Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Why Authors Should Sometimes Just Shut the Eff Up...

As if Bradbury didn't make it manifestly clear, let me: Authors would be well advised not to talk about The Meaning of their books.

Now, Sara quotes an interview with Rowling that illustrates exactly why many authors would be well advised to just shut the hell up about what they meant by various things.

In this case:
Su: How did neville get the gryfindor sword, is there a link to the hat

J.K. Rowling: Yes, there is very definitely a link to the hat!

J.K. Rowling: Neville, most worthy Gryffindor, asked for help just as Harry did in the Chamber of secrets, and Gryffindor’s sword was transported into Gryffindor’s old hat

J.K. Rowling: – the Sorting Hat was Gryffindor’s initially, as you know.

J.K. Rowling: Griphook was wrong – Gryffindor did not ‘steal’ the sword, not unless you are a goblin fanatic and believe that all goblin-made objects really belong to the maker.


Thanks for clearing that little mystery up, J.K. Can I call you that? I'm going to. You have to be a goblin fanatic to think that all goblin-made objects really belong to the maker? Really? Now, I don't have the book in front of me, but didn't Bill make it sound like... well... most if not all goblins hold that belief. So... all goblins are fanatics?

It was bad enough when I thought she just dropped the ball on the whole species as race aspect of the books, but it turns out that I was wrong. She didn't just drop the ball, she threw the damn thing away.

13 comments:

baby221 said...

Yeah, I was seriously displeased with that. Srsly.

Autumn Harvest said...

Spoiler alerts, dammit! Spoiler alerts! I'm #150 in the queue at my local library.

Djiril said...

Huh. I thought she meant that to be a jumping off point to think about cultural interactions and morality. I guess she just wrote it as a plot device.

EG said...

Hmph. I still think it would be better if she'd said "Well, Griphook welsched on the deal, didn't he? So he couldn't hang onto the sword."

Kristen said...

Sorry for the disillusionment. Goblet of Fire was when I realized Rowling was in over her head. She was trying to touch on so many different issues that the story, particularly the plot had lost all cohesion...after all, if anything could be the portkey, then why didn't they just turn his pencil into a portkey?

It's always sad when the people we respect turn out to be subject to human idiocies! :)

EG said...

Oh, don't get me started. Goblet of Fire was the worst-plotted book I have ever read, for exactly that reason. Voldemort had the stupidest henchmen in the known universe.

Kate217 said...

eg, didn't you get the memo? Evil henchmen are always stupid. It's a job requirement.

baby221 said...

Voldemort had the stupidest henchmen in the known universe.

Plus, having intelligent henchmen is a liability to someone like Voldemort. If you're an Evil Overlord (or trying to be one), the last thing you need is a mutiny, or worse, a stealthy, subtle coup from an ambitious right-hand man like Severus or Lucius.

Roy said...

Sorry Autumn!

I try to remember to put spoiler warnings in my posts, but I forget sometimes. That's my fault. In case you're still reading: I'm about to make more spoilers!





EG: I have to disagree with you a bit. I may have to reread that section of the book, but as I recall it, the deal was that Griphook would help them break into the vault and get the cup. He completed his part of the bargain- he helped them get in, even when things were going to shit. I agreed that he acted like a total shit, but I don't think he welched on the deal, and I certainly think his manipulation of the deal was less welch-like than what Harry planned on doing. I'm annoyed by the way the whole thing was created just to make the goblin look like an ass while giving Harry an out from having to deal with a difficult moral choice, though.

Also: Skeletor has got to have the stupidest henchmen, even moreso than Voldemort. ;)

baby221 said...

**SPOILER SPACE ...
IT'S SPOILER SPACE...
dun dun DUUUUUUN!***

I'm annoyed by the way the whole thing was created just to make the goblin look like an ass while giving Harry an out from having to deal with a difficult moral choice, though.

That was exactly my problem with it too. It was the same thing with the ultimate death of Voldemort -- killed by his own reflected AK, instead of having Harry actually kill him with his own wand. Because apparently heroes never have to get their hands dirty? Even though Harry was perfectly comfortable and capable of casting the other Unforgivables, the AK was too much for him to have to handle?

I'm not even sorry, but that was just infantile and ludicrous. What's the message here? That good people won't actively kill someone who's a mass murderer with a personal grudge against them? I mean it wouldn't have even taken that much effort, and would have been far less a moral dilemma than the one Griphook presented, because who wouldn't agree that it's okay to kill people in self-defense?

Ugh. Sometimes I really hate that this was written for a younger audience. A little complexity on these kinds of issues would have made the reading a lot more enjoyable.

baby221 said...

**SPOILER SPACE ...
IT'S SPOILER SPACE...
dun dun DUUUUUUN!***

I'm annoyed by the way the whole thing was created just to make the goblin look like an ass while giving Harry an out from having to deal with a difficult moral choice, though.

That was exactly my problem with it too. It was the same thing with the ultimate death of Voldemort -- killed by his own reflected AK, instead of having Harry actually kill him with his own wand. Because apparently heroes never have to get their hands dirty? Even though Harry was perfectly comfortable and capable of casting the other Unforgivables, the AK was too much for him to have to handle?

I'm not even sorry, but that was just infantile and ludicrous. What's the message here? That good people won't actively kill someone who's a mass murderer with a personal grudge against them? I mean it wouldn't have even taken that much effort, and would have been far less a moral dilemma than the one Griphook presented, because who wouldn't agree that it's okay to kill people in self-defense?

Ugh. Sometimes I really hate that this was written for a younger audience. A little complexity on these kinds of issues would have made the reading a lot more enjoyable.

EG said...

I guess I can see that, Roy, but it seems to me to be deal-with-the-devil hair-splitting of almost exactly the same kind Harry was engaging in: "I said I'd give you the sword, but I didn't say when!" "I said I'd help you break in and steal the goblet, but I didn't say I wouldn't sell you out right after that!" It ends up sounding to me like they're both negotiating in bad faith. I still don't see why Harry couldn't have just said "Look, we need the sword to do some errands, so can we either hold on to it for a specified period of time or can you take the sword and come with us?"

Skeletor's henchmen were really stupid, but at least he wasn't always being foiled by a bunch of bratty kids!

Autumn Harvest said...

No problem, Roy. I only got a few sentences in before I realized it was spoilerific, and stopped reading.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I didn't think the the goblin was that much of an ass. He just promised to get them in, not be their buddy through thick and thin. And since when Griphook takes the sword "in that instant Harry knew that the goblin had never expected them to keep their word," (p.540) Griphook's actions seem pretty understandable.

J.K. Rowlings' comments also don't seem insane to me. I can see her "goblin fanatic" comment two possible ways. First, that you would have to be one of the subset of goblins who are fanatical, which is somewhat consistent with Bill's statement that "I believe [Griphook] thinks, as do the fiercest of his kind, that it ought to have been returned to the goblins once the original purchaser died." (p.517). Or second, that you would have to be a fanatic, as are all goblins, but the human wizards who cast the spell connecting the hat to the sword were not such fanatics.

I do agree though, that the species-as-race thing was not a good idea. I'm so late for Harry Potter discussions. Sigh.