Monday, February 3, 2014

... Everyone needs a hobby?

Dear Mrs Authoress,

There was a delightful exchange between a playwright and Conan Doyle: Q: “May I marry Holmes?” A: “You may marry Holmes, murder him, or do whatever you like to him.”

May I just say, now that you want to play playwright rather than Doyle, that no, you got it right the first time? To say that, as the story played out, it isn't about Potter, (Potter is central to the unfolding, but it's not about him) but about families: that the first big thing we do after Dumbledore's funeral is throw a wedding; that what saves the Malfoys is they decide not to be soldiers anymore but again a family; that Riddle was ruined because his family (mother included) ruined him, just in time for him to destroy them. (Potter doesn't turn into a Dursley, because the Dursleys themselves were scrupulous about keeping Potter out.)

And so, if the story must extend to the generation that follows (it needn't, of course, but that is what happens next) and if that is a happy ending, then the sympathetic characters (Ok, maybe Potter isn't so sympathetic anymore) ought to be well-matched for the purpose of being family. Potter, alas, has grown up without his proper, visible, natural family, and he doesn't connect at all with Hermione's family (they sort-of paper the walls of Diagon Alley once or twice, I think); indeed, who, in the whole tale, knows enough of the running of a family to supply what is wanting in Potter's experience, and can marry Harry and already loves him? I submit that only Ginevra will do.

Leah Libresco very sensibly acclaims the platonic love (I'd say philia) between Harry and Hermione; and why throw away that beautiful moment when Ron himself destroys a bit of Riddle's evil?

I am sorry to hear that you, the immediate author of the original tales, have twice now, been more than willing to recast your characters along lines of will and power, twice now in connection with the generative power and its degenerations. Go read some Tolkien letters (at least when he revises a story, he makes it better), and play with your children some!

a reader


Enbrethiliel said...


I think the writing first obviously started careening downhill in The Goblet of Fire, but I was willing to say that J.K. Rowling did the best she could have done under the circumstances she had to write in. And I think she should stand by her stories as well, if only because she was so willing to take money for them.

In any case, regret is as regret does. Now that she has admitted that the series was only a rough draft of what it could have been, she should probably sit down and rewrite it. Maybe if we tell her that it would get her more of that money, she would go ahead and do it!

In all seriousness, what she has to say in interviews actually doesn't matter. Ron and Hermione fall in love and get married in the books, and unless she rewrites the series, all her regrets will be as bugs to the windshield of what is.

Belfry Bat said...

as bugs to the windshield of what is” ... =) That one is going into the vault of useful phrases.

Of course I don't take interviews seriously (or I'd read them -c-l-o-s-e-l-y- at all, to make sure I'm not decontextualizing); I just like the occasion to reiterate what I think is the best and truest thing about the books, because it serves my nefarious purposes of reminding whoever stops by and needs it of what really is, and not merely conficted.

Now that you mention it, Goblet was the first that was much too long for its matter; and so I wonder whether/why Rowling was in such a hurry --- who convinced her there wasn't time to write better books? Was it the sudden pressure of the film franchise? Surely she wasn't about to run out of money. She can't have been afraid her first readers would think they were too old for this sort of thing, now, either.

... and now that 'most everyone who read Philosopher's Stone when it first came out is old enough to be raising a small family, isn't it the perfect time to write a completely new septalogy about ... Gerraldine Porter... and... stuff... for the new generation, that is. Or the bratty orphan child of Ignotus Peverel... !

Enbrethiliel said...


Having got that rant off my chest, I'd like to add that I like your reading of the series as a story of families. =)

I'm going to be using the interview as a springboard for a post of my own soon. Incidentally, it will be based on The Goblet of Fire. =P And while we're on the subject . . . for me, the problem with that installment wasn't the length as much as the creation of Rita Skeeter. Rowling was clearly lashing out at British tabloid journalists, and I think it hurt the integrity of the story (and yes, the whole series) when she turned it into a vehicle for revenge.

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