I was, alas, too young to listen to The Goons the first time around but over the years I’ve heard bits and pieces of them here and there. Today, however I stumbled across the clip below and have been catching up with some of the stuff I’d missed. The simple humour, the naivete of character… delightful, clever and hilarious.
Now, I’m not a fan of the Hairy Porter (sorry, Harry Potter) books, so when I read of Ms Rowling’s attempts to block Vander Ark’s The Harry Potter Lexicon, I veiwed it fairly dispassionately, and solely from the perspective of a writer.
The first thing that occurred to me was that Vander Ark isn’t actually setting a precedent by writing a “guide”. That was done a long time ago. Many “guides” are written of famous works that having nothing to do with the original author — this springs to mind, for example.
So that in itself doesn’t justify blocking the book, in my opinion. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that I’d encourage such guides so long as they offer good quality analysis and explanation.
But does this book do that? According to Rowling, no. However, after an admittedly brief look at Vander Ark’s website, I’m not convinced that he has just “plundered [her] prose and merely reprinted it in a A-to-Z format”, as JKR claims. This biography of the character Hermione may illustrate what I mean (though I would be interested in hearing from Potter fans whether this particular example is a cut and patse job.)
As someone who is highly protective of his property, be it intellectual or otherwise, I do think Rowling has a point. I just don’t think it’s a very good one in this particular case. I suppose, ultimately, it comes down to how much of the book is Vander Ark’s own work. If Rowling’s claims are correct, then I’m with her 100%. If not…
Any additional thoughts on this?