as a Carefully Crafted Gothic Commodity
• Book-selling as a Commercial Phenomenon
• Literature as commodity – POA, BB,
• The Bad Beginning as a Material Object
• Lemony Snicket’s Authorial “I”
• Intertextual Allusions in Snicket’s First Novel
• Snicket and the Child
Book-Selling as a Commercial Phenomenon
• Interface of literature and commodity culture
– Literature as commodity
• Corporatization of the children’s literature industry
• Marketing and merchandising empires for Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket series
• Clothing, toys, wizard wands,
• Films become commericals for the book. -> 2 hour movies
• Spin-off, provoked unprecedents ideas, how reading and movies are interfacing in a pragmatic
The Bad Beginning as Material Object
• First published, 1999, one year after Harry Potter 1 hit the shelves
• Movie in 2004, first three books.
• Ironic, cynical, pessimistic views within book
• It doesn’t follow common western styles, does not follow a structure, there is no happy ending.
• Intriguing, reverse psychological view, perverse, smart but not overly clever
• Clever advertising
• Shrewd marketing
• Film and television rights sold
• Success in part due to narrating presence (ironic, cynical, pessimistic)
• Engaging with the book, snipping the book pages.
• Thicker pages, aged, quality, pages of a classical story,
• Victorian front inner covers(commeo of count Olaf) to anticipate the desguises olaf uses within
BB as Material Object, cont.
• Uncut pages typical of old, classic novels
• Appears to be an artifact from a bygone age before mass-production
• Paratextual elements enhance Gothic “feel” of novel
• Sense of age, bygone era before mass-production
• How we are introduced in the novels in this world in a materialist fashion.
• Beatrice, in love with, engaged, cancelled their wedding plans and married the Beaudelaire man
• Lemony as a character, rather than an author Paratextual Elements –
The variety of devices (titles, subtitles, prefaces, epigraphs, captions, illustrations) that help generate a
reader’s first impressions.
Usually takes the form of a quotation or motto at the beginning of a book, chapter, or poem as an
indication of its theme. Dark humor,
The Business of Titles – The Bad Beginning
• Announces texts’ preoccupation with evil, cruelty, cynicism, pessimism
• Desperate secrets of Lemony’s past
• What is the nature of the shortened relations with Beatrice?
• Can’t read epigraphs without laughing – darkly humorous.
• “Beginning” announces that this is the first in a series of books
• Book 13 is called The End
– Awareness of storytelling
• Similar to serialized publication of nineteenth century
• Narrative – sharp, pointy, round, dangerous, angular angles
• Mini illustrations of the beginning of chapters introduces us to the gothic in the novel.
• Black and White remind of Edward Gory
• Dreary, Dodrum drive, everything is broken, fountains don’t work, spit at you, royal gardens do
not exist here anymore
• Baudelaire orphans are tiny peoples in this huge illustration
• Dirty, busy town
• Bizarre surroundings, out of step, unsure of what to do now that their parents have left them
• Dirty dark overloomingly gothic house -the shrieking shack in Harry Potter
• Each book has 13 chapters except for the last book.
• Taro cards, 13 with magic and cult, after book 11, danger of being formulaic,
• Bad Beginning, will only gets worse from here,
• Foreground a new kind of publishing that draws on the older form, moderation of modern ideas in
interest of suspense
• About dreadful appearances – neglect, convenient, orphans cannot touch their inheritance until
Violet is of age
• A series of unfortunate events – the