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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wizard Goes Poof

Maybe Ian MacKellan has been playing the wrong wizard all along. Turns out that Albus Dumbledore likes the laddies. Too bad Jerry Falwell didn't live to hear about this--he'd surely out-Tinkie Winkie himself right before his head exploded.

Thanks for the tip goes to Loquacious McD, who just got back from an evening of Q&A with J.K. Rowling at Carnegie Hall, where the pink bombshell got dropped. The context: given Dumbledore's celebration of love as the most powerful force, did he ever experience it himself? A: yes, with Grindelwald the evil wizard he defeated in his youth. OK, now here's my question. If AD's one big love turned out to be. . . EVIL, and AD's crush prevented him from seeing it until it was almost too late, why would he go on to see love as a force of redemption rather than of temptation and distraction?

Gotta admit. This is a great (if unnecessary) twist, especially in an overtly Christian allegory. But I'm not sure the logic holds up.


At 3:43 AM, Blogger fronesis said...

I don't think we need to presume that Grindewald was Dumbledore's ONLY love. Grindewald just happens to be the character that we, as readers, are familiar with, but Dumbledore surely had lots of other loves over the course of his long life.

At 6:21 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

Fro: yeah, maybe. Your suggestion is logical, except that the context of the question to JKR was exactly the issue of when AD had known that kind of love that led him to embrace it as the highest moral principle. And her example was Grindewald, which was, I think we can safely say, a fairly toxic (if seductive) relationship. So I'm not sure your point gets her off the hook.

Now maybe if they could have just gotten married, Grindy wouldn't have had all that muggle-killin' anger to work off. But from what we know about him, he was just a power-hungry kind of guy and then we would have had TWO powerful and evil wizards working tag team.

At 7:44 PM, Blogger Number Three said...

I don't know. I'm not a fan of the books, of course, and I don't really care about the "revelation." But isn't there a bigger point here? I don't think that an author can "go back" and add to the novels without actually, you know, writing another novel. Or, possibly, revising a novel. To add, casually, that one major character was actually homosexual, but never presented as a homosexual character in the books, in any sense, doesn't pass the smell test with me.

I mean, we aren't supposed to simply defer to "authorial intention," are we? And even worse, there's authorial intentions after-the-fact. No?

At 2:05 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

This criticism has been making the rounds--for example, at TNR, I think--but I don't buy it. Dumble's being gay was in no way essential to his character development during the books. But JKR created a narrative "world," one about which her fans had endless questions that went beyond the boundaries of the fiction itself. She's also revealed other such extraneous details, such as Neville Longbottom's future wife and residency, that are similarly peripheral.

With the Dumbledore revelation, she was just "fleshing out" that world, as it were. And why shouldn't she? I also don't see any reason why she had to make his sexuality overt in the books themselves. The books are about the kids, especially Harry. We see almost nothing beyond him and his immediate surroundings. And how many kids have gay teachers whose sexuality never becomes known to them, nor is even an issue? Lots and lots. In "hiding" AD's gayness (if that's what's this should be called), she's actually quite faithful to the experience of the kids. By revealing it now, she may indicate something about how the gay live among us, often unnoticed and without demand for identity recognition. Or she may just be telling us how she envisioned this beloved characetr in her own mind. Either way, there's no damage done to the books or our retrospective evaluation of them.

On a related issue, I was amazed to hear Olberman and Cris Cilizza expressing apparent shock that JKR had buried political messages in Potterville all along. If you didn't know long ago that JKR was a liberal Christian defending tolerance, questioning authority, and taking potshots at Bush, you weren't really paying attention.


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