Friday, November 02, 2007

Sequels, criticisms, and lawsuits--pepper

Another "Gone With the Wind" sequel to be released.

If there is any book that has shaped my reading career, it is Gone With the Wind. I read it first when I was in the third grade, because the city library's copy was so big and green and challenging. I knew I could do it. I wanted to prove my amazing reading ability to everybody. It took me all summer--it was a good summer for me. It was also the first summer I read Harlequin romance novels--I needed to take a break from GWtW once in awhile.

I've read the book seven times since then, and I'm scheduled to read it again this summer. Rhett and Scarlett are literally my favorite characters in the history of literature. If I could write two characters half as awesome as those two, I could die a happy author.

But, as I just explained to my sister, I'm excited and terrified. I want to revisit Rhett and Scarlett, but at the same time, I read Scarlett. It was awful. I read it like twelve years ago, and I still remember how awful it is. I know a second awful sequel is not going to take anything away from Gone With the Wind or my love for the same, but I'm still terrified.

Also in the news of publishing is Rowling's lawsuit to stop the publication of The Harry Potter Lexicon. There's been lots of commentary on this already, and I don't have a dog in this fight, having nothing to do with Harry Potter or HP fandom or HP scholarship. But as a student of literature, I gotta say, I think this lawsuit is very wrong-headed. If she and Warner Bros wins, I worry about the precedent it'll set.

These two stories are related to me. I think they both point to the very real need for not just readers, but critics and people who are willing to engage with texts beyond the simple action of buying/borrowing a book, reading it once, and setting it aside. It's a rare book indeed that can engage the public the way Gone With the Wind has over the past century, or Harry Potter has over the last decade. Alienating the very people who keep the texts alive (by writing crappy sequels or filing several lawsuits) will never be good things in the long run. I hope this new GWtW book is worthy of the original, and I hope Rowling stops trying to alienate the people who love her work.


veinglory said...

These days it seems to come down to a fanfic or copyright argument. I come out of Sherlock Holmes fandom where at every meeting of most of the many clubs they toast to 'keeping the memory green'.

Pastiche and other 'fan' works and homages can be good or bad, but in their absence a lot of fiction quickly gets forgotten entirely.

Phaze Books said...

I thought Pat Conroy was going to write the next GWTW book.