The Literary Salon

A free salon wherein patrons and passers-by may view or contribute ideas on literary and generally intellectual matters. The blog will strive to maintain its commitment to wit, humour and perspicuous analysis.

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Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Post on Harry Potter?

Has the world gone topsy-turvy?

No, not yet.

Along with everyone else on the planet, I learnt today that Dumbledore, a character from the Harry Potter series, "is gay." I have never read any of the Harry Potter books, but this comment, from none other than JK Rowling, piqued my interest.

I don't mean to sound like Michel Foucault ("What is an Author?"), but Rowling's pronouncement is meaningless. Without trying to sound moral, she has no more right to say this than anyone else. This reminds me of the words of inestimable and titanic Northrop Frye, viz., that if Shakespeare came back from the grave and told us what he meant by x or y in Hamlet, his insights can be considered as nothing more than just another interpretation among others. In the same way, Rowling's pronouncement cannot be privileged above a simlar one made by anyone else.

It is true that, contrary to the wishes of Foucault and Barthes, we very much live in an authorcentric society, and this latest pronouncement is just another manifestation of this reality.

(note: I'm not being evaluative here, but merely descriptive).

On another note, when I get a chance I will write my first attempt at film criticism: I will discuss the brilliant program Curb Your Enthusiasm from a formalist perspective. Stay tuned (if you have nothing better to do).


Blogger Dr J said...

You-- and Frye-- are right, of course. Rowling's pronouncement seems like one of those phony "and, by the way" gestures designed to engineer controversy (and probably to poke her critics among the religious right directly in the eye). It also indicates either post-facto whitewashing or an original failure of storytelling on her part. If she wanted to make him gay, she should have incorporated it, or alluded to it, or left it in the realm of idle speculation.

As for Curb, I've generally despised the show for its screeching & shouting, but there was a touch of genius to the season in which LD agreed to star as Max Bialystock in The Producers. The season ender, with Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft drinking in a bar, was brilliant. (And, sadly, Ms. Bancroft's last appearance ever.)

10:40 a.m.  

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