Friday, November 09, 2007

Feed My Frankenstein--pepper

Any Alice Cooper fans in the house? :)

Well, it's been a busy week for me, as per usual. I had a paper due today, and a meeting, and my husband was laid off earlier this week, and a million other things. So that's why this blog is a bit late. I'm studying Frankenstein this week, and I've been mulling Karen Scott's question about whether an author ever truly owns her characters, and I have some thoughts on the issue.

The Romantic poets (the most famous of which are Blake Coleridge, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley , and Keats) were deeply concerned about readership. They were also highly anxious about what happened to a poem after they published it. That anxiety is reflected in several different essays, poems, and most obviously, Frankenstein. After all, what's that novel about except the anxiety of creation?

Once you turn a piece of work loose in the world, that's it. It's gone. You can't take it back. You can't hide it. And you cannot control what it does. Like Frankenstein's Creature, it's beautiful, and it's hideous, and it's eloquent, and it's murderous, and ultimately, it's your alter-ego. People often describe the creative process as something akin to childbirth--everybody knows you shouldn't think of your books as "your babies" but most authors secretly do.

It's a bit frightening, if you think about it. Or very frightening, I suppose.
I don't really have opinion on if this is good or bad. I think it just is. And it raises many questions. How responsible are you for your work? For how people respond to your work?


Anonymous said...

I am responsible for making my work readable and entertaining. After it is loosed on the world, the only responsibility I have is to not sell copies to minors.

I categorically refuse any responsibility for reader reactions, beyond "this was a badly-written, hideously dull piece of prose." If someone reads one of my stories and opts to emulate a character in a negative way (murder, cannibalism, sex with the Devil), I cannot control that.

"Books cannot make one bad or good. They can only make one better or worse." (I've lost the attribution for this quote, sorry)

Anonymous said...

I just recently posted on my own blog about artistic integrity, and that sort of ties in with this. We are responsible to create art. Put your disclaimer on it an let it go.

Beyond that, the reader is responsible for the purchase of such art and also their own interpretation of it, good or bad.

Art, no matter whether it is written, painted, or expressed in music is nothing more than metaphor and allegory, artistic representations of the human condition and life itself. If the reader doesn't understand what those words mean, maybe they shouldn't read, look at art, or listen to music.

There is always reality TV.