University of Jyväskylä
In today’s world most of book arguments are being debated online, where one can express oneself more freely, thanks to anonymity. These non-professional opinions are also more multifaceted and fertile than the ones written by professional book critics. (Steiner, 2008.) These book conversations can also be seen as a part of the ongoing media convergence, where new medias (online conversations, social media) and old medias (printed books) encounter. As a result of this media convergence also normal readers at a grass roots level can and be heard better than before. (see Jenkins 2006: 2.) As the slogan on the other site that I’m studying here goes: “everybody’s a critic” (Matchstick 2014).
In this paper I’m going to discuss my main findings on two online conversations about famous fantasy authors and their books. These discussions are: “JK rowling borrowed heavily from JRR Tolkien” [sic] (Gaia online 2012) and “Eragon – Plagiarism Made Popular” (Matchstick 2014). The focus of my study regarding these online conversations will be on fandom and intertextuality. In these heated and deep conversations it can be easy to see, how fans of a certain fantasy author are willing to defence their idol (for example J. K. Rowling or J. R. R. Tolkien), and how they do it. For example it can be seen that the question about reader’s knowledge is very carefully observed and measured.
In the case of Eragon – Plagiarism Made Popular (Matchstick 2014) I’m also going to discuss anti-fandom, because this blogpost that sprung rich conversation in the comment section is a very good example of anti-fandom activity. The writer, known as Matchstick, knows the book she/he hates very well, and does an in-depth analysis about it without saving one’s time or energy. The passionate rant begins with this statement: Few thing in the literary world have the ability to earn ire and continuing disbelief as readily as the success of Christopher Paolini’s plagiarism (Matchstick 2014).
When it comes to intertextuality it can be seen that the question about originality is a very heated subject among the debaters. Many readers accuse J. K. Rowling and Christopher Paolini of plagiarism or borrowing too heavily from J. R. R. Tolkien and other older fantasy writers. These accusations also generate an assumption of low quality of their books. So it can be said that originality and individuality are being held on a high value among fantasy readers. On the other hand some debaters think that it is enough, if the book they are reading is entertaining, and it is impossible for a fantasy writer to invent anything distinctly new anyway. This debate can be boiled down to the differences between romanticism and postmodernism.
Gaia Online (2011). JK rowling borrowed heavily from JRR Tolkien. [online]. [26.10.2011]. http://www.gaiaonline.com/forum/lord-of-the-rings/jkrowling-borrowed-heavily-from-jrr-tolkien/t.73984929_1/
Jenkins, Henry (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.
Matchstick (2014). Eragon – Plagiarism Made Popular. [online] [28.3.2014]. https://aydee.wordpress.com/2006/12/17/eragon/
Steiner, A. 2008. Private Criticism in the Public Space: Personal Writing in Readers Reviews on Amazon. P@rticipations. Vol 5: 2008. [30.8.2014.]