Louise Perry On The Sexual Revolution
Night of the Living Deadhead

J. K. Rowling and the Sexual Revolution

I read and often enjoyed the Harry Potter books, but was not really a great admirer of them. So when I heard that J.K. Rowling had published, under a pseudonym, a detective novel meant for adults, I was not particularly interested. I suppose the only reason I even knew about it was that someone had revealed that "Robert Galbraith" was in fact Rowling. That of course attracted some publicity, and she was quite put out about the disclosure, for which I don't blame her. I assume she wanted to see whether she could write a book that would succeed on its own, without the assistance of the Harry Potter author's vast fame.

Well, that's a might-have-been; sales took off, and that book, The Cuckoo's Calling, has been followed by six more in the series, under the same pseudonym. I think they've all been fairly successful, so it's safe to assume that Rowling's reputation is not their main attraction. 

Time passes ever more quickly. If you had asked me when the publicity about the first book and its authorship appeared, I would have guessed five years or so ago. It was actually ten. But then if I had known that she had published six more books in the series since the first one I would have guessed longer, perhaps something more like fifteen years. Whatever you think of Rowling's writing, her ability to spin a complex and effective narrative in a fairly short time is astonishing. I think of one of Flannery O'Connor's letters in which she tells a friend that she's been working on The Violent Bear It Away for seven years and is trying to convince her publisher that this is normal. 

My wife read the The Cuckoo's Calling, liked it, and soon read most or all of the novels in the series, which is known, in the usual fashion of detective stories, by the name of its primary sleuth: the Cormoran Strike series. Then she discovered that there is a BBC TV series based on several of those books, so we watched it. It's called Strike in the UK and C.B. Strike here. And it's very good. We had to rent it, as it's not available on either Netflix or Prime, and it was worth it. I recommend it to anyone who likes that sort of thing.

What does this have to do with the sexual revolution? I'm getting to that.

When I graduated from high school I thought I wanted to be a journalist. Really I wanted to be a poet or some other more literary sort of writer; mainly I just had a very strong impulse to write, and journalism seemed like the way to go, the way to earn a living by writing. So in my first semester of college I took a journalism course, and that, along with a very good freshman English course, soon showed me that I ought to discard the idea of majoring in journalism. It was good that I figured that out quickly, because I would have been terrible at it. One of the things they used to teach journalists--perhaps still do, somewhere among the urgings to change the world, speak power to truth, etc.--was to include in the first paragraph of a news story the Five Ws: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. 

It's a good rule for a news story, which implies that I am not cut out to write news stories, because I don't write that way. I don't want to write that way. I like to take a bit of time, supply a bit of background and prelude, perhaps ramble a bit, before getting to the point. And I usually do in a blog post. Why not? Nobody is paying me, nobody is enforcing space limits, not many people are reading. So I may as well enjoy myself. I do try to keep in mind that I am asking for a degree of attention from the reader that he or she may not wish to provide, so I try to limit myself to a thousand words or so.

Here is the first paragraph of this post as I might have written it if I were observing the Five Ws:

Under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, J.K. Rowling [Who], author of the Harry Potter books, has published a series of detective  novels known as the C. B. Strike Mysteries [What], after the name of the detective protagonist. The first one appeared in 2013 [When] and six others have followed. They have been made into a BBC series called C.B. Strike. I haven't read the books, but as seen in the series certain aspects of the stories may be taken as suggesting that the sexual revolution may not have been an altogether good thing. [That will have to serve as the Why; Where is not really relevant, unless we treat Capitalist-Industrial Civilization as the location.]

I would go on to say that I don't know whether Rowling intends that suggestion, but that I at any rate found it unavoidable. Cormoran Blue Strike is the child of a famous rock star and a not-equally-but-still-famous groupie. (No doubt "Blue" is one of those offbeat names that hippies and rock stars sometimes gave their children; I don't know about "Cormoran.") I assume, though I don't recall the TV series mentioning it, that he was born in the late '60s or early '70s. He was mostly raised by relatives. His mother died of an overdose when he was in his late teens, no doubt a faded shadow of her formerly glamorous self. His father repudiated him and has never had anything at all to do with him. He has a number of half-siblings with most of whom he has little to do. He left college to join the Army where he served in the military police, lost a leg in combat in Afghanistan, and now earns a none-too-lucrative living as a private investigator.

All I know of J.K. Rowling's views on social and political questions is that she seems to be in general a pretty typical liberal, except for the fact that she has opposed the transgender movement's insistence that sex is not a biological reality, has consequently been branded a "TERF" (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist), and is now despised by the left, including many who once loved the Potter books. As I say, I have no idea whether Strike and his situation are intended to reflect Rowling's view of the '60s and the sexual revolution. But they certainly reflect the reality. Strike is the accidental product of the mutual pleasure-seeking of two people who don't seem to have cared much about anything else. Not abandoned but certainly neglected and damaged, he leads a life which is the opposite of the "lifestyle" pursued by his parents, defined by ugly and often violent realities and symbolized by his missing leg.

You can't get much more biological than conception and birth. Implicitly, that is an objection to, if not a repudiation of, the sexual revolution's doctrine that there should be no limits on sexual expression, that it doesn't really matter in any fundamental way, and that children are an optional and expendable result of contraceptive carelessness. Strike is a living embodiment of that objection, a walking, and limping, reminder of the serious consequences of its fundamental unseriousness.

That's 1229 words, including this note. 


In case you missed it in the comments on the previous post, Marianne gave us a link to a discussion between Rod Dreher and Louise Perry (and a moderator whose name I didn't get) about her book The Case Against the Sexual Revolution. It's an hour and ten minutes long, but worth your time (and I say that as someone who usually doesn't have the patience to sit through such things). 

That's 1304 words. Sorry.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Cher and Gregg Allman's son is named Elijah Blue Allman

Wonder if JKR knows that.

Beyonce and Jay-Z's older daughter is named Blue Ivy.

I, for one, enjoy watching the far left crazies of ten years ago get eaten by the far left crazies of today. It’s like watching a snake eat it’s own tail.

A musician thing? Suggestive of blues? Strike's name may be explained in the books. There was a jazz musician named Blue Mitchell, but I don't think he was particularly well known outside jazz circles.

Interview with Elijah Blue Allman:


I was replying to Stu and Anne-Marie. As far as I know it's not a musician thing to attempt to swallow oneself.

Left crazies attacking each other make me think of insects or scorpions stinging each other.

My wife reminded me of the most probable explanation for Strike's middle name: his mother was a zealous fan of Blue Oyster Cult (a band, in case you weren't aware).

Rowling has a website for Robert Galbraith; I found this on Strike's name there:

"People are always calling him ‘Cameron’ but Cormoran was (appropriately for our large hero) a Cornish giant who was said to live on St Michael’s Mount. Strike is his mother’s surname: ‘I’ve been told it’s something to do with corn'." https://robert-galbraith.com/10-important-things-to-know-about-cormoran-strike/

The moderator of that Dreher-Perry discussion is a Brit named Justin Brierley who's been around for about 20 years doing podcasts of dialogues between Christians and non-Christians. Looks as if he's got a whole bunch of shows now. https://justinbrierley.com/about/

That wasn't very nice of me not to go back and get the moderator's name. He was actually very good. The video series, as you can see from the image in the post, is called The Big Conversation.

I keep wanting to say "cormorant." And it's interesting to me that his mother's name is Leda. That's a pretty fraught name. Surely there's some reason Rowling chose it other than that she liked the sound of it.


Cormoran the Giant features in the 60's fantasy film "Jack the Giant Killer." I knew I had heard the name somewhere before.

As well he should:


Rowling is supposed to have been much influenced by the writing of Angela Carter, who wrote reinventions of fairy tales, among other things. A NY Times review of a biography on her starts like this:

"A six-foot-tall acrobat who claims to be the daughter of Leda and her cygnine lover, with the wings to prove it. A man who undergoes sex-change surgery in order to gestate a new messiah, created from his own sperm. A Little Red Riding Hood who willingly casts her cloak into the fire, eager to seduce a handsome hunter-turned-werewolf: 'She knew she was nobody’s meat.'

These are a few of the fantastic characters populating the fiction of Angela Carter, whom Salman Rushdie called, upon her death in 1992 at age 51, the 'high sorceress' and 'benevolent white witch' of English literature."

That first sentence may help explain what Rowling was doing with her choice of the names Cormoran and Leda in the Strike book.


Paywalled, unfortunately.

Weird. I was able to access the full article and I don't have a subscription. Maybe because I came to the article via a Google search? I think I read something about that somewhere.

Yes, that worked. I normally use DuckDuckGo. When I searched for the article using it and clicked the link, I got the total paywall. When I did the same with Google, I was able to read the article, with just a banner at the bottom of the page offering to give me a subscription.

They have a $100 million arrangement:


Rowling was already hated by the left before the trans issue because she, along with others, signed a letter condemning the practice of cancelling others. I have a hard time thinking that she is a typical liberal because the HP series are the only new books I have read for years that have a large, loving, functioning family--and I have read a lot of children's books.

Also, there is a lot of respectful Christian reference in the series.

Not that I think that she is perfect. I listened to the first book in the Strike series recently, and thought it was good. Then I got a good ways into the second book, and it is extremely perverse. I might not have had so much trouble with it if I had been reading, but it was impossible for me to listen to the rest of it. I was not aware that there was a BBC series.


Maybe I will try reading it after the first of the year.


My "typical liberal" reaction is based on things she said that were quoted by others. I don't recall any specific examples. Tweets and stuff. I didn't know she had already po'd the left about cancellation. Good point about the family stuff in HP.

According to Wikipedia, because I don't remember, season 2 of the series is based on the novel called The Silkworm. I am embarrassed to say that I don't remember anything very specific about it, much less whether or not I thought it was perverse. Is that the one you bailed out on?

Yes, but I am not going into detail about it. 😎 The murder was especially horrible, but maybe hearing it described in detail made it worse. But the sexual deviancy in the victims books was awful.


Maybe it's just my bad memory but I don't remember the contents of the book being discussed in any detail.


Ok, I just looked up the novel on Wikipedia and I really don't think that stuff (!!!) was described in the tv version. I do sort of recall that the murder was pretty awful. I think I can do without reading the book.

I had a really bad experience once listening to an audio book on the way to work and hearing something really horrifying and totally unexpected. I think I considered pulling over to the side of the road for a minute. So I sympathize.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)