Delusional Joanne Rowling Joins Harry-Hermione Shippers?

CNN’s Saeed Ahmed reports this morning in an article titled JK Rowling says Hermione should have married Harry Potter, not Ron that the Presence Herself, speaking with Emma ‘Hermione’ Watson, now regrets her most important ‘Shipping decision in the Hogwarts Saga.

The Wonderland issue doesn’t come out until Thursday. But Britain’s Sunday Times published excerpts of the interview in a front-page story, “JK admits Hermione should have wed Harry.”

“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really,” Rowling says in the interview.

“For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”

“I know, I’m sorry,” she adds. “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. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.”

And what did the fictional Mrs. [Ron] Weasley have to say about all this? She agrees!

“I think there are fans out there who know that too and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy,” Watson says in the interview.

Three quick notes after the jump:

(1) This is an excerpt from an interview, which, when published in full, will be extracts from a long conversation. Who knows what was really said? We’ll know better Thursday, of course, but whatever is said from this report and that article amounts essentially to girl-talk gossip back-and-forth. What Ms Rowling say she thinks now — what she wants others to think of her now, to be more precise — tells us precious little about the meaning and artistry of her work, whence Potter Mania, or the rightness or wrongness of her ‘shipping pairs. What we have in spades, however, is the invitation and temptation, from the author no less, to reconsider her work in light of her life, an extraordinary and unfortunate trend. Who wants to interpret Harry Potter in light of Personal Heresy parameters, which is to say, the psychological condition of Joanne Rowling, past and present?

(2) Having said that, let’s note the money quotations and what they mean:

“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really,” Rowling says in the interview.

“For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”

“Wish fulfillment”? Was she dating a guy like Ron in the original conception of the series — and that was the mental picture she felt obliged to cling to? The man she was dating on the train or her first husband — or who? Second husband was supposed to be her Harry Potter, her words. Is her new conviction of how the story should have gone satisfaction with her new marriage or an expression consequent to Freudian analysis (whence “wish fulfilment”) of regrets about that relationship, too, something hinted at in Casual Vacancy‘s Parminder? This is a can of worms or gorms we’re opening — and I couldn’t be more put-off.

What is ugly here, to risk repeating myself, is the implication that we should be joining her (lest why share these thoughts and her fears that these thoughts will hurt fans?) in interpreting the rightness and wrongness of her plotting choices in light of her personal life rather than “reasons” “having to do with literature.” The Ron/Hermione relationship, as readers of this blog and my books know, is a brilliantly alchemical and archetypal depiction of the catalysts Mercury and Sulphur worked out over seven books. It is an important piece, with the soul triptych of the Terrible Trio, of what makes Harry Potter‘s magic work on readers of all ages, nationalities, and beliefs. But now we are meant to move beyond that literary understanding and read the books as the new and enlightened author does, because she has transcended and moved beyond the childish, needy woman who conceived and wrote the best selling book series of all time?

Forgive me for feeling only sympathy for the insecurities she continues to show, her need for attention and approval from those who despised Harry Potter I fear, and for taking a pass on this encouraging word to understand her work through her biography, or worse, her autobiography. “Distance has given me perspective on that,” i.e., “I’m all grown up now — and over that ‘me’ who looked like Molly Weasley”?

(3) I’m afraid, too, this note makes Ms Rowling suspect of complicity in the dumbing down and diminution of Ronald Weasley in the Warner Brothers re-telling of her stories. This interview if it pans out on Thursday as this snippet reported today will make official that Ron is to be despised by readers if they wish to share the current perspective of the author (which, alas, as most Fandom true-believers understand the books’ value and meaning only as what Ms Rowling says she intended, is the de facto case, if few will want to admit it).

My take-away from this? I feel confirmed in my thinking that texts are authoritative and serious readers let the published form be their guides, not the cinema interpretations or the author’s ever-changing idea of what their books are about, especially, egad, if the author insists that the books are only about their psychological projections and acting out. This sort of thing is one aspect of what makes books work, I admit as one who has-gone-there. But so much more important and edifying is the symbolism and weave of the final text than whatever inspired it (or what the author chooses to say to move beyond her earlier, less mature and sophisticated work…).

First impressions and speculations — more Thursday or whenever we get the interview in full. Hat-tip to James for the CNN link!

Post-post: The word ‘delusional’ is in the title above only because of the infamous comments by MuggleNet’s Emerson Spartz about Harry-Hermione ‘shippers in his interview with Ms Rowling at Half-Blood Prince’s publication. He labeled all of these readers as “delusional,” and, pathetically, even shamefully, Ms Rowling did not correct or admonish him. Now, of course, that she has become a Harry-Hermione ‘shipper of sorts, the shoe fits?

Comments

  1. These questions might sound like a test, but they are really just genuine inquiries from a perplexed, non-professional reader:

    1. Can anyone share any other examples of authors who have reviewed or revised their own works after publication?

    2. Are there other examples of authors whose readers and/or reviewers seriously disagree with them about the meaning of their books?

    3. Once a work has left the pen of the author, does that author really own the work, or does the work become the ‘property’ of the readers?

  2. Sorry John! I just realized that the track-backs contain your answers to my questions. I would love to hear from other readers, though!

  3. 1. Dickens’ Great Expectations — the “two endings”

    2. Faulkner was notorious, I’m told, for offering bizarre ideas about the meaning of his work late in life, sometimes having even forgotten what happened in each novel.

    3. I’m not sure I understand the question! I’d say the text has an independent existence after publication and belongs to the world and the ages, outside of new forwards and the like in later editions (again, see Dickens for those).

  4. Marly Youmans, poetess, novelist, and best of weBloggers, has written a letter to Ms Rowling that I hope very much you will read. I doubt anyone will say or write anything as insightful and helpful in understanding the error Ms Rowling makes in this “regret.” There’s no need for remorse if you’ve done the right thing!

  5. Thank you for those answers to my deranged author quiz! The story of the two endings to Great Expectations is amazing — I much prefer the first. Yes, on question 3 that’s definitely the sort of thing I was thinking about: that once published, the text belongs to the ages.

    I’m afraid I agree with you that Rowling has been unduly influenced by the movies. I wonder if she has ever actually re-read the entire series in one go as I suspect most of us Potter fanatics have done. I suspect not.

    Marly Youmans’ letter is wonderful; indeed, there is ‘not much library paste’ holding Harry down and I love the thought of Harry and Ginny enjoying a wild midnight broomstick ride.

    I disagree with her on Ron and Hermione, though. From a biblical perspective they are, like Adam and Eve, ideal ‘helpmates opposite’ each other. Ron and Hermione are polar opposites, and yet in many ways very similar. Each sees the other with extraordinary clarity and each cares enough to want to set the other straight. Yes it will be stormy, but both Ron and Hermione enjoy verbal repartee, and arguing is how Weasleys show their love for each other. And as for counseling, Molly and Arthur will be there to help them over the rough patches — Molly for one won’t mince words, but Arthur’s gentle wisdom will help too!

  6. More and more confirmation that JKR has gone over to the dark side. She has clearly turned against Christianity and therefore, naturally, the deeply Christian Harry Potter series (an Apostate Potterstate perhaps?).

    Naturally, therefore, she is (perhaps deliberately, perhaps unwittingly) trying to sabotage HP as Good books for future readers, even as they are being partly-poisoned for past readers.

    As she underwent the transformation from the obscure, pudgy, redheaded genius who conceived, planned and mostly wrote Harry Potter; to the feted, blonded, plastic and skeletal figure of the recent photograph – so she became a dishonest, bitter and twisted person.

    However, I think it likely that the process of transformation may have been started, and certainly was exacerbated, by the ignorant and vicious attacks of US Christians on the early books.

    Sigh.

    My attitude is that we should be grateful that JKR followed through her original plan to its wondrous conclusion; when it could so easily have been sabotaged by political correctness. Phew!

    Still, these days I am doing my best not to read anything she says, or about anything she does.

  7. Thanks for your response, John. I knew there was one place I needed to go on the web when I heard that bit of news–your website. I completely agree with you and Marly Youmans regarding this new–and wrong–pairing of Harry and Hermione.
    ~Candice

  8. Good heavens, such long faces. I think what Ms. Rowling is really saying is that she should have developed the romance in the books better (given that the Harry Potter books are not about romance at all.) To me that’s a given. I’m not necessarily referring to the pairings Rowling uses, but the way they were executed. This more or less ruined the last two book for me.

    Yes, I own and have read all of your HP books and Travis’ as well and enjoyed them very much.

  9. Linda McCabe, aka ‘Pallas Athene’ in fandom, was a leading spokesperson for the Harry/Hermione ‘shipping position during the inter librum Potter Wars. She has posted at her weBlog a short history of the controversy, the peculiar nature of Ms Rowling’s dismissal in 2005 of the H/Hr readers as “delusional,” and her feelings of vindication now that the Presence has arrived at the place of misgivings about Ron and Hermione’s relationship that the H/Hr shippers had years ago.

    Well worth a read!

  10. I was fairly well convinced that JKR had lost contact with her stories when I saw the “final confrontation” at the climax of the last movie. Given that the scene merely changed the entire meaning of the seven-book, eight-movie series, my wife and I have pondered ever since “Why did she allow that?”

    Given that JKR has herself (long ago) spoken about the alchemical nature of the series, and that Ron and Hermione are a central part of that literary structure, it seems she’s now just throwing mashed potatoes up against the wall to see what will stick.

  11. ‘ “I’ll tell you what it means,” said Hermione through gritted teeth. “It means the Ministry’s interfering at Hogwarts.” ‘

    This is Umbridge level trollery by the Minister of Magic and the Minister herself surely knows its rubbish. I’ll wait for the context, but I can’t imagine why Ms. Rowling has been more eager than almost anyone else to hide her light under a bushel.

  12. Hana,

    I can at least answer part one of your three part question.

    Yes, I have seen at least one other author do a surprising volte face (of sorts I guess) in regards to their stories.

    The case I’m thinking of is Stephen King with regards to his book The Shining. He wrote a (to me thoroughly unnecessary) sequel to the book, and in the author’s afterward he states that “The man who wrote” the sequel “is very different from” the author of the Shining. The problem is I’m not sure that’s an excuse, and to his possible credit, King show’s signs in his afterword of regrets for writing the sequel.

    What’s galling about it for me is how I think a case can be made for The Shining as a Soul Triptych story and it’s purgation, which would mean not only is the original book more or less finished and complete as it stands, but that to write a sequel to a story about a soul that has undergone Transformation would mean that author is attempting to cancel that act of purgation.

    In terms of Rowling, I think the word here that needs to be said is “Post-Modernism”, and all the related meanings that implies.

    I don’t know if that helps any, but it’s the best I can offer. As for whether or not an audience owns a story, well, only if the story is complete in and of itself, and only as long as the audience is willing to recognize that fact, and treat the finished tale with the respect it deserves.

    Sadly, ours is an age that treats stories as commodities like Kleenex. There to be used in a utilitarian fashion and then just as quickly discarded. This isn’t an age that encourages close, respectful readings of a good book.

  13. ‘ “Let us move forward then, into a new era of openness, effectiveness, and accountability, intent on preserving what ought to be preserved, perfecting what needs to be perfected, and pruning wherever we find practices that ought to be prohibited.” ‘

  14. Goodness John. For having the unmitigated gall to comment on her own work you’ve skewered and baked her haven’t you. Did I imagine it, or did once upon a time you yourself actually argue that a Harry and Hermione pairing could have equally worked in an alchemical reading.

    No offence, but I find your post above unbelievably patronising. I also read the books from a deeper level and I thought Harry and Hermione worked better together from that reading. Am I projecting?

    When JK Rowling says she has the benefit of distance and she’s seeing it from a more literary position now, I believe her. Furthermore, literary can mean simply what would have made sense to the story or what would have enriched the story. It doesn’t have to mean a subtextual level. It is also possible that she’s examining her writing process from the benefit of someone with more books under their sleeves.

    What it probably doesn’t mean is “I’m inviting you all to psychoanalyse me and my intentions”.

    The gall of some people.

  15. Louise Freeman says:

    Personally, I think Ron and Hermione work better as a couple, for alchemical reasons and because I really like good platonic male-female relationships in adolescent fiction and think they are all-too-rare. (I never wanted Laurie to fall for Jo in Little Women…. and I consider Christina and Four’s friendship at the end of Allegiant one of its redeeming features.) But Harry’s “She’s like a sister to me…” to Ron after the locket destruction was one of my favorite scenes in the book Deathly Hallows; and I loved the comforting dance in the tent in the movie. Besides, I like the symmetry of the main characters pairing up– in my mind, I still picture Luna with Neville, but I think she would be a poor choice for Ron, and I don’t think even the most devoted pureblooder would approve a a Ron and Ginny pairing.

    But going back to the question of “do authors ever revise their own works?” one example is Agatha Christie changing the morbid ending of “And Then There Were None” to a happier one for the stage play. I also think of one of my favorite plays, Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House.” (see http://ibsen.nb.no/id/11111794.0 for the full story… basically he was pressured into changing the ending. I find his response very interesting:
    “I have myself described this alteration to my translator as a «barbaric act of violence» towards the play. Its use is absolutely contrary to my wishes, and I hope that it will not be used by many German theatres.
    As long as there is no literary agreement between Germany and the Scandinavian countries we Scandinavian authors have no rights whatsoever down here, as is the case with German authors in our countries. Thus our dramatic works are constantly being violated both by translators, heads of theatres, directors and actors at minor theatres. But if there is a threat of suchlike in my case, I prefer, having learned from previous experience, to commit such violence myself, rather than surrender my works to treatment and «adaptation» by less careful and less skillful hands than my own. ”

    I think we can be confident now that JKR has enough clout that no one will force unwanted changes on her for any adaptations. But I also don’t think we should read too much into her motives if she chooses to speculate about other choices she might have made. She must get asked thousands of “What if’s” about her works each year… and it shouldn’t surprise us that she chooses to answer some. And face it, perpetual “No, it couldn’t have been any other way’s” would get pretty dull.

    Harry Potter is more than a good book, though it is that first and foremost. It’s a cultural phenomenon, and “What if’s” are a part of that, as they are for comic books (What if Lois Lane had the superpowers? What if baby Kal-el had been found by Bruce Wayne’s parents?) and other media (the rebooted Star Trek franchise, Wizard of Oz from the witch’s perspective). Personally, I think it is fascinating to hear What If speculations from the original creator, even if we think the original is better. And looking at how the author’s life influence the story development can be a fascinating of understanding any book, even if it is not an essential part.

    Now let us turn to what I hope will be the definitive answer to the controversy: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/432755/february-03-2014/j-k–rowling-s-ron-and-hermione-bombshell

  16. I can find JKR’s second thoughts understandable. There’s a real sense in which the Hermione-Ron romance is driven more by the needs of the storyline than by the needs of the characters. Since the story is centrally about this extremely close three-way friendship, once the principals get into adolescence she has to start dealing with adolescent sexuality, which could (and at one point almost does) blow the Trio to smithereens. And Harry, as the however-reluctant hero, has to take a virtual vow of chastity for the duration because, well, heroes have to focus on their quest. He needs Hermione as a loyal supporter, an advisor and a sounding board, not as an emotional entanglement. And at the climax, it’s down to just the three to them, so who’s left for romance? R-H also has the value of allowing this wonderfully intense friendship to be sealed permanently into family, something that Harry (and the muggle-born Hermione) deeply needs. I think that, looking back, Rowling could easily see that she’s forcing two characters into a relationship that they wouldn’t have chosen had they been in another set of books, driven together in such an intense crucible.

    That said, I think she got it right the first time. The Ron-Hermione story is difficult, but it makes each of them a better person; indeed, Ron’s love for Hermione gives him the courage to rejoin them, to share their privation and peril, and above all to risk their rejection. The Trio are bonded after that as they’d never been bonded before, and are set for their final challenge. And, finally, they get to be parents. Few people seem to appreciate that the Epilogue isn’t about Who Ends Up With Whom, but with what sorts of parents they become to their own children, and with how life goes on even as we remember the sacrifices made (by Remus, Tonks, Dumbledore, and Snape) to get them there. I say, give the ship wars a rest.

  17. John,

    Thank you for adding a link to my blog post. On this issue.

    I wanted you to know that the full interview is now posted on Mugglenet. (I wonder if they might get dinged for copyright infringement if they didn’t get permission from Wonderland, so I do not suggest you reprint it in full on your blog.) Here’s the link and you might want to copy it in full and put it on your hard drive for future referent.

    http://www.mugglenet.com/jkrint-wonderland-020714.shtml

    I must say after reading it in full, I can say that Jo offered this observation of her second thoughts about the compatibility of R/Hr to Emma freely of her own accord. She wasn’t badgered into admitting it.

    This was a civil conversation between people who knew the characters oh so well, and were able to be honest about thoughts on character motivations, etc.

    There was no attempt at scoring points at the expense of others’ feelings as had been done nine years ago. The R/Hr shippers are now breathing a sigh of relief since they recognize that Jo/Emma tried to spare their feelings and offered some backtracking in support of their favored ship.

    And, now, nine years later, I finally feel vindicated. I felt insulted by JK Rowling when she suggested that I go back and re-read her novels.

    That made me retreat from the fandom and with an occasional post about HP on my blog or post my thoughts here. I have only read books 6 and 7 once.

    Now, I might just read them for a second time.

    I wonder if JKR might consider doing a re-boot of her series with an alternate ending?

    If anyone has the clout to do it, she does. I’m sure Bloomsbury and Scholastic would love to have that money spigot turned back on with new versions of her book. I asked my teenaged son who loves the series if she were to write a different version of any of her books if he would want to read it(them). Without any hesitation he said, “Hells, yeah!”

    That’s teen slang for you.

    Linda AKA Pallas Athena

  18. Wow! It looks like all of our Quick-Quote Quills ran away with themselves here. I just read the whole interview over at Mugglenet and it was perfectly fine IMO — actually quite delightful. The quotes in Rita Skeeter’s Sunday Times article were taken very much out of context.

  19. Mike Hoskinson says:

    Folks, we never said that Ron/Hermione couldn’t happen….we said that she didn’t write it well. I have no desire to see the books change; I am merely welcoming that Rowling sees now what we saw years ago, and more importantly, explains it in much the same fashion. Perhaps the dual blinders to which she admitted (personal motivation and adherence to original plan) kept her from seeing the growth and evolution of her story, and she relied way too much on an old and tiresome stereotype (the bickering couple). I don’t think the quotes were taken out of context….it was absolutely false to assume that she was “changing” anything. All she did was clarify her motive and process; and that clarity is a result of growth and hindsight. I admire and am thankful for her courage and honesty…..it makes up for the shameful way she indulged the two apes who went to interview her.

    I’m fine with the books as they are. In fact, I’d be less fine if I were a Ron and Hermione shipper, in light of the fact that in the epilogue Ron admitted to lying to Hermione regarding his driver’s test, ostensibly to avoid conflict….which was one of the exact things that they said Harry did during the books that made him a bad match for Hermione. Hey…..if that’s what they like, who am I to judge? All I know is that the books drew a lot of people into reading and analytical thinking…and that more than makes up for a relatively weak wrap up.

  20. One does hope that the authoress has progressed beyond and pressed forward in her self-understanding and self-acceptance since the years of HP, after all, that is to be human. What is author-icide and unacceptable, is to attempt to re-write as though today’s persona should have invested the prior work. She got to where she is today in part by doing the work of HP. Write another novel, JKR. Then, in a decade, you can comment on that from your vantage point then.

    No. Wait. The author is bound by the canon as published, just like other mortals. Damn! Choices, for whatever reason rendered, matter. The past is fixed, not malleable. Even for authors.

  21. Not sure why Linda McCabe feels vindicated. There is still nothing in the books to support H/H. That’s just a fact that can’t be changed. There is nothing in the article that suggests she wishes she put H/H together. Rowling has always been more of a H/G supporter than H/R.

    I’m also not sure how she backtracked. She wrote Ron’s as one of self discovery, that its okay for him to just be himself – not his brothers and not Harry. Watson astutely points this out. Rowling has always stated that Ron’s humor and ability to take life a little less seriously is what attracks Hermione to Ron. He gives the Type A personality permission to be less intense.

  22. RickJM,
    I assume that you are new to the HP fandom, or at least did not participate in the shipping wars when they were in full force back when the series was incomplete.

    There is plenty of evidence in the canon to support the idea of a Harry/Hermione pairing. Hence all of the debating that went on prior to the publication of HBP and the subsequent interview with TLC/Mugglenet that effectively ended the H/Hr vs. R/Hr debates.

    If you are interested in reading the analysis of HP fans who thought the series was going in the H/Hr direction you can read a set of posts on the debate thread at Fictionalley here

    http://tinyurl.com/kptnprt

    Those posts were made by a team of H/Hr shippers and analyzed the canon as it stood at the time, namely the first four books. This was also before I joined the shipping wars. EbonyInk had seen a post I made on another board and asked for permission to use it in an essay. I wanted to see how it was used, read her essay and then became sucked into the swirling vortex of the shark infested shipping waters myself.

    If you would like to see some of my essays on the matter, here are some re-postings that were done for those new to the shipping phenomenon post-Wonderland interview.

    Here’s a link to one about Hermione Not Frustrated with Waiting for Ron. It analyzes several scenes from OotP:

    http://forums.fictionalley.org/park/showthread.php?s=&postid=1948387#post1948387

    And another essay about Harry Choosing Hemione Over Cho:

    http://forums.fictionalley.org/park/showthread.php?s=&postid=1948383&#post1948383

    Okay, that’s all that I feel is necessary to respond to your reply. If you cannot see that there were different responses to the literature other than rooting for the ultimate romantic pairing of R/Hr and H/G, after thoughtfully reading all of those posts then I doubt anything more I type will convince you.

    Sincerely,

    Linda C. McCabe AKA Pallas Athena in the HP fandom

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