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Esper
May 3rd, 2011, 11:20 AM
Putting that literature degree to good use. lol

Death of the Author was an essay written in the 60s by a theorist named Roland Barthes and the main idea in it is that only what you find in a text (meaning a book, or a movie, or anything else) should be used to understand it. Nothing an author says about it is necessarily true if there's no evidence for it. So, for example, remember when we heard that Dumbledore was gay? We didn't read it in any of the Harry Potter books. We heard it from J. K. Rowling herself and according to this theory Dumbledore wouldn't be gay because it's not in the book.

So what do you think about this idea and its implications? What do you think about the idea of an author with free range to say whatever they want about their work?

Kyoko
May 3rd, 2011, 11:26 AM
I personally wasn't a fan of her saying Dumbledore was gay after the fact. If it was an important thing to mention, I feel like she could have easily added into the story somehow, but to do it after Deathly Hallows was already out was a bit lame. It didn't provide any back story and it was just kind of out there and we couldn't do anything with the information and the plot.

However, I read somewhere that for authors their stories don't really end for them, so if they want to change something about it they can, I just don't think they should tell the public about it unless they want to write a new book about it. As readers we have perceptions of the characters that are given to us in the book and to suddenly have that changed once the book is done is a bit odd to deal with.

Mr Cat Dog
May 4th, 2011, 07:45 AM
I think there's a difference in an author saying 'you interpreted my book wrong' and clarifying something implicit but unmentioned in the text. For me, the former is unjustified and specious arguing by the author, but the latter may be permissible as long as it doesn't completely screw with people's interpretations of the themes/subtext and the like.

To go to the Dumbledore analogy, I'd put that in the second category: although it was a big WTF moment, it didn't really change the 'essence' of the HP series. It was just a mild retcon involving one character. The spirit of the series lived on and hasn't been damaged by this 'revelation' so to speak.

In a more general answer to the question, it really depends on a case-by-case basis whether I get annoyed or intrigued by 'correction's authors make to their novels. There's the theory that Kyoko mentioned above in that stories never really 'end' per se, but who's to say that the original author should be the driving force behind this continuation of the work? It's certainly a very grey area, all of this...

Esper
May 4th, 2011, 09:51 AM
I think there's a difference in an author saying 'you interpreted my book wrong' and clarifying something implicit but unmentioned in the text. For me, the former is unjustified and specious arguing by the author, but the latter may be permissible as long as it doesn't completely screw with people's interpretations of the themes/subtext and the like.
I think you just brought up what I was hoping to get at: what happens when the author's interpretation clashes with the reader's? Like Kyoko said, we have impressions of the book and if the author tries to change that after the book's been written that can be difficult for us readers.

But then there's the flip side. Authors don't want their books hijacked. To bring up HP again, a lot of people called the books evil and full of devil-worship and all of that. As an author that's got to feel horrible having other people tell you what your own work is about, even if it's not as extreme as what happened with HP.

My own view is that the readers should be able to interpret however they want even if some of them make wildly unsubstantiated claims (like witchcraft) because accepting only what the author says a book is is too limiting.

Gold warehouse
May 4th, 2011, 09:56 AM
I've always abided by this theory. I find it much more enjoyable to interpret a work of art entirely in my own personal way; it gives it a higher sense of meaning to the individual. Once an author has created something and given it to the world, then their role is over as far as I'm concerned.

That J.K. Rowling thing? I just ignored it. Maybe it would have made people who are prejudiced think twice, and that's good. But I don't need a lesson on how to be open-minded, so it really doesn't make any difference to me whether I disregard it or not. I think authors are free to say what they want about their creations; but at the same time readers have the right to choose to ignore it.

Mew~
May 4th, 2011, 10:13 AM
Well, I'm not sure Dumbledore and Grindelwald were really studying (or whatever they called it) for hours in that room. xD

TheUltimateSacrifice
May 6th, 2011, 07:21 AM
You mean like the unreliable narrator that Nolan uses? I like it when he uses it, especially in Memento and The Prestige.

Esper
May 6th, 2011, 09:08 AM
You mean like the unreliable narrator that Nolan uses? I like it when he uses it, especially in Memento and The Prestige.
I mean when an author has a finished and published book (or a musician has a song, or a director a movie, etc.) and they go about saying "My book is about this and this and this" while people who've read the book think it's about something else. Or maybe you don't know what happens to a character by the end and the author says something like "oh, they died" and the readers feel like there's no hint of that anywhere. It's about who's allowed to say what they like about the book. There's an assumption that whatever an author says should be taken as truth even if there's nothing in the book that supports it. This idea goes against that assumption.