lesbiassparrow: (Default)
So, I know I've mentioned this in some comments to people's posts, but I thought I'd share it here.

Once I was in a...let's say fairly fraught academic setting, sitting down for the worst lunch I have ever had and suffering from jetlag. The woman beside me was going on about fanfic and one senior academic asked about it and its limits. Well, off she goes on about how she wrote Harry Potter fanfic to reclaim Hermione as a strong woman from JK Rowling because apparently Rowling hates the strong women.* And no doubt puppies as well. And then she claims the Aeneid as fanfiction, because quite clearly Virgil was a big Homer fanboy. No, honestly, this is what she said, except for the fanboy bit.

I am always sorry that I didn't say that I thought if it was fanfiction then Virgil was obviously writing a complete Mary Sue (Marty Sue?) and that Aeneas was absolutely OOC. Because he was useless in the Iliad what with needing to be saved by mum and all. Also it infuriates me, because fanfic is not just taking other people's ideas/characters and doing something with it, that's influence. Or the anxiety of influence. Or just literature.

Fanfic has a particular place in relationship to its source which is as much defined by the way people think about it and locate it as it does what it does. I don't think The Wide Sargasso Sea is fanfic, because of its literary status and really where it sits critically. This might seem terribly unfair, but that's is the way things work. It's possible that this might change, but stil that does not make the Aeneid fanfic, no more than it does The Inferno. That Thirteenth book of the the Aeneid, on the other hand, I'm not so sure about.

I should add it's not that I dislike fanfic and don't think some of it can be incredibly well written (hell, there are shows where I think the fanfic is written with more thought than what goes on the screen). And I enjoy reading it very much when it's well done.

ETA: Also, from comment below, it's not that it's I think literature = original genius and fanfic = derivative copying. Because well, there are only about 8 plots in the world, so originality is going to be hard to find these days. Fanfic can be original and clever and rework the original idea, but still I will stick by my original point: the Aeneid is not fanfiction. It, after all, does belong to an era which had a totally different relationship to its sources than the era which came up with the concept of fanfiction.

*She was very smug about this. And above almost all qualities I really hate smugness, so maybe my eternal loathing for her is not very rational.


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August 2011

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