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"imagination responding to imagination"

Gacked from altariel, an interesting new article on fan fiction by Natasha Walker of The Guardian.

In it Walker states the following:

The writers of fan fiction recapture that childish bravado, those easy movements from one narrative to another and in and out of real life. As they reweave these stories they remind us that the boundary of the published book, and the control exerted by the individual author over a tale, is a relatively recent phenomenon for art, both in history and in our individual lives.

Indeed, when it comes to fan fiction, the internet is giving us back something like an oral society, in which people can retell the stories that are most important to them and, in so doing, change them. For all the dross and smut they produce, these communities in which readers become writers, fans become creators and old tales become new, also give out blasts of energy. And they remind us that the power of these fantasy worlds are not built just on profit and loss, but on imagination responding to imagination.

This reminds me of Henry Jenkins' comment in Textual Poachers: "Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by the folk."

Though she seems a bit dismissive of the quality of fan writing across the board, I greatly appreciate Walker's historical perspective about the recent nature of "owned" and "controlled" art, and about how fan fiction reverts back to an oral storytelling culture sensibility. It reminds me that Homer, and of course the creators of the medieval Arthurian romances, were engaged in the production of fan fiction.

And speaking of the Arthurian tradition, my quote for the day comes from Catherine Christian's revisitation of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, entitled The Pendragon. As spoken by Mawgan:

"We live in rough times, Bedivere. A comrade is a comrade, of whatever sex. You and I have been comrades a good few lives back. No need for pretense between us, because, this time, we've only met since morning."


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 28th, 2004 04:49 am (UTC)
I just saw your name in febobe's journal, and thought I'd pop over to say hello. I love this:

the internet is giving us back something like an oral society, in which people can retell the stories that are most important to them

Thank you for sharing it!
Oct. 28th, 2004 05:08 am (UTC)
Hi there! :) You're the Shirebound from Fanfiction.net, aren't you? I've been meaning to email -- I'm so sorry I haven't -- and tell you how much I enjoy your stories, even though "Belts of Silver, Leaves of Gold" (one of my favorites) made me weepy. LOL! You have a wonderful way with hobbits, and that's about the highest compliment in the world, I think!

It's so good to "meet" you. I'm glad you found the Walker article interesting, too.

Oct. 28th, 2004 05:20 am (UTC)
Yes, that's me! And thank you so much... thinking, writing, and reading about hobbits has enriched my life beyond words.

I see that you're also watching "Lost". If you're interested, I have a LOTR/"Lost" crossover story running on my LiveJournal. (http://www.livejournal.com/users/shirebound/219693.html) I never know what's going to happen next, or when I'll be updating, but it sure is fun to write.

Wonderful to meet you!

Oct. 28th, 2004 03:49 pm (UTC)
Fantastic! Thanks so much for letting me know. I'll definitely check it out. Would it be okay to friend you? No need to reciprocate unless you just want to do so. Just checking. Thanks again!
Oct. 28th, 2004 03:50 pm (UTC)
I'm always honored to be friended! Please do!

Oct. 28th, 2004 04:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :) Wow. Gotta love this LJ thing. (Says the newbie... LOL!)

BTW, in the spirit of the Walker article that started this exchange, I have a couple of pieces on Tolkien fanfic coming out between now and the end of the year. One is "'Make Mine Movieverse': How the Tolkien Fan Fiction Community Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Peter Jackson" in the forthcoming book Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. The other is ""Reimagining Rose: Portrayals of Tolkien's Rosie Cotton in Twenty-First Century Fan Fiction" in the forthcoming issue of Mythlore. I think febobe has heard me present both here or there. Anyway, that's where I am at the moment. I'll be shouting out to everyone when they're out.

Now, off to read more of your fic! :)
Oct. 28th, 2004 06:02 pm (UTC)
Wow, good for you! How wonderful!
Oct. 29th, 2004 06:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks! And happy Halloween! :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )