This kind of readerly rewriting is the stuff of fan fiction and yes, so what? Fan fiction in some ways is just a more intense version of intertextuality. What is The Aeneid if not fan fiction? What is The Divine Comedy?… Or Paradise Lost for that matter. J.K. Rowling’s codas to her work—embroidering onto the novels details of Dumbledore’s sexuality, McGonagall’s backstory, and now this alternate timeline: a series where Hermione has a relationship with Harry instead of Ron—are themselves a kind of fan fiction, at least in their insistence that these books are not self-contained, that the truth of a story can be bigger than what’s printed on the page.
Where do books go after they end? Are characters frozen in stasis the moment the final punctuation mark falls? Does Ishmael drift forever on board the Rachel in the middle of the expansive sea? Does Milkman hang suspended from midair, eternally mid-leap? Will Susan Pevensie never hear of the tragic train accident that took her siblings and parents? For the purpose of the book, I think, the answer is yes, but readers hunger for conclusion and will, without compunction, snap off a frame and paint beyond a stories initial boundaries… I imagine the epilogue of Harry Potter, as it stands, to be some readers’ perfect vision of the future, but for me it is not nearly messy enough, grand enough, quiet enough. Harry has never, ever been normal—why would he start being so now? But this is my story: you get to imagine your own.
Molly McArdle, Where Do Books Go After They End?, http://the-toast.net/2014/02/10/harry-potter-and-books-after-they-end/
This woman’s headcanon is beautiful and I cried a little bit.
I also cannot make up my mind how I feel about her idea that all of J.K. Rowling’s pronouncements about post-Harry Potter Harry Potter (et al) are really a kind of fan fiction themselves. On the one hand—yes. I agree wholeheartedly. Because why shouldn’t she get to talk about these books that she loves? And also, I like calling them fan fiction because that takes them down a peg. They’re not canon, they’re just her reading of the story.
And on the other hand, I feel like she should just stop. Because as the author she exercises this kind of authority that effectively silences other people’s interpretations and ignores the idea that readers matter, that the text is a meeting place for the author and the reader, that it’s co-created. Which all means that, when J.K. Rowling announces her headcanon to the world, it’s a much bigger problem than just J.K. Rowling talking about Harry Potter. She’s really shutting down one of the Big Ideas about reading and books.
But then again, she doesn’t really have that power. Because even though she says whatever she wants to stay, the books are still out there and so is this article and so is Tumblr and so are Livejournal user groups from 2007 that ship my OTP Remus/Sirius. So we’re good.
I am going to keep reblogging people who quote me until, maybe, forever.