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The Temple of Vanity (Yes, Again)

There is another one of these ‘Temples of Vanity’ in the family album — although, to be honest, you could call the whole blooming site a “temple of vanity” and have done with it — but this entry is a bit different. I’m really not particularly vain about this one. But it does have a certain historical interest.

Y’see, I never saw a lot of point in making multiple backups of the earlier versions of the essay collection. Generally, when I revised something it was because I preferred the new version. So why hang onto the old one?

Not that I didn’t grumpf, sometimes quite bitterly, when Rowling shut down a line of speculation that I wasn’t finished with. But so long as canon was still open I was more concerned with what still could happen, or what was most likely to have happened, than with devising the most flashy, dramatic mirages that would have made great fanfic. I don’t write fanfic.

Well, the more fool I. I have found that in the wake of the train wreck that was Deathly Hallows, I am belatedly sorry not to have kept a better record of where, when, and how my own reasoning on the subject had developed over the previous five years.

After some digging I did manage to find a couple of the older versions of the site. Neither of them is as old as I would have liked. I’ve no record of the original site that was uploaded at Halloween in 2002. I think there may have once been a backup of a version from 2003, or thereabouts, but that one was on a zip cartridge that went bad, so it is long gone.

Still, I did manage to find a backup of the last version of the original site, before the redesign that was uploaded in 2004, as well as a copy of the site as it stood in July 2007, when the “carpet book” was leaked online — before I felt I had to at least try to drag what I could into some attempt at compliance with Rowling.

I am making these both available here.

Red Hen Essay Collection 4/04: Compressed File (840k)

Red Hen Essay Collection 7/07: Compressed File (3.4MB)

A great deal of the 2007 iteration has not been materially changed. In particular, the essays which now live in the Potterverse UNhallowed collection, although a good many of these have since been further annotated, and there may be yet other additions or comments made over the past 5+ years since. But it can be seen that the overriding outlook displayed in 2007 was a lot more positive back before Rowling so amply demonstrated that she had bitten off more than she could chew effectively.

The 2004 version reflects the site as it stood prior to the bi-annual general revision and full redesign that was posted on Halloween 2004. The essay collection was not originally a part of the site, having only been uploaded at the end of April 2003. However, it had already seen a great deal of revision and expansion over the ensuing year, reflecting both the first posting of ‘The Changeling Hypothesis’ (probably the most well-known of my essays), as well as the release of ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’, and further development of theories from that. These expansions had thrown the site into the Land of Too Many Clicks.

Looking over it, it appears that a lot of the collection was already fairly well developed by that time, but the new information released in Half-Blood Prince, in 2005, with its contradiction of everything we’d been told up to that point set off quite a further spate of development, so rather a lot of the 2004 iteration reflects reasoning that was made before we had access to the material in Book 6 (as well as the dodgy Black Family Tapestry sketch released in February 2006). One did what one could with the information available.

These are only the essay collections, not the entire sites — most of which is still posted and has not been heavily modified. Admittedly, the site itself has been redesigned, yet again, and most recently redesigned and packed into a whole new wesite-building program, so, consequently these also serve as incomplete examples of the “look and feel” of the site in its previous iterations as well.

They have been saved as .zip archives, so you will have to download and unzip them before they will be viewable. It would be far too much of a tangle and invitation to glitches if I were to try to post three versions of the same site from the same server. You will need to read them offline.

The way this ought to work; after downloading and unzipping the archives, open your web browser, and tell it ‘Open File’ (or the equivalent), navigate through the directories to the file named ‘index.html’ and open it. From there it ought to work as though you were browsing the site from your local hard drive.

I can not promise that it will be completely seamless, or even possible. These sites were built in obsolete software in what is now depreciated code, so it simply may not work. But you ought to be able to get into the files and recover the text if it is not.

There may also be some minor character glitches from going across platforms. I do work on a Mac and the keyboard puts option characters (curly quotes and M-dashes, for example) in a different place.

These sites, by the way, were built in Adobe GoLive 5 or 6, and later, in CS2. You should not need the application to view the files, however. Any web browser should open .html files. That's what they were designed for. I just don’t know if they will open such old .html files smoothly.