The Problem of the Alive Author

14th November 2016 | Margaret Graton.

The reader can only exist once the author dies – this is an idea famously explained by Roland Barthes. Traditionally, once a book was published, it seemed complete, reprints and subsequent editions aside; it was out of the author’s hands and straight into the reader’s. Authors today simultaneously have more and less control over their works than ever thanks to the utilization of digital spaces like blogs, news outlets, and social media. As an example, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter universe has grown in many ways, and Rowling has faced both support and backlash from fans due to the frequent and very public additions and changes she’s made. Meanwhile, J.R.R. Tolkien’s texts, published both as books and letters, have quietly become canon with approving readers. This leads me to wonder…is there a problem with the alive author?

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Who Owns Bridget Jones? The Contemporary Canonicity Conundrum

14 November 2016 ¦ Juliet Conway.

Recently a child showed me his favourite book; a written version of The Angry Birds Movie, which is already a film based, of course, on the popular App. When asked what he thought of the book, his reply was ‘it was good’, but ‘the birds weren’t the same as the game’. As a literature student I should probably balk at the idea that his favourite literature is the account of a pixelated bird, but instead he got me thinking. In a world where fiction is communicated in so many forms, which one is given precedence when contradictions occur?

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Authors, Readers and the Ethics of Imagination

May 16, 2016 | Sarah Stewart.

Roland Barthes’ influential essay ‘The Death of the Author’ presents a compelling argument against prevailing attitudes about literature that Barthes sees as ‘tyrannically centred on the author’ (260). Instead of attributing definitive meaning to what the author intended, Barthes advocates for the unity of a text being what any given reader makes of it. This reader brings their own experience and identity (whatever that might be) to author their own interpretation of the words on the page. Barthes’ liberation of text and reader by locating the ‘true place of writing’ (262) solely in the latter opens up the possibilities of meaning in texts which, he argues, should not be fixedly possessed by the person of the author.

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