A small controversy landed serendipitously in the news this week, serendipitously because it follows neatly my last post, about a program that would allow anyone to change a published work to his taste. But this time, the tempest in a teapot concerns an author revisiting her own work, to wit, J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter.
Ms. Rowling has expressed regrets that Hermione ended up with Ron. Apparently she made that choice early on and felt obligated to stay with it, regardless of how she thought things should develop further down the line. Fans, of course, are up in arms–some in favor of the idea, some aghast.
Color me leaning toward the latter camp. Not so much because I am a Hermione-Ron champion (although I thought it worked out well as a sub-plot), but because a book (or series) is not the Pyramids–once it’s done, it’s done. The big thing in comics for some years has been “retconning,” rewriting earlier events, like a hero’s origins, to accommodate newer, edgier ideas that might resonate with a younger audience. Nowadays, the thing is re-booting; the entire DC universe, in fact, has been re-booted (a subject for another day).
I don’t like this trend, and I don’t want to see it come to books. Once a work of art is made public, it should stay put. It doesn’t matter if it’s the author or a reader, an art student or an Old Master. If van Gogh had decided later to add that ear, would he have been allowed to add it?