J.K. Rowling revision evidences that books belong to the readers
In a recent interview with Emma Watson for Wonderland magazine, J.K. Rowling, came out of left field to take a kick at perhaps one of the most cherished aspects of Harry Potter: Ron and Hermione’s romance. During the interview, Rowling admitted to Watson that Hermione might have been better off with Harry.
This revelation sent shock waves through the social networking world, and soon enough, fans voiced their confusion, anger, and disappointment. Tweets ranged from expressing heartbreak to denial to triumph as long-settled shipping wars erupted again throughout the fandom.
As a fan of the series, and having read all the books cover to cover, I was a little perplexed by the buzz surrounding Rowling’s comments. After all, Rowling has made similar comments in the past, such as declaring Dumbledore to be gay and stating that she seriously considered killing off Ron halfway through the series.
But Rowling’s comments beg the question: Why do the fans care so much about what Rowling says? In fact, why are fans angry that she has come out and said what she has about Ron and Hermione’s relationship?
It’s extremely important to note that she had been answering questions in an interview — a formal venue that is sure to guarantee fan buzz online. Aren’t we, the fans, the reason that she feels prompted to throw these details out during such an interview?
Moreover, Rowling has left us with this comment and has obviously angered some of Harry Potter fandom. Fans are angry because they are taking her comments to heart. I don’t think we should.
As readers, we should evaluate a piece of work as it stood when published, not what the piece of work could have been. In fact, does Rowling’s post-writing opinion on the novels matter at all?
Harry Potter should stand alone as a series. Even though Rowling is the author and Harry Potter was her work of art, any commentary or inference should be based on the work itself.
Rowling can say anything about the novel, but the fact is that it really doesn’t matter. Rowling stated that the reason she wanted Ron and Hermione together was out of a personal choice, and not for literary reasons.
What fans and Rowling alike are forgetting is that novels, and artwork in general, are reflections of an author’s personal choices, and these choices do not have to be strictly artistic or literary. If they were, we would be left with a dry piece of work, devoid of any humanity that makes art moving or relatable.
As an artist, Rowling is allowed to look back and wistfully think, “I wish this” and “I wish that.” That response is natural, and it is her right to develop as both a writer and an artist. Readers and fans alike should not allow any of Rowling’s thoughts, however, to affect the way in which they read and interpret the text.
Even if Rowling had made some point or suggested some change that fans found agreeable, readers should still focus on the novel itself because, as a work of art, it is relevant only to the specific context in which it was created.
The shifting thoughts from the author or society should not change people’s relationship with the original text.