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  • Albus Dumbledore Gay?

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071020/ap_on_en_ot/books_harry_potter


    I mean, not that it matters in the least. It's kinda cool. But it does raise an interesting theoretical question: Can an author just declare something about a character like this outside of the text? Is it "true" that Dumbledore is gay if there is not substantive evidence in the text and if even the most obsessed and astute readers have not sussed it out?

    I say no. I was taught and I believe that what the author says a book means is utterly irrelevant to what it actually means. The text is the thing, not the author. Now, writers are burying ambiguities and implications in their characters all the time. Some will be discovered, some won't.

    So J.K. is out of line here. If it has not been deduced from the text that Dumbledore is gay, than Dumbledore is not gay, despite her intentions. You cannot simply declare, extra-texturally, new information about a finishined novel. You, J.K., are not the boss of this story anymore, extraordinary royalties to the contrary.

  • #2
    I guess that could be so. In the same way that if I say a song I wrote was about a certain thing, it may not have meant that at all to somebody else who interpreted the lyrics for themself -

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    • #3
      I don't think that an author loses the ability to comment on her work after it's completed. It's still her work, after all, and if she wrote the character with his sexual orientation in mind then she has the right to discuss his back story as she intended. There are many good reasons for a writer to hold back on details of a character even as those details inform the character's actions in the story.

      I think, however, that she would lose her ability to complain if the the film-makers made Dumbledore straight assuming her hints in the book were vague.

      I haven't read the books so I'm assuming a lot here but this does strike me as a wimpy way of stating her position. Why did she wait until after the book was finished, sold out and was in movie development before taking such a brave position?
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      • #4
        I don't think that an author loses the ability to comment on her work after it's completed. It's still her work, after all, and if she wrote the character with his sexual orientation in mind then she has the right to discuss his back story as she intended. There are many good reasons for a writer to hold back on details of a character even as those details inform the character's actions in the story.

        I think, however, that she would lose her ability to complain if the the film-makers made Dumbledore straight assuming her hints in the book were vague.

        I haven't read the books so I'm assuming a lot here but this does strike me as a wimpy way of stating her position. Why did she wait until after the book was finished, sold out and was in movie development before taking such a brave position?


        That's fair. I guess it all depends on how you define the atrifact. I think of the "book" as the thing, and the book is more or less frozen once published. perhaps, however, HP is more of a multimedia franchise still very much alive and in flux.

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        • #5
          Can an author just declare something about a character like this outside of the text? Is it "true" that Dumbledore is gay if there is not substantive evidence in the text and if even the most obsessed and astute readers have not sussed it out?

          I say no.


          You're not using the Sherlock Holmes method.

          By ascertaining what's NOT in the picture, you can develop a better idea of what is. Since Rowling clearly stated that she purposefully did not include any references of Dumbledore having been involved in a relationship with a woman, as an author it is perfectly within her right to not state something explicitly and allow her readers to come to their own conclusions. Also, the fact that she negated the movie script that had Dumbledore express interest in a woman tells you this wasn't a spur-of-the-moment statement.

          I believe she wouldn't have said that unless she had believed it regarding the character since his inception. Even though it went unstated in the books, I think it's fine for her to reveal this now (as long as it didn't contradict anything that was canonical, which it didn't).

          So I say yes.
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          • #6
            Kinda funny...

            my bro-in-law (he's a gay English prof who sometimes writes on Homosexuality in Literature...wrote a book called "Queering Medieval Genres")
            wrote a really net little paper on "Heteronormaitve models in the Harry Potter Series"

            he opines she kind of half-asses the queering in general..damn straight chick!

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            • #7
              Hmm, Jeff, I dunno.

              How many sexy scenes is Snape involved in? How many of the adult characters in the stories have known mates or affairs of any kind? Not many by my count.

              I would have been much more sympathetic to all the fanfare of this "revelation" if she had said something to the effect of, "I've always thought of Dumbledore as being gay." Then this would take on the qualities of Hemingway's theory of ommission--a central fact left out of the story that informs everything else form "offstage,", more as a heuristic tool for the writer, though the reader may or may not "sense" the fact that is omitted. Usually not, but it "operates" somehow in the story even though it is not "in there."

              But JK has just simply pronounced Dumbledore gay, as if Albus is, say, real... and more importantly, as if she still gets to emend and control characters that she long ago turned over to the most appreciative readership in the history of the printed word. The characters belong to the readers now. If you want to tell me that Dumbledore is gay, fine--show me what I missed; how should I have known this?

              My problem, I guess, is that I was taught by adherents of the "New Criticism" in college, and tend to believe the intentional fallacy:

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentional_Fallacy

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              • #8
                Is Albus Dumbledore Gay?


                Who cares?
                Does being him gay really change the character or anything about the movies?
                I don't think so......

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                • #9
                  In regard to Snape, wasn't he dreamily in love from afar with Harry's mom? Wasn't the fact she decided to marry Harry's dad one of the key reasons for Snape's hate of James and then Harry?

                  So you gotta assume Snape's straight.

                  I agree though that considering millions of readers are pre-teens... this is going to raise some interesting family discussions that the parents may not have really wanted... How do you answer your 9 year old who asks, "what does it mean that Dumbledore's gay?"

                  This has already made international news... so I guess there's not much we can do about it!
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                  • #10
                    I think it is important to recognize the authors statement; albeit after the fact (or fiction, as is the case). Her "lack" of description of the lifestyle of this character denotes no implication per se to the interpretation of the reader.

                    This leads to the most important process of the conveying of the story to the reader; the story as "interpreted" by the reader and the impressions as understood. Does the "fact," as conveyed by the author - - alter the story for the reader? And to what degree? I think it depends on the context of the story as well as the main protagonist and supporting roles of the other characters within the story.

                    I remember in college how the prof would be interpreting the "style" of a certain poet and deciphering the intentions and "trying" to get us to grasp what the "author" was trying to "say." Keep in mind that many of these poets were long-past dead and the impression of their work was interpreted posthumously - - - often many times over to the point where if you could magically re-animate the deceased and ask them their intent - - - s/he would probably say, "What the hell are you talking about, that's not what I meant at all!"

                    So - - - It is important that we recognize the "fact" as stated by the author (understanding that her statement is true and sincere) and apply it accordingly; but to what degree it "changes" or "clarifies" the story - - - that is left to the interpretation of each individual reader.
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                    • #11
                      Well, I agree, it's really not important. Rowling saying it now is external information and after-the-fact, so to me it doesn't mean much. If there'd been a hot scene with Lucious Malfoy in the Hogwarts men's room, I'd be more impressed.

                      She's probably just trying to piss off the religious right some more, which is also fine by me.

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                      • #12
                        Actually this is a pretty interesting topic, I never really thought about what the fate of a book's character is once it's released into the world, and whether or not the author has control...

                        My only strong feeling is that not everything has to be stated explicitly in a book, any more than lyrics of a song have to tell the whole story. In this specific instance, I don't really care if Dumbledore is gay, straight, or has a loving relationship with sheep. I guess his gayness will be the subject of fan speculation and such, but honestly, I don't care whether someone is gay in real life, so I care even less if it's in a book

                        Besides, I like surprises. At the end of the Bource Supremacy, there's a scene that appears connected to the plot, where Jason Bourne tells Pam Landy that she looks tired, and to get some rest. It fit perfectly into the story, and made a good conclusion. But then I saw the Bourne Ultimatum the other night, and that scene was actually taken out of the middle of the third movie. I had no way of knowing that as I was watching the second movie, any more than I had a way of knowing Dumbledore was gay while reading Harry Potter. So it's kind of cool to get additional, "after the fact" information.
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                        • #13
                          Actually this is a pretty interesting topic, I never really thought about what the fate of a book's character is once it's released into the world, and whether or not the author has control...

                          My only strong feeling is that not everything has to be stated explicitly in a book, any more than lyrics of a song have to tell the whole story. In this specific instance, I don't really care if Dumbledore is gay, straight, or has a loving relationship with sheep. I guess his gayness will be the subject of fan speculation and such, but honestly, I don't care whether someone is gay in real life, so I care even less if it's in a book

                          Besides, I like surprises. At the end of the Bource Supremacy, there's a scene that appears connected to the plot, where Jason Bourne tells Pam Landy that she looks tired, and to get some rest. It fit perfectly into the story, and made a good conclusion. But then I saw the Bourne Ultimatum the other night, and that scene was actually taken out of the middle of the third movie. I had no way of knowing that as I was watching the second movie, any more than I had a way of knowing Dumbledore was gay while reading Harry Potter. So it's kind of cool to get additional, "after the fact" information.
                          N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                          Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                          • #14
                            If a reader is engaged he might believe he knows a written character.

                            I don't think the writer is ever really that assured. A writer knows the wiring. A writer knows how to test what he does know about a character. For the writer the character is as different or consistent as the morning coffee.

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                            • #15
                              Actually this is a pretty interesting topic, I never really thought about what the fate of a book's character is once it's released into the world, and whether or not the author has control...


                              Fiction writers talk about this a lot, Craig. When you create a myth through a story, at what point does your god-like ownership of the characters and situations end?

                              Rowling can only express what her intent was with the character. If she left it unstated in the book, I don't think it diminishes her right to discuss her intent at any point... before, during or after the release. If she believed Dumbledore was gay while doin the writing, why not express it now?
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