Happy sigh

Dec. 29th, 2007 12:15 am
girlyswot: (always dragons)
So did you see the Weasley family tree?  And did we all notice the one very happy omission?  No name next to Charlie's!  Hooray!!!  I shall consider myself still entirely free to imagine whatever future I choose for the boy.  Of course, it may just have been because JKR didn't quite know how to explain the LJ relationship to Molly and Arthur, so she left me off.

I also thought there was a very interesting comment in the article, quoting JKR as saying she wants 'her version to be the official version'.  My question is, what on earth is the 'official' version of imaginary events happening to fictional characters without even a story to make them become 'real'?  What 'official' status is this?  It's like asking where Santa Claus 'officially' lives or how much the tooth fairy is 'officially' paid.
girlyswot: (doom)
Just when you thought it was safe to start writing...

More ridiculous questions and answers from JKR. She's obviously read Asking for Roses, but where has she been hanging out to find Dumbledore slash?

My favourite line was: Other revelations include such information as Hagrid was never married

Who on earth wanted to know that?!?!!?
girlyswot: (Default)

I came across this in an article I was reading this morning and thought it had some relevance to the 'JKR's word as canon' debate.

I am inclined to agree with C. S. Lewis who commented on his own book, Till We Have Faces, : "An author doesn't necessarily understand the meaning of his own story better than anyone else..." The act of creation confers no special privileges on authors when it comes to the distinctly different, if lesser, task of interpretation. Wordsworth the critic is not in the same league with Wordsworth the poet, while Samuel Johnson the critic towers over Johnson the creative artist. Authors obviously have something in mind when they write, but a work of historical or theological or aesthetic imagination has a life of its own.

girlyswot: (Default)
Often I find myself thinking about the HP fandom when I'm supposed to be working and vice versa. Partly this is because of an interesting overlap in terminology - I'm reading through books on the formulation of the New Testament canon at the moment. Someone recently described JKR's interviews as 'deuterocanonical' and, of course, we're all accustomed to the terminology of canon in the HP world.

For the book that I spend most of my days and hours and weeks and years studying (the Christian bible), there is no possibility of interviewing the long-dead human authors. The only way to establish what they meant in their books is by means of the text itself (once the relevant historical, linguistic and other analyses and comparisons are done). The text must stand alone in creating meaning, telling stories, establishing characters and so on.

I think perhaps this is why I am so ambivalent about, oh all right, opposed to, treating JKR's interviews as if they are 'canon'. Someone recently made a comment about the HP characters only existing in JKR's head and that she knows them better than anyone and that's why we should listen to her interviews and take her comments as absolute.

I disagree. I don't think Harry Potter lives in JKR's head. I think he lives in the text of the seven books. I profoundly hope that JKR will never be tempted to write 'book 8' but if she ever were to take on such a task, I think she'd quickly discover that some of these things she's saying just wouldn't work in the world and with the characters who already live on the pages of her books.

I also think that we as readers shouldn't need to ask her questions. Before book 7, yes of course - there were questions that we knew we needed answers to (and we also knew they were the ones that wouldn't be answered in interviews) but now we have the whole story, the completed canon. And it is quite clearly complete. I thought DH was a tour de force and I have to say that it has changed my opinions of Rowling as a writer quite significantly. She has told a great story, one that has real depth and meaning, and one that has power to change its readers' minds and hearts. The story is done and should be allowed to speak for itself. The answers to all the questions we need to know are there already in the text and it's lazy to ask JKR to spell them out for us.
girlyswot: (Default)
So, J. K. Rowling has written seven increasingly long novels, plus two short supplements, describing in considerable detail Harry Potter's life, world, history, family and friends.  Bizarrely, there are people who are unsatisfied with this, who are even now, less than a week after the publication of a 600-page book, demanding to know what happened next, begging for further explanation of plots and characters, and harassing her to pen a 'Potterpedia' which, in order to satisfy some of these vultures will need to be the size of the Internet.

But the last thing I want, as a reader, is for the author to supplement her story with an endless catalogue of the ideas she had which didn't make it into the books because they weren't relevant or necessary for the story to be told.  I didn't much care for the epilogue, but in many ways it came as a huge relief.  The first time I heard that JKR was planning such a thing, it was in such a way as to make me fear we would have every character's future life spelled out in tedious detail.  At least we were spared that.  So why, today, do we need to learn that Ron and Harry will be Aurors (which seems incredibly unlikely to me) and Hermione a lawyer (really?  After what she said in DH?)  I, for one, feel completely free to disregard any and all information given by JKR in an interview.

It's a hard fact for some to swallow but a writer's job is merely to write a book.  If they manage to write it in such a way as to engage their readers, make them care for the characters, intrigue them with the details of another world, well and good.  That may even go towards making it a good book.  But we as readers need to learn to trust the writer to include all the salient facts, the whole interesting story, within the confines of the covers.  If we want more we have two options - to read more deeply than first we did (and this is certainly an option open to many, many of the HP fans), or to use our own imaginations to create new stories for the characters and worlds we've feasted on (and again, this is a route taken by many HP fans).

It's interesting to me to note that all the attempted sequels to Pride and Prejudice are unutterable disasters.  Admittedly here there's also an issue of style - Austen being notoriously hard to mimic well, and very easy to imitate badly.  But I think one of the main reasons is that Elizabeth and Darcy's story is so clearly told by the end of the book.  Any attempt to follow it looks like a clumsily manufactured fraud of a plot.  This is also why, for me, most of the best and most interesting HP fics don't focus on the central characters, especially Harry.  There are a myriad of minor characters whose stories may still be told, but Harry's is already there in black and white in JKR's words.  So let's leave him where he belongs and let JKR enjoy the real world for a change.


girlyswot: (Default)

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