J.K. Rowling changed her mind.

Ron and Hermione shouldn’t have ended up together at all. If they did, she speculates, they would have needed some serious relationship counseling.

J.K. Rowling at White House Easter Egg Roll, 2010. Image courtesy Daniel Ogren, Wikimedia Commons.

J.K. Rowling at White House Easter Egg Roll, 2010. Image courtesy Daniel Ogren, Wikimedia Commons.

“I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that,” Rowling told the Sunday Times.

While I doubt there’s an author living or dead who has zero regrets on what they’ve written or left unwritten, I guess I just wish Ms. Rowling would quit telling us this stuff.

It’s time, maybe, for her to make like Pontius Pilate and say “quod scripsi, scripsi” – “what I have written, I have written.”

It is finished.

The series is finished. And even though I was a late adopter, I loved it. I re-read each book in the series in preparation for the release of the next. My husband waited in one of those midnight lines to get the hardback copy we’d pre-ordered months earlier. I cried, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

I love Harry Potter. I was a proud, proud mama the day my son finished reading his British copy of the first in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I also understand the pressure on authors to plug their books and play the celebrity. But I wish Rowling would quit ruining the magic of my suspended disbelief by giving all this extra-canonical commentary.

This is where I’m going to sound like a fuddy-duddy and possibly a fundamentalist, although I hope I’m neither. The Christian canon closes with a warning that no one should add to or take away from what’s been written. And maybe that’s sage advice for the novelist too. At least most of the time.

Rowling made a similarly unfortunate extracanonical comment back in 2007, when she declared, before a packed audience in Carnegie Hall that “Dumbledore is gay.” The audience “gasped, then applauded.”

At the risk of unfairly judging Rowling’s motives, I felt irritated at the way she chose to reveal this information after the books were finished. If Dumbledore was gay, why did she keep him in the closet? It seems likely that she did so because neither she nor her publisher wanted to risk the ire — and the possibility of decreased sales — from certain segments of the population. Her books were already controversial among conservative religious circles, who feared (absurdly, in my view) that the books dabbled dangerously in witchcraft.

Declaring Dumbledore’s sexual identity after the fact — without having written it into the books themselves — seems to me like a way garnering approval from one side without risking disapproval from the other. That’s not particularly courageous.

The Elephant House, so-called 'The Birthplace of Harry Potter,' Edinburgh, 2009. Photo courtesy Nicolai Schäfer via Wikimedia Commons.

The Elephant House, so-called ‘The Birthplace of Harry Potter,’ Edinburgh, 2009. Photo courtesy Nicolai Schäfer via Wikimedia Commons.

As to the current issue — whether Ron and Hermione really belonged together — I can’t see why Rowling hasn’t left well enough alone…except, perhaps, as a way to bring the books back to people’s attention. We know sales of Harry Potter books are anything but slow, and Rowling herself is still busy writing books, so what gives? Is she bored, or just unwilling to let go of the magical story of her beloved boy wizard?

I don’t know, but I’m ready for the Harry Potter canon to be closed, without any more illuminations from its author. What she has written, she has written. Take a lesson from the Beatles and let it be.

2 Comments

  1. Except that she has said she is working on a spin off script for a new movie set in the Harry Potter world (but with different characters.) So while I agree with your basic sentament, I fear this is just the start of the changes and edits. ( http://www.entertainmentwise.com/news/140740/Daniel-Radcliffe-Emma-Watson-And-Rupert-Grint-To-Cameo-In-JK-Rowlings-Harry-Potter-Spin-off-Fantastic-Beasts )

    One of my favorite book, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game has been plagued with Card’s tinkering. The book started as a short story, then it was expanded to a full length book. There was a revised anniversary edition (which is what the audiobook is based on.) Then he started a whole new series based in the same world with the first book being told about the same basic events from a different character’s perspective. Then he added a new book to the Ender series which is takes place entirely between the last two chapters of the original Ender’s Game book. And then this year he released an audio play which was billed as a new edition that included some new characters and significant edits to plot points. That is in addition to the movie (which I haven’t seen yet) that is also significantly different.

    It is not that I am always opposed to changes. Some changes really are improvements. But many of the changes seem to be changes for change sake and do not actually improve the story. Many seem to make the story worse and muddle it up. I think authors have thought so much about their characters and world that it is hard for them to turn it off. And because they are the creator and ‘authority’ it is also hard for them to hear criticism from others about the changes.

    In Card’s case it seems clear that he either doesn’t listen to his editor or he doesn’t have an editor that tells him when story elements just don’t work.

  2. “Dumbledore is gay” – I suspect that this was a spur of the moment invention, roote boredom and irritation, made for the sheer joy and delight that the inevitably silly reaction would bring to her. Ok, maybe not, but that would have been the kind of thing I would have done, were I her.

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